Standing for Human Decency at our Borders

Dear Centers for Spiritual Living Leaders, Practitioners, and advocates of a world that works for everyone,

During many moments in history, faith leaders have been responsible for causing significant and beneficial change towards those experiencing inhumane, unkind, and unjust conditions, through conscious peaceful actions.  We have many examples of the power of this throughout recent history: Gandhi, Mother Teresa, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., along with public leaders such as Nelson Mandela. 

As faith leaders, we know we “treat and move our feet.” This  is our moment to join a groundswell of voices and actions to take a stand for what is right, just, and humane at our borders. This Monday, July 29, 2019 a group of 400+ faith leaders, including a group of our own CSL ministers, will be standing for humanity on Moral Monday in a peaceful, nonviolent action called by Dr William Barber at the detention centers in El Paso, Texas. Let us unite in prayer and consciousness with those faith leaders. Please join us in holding the high watch for a resolution that is for the highest good for everyone involved and know with us that safety and love permeate this experience. 

Let us join together in individual and collective actions dictated by our consciousness that embody the qualities of Inclusivity, Wholeness, Safety, Love, and Peace for those at our borders. You can get involved by holding a prayer vigil and dialogue in  your own community in support of our global vision:

 We envision a world where personal responsibility joins with social conscience in every area of the political, corporate, academic, and social sectors, providing sustainable structures to further the emerging global consciousness.

We envision a world where each and every person has enough food, a home and a sense of belonging; a world of peace and harmony, enfranchisement and justice.

Just as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. envisioned the Beloved Community, we can stand for that and more. 

From the King Center:

In the Beloved Community, poverty, hunger and homelessness will not be tolerated because international standards of human decency will not allow it. Racism and all forms of discrimination, bigotry and prejudice will be replaced by an all-inclusive spirit of sisterhood and brotherhood.

Thank you for standing in our Vision and empowering others to do so as well. 


CSL Spiritually Motivated Social Engagement Committee

Centers for Spiritual Living joins Highlights Magazine in Standing Up for Immigrant Children

Dr Kenn Gordon and the SMSE Committee

Highlights for Children

Highlights Stands Up for Immigrant Children

As a company that helps children become their best selves—curious, creative, caring, and confident—we want kids to understand the importance of having moral courage. Moral courage means standing up for what we believe is right, honest, and ethical—even when it is hard. 

Our company’s core belief, stated each month in Highlights magazine, is that ‘Children are the world’s most important people.’ This is a belief about ALL children.

With this core belief in our minds and hearts, we denounce the practice of separating immigrant children from their families and urge our government to cease this activity, which is unconscionable and causes irreparable damage to young lives.

This is not a political statement about immigration policy. This is a statement about human decency, plain and simple. This is a plea for recognition that these are not simply the children of strangers for whom others are accountable. This is an appeal to elevate the inalienable right of all children to feel safe and to have the opportunity to become their best selves.

We invite you—regardless of your political leanings—to join us in speaking out against family separation and to call for more humane treatment of immigrant children currently being held in detention facilities. Write, call, or email your government representatives.

Let our children draw strength and inspiration from our collective display of moral courage. They are watching.

Kent Johnson, CEO, Highlights for Children, Inc.

Upworthy – Highlights magazine denounces family separations in a blistering new editorial

As the cold weather shelter season ends, what’s next for Redlands’ homeless?

Advocates have learned some hard, but important lessons this season.

Peggy Renner, 58, who has been homeless for four years, prepares “American Enchiladas” for volunteers and guests. Residents of the Center for Spiritual Living shelter, prepare dinner and other house keeping duties ahead of hosting the open mic night. Friday, March 22, 2019. (Photo by Frank Perez, Contributing Photographer)

By JENNIFER IYER | | Redlands Daily Facts
PUBLISHED: March 29, 2019 at 6:30 am | UPDATED: March 29, 2019 at 7:35 am

On a recent Friday afternoon Peggy Renner was a whirlwind of gray hair and cutlery, stirring a pot of cheese sauce, shredding chicken and chopping olives in a tiny kitchen in a building behind the Center for Spiritual Living in Redlands.

The 58-year-old is homeless, and she’s making her “American Enchiladas” recipe for about 30 volunteers and neighbors who are coming to a dinner at the center’s cold weather shelter for women.

“These ladies are wonderful,” Renner said of the volunteers. “They’re kind, loving. They care, and we’re doing it for them, we’re going to serve them tonight.”

The dinner is a send-off as the cold weather shelter season officially ends on Sunday, March 31.

It’s been a turbulent season in the city, which started off on an upbeat note when Set Free Church announced in November that it would offer a cold weather shelter, filling a void after the Salvation Army discontinued its program in 2017.

“Set Free stepped up to the plate and said they’d do it, which was wonderful,” said Lorrie Hinkleman, secretary for the Redlands Charitable Resources Coalition and a volunteer at the women’s shelter. “But they had a lot of people there — men and women — and it’s in a very prominent place.”

Complaints from neighbors brought code enforcement officials who closed the shelter temporarily in December, and for good during a rainy week in January.

Some people asked “‘how could they do it?’” Hinkleman said, “‘and on the worst night of the year,’ and yes, I think it’s really unfortunate, but some really good stuff has come out of it.

“If it hadn’t closed down, this wouldn’t have happened,” she added, gesturing to the small room where some of the homeless women helped set up folding tables and chairs for the dinner.

The Center for Spiritual Living almost immediately offered to take in the women when Set Free’s shelter closed, and after that The River Church and Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church offfered to take in a half dozen or so men each.

