The Nearness Guarantee

We stand by our course experiences. If you attend your first three small group gatherings and decide that The Nearness isn’t for you, we will fully reimburse you.

Scholarships are available!

If you need financial support (or would like to cover the cost for someone else), please email us at and let us know you're interested in our pay-what-you-can option—no questions asked! We do not want cost concerns to keep you from participating in this course.


The Nearness is a space to explore life’s big questions with like-hearted people.

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.

Our Origin

We started the Nearness because, like so many people around us, we weren’t traditionally religious, but we longed for connection, meaning, and spirituality.

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.

Our Team

Casper ter Kuile


Alec Gewirtz


Carolina Pissarro

Community Administrator

EJ Baker


Our spiritual advisors

Derrick Scott III

Executive Director, Campus to City Wesley Foundation

Elizabeth Oldfield

former Executive Director, Theos

Sr. Mary Dacey

Sisters of St. Joseph

Serena Bian

Co-leads work on loneliness and connection for the U.S. Surgeon General

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

Learn About Our Courses

Our Spiritual Principles

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.

Learn more about our Spiritual Principles here.


There is something larger than us that we encounter in experiences of wonder, resilience, and love;


This mystery calls on us to love others, ourselves, and the world around us.


The goal of our spiritual lives is to answer this calling.

Our COmmitments

We are a cooperative

Being a cooperative means that we co-create our experience together and adhere to the internationally recognized cooperative principles.

We are open-minded and caring

When joining a small group, everyone affirms the community Covenant, which you can read here.

We are varied

That means that we all have our own practices, beliefs, backgrounds, and contexts. And everybody is allowed to be fully themselves.