Each Nearness course gathers small groups of five to six people for weekly online discussion, where you engage in self-inquiry and reflection, experience the joy of meaningful connection and community, and experiment with new practices and rituals to support your spiritual life.
Co-founder Alec Gewirtz grew up in an atheist Jewish family, where spirituality was never more than the butt of an occasional joke. When he began to struggle with depression and anxiety, he became interested in spirituality, and he went on to study religion at Princeton University and live at an interfaith L'Arche community for people with disabilities.
Co-founder Casper ter Kuile grew up in the English countryside, in a non-religious family that was nonetheless rich in rituals. He's spent a decade exploring how spirituality and community are changing as a researcher at Harvard Divinity School, a writer, and as co-host of the podcast, Harry Potter and the Sacred Text.
Spiritual seeking was often a lonely process for us—an isolated experience of listening to a podcast, following a teacher on Instagram, or reading a spiritual self-help book.
There was no structure of community that might compare with a traditional religious congregation for nonreligious people like us. Yearning for such a structure, we set out to create one with The Nearness
People participating in The Nearness have a wide variety of beliefs, practices, and backgrounds. We don’t ask anyone to believe in any dogma; instead, we welcome difference.
Being a cooperative means that we co-create our experience together and adhere to the internationally recognized cooperative principles.
When joining a small group, everyone affirms the community Covenant, which you can read here.
That means that we all have our own practices, beliefs, backgrounds, and contexts. And everybody is allowed to be fully themselves.