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CSL stands with the people of Buffalo, New York

Centers for Spiritual Living

The people of Centers for Spiritual Living stand with the people of Buffalo, New York. At a grocery store in a predominantly Black neighborhood, an 18-year-old white gunman shot 13 people on Saturday, killing 10 and wounding three.

We stand with those who are suffering loss today, who feel targeted and unsafe.  We stand with those who are grieving this loss of life, and our hearts are with the family and loved ones of the victims, not only of this tragedy but from wherever gun violence results in death.

We are deeply saddened by this violent act and by the racial hate that motivates and perpetuates crimes against People of Color. Racially motivated hate crimes or acts of violent extremism harm us all. The false narrative that creates fear of a certain group of people and dehumanizes them has led to violence. This stands in direct contradiction to the principles of CSL. At CSL, we believe that in our Spiritual Oneness, there is unique value that comes from diversity. We treasure this diversity and the benefits all of us receive from it.

We acknowledge the pain and vulnerability that occurs when places of communal gathering such as shopping centers, schools and places of worship are targeted with intent to do harm. We believe that at times like these, CSL’s World Ministry of Prayer may be a resource for people of all or no faith traditions. World Ministry of Prayer offers trained prayer professionals who are available to listen empathetically and create a personal affirmative prayer for anyone who calls on them.

If you are in need of prayer, visit CSL.org/World-Ministry-of-Prayer/.

Peace and blessings, 

Dr. Edward VIljoen, Spiritual Leader
Rev. Sunday Coté, Field Leader
Centers for Spiritual Living

International Transgender Day of Visibility

The world celebrates Transgender Day of Visibility on March 31. The Centers for Spiritual Living Spiritually Motivated Social Engagement (SMSE) committee invites each member of our centers, study groups and communities to join the celebration to raise awareness of the lives and contributions of transgender people, of the discrimination and violence they continue to face across the world, and to actively participate in transforming our collective consciousness by making the lives of transgender people more visible.

Transgender advocate Rachel Crandall Crocker, LMSW, executive director and co-founder of Transgender Michigan, created Transgender Day of Visibility in response to media coverage of transgender people as victims of violence on Transgender Day of Remembrance.

The shift in focus from “remembrance” to “visibility” is in part to celebrate the lives and achievements of transgender people while acknowledging that because of discrimination, not every transgender person is safe or visible.

In addition, anti-LGBTQ activists are increasingly targeting transgender people1. More than 80 anti-transgender bills are pending in over 25 states2, making transgender people visible only as they are demonized and blamed by politicians. Amnesty International reports that transgender people in Europe also continue to face discrimination and inhumane treatment.3

The media is the primary source of misrepresentation and stigmatization of transgender people and has shaped cultural misunderstandings of who transgender people are.

The world’s spiritual communities have a moral imperative to be an effective and powerful source of raising awareness and correcting the harmful stereotypes assigned to transgender people.

CSL’s teaching of Oneness and the revealing of Wholeness create the moral compass that inspires us to create a welcoming environment that affirms transgender people as exquisitely individualized expressions of Divinity and celebrates their contributions to society.

