Gretchen Castle, a global Quaker leader with decades of organizational development experience, has been named the next dean of the Earlham School of Religion. She is ESR’s first female dean.
For the last nine years, Castle has served as the General Secretary of the Friends World Committee for Consultation in the Quaker World Office in London, traveling extensively to bring greater unity to Quakers worldwide.
In a career spanning four decades, Castle has gained broad experience among Friends globally and across different Quaker traditions. She has served at the Quaker United Nations Offices in New York and Geneva, and participates in the Christian World Communions Annual Meeting of the General Secretaries, where she was recently appointed the first woman chair and the first Quaker chair. As part of the Christian World Communions, she attended the inauguration of Pope Francis in Rome in 2013.
In the United States, she was presiding clerk of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, Director of Leadership Development for several Quaker retirement communities, and a board development consultant for over 20 years.
“This is a pivotal time for Earlham School of Religion — and all seminaries — as we envision the future of ministry in a complex and rapidly changing world.” says Anne Houtman, president of Earlham College and Earlham School of Religion. “Gretchen’s global leadership experience and deep commitment to Quaker principles and practice will inspire new ways of approaching our work and strengthen ESR’s capacity to attract and educate the next generation of change-makers.”
Castle is no stranger to Earlham or Richmond, Indiana. She attended nursery school at Stout Meetinghouse on Earlham’s campus and also earned her undergraduate degree in human development and social relations from the College in 1979. Her father, David Castle, was a former pastor at First Friends Meeting in Richmond.
She later earned her master’s degree in organizational development and adult learning from Temple University in Philadelphia in 1986.
“Earlham grounded my Quaker experience and gave me the great gift of knowing I have a place in the world. The life I live, the choices I make, the people I love — matter,” Castle says. “I learned this at Earlham and working among Friends for most of my life.”
“Earlham grounded my Quaker experience and gave me the great gift of knowing I have a place in the world. The life I live, the choices I make, the people I love — matter. I learned this at Earlham and working among Friends for most of my life.” — Gretchen Castle
Becoming dean at ESR is an important step in her global Quaker experience, she notes.
“ESR serves a critically important role in the global Quaker community, preparing people for ministry, whatever form it takes, and I am thrilled to be joining ESR as its next dean,” she says.