On Easter Sunday, April 20, 2014 the Community Miracles Center had a wonderful ordination ceremony. At that time, we ordained our 74th and 75th ministers. What follows is a lightly edited transcription of their talks right after taking the Rite of Ordination administered by Rev. Tony Ponticello, and receiving their ordination certificates. Various other CMC ministers, who performed different parts of the ceremony, had chances to address them.
CMC Minister #74: Rev. Brooke Banwer
Wow! You guys said it all. I mean, there's like nothing left to say, in particular.
You know, I've been transcribing lectures for CMC so I get to hear your voices and I've seen your pictures. They're not nearly as beautiful as you are. I mean just to be here is such an honor and to be with you, I feel like I'm in heaven. It's just really amazing to be here.
So here we are. Happy Resurrection Day. I've been wondering what it is I would say. There is a lot for me to say about April, and there's a lot for me to say about Resurrecting, which of course has a lot to do with being a minster. I think it was a couple of weeks ago in our class, I don't remember who, but somebody had mentioned that the month before your birthday is your power month. This is my power month. My birthday is next month and in my lifetime, everything that has ever happened to me, in the name of healing and becoming whole, has happened in April. I got sober in April – April 12, 1995. I made a decision which brought me to the decision to turn my will and my life over to the care of God. It's been a natural progression for the past nineteen years that just seems to come full circle every year in April. I never imagined that I'd be standing here now, in April. I didn't plan it that way. It just showed up.
A couple of years ago, my friend Rev. Regina was visiting and we were sitting around chit-chatting. We were talking about her schedule or something and she said, "I have a study partner with Community Miracles Center so we can't get together until after I finish with my study partner in the morning." I was like, "Study partner? Tell me about this." And the more she talked about Community Miracles Center, the more I could feel it rising up in my heart. This is how the Holy Spirit speaks to me. I spent a long time trying to shut off that communication with drugs and alcohol, but by the time Regina showed up and said, "I have this study partner," my heart was pounding. I thought, whatever she's saying is very important. I better pay attention. So Regina says, "Let me introduce you to Rev. Tony." So she introduces me to Rev. Tony, and I sign up for the classes. I'm not thinking about time. I'm just following this beat of my heart, and it's saying, "Go do this." So I did. And it's been wonderful. I've met these amazing people. I cannot believe it, and like I said, you are more beautiful than I can hear on the tapes and more beautiful than I can see in the photographs. To be here is truly an honor. I thank you.
CMC Minister #75: Rev. Barb McKinstry
Thank you all. I am so very blessed to be here this morning, this afternoon, this day. I know that I'm not special and the way I know I'm not special is because I see all of you here today, before me. That's how I know – we all share the One Life, the One Love – and it's so moving. I'm so very grateful. I, too, learned about CMC through Regina Dawn Akers. I owe my gratitude to her for sharing this with me and for being a role model for myself and many others as well.
Here I am. I don't know, it's funny how Spirit works. I had my first A Course in Miracles book in 1993, the year that Rev. Judy became a minister. And so off and on I would use it. Then, in about 2009, I began having work trouble. It just seemed like I was supposed to leave my job and the universe helped me leave my job. Then my father passed away and the universe helped again. The universe always helps me. I prayed for strength every day and strength came. I'm always answered.
I'm so grateful for CMC and Rev. Tony – it's been a collaboration. When he said it was okay to make the Mezuzahs,** I had the inspiration to put "Miracles", the "M" on it. It's like I just saw this big "M" and I thought, I know what that is, miracles! Okay! So I incorporated it and now when I make them, it's like spirit moves through me. I bought a piano and my husband helped me take the piano apart. I use the keys. This is made from an old piano key (holding up a Mezuzah). Then my friend painted some of the wood because I asked her to collaborate with me. It was like being given permission to be myself. So I'm going to continue being myself and more of myself.
I'm very, genuinely happy to be here. Thank you very much.
**Mezuzahs are traditionally small Jewish prayer boxes put on door frames. We have *ACIM* Miracle Mezuzahs available at CMC, uniquely designed, hand-crafted by Rev. Barb McKinstry.
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On Sunday, May 4, 2014, the Community Miracles Center had another wonderful ordination ceremony, via teleconference. We ordained our 76th, 77th, and 78th ministers. What follows is a lightly edited transcription of their talks right after taking the Rite of Ordination administered by Rev. Marci Benson. Other CMC ministers from around the country participated and offered their inspired words to the group.