We celebrate and honor these powerful examples in CSL’s family:
Andi Hamm, Spiritual Living Center of Atlanta: “I love my androgynous look, even though I definitely, naturally, lean much more into my masculine energy.”
Andie Hock, RScP, Spiritual Living Center of Greater Dayton: “I am a transgender woman who supports her local Center as a licensed practitioner and as chair of her Center’s Leadership Council. I am retired but active in my local community in ways such as being a member of the local Public Health Community Alliance for LGBTQ+ Health Initiatives and as a support facilitator for the local PFLAG chapter. I see my transgender journey as enabling me to be her most authentic expression of the Divine.”
Christine Rene Monks, RScP, Mile Hi Church: “I transitioned from male to female 5 years ago to live the remainder of my life as my authentic self, a woman. I freely share my courageous journey authentically and vulnerably to promote compassion and understanding between the transgender and cisgender communities. I am enrolled in the Holmes Institute and School of Spiritual Leadership to become a minister.”
Erica Mitchell, Sacramento: “I began to cross-dress at an early age, envying all the things girls could do that boys weren’t supposed to (I was born in 1953). By age 16, I was 6’4″ and became convinced that I could never live publicly as the gender I wanted to be because of my size. It wasn’t until I retired at age 62 that I finally summoned up the courage to be who I really wanted to be, other’s opinions be damned. It was the best decision I ever made, and I am now happier with myself than I’ve ever been and looking forward to completing my surgical transition in the fall.”
Emma Moreno, RScP, CSL Comunidad Hispana Internacional (originally from Mexico City):Emma has lived most of her life in the United States. Emma earned her master’s degree in Public Health from the University of Washington and has worked in education and community health programs focusing on the Latino community. At the same time, Emma also maintained a real estate business for the last 20 years. She is currently a practitioner at the Center for Spiritual Life in Seattle, Washington, is an avid student of the work of Emma Curtis Hopkins and Rev Kathianne Lewis, and focuses on empowering people to live a prosperous life.
Gabrielle Clairborne, Spiritual Living Center of Atlanta: Gabrielle serves as co-chair of the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce’s TGX Initiative, as co-chair of the Trans Affairs Committee on the City of Atlanta’s LGBTQ Mayoral Advisory Council, as secretary of the Out Georgia Business Alliance and as chair of their TGX360 Workplace and Entrepreneurship Initiative. In 2020, she published her memoir-meets-self-help book “Embrace Your Truth: A Journey of Authenticity.” In 2019, the Atlanta Business Chronicle acknowledged her as their Diversity & Inclusion Outstanding Voice Award recipient, and she delivered a TEDx Talk for Centennial Park Women TEDx. In 2018, Gabrielle received the Georgia Small Business Administration’s LGBT Small Business Champion Award in recognition of her efforts in advancing LGBT business ownership. In 2015, Gabrielle was chosen as Atlanta’s Best Trans Activist, and her work has been featured in Forbes and The Atlanta Business Chronicle.
Dr. Juls Gilliam, Center for Spiritual Living Columbia: Dr. Gilliam has 25 years of overall IT experience and 20 years in academic computing, instructional and system environments. Focusing on creating, developing and orchestrating solutions, support and training for the end-user in various capacities has been Dr. Gilliam’s life work. Ze is a non-binary person and catalyst for positive change. To know more, please view the TedxTalk “Finding the Middle in Gender.”
Maurita Farmer, Spiritual Living Center of Atlanta: “I go by they/them pronouns. I am a proud veteran and parent. When I am not working and parenting, you can find me DIY’ing and serving my community and Center. I love to laugh and be surrounded by friends and family.”
Stephen Huiting, Sierra Center for Spiritual Living: At almost exactly 19-1/2 years of age, Stephen realized that he no longer needed to [desperately] wish he was a boy — he already was one. Enduring through a chronic disability, he managed to communicate this revelation to his family and now thrives openly as the human he has always been. Part of said thriving includes volunteering at animal shelters, domestic assault crisis centers and LGBTQ+ organizations; training his handicapped dog, cuddling his ball python and writing books, articles and poetry about queer experiences.
Kevin Sawyer, CPSW, Everyday Center for Spiritual Living, Santa Fe, NM: “I am 57 years old and began my journey of transitioning about 12 years ago. I am a certified peer support worker and volunteer at The Mountain Center in Santa Fe, NM. I love the support of my community and am happy to have found a home at Everyday CSL.”
Bette Jean Bishop, Bakersfield CSL: “My spirit is in a female body. I am not my body. Living with six cats and my housemate in California, I could write a book. I give compassion, exhibit gratitude, embrace love and see God in all of Life.”
Rev. Z. Egloff, OhMyGod Life: Rev. Z Egloff is a gender-rich minister, musician, writer, cartoonist and spoken-word artist. Z and their wife Melissa are the founders of OhMyGod Life, an online and traveling ministry. Z and Melissa’s mission is to bring radical joy to the world.
Del Phoenix-Wilcox, Sierra Center for Spiritual Living: Del (they/he) is a non-binary/Trans masc person living in Grass Valley, California. They are a social worker in private practice working exclusively with the LGBTQIA+ community providing therapy and gender diversity education.
Rev. Rafe Ellis, Sierra Center for Spiritual Living, Grass Valley, CA: “I identify as a female-to-male transgender man using pronounces he, him and his who lived the first 43 years of my life misidentified as a cisgender female. I am eternally grateful for my experiences as a female and as a lesbian because they inform my awareness of intersectionality. I am committed to living a visible expression of Creation AS Me and to being an engaged participant in educating anyone who chooses to learn by sharing my journey authentically, honestly and compassionately.”
DJ Star, CSL Kauai: DJ is a 40-year activist for sexual rights for all, especially to destigmatize and decriminalize sex workers. Decriminalization has proven to reduce abuse and human trafficking.
Jay Botinelly, Mile Hi Church: “I came out in 2015 because I couldn’t be something I wasn’t anymore. I had lost myself, and it was quite the journey to find myself. Thanks to the incredible love of Mile High Church, I am thriving in life.”
Rev. Kent Barnard: “I was trained at CSL Ft. Lauderdale with Dr. Jim Lockard and Dr. Arleen Bump, and I became a licensed as a minister in 2004. I was ordained at CSL in 2011. I am currently the spiritual director at Center for Universal Spiritual Principles (CUSP), which is part of ANTN.”
Mitch Austin, Center for Spiritual Awareness: “I’m a transman and grateful licensed Religious Science practitioner of more than 10 years. I have served as a youth advisor for teen camp. I currently speak and teach spiritual principles at various centers.”
Rev. Ryan Pulley, Soul Evolution Collaborative: Rev. Ryan Pulley is a graduate of Holmes Institute and the School of Spiritual Leadership and co-founder/co-director of Soul Evolution Collaborative. Holding an undergraduate degree in Religion and Philosophy with a minor in Ethics, as well as a master’s degree and clinical license in Social Work, Ryan brings both a spiritual and psychological understanding to ministry and program development. Their passion for the Science of Mind teaching informs both their clinical practice and ministry with the intention of individual transformation and communal evolution.
We also celebrate the amazing contributions of the transgender community worldwide: numerous elections to positions of power and influence4, education about the contributions of famous transgender people in history5 and support for the work of transgender artists, past and present.6

