On September 13, 2015, the Community Miracles Center had the exciting privledge to be host to a wonderful ordination of two new CMC Ministers. Rev. Jesse Brune-Horan became CMC Minister #88, and Rev. Kelly Hallock became CMC Minister #89. A wonderful pot-luck party was held right after the ordination. What follows is a lightly edited transcrition of their acceptance talks.
Rev. Jesse Brune-Horan:
Hello Everyone. What a beautiful day here in San Francisco. I'm so grateful to be here with you, with my family, my Community Miracles Center family. There's a little thing that I do when I speak in Los Angeles. I was wondering if you guys – to sort of warm up the crowd if you will – would humor me? Will you help me with this? (Congregation says "Yes.") Turn to the person sitting next to you, whoever it is, look them right in the eye. Whether you know them or not, we all know each other on some level. Just say, "My God you're gorgeous!" (much laughter) Now that that has been taken care of. We can get to work. (laughter)
I love God so much, and I think I always have. My first memory as a little boy, I was probably three or four, was lying in my backyard, looking up, feeling connected to everything, and thinking "Yeah. This is the sweet spot." I like this. I grew up, like Rev. Gwen, in a Southern Baptist Church – oddly enough in Seattle, WA. (laughter) There was one Southern Baptist Church and my family found it. (laughter) I loved the church so much! I loved being able to dress up once a week. I liked the music and I liked the people. I was known as the little boy who always smiled. But, there came a time, right when I was about 14 years old, I got clearly that I was gay, and I also got that the God of my knowing at that time was not cool with it.
And so, I reached a crossroads like many LGBTQ* people did. I had to choose between God or my authentic self. I think the hormones surging through the 14 year old me made that decision quite simple. (laughter) I said, I'll see you later and I began my godless life. (laughter) It's also when I found musical theater. (laughter) I was reflecting on this earlier and I thought it's funny. I also started drinking at that time. I drank from the age 14 to age 27. I was an alcoholic and a drug user. What I came to realize ... I came to understand with the perspective I have today that I was trying to hide from God. I was trying to dull the pain that I felt. I consciously cut off my connection to that which I loved so much.
It doesn't surprise me that a year after I got sober I had the idea to start a community like this in Los Angeles for LGBTQ people. I started to do it out of a gay bar so that we could have a different experience in a bar, and maybe perhaps shift the awareness there. For four and a half years, with the help of my cofounder, friend and mentor, Rev. Jennifer Hadley, we did just that. We created spiritual communities out of gay bars in West Hollywood. Every Sunday we would have a service, and now we have grown into a center like this in West Hollywood. This year we grew into Long Beach, California and we're going to the East Coast this year as well. So love is catching on. Isn't that a good thing?
I'm so happy to have a family up here as well because I have an ongoing joke that I'm so glad to use on a fresh crowd. (laughter) I've been to every guru, every shaman, and every life coach. I've sweated it out in lodges. I've yoga-ed; I've vegan-ed it out. I've cleansed – everything under the sun. What I've learned in Los Angeles is "finding God" can be very expensive. (laughter)
I'm so grateful that I've found A Course in Miracles. Like many people it sat on my coffee table in the plastic wrap for a year. Then I nibbled away at one of the corners for about another year. Then, I finally opened the book and since then my life has changed. How can it not? My idea about my life has changed. Thank God.
I know I have only a short period of time so what I was thinking today as I drank a very expensive cup of coffee (laughter) what I would really like to talk about. What came up through me was something I'd like to end this on for you today. In addition to being now a minister and the Spiritual Director of Inspire Spiritual Community in Los Angeles I also am the current president of the Southern California chapter of what used to be known as the "Rev. Marci's Fan Club." Now we're going to be changing the title to "Rev. Roxie's Fan Club." (laughter) (Rev. Marci was Rev. Jesse's and Rev. Kelly's ACIM-2 teacher and Rev. Marci had announced this very morning that she was changing her name to "Rev. Roxie.") We are taking new members. If you're interested you can see me afterwards and I'll sign you up. (laughter)It's just a newsletter; it's not much. It's just a lot of love and adoration for Rev. Roxie. (laughter) I'm serious because I love you so much. I decided to write an open letter to Rev. Roxie Benson. Also known as, "A Few Things I've Learned from Rev. Roxie." So, let's pull it together Brune.
The first thing I learned was authenticity is so healing. Isn't it? My first class with Rev. Roxie the conversation that we started to warm us up with was so wildly inappropriate that I knew, "Oh my God, I've found my teacher!" (laughter) I cannot believe that it was me and a bunch of "chicks" and Jon, who has transitioned to another plane of existence, and I trust is with us now, were talking about some really crass stuff. It was like "I am home!" (laughter) "I am home." The warm-up conversation was said with absolutely no judgment and no stink on it. I thought, "This is so healing!" This truly is non-judgment and something I was looking to master. I'm so grateful that I found a teacher.
Two, vulnerability is a myth. The Course says, "In my defenselessness my safety lies." (OrEd.WkBk.153) So if there's nothing to defend ourselves against how can we possibly be vulnerable? We are just simply sharing freely the beautiful, individualized curriculum we are all experiencing. I'm so grateful we have a community that gets that. We can just talk about what's going on freely and know that's what we're supposed to do. Right? We can love ourselves and we are free to love everyone who stands in front of us. Thank God. Thank you, Rev. Roxie, for teaching me that.
Three, don't let your job get in the way of your job. (laughter) She came out of "the closet" as saying it appears I'm teaching science to seventh-graders when in fact I'm teaching them how to love themselves. What a valuable, valuable thing that is! It really made me understand very clearly that as a Teacher of God it doesn't matter what we appear to do professionally. It's a way of being, a way to stand in the world. It is a commitment to practice, to the best of our ability, to remember our innocence so that we can extend that to our brothers and sisters, so we can truly see the face of Christ in whoever stands in front of us.
Four, if joy alone is the truth then we might as well enjoy ourselves. Right? I started spelling this officially, "in-joy" as "i, n, -, j, o, y" because I'm going to live in joy. It also turns out, and I really learned this by watching you (speaking to Rev. Roxie), go towards the stuff that you "in-joy"! That's our green light; that's our GPS system. We should be going for things that we "in-joy". Isn't that a revelation? Truly. When I stopped working jobs I didn't like, my life changed. It opened up, and it grew. All my needs were somehow met as if by magic. But we know what's going on.
Last but not least ... this is very important to me ...
Wait, I forgot something. Actually this process really supported the deepening of my marriage to my beautiful husband Chris, who I didn't give a shout-out to before. I want to say, "Thank you so much for supporting me in this wonderful journey and joining us as well."
Now, If you want to take notes this, is the time to take notes. (laughter) This is number five, last but not least. A little kink goes a long way. (laughter) Thank you so much! (laughter) ♥
**LGBTQ: is an acronym that stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, & Queer.
Rev. Kelly Hallock:
It was one of those interesting moments – "What am I sharing today?" I think it was about my journey and I actually went through one of my big changing points when I started studying the Course. I was in Rev. Tony's class and I was very analytical. I'm somebody who went to college to study the Bible and I studied Greek so that I could read it in Greek. It was that kind of thing. I remember in class one day I think I had been asking Rev. Tony for weeks. "Why does this sentence seem to contradict this sentence?" Why are things capitalized? I see things capitalized today that weren't capitalized last week. And he finally said to me, he said "Kelly," (Rev. Kelly turns to Rev. Tony.) I'm paraphrasing you. He said, "Let it go. (laughter) Go for the meaning." "Ohhhh." I don't have to do this in my head. I can open my heart to this. When he asked me what was my favorite quote in a section, I thought I don't have a favorite quote because I go along with a feeling or concept. I try to avoid picking it apart as much since he said that to me. It was really a good moment.
So I said what do I usually talk about when we were in class with Rev. Marci? I thought about this. I'd say something that meant something to me, that was life changing, but many times for me it was really ironic. Really. What's with that? You'd read a three page paragraph with a triple negative in a sentence. And then it would say, but the Course is really easy to understand (laughter). And those are kind of the ones that struck me. Ok there's obviously some kind of resistance here if I am laughing at this. And I think it's interesting. Probably the one quote that I always wanted to chuckle at was in the Workbook in Review VI where it says, "I am not a body I am free. For I am still as God created me." (OrEd.WkBk.SpTp.6.4) One of the funny things was, I got into A Course in Miracles through the personal trainer I had hired. (laughter) I always remember that any time I read that, I came up with this quote that my dad always used to say when I was growing up: "If it looks like a duck; acts like a duck; quacks like a duck; it's a duck." Then I'd get to Review VI – if it looks like a body; stands like a body; dresses like a body; talks like a body – and it's not a body. (laughter) I started always thinking about that. For years I didn't identify as a body. I identified as a fat body. I was very overweight and I thought how limiting the fat is for me.
I was not ever in social situations. When I went to a party I wouldn't even talk to people because I was thinking that they are going to judge me if I am eating. I was in my relationship with my husband at the time. It wasn't a good relationship, because I didn't expect him to respect me. I even had a job, a very prestigious job. Every time I got a review from my manager it was, "You're very good with your work but you don't pass physical standards." It was like, you do this job well, but you're too overweight.
And so my whole life I just limited myself with, "I'm a body." After Review VI it was I'm not a body. I'm free. Then I asked, "Why am I free?" It's in the second part of that statement, "For I am ... I am still as God created me."(OrEd.WkBk.SpTp.6.4) I flipped through Review VI this week and I picked up the different things it says, I'm a child of God. I'm whole. I'm a recipient of God's boundless love. And one of my favorite ones, this reminds me of something Rev. Marci would say to us, we are free from the past and the future. I don't have to have guilt. I find myself laughing, now when I start to get upset, I have Rev. Marci in my head saying, "Are you willing to see yourself as innocent even in this. Wow that is such an amazing thing – if I could look at that. There's a part of me that says, "I am not a body – phhhh – yeah okay (sarcastically)! But if I can move into that space of I am not a body I am free. I am a child of God. I am loved. That's where the freedom and the peace is.
Right now I'm at a real point of transition in my life. I don't know what I am going to do for about the next two months. I'm actually on a retreat. So this weekend I actually get to see people. I've been on retreat for about two weeks now so – people! This is kind of fun. I know this one thing. Every time I come back to the Course I can find a little more peace than I had the day before.
Thank you! ♥
3006 Buchanan Street Unit 1
San Francisco, CA 94123
This article appeared in the August 2015 (Vol. 29 No. 6) 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.