CMC Minister #76: Rev. Kimmy Scarpine
Thank you. Thank you Rev. Tony for letting me be number 76. I wanted to share that I've a great fondness for the bicentennial, and if I get lucky, plan to live to the tricentennial and give a little interview about the bicentennial and wear the same outfit, but larger than I wore at the bicentennial. (laughter)
I was born in San Francisco and love that city and feel like this is kind of home base. I'm glad to be number 76 in this illusion of making things important like that.
I wanted to start my little talk continuing to express gratitude. I've had the opportunity to be in a study group in Portland led by Allen Watson. It started a few months ago and there are many Course students who've been Course students for decades including reverends who express appreciation, speaking of the CMC and Rev.Tony's work, as really powerful and moving. So it has been lovely to see that reflected in their conversations, and when people come in with questions about where to find resources, the Community Miracles Center is always at the top of the list. I don't think I was aware of CMC being on the radar like this because I wasn't in that circle. I'm so honored to be a part of this group.
I want to thank Rev. Peter and Rev. Marci, thinking about all the times I sat in their classes, listening to their responses and all their thoughtful insights. I was really being in awe of how calm and collected the two of you were, how inspiring it was and how heartfelt and loving were your words. The warmth could be felt through the phone – I want to thank you for that. I also have such, such gratitude for people whom I've had the good fortune to be in meditation with. It is such an intimate act, seven days a week, sharing that experience. What I have taken from that is walking into other relationships with a different level of being able to be still with another person, appreciate our shared experience and really witness them as beautiful extensions of God in a deep way, deeper than I had before I started this program. So thank you all for that, it's been a lovely journey.
I came upon A Course in Miracles decades ago. I touched the book in a bookstore and it burned in my hand, so I bought it, put it away and never opened it. Then several years ago, my father called with a diagnosis, a terminal diagnosis of cancer. He was very calm. He said, "This is going to be our adventure together and it will unfold in its own beautiful way." I said, "Well I think you need a miracle so I'm going to start researching this." We had a very mystical relationship anyway, he was a practicing Mormon. I started reading David Hawkins' works, and I would sit with him (Dad) on the beach as he was dying and read to him. He lived in Hawaii. I would read David Hawkins' theories and we would talk about A Course in Miracles because David Hawkins advocates for the Course, speaking about the very positive influence it's been in his life. So I felt this pull to come to the Course. The day after my father's funeral I woke up and realized this is my path, this is where it is. The book had been collecting dust on my shelf for many years, but I went and just opened it up, started reading the Workbook and became a very serious student of the Course.
I've been reflecting about what this has meant, especially in the last two years studying with CMC. I went to the Manual for Teachers and looked at the characteristics: honesty, tolerance, gentleness, joy, defenselessness, generosity, patience, faithfulness, open-mindedness, and I sat with all of these characteristics. What was the feeling? What was the tone? How did I feel in my body? What was the Holy Spirit offering me with this list of characteristics? Different flavors they are, in words, yet they all boil down to the same raw truth – love underlies all of this. I want to read my favorite paragraph from Manual For Teachers, under the characteristic generosity, which is this:
"The term generosity has special meaning to the teacher of God. It is not the usual meaning of the word; in fact, it is a meaning that must be learned and learned very carefully. Like all the other attributes of God's teachers, this one rests ultimately on trust, for without trust, no one can be generous in the true sense. To the world, generosity means ‘giving away' in the sense of ‘giving up.' To the teachers of God, it means ‘giving away' in order to keep. This has been emphasized throughout the text and the workbook, but it is perhaps more alien to the thinking of the world than many other ideas in our curriculum. Its greater strangeness lies merely in the obviousness of its reversal of the world's thinking. In the clearest way possible and at the simplest of levels, the word means the exact opposite to the teachers of God and to the world." (OrEd.Mn.4.18)
I was thinking about this yesterday. I host an annual May Day party. I had a hundred people come to my small house, wearing white. We had a big May pole in the street, and danced around it. I wrote of this, as a love offering to my community, and I thought about how much the Course has impacted my life, as it actually relates to this event yesterday. Normally at the end I'm exhausted, frustrated, angry, or judging people's behavior. But throughout the entire party, including all the prep – many, many hours of prep, hours gathering white clothing for my family – in all the production there was this silent, internal offering, in honor of becoming a reverend. I woke up today ecstatic with love and joy for these people that came and showed up to the best of their ability. It's a very meaningful way to come together as community. I feel that the lesson of the Course that's just crystallized in this, is about giving away, but in a different way than the world defines it. That's what comes to mind when I think of how the Course has affected my life the last two years.