For example:
Aya Kamikawa, Tokyo Municipal Official, Japan
Anna Grodzka, MP, Poland
Geraldine Roman, House of Representatives, Philippines
Georgina Beyer, MP, New Zealand
Admiral Rachel L. Levine, United States Assistant Secretary for Health
Senator Sarah McBride, United States
State Representative Stephanie Byers, United States
Shabnam Mausi, Madhya Pradesh State Legislative Assembly, India
Luisa Revilla Urcia, Council Member, Province of Trujillo, Peru
Michelle Suarez, Uruguayan Legislator
Nikki Sinclaire, United Kingdom Parliamentarian
Andreja Pejic, model
Elliot Page, “The Umbrella Academy”
Caroline Cossey, “For Your Eyes Only”
Jake Zyrus, singer
Janet Mock, writer and activist
Kye Allums, NCAA athlete
Laverne Cox, “Orange Is the New Black”
Marsha P. Johnson, community advocate
Yance Ford, filmmaker

Therefore, in alignment with realizing CSL’s vision of a world that works for all, we celebrate transgender people and recognize their value in society7.

To transgender people everywhere, may you experience this proclamation of our hearts in Centers for Spiritual Living: We see you, we welcome you, we love you and we celebrate you.

Edward Viljoen, Spiritual Leader
Centers for Spiritual Living
CSL Spiritually Motivated Social Engagement Committee


RESOURCES:

To learn more about International Transgender Day of Visibility:Transgender Day of Visibility | GLAADInternational Transgender Day of Visibility – WikipediaTransgender Day of Visibility | GLSENTo learn more about speaking and writing about transgender people, gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation: HRC’s Brief Guide to Getting Transgender Coverage Right – Human Rights Campaign

To learn more from Amnesty International about discrimination faced by transgender people in Europe: Europe: Transgender people face discrimination and inhuman treatment – Amnesty International

Footnotes:
1 Netflix documentary: “Disclosure: Trans Lives on Screen”
Legislative Tracker: Anti-Transgender Legislation – Freedom for All Americans
https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2014/02/europe-transgender-people-face-discrimination-and-inhuman-and-degrading-treatment/
4  12 History-Making Transgender Politicians From Around The World | HuffPost
5  List of Transgender Celebrities (ranker.com)
P&G_AdvertisingResearch.pdf (glaad.org)
7https://csl.org/spiritual-community/our-global-vision/

A Call to Prayer

Centers for Spiritual Living
We are struck and saddened by the realization that during the celebration of the Season for Nonviolence1, our world is experiencing armed conflict in more than 70 locations on the planet.  We are saddened, too, by what appears to be an overarching concern about the impact of war on the economy.

