It all started in 1990...
when a group of kindred spirits gathered to study the vast work and writings of Rudolf Steiner, an Austrian philosopher who founded the spiritual movement, Anthroposophy, and of Robert Sardello, a modern day spiritual psychologist. From these early meetings came a desire to establish a life studies center that would serve people at all phases of life, “body, soul and spirit.”
After a study of Waldorf education and Waldorf parenting, an initiative was undertaken to found a Waldorf kindergarten. The Waldorf approach is based on Anthroposophy which has a vision for holistic, imaginative, and artistic education that is also practical and intellectual. it was during this time period that The Sophia Center for Life Studies (SCLS) was officially formed and received not-for-profit status as an educational organization.
After several years of effort and planning, it became disappointingly clear that the Waldorf School would not materialize. After the “death” of the Greensboro Waldorf School dream and the physical deaths of several parents of Board members, Sandra “Sandy” LaGrega discovered a book entitled, "Allison’s Gift: A Song of a Thousand Hearts Opening" by Pat Hogan, who was a friend of Allison’s mother, Beth Knox.
After the tragic death of Allison, Beth Knox and two colleagues founded the national organization, Crossings: Caring for Our Own at Death, which was instrumental in the home funeral movement in the United States. A few SCLS members traveled to the mountains of NC to attend a workshop led by Beth. The workshop was so compelling that the group brought back to Greensboro the ideas and practical knowledge of “caring for our own at death.”
Board members Sandy LaGrega and Betty Hare began speaking publicly on the topic of natural death care. The Center hosted several workshops led by Beth Knox. Sandy soon joined the board of Crossings: Caring for Our Own at Death. In 2008, a Crossings Care groupwas formed at New Garden Friends Meeting and included Charlotte Whitcomb, a present day SCLS Board member. Later the following year, along with others from the Greensboro area the Crossings Care group offered a weekend symposium, “When Death Knocks.” A number of breakout sessions and presentations on natural home death care and burial options were featured at the symposium. Soon after, the New Garden Crossings Care group merged with SCLS members involved in crossing care.
Since that time, The Sophia Center for Life Studies has held the space for and carried out natural death care education and information sharing as its major initiative. SCLS members have served numerous families since its inception, by supporting family members in preparing death care plans and in helping educate and in encouraging them on caring for their loved ones at the time of death.
A thread that has run throughout the Sophia Center’s history is social art. Social art is the ideal and practice which was introduced to the founding group by member, Janet Hampton. Janet had studied Social Art at The Center for Social Development at Emerson College in England.
Social Art is a way of working together that creates and holds sacred space for SCLS business meetings as well as for those who have crossed over and their families. Social Art is a practice where members of a group endeavor to hold the whole group and the individual members simultaneously with deep respect and reverence.
The belief in the wisdom available to all though an Inner Teacher, also common to Quakers and other religions, remains a key motivation in the work done by the Center. It for this “Sophianic” way, that of divine feminine wisdom, that the organization is named The Sophia Center for Life Studies.
The founding Sophia Center for Life Studies board members were: Barbara Ruth, Bob Burnside, Carol Brick, Gonda Bremer, Janet Hampton, John Hampton, Nancy Brightman, Patricia Gutzweller, Peggy Whalen-Levitt, Sally Anderson, and Sandra LaGrega. Many others were involved in the beginning development of the Crossings Care work.