I'd like to end here with a closing prayer and thought to come back to Marianne Williamson, who flavors the Course for me all the time.
"Dear God, please remove from my mind the tendency to judge. Please remove from my mind the tendency to hate. Please remove from my mind the tendency to blame. Please reveal to me Lord, a way to stand in my power through love, instead of fear and through peace, instead of violence. May I hear not the voice for anger but only the voice for love. Teach me dear Lord, how not to hate those who hate me. Transform all darkness into light dear God, and use my mind as an instrument of your harmlessness. I surrender to you my thoughts of violence. Take these thoughts Lord, and wash them clean."
Thank you very much. Amen.
CMC Minister #77: Rev. Pat Mawson
Hi, this is Rev. Pat. First of all I want to thank Rev. Tony, for all the good work you do at Community Miracles Center and now Rev. Heather, for her assistance to Rev. Tony, for all my lesson partners who shared their stories with me and helped me to grow. Thank you Rev. Peter for facilitating the ACIM -1 class and for all the sharing you did. Today, I'm thankful for Rev. Dianna's music and for my husband, Rev. Charles, who led me to Community Miracles Center and encouraged me to be part of this community.
As many of you know, and maybe as some of you have experienced, I had a hesitancy in putting the title "Reverend" in front of my name. Even up until last week, I knew I said yes to this but even still, last week I couldn't make sense of it. I wanted to understand it on a deeper level. So last Tuesday I went to Holy Spirit and asked a very long question and got a very short answer, as often happens. Then I went through a whole process, which I will share with you. I just opened my journal that's here in front of me, it's the book I had on our way out here. As many of you know, Charles and I just traveled from Texas to Washington state. I journal every day and so in this (journal), is a conglomeration of everything – from directions, to things that we saw, to poems – and what popped out on this page right before you all signed on (the call) was this little message. Had I read this, I wouldn't have had any hesitancy. It says:
"I will accept my part today and listen to Your Voice.
It is my one desire. It is my only choice.
And if some doubts arise in the form of a test,
I'll simply see these words again & let You do the rest.
In this sacred silence, You will tell me what to do
I will hear my function and just be One with You,
In this Holy Instant."
I do have to say, that as we received the Rite of Ordination, and said "Yes, truly willing," being that this is a solemn occasion, something very unusual happened. The first time I said it, my heart started beating faster and faster. The second time I said it, a big smile came to my face. Then it grew bigger and bigger and I really felt a lot of joy. So I wanted to share that with you. I normally expect to feel peaceful and do, but not with this ecstatic joy.
So I asked Spirit, what does it mean to become a Community Miracles Center minister? I've reflected on this topic of becoming a minister a long while and finally just went to Spirit and asked. Why me? Why would I study a course that leads me to the title of "Reverend?" Sweet Spirit, you know I'm hesitant to take those initials "Rev" and put them in front of my name, and have people call me "Reverend." I do not want to be special. After all, we are all ministers of Love. So Sweet Spirit, why me? I did not study all these years with Community Miracles Center -– three and a half years, I'm a slow learner – with the intention of becoming a minister but rather to deepen my understanding and application of A Course in Miracles. In my childhood religion of Catholicism, priests were called to the priesthood. They really believed they were invited by God. Could it be that I am also called, called to teach, called to extend your love in a deeper way, with reverence and responsibility?
So Sweet Spirit, why me? I even looked up the word "Reverend" in Wikipedia. It said it was used by some spiritual leaders as a title of respect, honorable, venerable. This title, this style, is so unfamiliar to me. Why do I feel unworthy? Could this be one of the last deep perceptions of separation that I need to release? When I think about this title of "Reverend," I do feel uncomfortable and judge myself unworthy? Yet deep within me there is a part of me that comes alive when teaching the principles of the Course.
A few months ago my son Kevin transitioned from his body and went home. He is my oldest child, the wise one, the philosopher, the teacher. I went back to Connecticut and spoke at his memorial service, with so much ease. Fluently without effort, I shared my views about how we are not a body and that Kevin's love, his consciousness, and our memories of him are still with us. I really deeply believe that. I live that. If his perceived illness and his transition had taken place five or maybe ten years ago, before my intense study with CMC, I think I would have shared lots of thoughts and concepts about A Course in Miracles, because I had studied it with other groups. But, I don't think I ever could have lived this past year with such intense love, without fear – truly, without fear.