We are concerned about war’s impact on life, families, children, the environment, habitats and ecosystems on which we all depend. The current war in Europe brings to our attention the recent daily themes of the Season for Nonviolence — harmony, friendliness, respect and generosity — and rightly causes us to question if our spiritual work is having any beneficial impact on the world.
 
We believe it does, based on our teaching that consciousness is cause. Therefore, in light of what is happening, we feel called to reinforce our spiritual practices and affirm our support of and advocacy for peace everywhere2.
 
We invite you to join Centers for Spiritual Living’s Spiritual Leader Dr. Edward Viljoen in a daily devotional at 6 a.m. PT3 (or whenever you feel called to participate), to light a candle as a symbol of our commitment to keeping our hearts open to love, our trust open to peaceful resolution of conflict and our minds open to the guidance from a Power greater than we are.

• Join Dr. Edward on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CSLSpiritualLeader
• The daily devotional is also available on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/c/CentersforSpiritualLiving

We stand with people everywhere who are standing for peace and protesting violence. We stand with people everywhere who are praying for all leaders and all governments. We stand with people everywhere who dare to grieve the use of violence as a means to attain dominance and economic security.

We stand humbly with people everywhere who can look to their personal and national history of complicity in violent means without losing courage or hope for a better world. We stand with people everywhere who help in times of crisis and who refuse to celebrate death, innocent or otherwise.
 
In our spiritual work of embodying oneness, we feel called to embrace:

• Haiti and the threat of further instability in that country
• Myanmar and the escalating fighting there
• Kazakhstan and the loss of lives during the fuel price-related nationwide riots
• Colombia and Venezuela, whose people are enduring armed clashes on the countries’ borders
• Burkina Faso and the widespread political anger there
• Syria and the thousands of displaced Syrians
• Ukraine and the hundreds of thousands of displaced Ukrainians fleeing the invasion of their country
• Everyone, everywhere violence touches our planet

We call you to join us in teaching strategies for peace4 and what it means to engage in peace consciously. We call you to share your views and concerns with family, community members and congregations, considering the question, “What can be done to end conflict?” We call you to connect with other spiritual and religious communities to discuss these issues and take collective action.
 
We call you to join us with affirmative prayers, vigils, meditations and hymns of peacemaking. And we call you to reaffirm your trust in the power that these tools have to help mend feelings of helplessness and contribute to peace.

With love,
Edward Viljoen
Spiritual Leader, Centers for Spiritual Living
Spiritually Motivated Social Engagement Committee

“We are now seeing the necessity of a world law, to the maintenance of which all nations, great or small, shall contribute the best they have that the strong shall protect the weak without overpowering them; that the great shall live with the small without subduing them; that cooperation shall take the place of aggression; that government shall rule without tyranny through the common consent of the governed and that individual freedom shall unfurl its flag of liberty on the ramparts … .”
 
— “The Essential Ernest Holmes,” pages 178-179

1. 64DaysLenEllis (agnt.today)
2. https://www.crisisgroup.org/crisiswatch
3. Join CSL’s Spiritual Leader Rev. Dr. Edward Viljoen in a daily devotional practice at 6 a.m. Pacific Time. You can watch a recording of it and previous devotionals at any time afterward. Go to https://www.facebook.com/CSLSpiritualLeader. You can also watch the daily devotionals on the spiritual leader’s YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/c/CentersforSpiritualLiving
4. Thich Nhat Hanh: “Order of Interbeing” | Tiep Hien

Miracles Happen: 70-year-old homeless woman reunited with family

CSL Redlands recently hosted a reunion gathering for Mary Currie. To hear her amazing story of being reunited with her family after years on the streets, read the article in the Redlands Daily Facts: