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Reverends: Steve, David, Sue, & JulieOn June 9, 2018, Steve Ibarra, David Murdock, Sue Riley, and Julie Vance were ordained by the Community Miracles Center as part of our first online video ordination service. Each (with the exception of Rev. Steve) gave a talk that day. Rev. Steve gave his talk to those assembled at the Community Miracles Center Sunday Gathering in San Francisco, California on June 24, 2018 which was Gay Pride Day in San Francisco, a huge event. Below is a lightly edited transcription of those talks.

◊ Rev. Steve Ibarra – CMC Minister #110 ◊

Let me first give praise to my spiritual brother, Rev. Vincent Fuqua, who brought me here and of course, Rev. Tony, Rev. Peter, Rev. Dusa Althea, Rev. Rudy and all of you my blessed A Course in Miracles brothers and sisters here in San Francisco. Let me not forget to bless my wonderful ACIM-1 and ACIM-2 class, Rev. David, Rev. Sue, Rev. Julie, and Rev. Peggy. Most of them were on the East Coast. That was our class. We spent two years studying with each other. I am, as well, blessed to be born and raised in San Francisco. I am indeed blessed with that.

I am blessed to be ordained on this wonderful celebration day, the largest Gay Pride Day ever. It’s the biggest we have ever had. It’s called “Generations of Strength” (sirens can be heard in the background) and it’s already started too. (laughter)

This is a beautiful, beautiful sunny day in San Francisco. Very rare. It’s boiling out there. We never get that here, but each hour we have the opportunity to be in the moment with God and our Spirit, because a bird with broken wings begins to sing today, a stream long dry begins to flow today. The world is born again each time we pray and practice. (see: OrEd.WkBk.109.7) We allow ourselves to shift our ego to the Spirit quicker, faster – remembering that we are here to bring peace to the world. We reverends, and we who are A Course in Miracles students – all of us are blessed to be messengers to deliver the Spirit to all. So let our amazing Spirit shine today and always in time with God. All of us are to glow.

Praise our Lord for this blessing and this blessed beautiful day. We are the change of our center, so let go and let God right now, because we are loved. We are called; we are chosen. We are rich; we are generous. We are beautiful; we are blessed. We are anointed; we are appointed. We are equipped. We are enabled by the power of God’s work to be It’s messengers. Here and now, all of you and me. Right here. Right now. (applause)

Allow us to be the God, the Spirit, the faith, and the love. That includes you all who are online. Be what you want to see in the world right now with me because all of us, we all can, and we can right now. So let it be. Thank you. (applause)

I have a song for you all. There is a reason for this song. Because Rev. Tony, Rev. Peter, Rev. Vincent – the three of you raised me up and that’s why I am here. Hit it! (Rev. Steve now sings along with a recording of *You Raise Me Up* by Josh Groban)

When I am down, and, oh, my soul, so weary
When troubles come, and my heart burdened be
Then, I am still and wait here in the silence
Until you come and sit awhile with me

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains
You raise me up to walk on stormy seas
I am strong when I am on your shoulders
You raise me up to more than I can be

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains
You raise me up to walk on stormy seas
I am strong when I am on your shoulders
You raise me up to more than I can be

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains
You raise me up to walk on stormy seas
I am strong when I am on your shoulders
You raise me up to more than I can be

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains
You raise me up to walk on stormy seas
I am strong when I am on your shoulders
You raise me up to more than I can be
You raise me up to more than I can be (applause)

(“You Raise Me Up” - written by Brendan Graham & Rolf Lovland)


◊ Rev. David Murdock – CMC Minister #111 ◊

Thank you very much Rev. Tony and thanks everyone for being here today to share with us in this auspicious occasion. “Reverend David Murdock” – Hmm. Not something I ever thought about as being a title that I would aspire to. In keeping with my practice, learning what it means to be a reverend, I think I might just be beginning that process.

One thing that has come to me as I’ve been sitting here thinking about what to say and tuning in to the Voice of the Holy Spirit is that gratitude is the way in which I walk in love. I really do feel very grateful. I feel grateful for this opportunity that I’ve had over these last two years to not only review the materials, the written material of the Course, but to deepen my faith. This was something that until I picked up the Course to read starting 2016 with Rev. Tony and the ACIM-1 class, I kept to myself. I kept my practice largely to myself. Not entirely but quite a bit and for a long, long time. In looking back, I realized that when I started with this group, a significant reason why was that I really needed to take time to ground myself in the principles of the Course in terms that were meaningful to me. I needed to come to understand, through my practice, what the Course was teaching.