So maybe after all these years, I do say "yes" to the call of becoming a minister. If I can speak so easily at my son's funeral, witness to God's Love, and teach about releasing fear, I am going to be a minister. When I was up there in front of family and friends at the funeral, I had absolutely no concerns nor hesitations. I just spoke about love from my heart because I knew it. Your words Sweet Spirit, float through me. Now, I believe that by becoming a minister and saying "yes," I do not do this alone. I am joined with the other seventy-seven Community Miracles Center ministers. Together we teach. The course we teach is Love and this is my function. And so Sweet Spirit, today I say yes. I am truly willing and I stop asking "Why me?"
"Beloved sweet child, you are right, you are all ministers of love. By saying yes you are accepting responsibility which is sacred. Just as you said yes to receive sacraments as a child, you have followed Guidance to be here today, guided by Me, joined with others on their sacred journey. There is no difference in extending My Love individually or extending My Love together. Where two or more are gathered it is sacred. It is important. It is significant in your journey. This is truly an outward sign of an inward spiritual grace. So thank you all for saying yes. I love you. So be it."
CMC Minister #78: Rev. Mark Griffith
Rev. Pat, that was beautiful. It was just, just beautiful, thank you so much for that. I am honored to be here today. It is truly a joy and a blessing. I love all of you. Rev. Marci, Rev. Tony, and Rev. Dianna, thank you so much. What fun to be with you.
A Course in Miracles is a course in how to know yourself, our real Self again. The theme for my little talk this afternoon is Lesson 229. It is short and to the point. I'd like to read you that lesson:
"Love, which created me, is what I am.
"I seek my own Identity, and find It in these words: Love, which created me, is what I am. Now need I seek no more. Love has prevailed. So still It waited for my coming home, that I will turn away no longer from the holy face of Christ. And what I look upon attests the truth of the Identity I sought to lose, but which my Father has kept safe for me.
"Father, my thanks to You for what I am; for keeping my Identity untouched and sinless, in the midst of all the thoughts of sin my foolish mind made up. And thanks to You for saving me from them. Amen." (OrEd.WkBk.229)
It says, "I seek my own identity." So, what is my identity? Love. It's all about you, us and love. Unconditional love is not an illusion, it is a fact. It is what we are now, not tomorrow, not someday. We just need to choose it and then experience it. Love yourself. It's really that simple.
Everything is energy and there is only One Energy and nothing is separate. Let us remember this. We are all individual expressions of One Energy, a spark of light energy from Life Itself. A gift of consciousness from God. You are the experience of It and It's all within you. It is waiting for you. Each one of us is the power of Love, and it is extremely powerful because Love is All There Is. You are amazing, magnificent beings just the way you are. Remember your identity is shared, and that its sharing is its reality. All energy is Source. I am Source, defining Source as me. Love is the highest frequency we can vibrate in. It is Creation Itself. Love balances all energy. Love has no limits being everywhere. If I am loving myself, I am very happy and I don't want to be right. The Course says be happy for your only function is happiness. Stay in the intention of love for yourself, for the world, for others. But of course, there are no others.
Our responsibility is our choice. How are we choosing? The Course also says, "When you want only love, you will see nothing else. ... If you make love manifest, it's messengers will come to you because you invited them." (OrEd.Tx.8.69) Please remember to love yourself – all else will follow. Begin love with love. Keep your frequencies high. Keep choosing to be in love. You will meet Yourself. Life here is about creating yourself and that's a choice. Where is your attention? Take control of your own experience. We, in joy, serve the One who is us. You want to love yourself to get home. Take ownership of it. Have fun with it. Be happy in your choice.
That was pretty fast, actually. I'm going to end this with a quote, from Ramtha. I really love this. It just totally turns me on, if you will. "I Am God and all whom I see do I love. For I Am All I See and I Love Who I Am." Thank you. ♥
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This article appeared in the May 2014 (Vol. 28 No. 3) issue of Miracles Monthly. Miracles Monthly is published by Community Miracles Center in San Francisco, CA. CMC is supported solely by people just like you who: become CMC Supporting Members, Give Donations and Purchase Books and Products through us.