Somewhere in the Text it says it’s not the material of the Course that is the least bit unstable, but you as a learner who when coming to the Course have a lot of instability. This comes from the teacher who you brought with you. Up to this point that is the ego, which is a very unstable teacher. For a long time, I think the ego in my mind tried hard to reconcile itself to the material of the Course. I really did. I know for myself I really did internalize the message of the Course. The core message and the prime directive of the Course is forgiveness.

After about ten years of reading the Course beginning to end, beginning to end over and over about four times in a ten year period, I came to a point where I realized I had read it enough. I had gotten what it had to tell me to the extent that I had gotten it. So then it was time to really implement and put into practice and internalize the message as I understood it. So that’s what I started in 1996 and then I pretty much put the Course down. I didn’t refer to it much except occasionally. But I did practice it. I practiced it in my work as a massage therapist. I practiced it in relationships, not exclusive to but in particular to, my relationship with my wife Norma. I credit the Course with really saving that relationship in a very significant way.

When reading the Course, I came to recognize that healing is the primary message of the Course, a primary focus. When I saw that and understood that message as being what the Course is about, I could acknowledge quite readily within myself that I could use healing. This did not come to me as something difficult to accept. I could acknowledge that I need to be healed in my own mind: about how I perceive the world, about how I experience the world, and my interpretation of what is going on in the world.

When I saw that, quite immediately, it was a game changer. It shifted my entire orientation of myself in connection with the people I was in relationship with.

It was gradual too. The shift was first in an instant but also gradual. It has continued that gradual pace, and it has expanded. It has grown to include more and more of the world, more and more of my relationships, more and more of my experience. For that, I can only have gratitude. Gratitude is the way I walk in love, the way I walk in truth, the way I walk in God. What else could there be? When we get in touch with what is in ourselves, gratitude just seems to go with the territory. It is quite a beautiful thing.

I want to thank Rev. Tony particularly for doing this work. You have been dedicated. I remember. I watched you. I remember when the California Center started on Market Street. I had started the Course at that point. I started it in 1986.

I was first introduced to the Course through you (Rev. Tony) by coming over your apartment to visit. It would be around your apartment. My first reaction when looking at it was this. (laughter) Miracles. I don’t know. It had something to do with something supernatural and I couldn’t possibly imagine it having anything to do with what I wanted to engage with. I didn’t want to involve myself with it, but I do remember very distinctly that the title and the vibration of the book never left my mind from the moment I first set my eyes on it. I would come over. I’d come over periodically and it would always be there. I would kind of think, touch it and “grrughh” maybe a finger would touch it – sort of. But I never really opened it. I didn’t let myself open it, but it never left my mind. Then in 1986 an opportunity came up where I was determined to discover for myself what this Course actually says.

I was deeply relieved, I suppose, to discover upon opening it and reading it, that it was nothing like I thought it would be. That was in and of itself was quite a revelation, quite astonishing. It’s about, as the very opening passage says, it is about Reality. The Course is about the truth of Reality. I thought, “Ok. I can work with that. I think I can come to learn something of that in a way.” So that was the beginning and what has continued.

What was particularly notable for me when I started to read with the group in the ACIM-1 class was a transition in my orientation. Forgiveness had been a key focal point of my attention and practice. Then I started to really hear in my mind in a way that I hadn’t before, and as explicitly as I could now. I started to learn how to hear Holy Spirit. That is something I really can attribute to the caliber of the teaching, the caliber of the conversation that unfolded in those weekly classes and in that weekly reading of the Original Edition.

I think it has something to do with that as well. The later published editions of the Course do include more material. That material seemed to put me in touch with that Voice in my mind and learning to identify it, and learning what it takes to adjust my hearing to hear it more distinctly because it is a different type of listening. It is a different kind of voice than the voice of the ego. The comparison is a very valuable and an important element to be reckoned with once practiced. So that has been and continues to be a very, very key addition and step forward in my practice. I’ve been extremely grateful to have access to that in a way that I didn’t up until that point, not in the way that I do now. Obviously I think the Voice is always there but I have a way to hear it now. I think forgiveness in and of itself helps tune us into it in a way because otherwise the Voice is hard to hear. So there is a deeper level of engagement that has come about through more explicit engagement with the material itself.

(To Rev. Tony) I’m telling you I have just truly admired the way you have let yourself carry on with this work year after year, class after class for so long. I know that for myself, well I don’t know that for myself, I could read it with a group of people over and over and over and over again the way you have. I think that is quite remarkable. It is truly a great service. I applaud you and thank you for making that available the way you do.

Then I moved into Rev. Paul’s group. I remember reading his posts that would come up on the CMC Supporting Member page in Facebook and I thought they were quite humorous. Clearly Rev. Paul had put a lot of work, and a lot of thought, into assembling these memes. They are more than memes. The material captured the message of each lesson in a very humorous way, but also in a very instructive way. It helps clarify what has been difficult to come to grips with at times.

Our ACIM-2 classes together truly had a congenial atmosphere in which everyone participated happily, and there was a close fondness that developed. We had the opportunity to work with each other on a rotating monthly basis exploring more deeply in the material through the lessons. It is a great set up, and really significantly accomplishes what it sets out to accomplish.

So it is in gratitude that I walk this path and walk it with each of you. I know that as we continue in the unity the oneness of mind, it does express itself. It is becoming more and more accessible the deeper and more dedicated our practice is. The more the opportunity, the more that recognition makes itself present in our experience together as teachers, as students – that deepens my appreciation in gratitude.

So Reverential David, maybe not so reverential but nevertheless quite delighted to be a part of this community. I’m very grateful for all that has transpired this last couple of years. Thanks very much.


◊ Rev. Sue Riley – CMC Minister #112 ◊

I will tell you that I have been a seeker since I was a child lying in the grass staring up to the stars and the endless sky with wonder and awe. I would ask, “Everything ends, doesn’t it? But if it did end, what’s on the other side? And what about time?” I had so many questions.

I was raised in the Christian faith and had a wonderful grandmother who taught me the love of God. It was a gentle, loving Jesus she spoke of, and I felt His embrace while growing up. I know I was very fortunate to have that kind of start. However I did have many forgiveness opportunities growing up that formed the fears and challenges of my youth and beyond. Always seeking, I attended many churches over the years but always found something missing and my deep questions remained unanswered.

Then my wonderful daughter, Julie, came to me with her revelation. She had found A Course in Miracles. Well, I met this news with skepticism and great concern for her. But with learning and unlearning, I knew that The Course was true. What is interesting is that as I got into the material as it was presented to me, I realized that much of it had been stirring in my mind for a long time. It began to answer my confusion about the things that I had been taught in church.

I have to say that the Course came along at just the right time in my life as I had some big issues to overcome soon after I began to study it. I was replaced at work where I had been instrumental in running a program for ten years. I opted to retire and within a month of that, it was time for me to be hospitalized for anticipated open heart surgery to repair a faulty valve. Complications extended my ICU stay to a month. I had wonderful faith opportunities and experiences during that time thanks to my new and beautiful understanding.

While I was in ICU for the first few days, I could have been full of fear because of the complications. However God sent me words of comfort. Yes – the Comforter! I heard the audible words “faith,” “peace,” “love,” and “trust” as if on a slowly running tape while lying in bed hooked up to tubes and wires. I even remember asking nurses what that was, and, of course, they had no idea what I was talking about. The Holy Spirit was present and brought peace to me that all was well.

The Course tells us that “God’s angels hover near and all about. His Love surrounds you, and of this be sure; that I will never leave you comfortless.” (OrEd.WkBk.Ep.6) What more do we need? The Holy Spirit is in us. Angels hover near and all about. God’s Love surrounds us, and Jesus promises, “I will never leave you comfortless.” (OrEd.WkBk.Ep.6)

I am so happy to be able to be speaking to all of you who are on this path and I love you all! I want to thank Rev. Paul for his wisdom and wonderful teaching, his mastery of the Course and light-hearted teaching style. Rev. Paul, your in-depth understanding of the Course informs your ability to bring it home to each student just as he or she needs. What a wonderful time we have all had in class together!

I also want to thank the Community Miracles Center for making all of this possible. Thank you Rev. Tony and Rev. Kelly for all you do. Thank you for offering the classes with such gifted teachers! This has tremendously blessed my walk. It has been just precious to get to know my beloved companions, Peggy, Susan, David, Steve, Myke, and Judi. I also must say that I feel so happy to be on this walk with my daughter, Julie. I know that is in no way typical and that we are truly blessed.

One of my favorite lessons from the Course is Lesson 95: “I am One Self, united with my Creator, At one with every aspect of creation, And limitless in power and in peace. I am One Self…. You are One Self with me, United with our Creator in this Self. I honor you because of what I am, And what He is, Who loves us both as one.” (OrEd.WkBk.95.13,15,21)

One Self, with one purpose: “to bring awareness of this oneness to all minds, that true creation may extend the Allness and the Unity of God” (OrEd.WkBk.95.16). Let me give myself to this process, knowing my true purpose, recognizing I am in training to awaken mankind along with me

“You are One Self, complete and healed and whole, with power to lift the veil of darkness from the world and let the light in you come through to teach the world the truth about itself. You are One Self, in perfect harmony with all there is and all that there will be… it is given you to feel this Self within you and to cast all your illusions out of the one Mind which is this Self, the holy truth in you.… Your own acknowledgment you are One Self, united with your Father, is a call to all the world to be at one with you.” (OrEd.WkBk.95.17-19)

“When you meet anyone, remember it is a holy encounter. As you see him, you will see yourself. As you treat him, you will treat yourself. As you think of him, you will think of yourself. Never forget this, for in him you will find yourself or lose sight of yourself. Whenever two Sons of God meet, they are given another chance at salvation. Do not leave anyone without giving salvation to him and receiving it yourself.” (OrEd.Tx.8.19)


◊ Rev. Julie Vance – CMC Minister #113 ◊

My first experience with the Community Miracles Center was at the A Course In Miracles Conference in Chicago 5 years ago, “The Gift of Lilies.” I didn’t know then that I would be getting ordained as an ACIM minister, or even the extent that the CMC would play a part in my life. The one thing I did realize was that right away, I felt at home. I knew there was a resonance with this group and with this teaching that was “right on.” I remember the love I felt during that first Conference, the light-hearted and joyful support I felt from Rev. Tony and his staff, and the brotherhood that I experienced. I knew I had found my satsang, my group of spiritual brothers and sisters that would support me in my spiritual journey.

You see, up until that point I had limited exposure to anyone else that even mentioned or knew about ACIM so it was quite a relief to me that there was a whole community dedicated to this teaching that emphasizes the importance of true forgiveness and the everlasting truth of our oneness.

I knew this teaching was something different than what most other churches had taught me growing up and was, in fact, just what I needed at this time in my life. You see, on the evening of September 17th, 2010 (which I would later find out was the eve of Yom Kippur – which is the Jewish Feast for Atonement) I had a transformative, mystical experience which I have often referred to as my spiritual awakening.

I was at a vulnerable point in my life, disappointed by several events including lingering pain associated with my step-father’s death. I wondered why I couldn’t be truly happy and knew there had to be something wrong with me – something I needed to figure out about myself. Above all else, I had decided that I wanted the truth. I was willing to open that Pandora’s box, regardless how bad or ugly it was. I simply wanted to know the truth – and I meant it with every fiber of my being.

Then, right after I had that thought, a flood of emotion took over my entire being – seemingly from within and radiating out – enveloping me in pure joy and love, even taking my breath away. At that moment it seemed that time evaporated away from existence and I stood on the precipice of pure consciousness – as if the door of life cracked open for but a second, allowing true Reality to seep through a narrow fissure. It was then I felt it, the entire universe joined with my being. At that split second, I understood completely, and without hesitation, how all beings are joined together in a divine community – a divine essence of pure joy and of love. Words really do an injustice in attempting to describe the feeling, but I knew this energy, this love, was that of a universal oneness that we often call God.

Seconds later I was once again conscious of my body but felt a complete abandonment of any fear or doubt, an overwhelming sense of love for everyone which remained quite noticeable for several days later. Eventually, the everyday hassles, pressures, and strains made that joyful and certain feeling wane to a degree, although I think to this day I am still transformed by this event.

After that experience, I was very aware of the presence of the Holy Spirit and the fact that I was being guided by a gentle, loving, force that would set a number of events into motion in my life. I hungered to understand more about God and spirituality and find out if there were others “out there” that had similar experiences. I started to read about Buddhism, Hinduism, and other Eastern religions while also studying psychologists like Carl Jung who wrote about the collective unconscious. After my experience, I knew that there was something more to life than meets the “eye/I” and I found that these disciplines started to touch on it. It wasn’t until later that year, on Christmas Eve, that I got the best gift I could ever receive. My own father actually told me about this book called A Course in Miracles that he had been studying for several years.

Once I heard about this teaching, I looked it up online and started reading through the Urtext version. I couldn’t believe what I was reading. It was a teaching that was completely consistent with my experience earlier that year. I immediately ordered the Foundation for Inner Peace version and started studying The Course consistently over the next couple of years. I grew to love it and my growing relationship with Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Eventually I was led to try to find out more about ACIM groups and found out about the upcoming conference in Chicago where I would attend and start getting more involved with the CMC.

I first started The Way of Mastery class with Rev. Roxie. Through that experience I learned to be more gentle with myself and open my mind more and more to the Holy Spirit’s guidance. I remember Rev. Roxie saying that everyone was entitled to their own fearful expression. How awesome was that concept? Giving everyone the freedom to choose any expression they wanted, even if it seemed like an unpleasant energy – now that’s true freedom!

After that, my mom and I both started Rev. Paul’s ACIM 1 & 2 ordination classes together. It was a wonderful experience to do this with my mom, one for which I am still very grateful. Rev Paul emphasized the importance of laughter, not taking ourselves so seriously and being open to innocent play! We learned and laughed with many students during his classes and he made being a part of this program so much fun.

And Rev Tony, you’ve challenged all of us over the years to ask the question, “What does spirituality really look like?” Can it look like someone taking off his clothes in Las Vegas? Are there ways we can learn to be more vulnerable and more honest with one another? I could not be more thankful for your brave leadership and ability to challenge our community to be ever more open-minded and more honest with each other.

Steve, it was so wonderful to get to meet you face-to-face at the San Francisco Conference “Love Makes No Exceptions” earlier this year and I always appreciate how cheerful you are and it is so apparent how much love you share with everyone around you.

David, I can’t tell you how much I’ve enjoyed our talks over the past year. I love your ability to talk about the different gems hidden in each of the lessons and so admire your unwavering ability to always bring the conversation back around to forgiveness and staying in the present moment.

I would be remiss if I didn’t say a couple of words about my mother and her obvious impact on my life. Besides just giving birth to this physical incarnation, she has giving me some of my earliest teachings about God and love. She has always truly been my best friend. In fact, one of my clearest teachings about spirituality goes back to a short discussion I had with my mom when I was probably about 9 years old.

She emphasized to me that she would always love me, no matter what. I remember I even asked her if she would still love me even if I did something horrible and went to jail. She said that she may not like what I did, but she would still always love me. I knew my mom really meant what she said and that whole concept blew me away. That idea of unconditional love somehow resonated with me and I knew it was important then, but now after studying ACIM and being blessed with so many wonderful teachers and teachings, I have a much better appreciation of just how central unconditional love really is and why it is so important to extend it to everyone in every relationship, because we are all one.

Every person at the CMC, in my classes, and in my life have been instrumental to my spiritual development and I am thankful to each and every one. Finally, I’d like to share a short poem I was inspired to write shortly after my mystical experience in which the Holy Spirit reminds us that we are all the “Precious One” and duality is unreal.

What Binds Your Mind?

What binds your mind?
What bids your lips farewell?
What is it that makes you feel
      so encumbered with your guilt?
Know this, Precious One, you are good.
That is it.

Without you this world has lost a spark,
And is left wanting.
It yearns for your essence to emerge.
How could this not be so?<
Why must I convince you?

Born in perfection
Arose you from the womb of Heaven,
Bestowed with her sweet caresses,
Yet now you walk amongst the shadows in dread;
Denying the splendor of truth abound.

Throw down the shackles that bind you.
Let the earth bend her head.
Release the confusion that buries your soul.
Know this, Precious One, you are good.
That is it. 

Reverends: Steve, David, Sue, & Julie

© 2018 Community Miracles Center, San Francisco, CA – All rights reserved.

Community Miracles Center
POB 470341
San Francisco, CA 94147

This article appeared in the July 2018 (Vol. 32 No. 5) 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.