Hinkleman said she has learned “the value of having the women by themselves, because they really feel safe, and it’s just been amazing to see their demeanor change, because they know that every day, not only do they have a safe place to come, but they’re going to get fed.”

Advocates are already working with the city on plans for the next season.

Hinkleman said she’d like to see the shelter open every night, which would be easier on the volunteers who could have set schedules instead of being called in at the last minute when it was determined the night would be colder than 40 degrees, or more than a 30 percent chance of rain.

Being open nightly, as the women’s shelter was this year, is also better for those they are trying to help.

“When you have this group coming in every night you can start doing case management with them,” Hinkleman said, which would otherwise be hard if the homeless people are not always in the same place.

One 50-year-old woman, who said she has been on the streets since 2015, keeps a folded piece of paper with a mobile home photo and listing. She has been working with a case worker to get Social Security back pay, and once that happens, she said, she plans to move in at space 38.

Another older woman had been sleeping in her car at a rest stop near Banning. Hospital staff told her about the women’s shelter in Redlands, and volunteers were able to connect her with a sober living home.

Those volunteers developed a generic screening form, then they sit with the women at night and call San Bernardino County’s 211 system for services.

“If you’re doing the 40/30 thing, you don’t have the opportunity to build that, whereas we’ve had this time,” Hinkleman said.

Rick Ferguson, the volunteer coordinator for the cold weather shelters, said there are plans to work more actively at getting women into more permanent housing. A few days before the end of the cold weather shelter season, the Center for Spiritual Living decided to keep the women’s shelter open as a transitional shelter for another month.

The center will write some goals for the women “such as making sure they get to their doctor appointments, or their Social Security appointments so they can transition over the next 30 days,” Ferguson said.

The center will rely on volunteers from the community and other churches to make the transitional shelter work.

“There are government services, but what we found is that they’re just not accessible,” Ferguson said.

He said they learned having smaller groups at shelters also helps.

“That allows you to at least get to know them, and learn each individual case, what they need,” he said, but at best, all their work just gets the individual on a waiting list that is at least six months long.

For women in Renner’s position, that’s a long time.

She did get on a list, and gets some services, such as therapy. She admits she has had problems with anger and sobriety.

“I have struggled, but I will not let anybody pull me down,” Renner said as she deboned a chicken she boiled the night before. “There’s times that I want to fall apart and give up, but I know that’s not what God wants me to do.”

She has been cooking since she was 13. As a foster child, she cooked for six. She found herself on the streets after being evicted and her family wouldn’t help.

Renner misses her two grandchildren.

“They’re my everything,” she said, and once she gets a place, she can’t wait to see them again.

The streets have been hard on her, but conversely, that could help her more.

“I got raped out there,” she said.

Her dog was run over in a parking lot and she became hysterical until the paramedics and police were called. There’s a point system, she said, and once volunteers helped her share her life with case workers, she got bumped to the top of the list.

“These people are wonderful, I think that’s what keeps me going because they’re helping me,” Renner said. “I haven’t had this in a long time.”

Renner said she was looking forward to seeing community members at the dinner.

“They’ll get to see that we’re people, too. We have feelings,” she said. “I go to church, I cry. We’re all people, we just can’t find our home right now.”

After the dinner, the center held its regular open mic night.

Laughter and light floated out through the open doors as someone read a poem about chocolate. The stage was brightly lit, and in the darkness beyond candles flickered on tables cluttered with plates of food.

Women from the shelter, volunteers, and center and community members clapped vigorously.

In the dark, Renner’s wide grin glowed. She had received some good news during dinner.

“I got housed,” she said.

Original Article | Donate to the Women’s Shelter

A Prayer in Response to the Terrorism Against Muslims in Christchurch

From the CSL Home Office in Golden, Colorado

A prayer in response to the terrorism against Muslims in Christchurch, New Zealand:

This morning I speak these words in sadness. Feeling a sense of brokenness and confusion that such devastation and cruelty could occur. That someone could take the gift of life and use it to destroy the lives of others because of such complete lack of awareness and connection. I refuse to turn my head from hatred and choose to look it in the eye in full knowledge that hatred always pales in comparison with love. The love of life that binds us inward and expresses through the beautiful uniqueness of all souls, all nations and all faiths.

I pray that those families who were shattered by such delirious violence are touched by this love—by the outpouring of support and reminders of the good and caring nature of humanity. Although we cannot take their anguish away, I pray for moments of grace and a sense of inseparable connection with their dear lost ones.

I pray that those who teeter upon ideologies of bigotry and division step back and realize that this thinking does not lead to victory for anyone, and is an evil not created by God, but born of the ignorance of humanity.

I wholeheartedly believe in an ideology that celebrates our unity and diversity. That values listening and collaboration. That embraces integrity and honesty. And stands up to hate not only in its naked worst but in its hiding places.

May all beings know peace. May all beings know love. May all beings on this day hear the call to step into higher consciousness and a way of being for themselves, and for all. And so it is. Amen.

Written by Rev Josh Reeves, Co-Senior Minister, MileHi Church, Denver CO

Parliament of the World’s Religions response

Sent from Dr Kenn Gordon and the SMSE Committee

This Redlands church offers homeless women a safe, warm place after cold weather shelter closure

The Center for Spiritual Living, seen here on Jan. 30, 2019, in Redlands opened its doors to homeless women this winter when the city’s only cold weather shelter was closed due to code violations earlier this month. Organizers hope to keep it open through March 31. (Jennifer Iyer, Redlands Daily Facts/SCNG)

By Jennifer Iyer | | Redlands Daily Facts
PUBLISHED: January 30, 2019 at 3:08 pm | UPDATED: February 4, 2019 at 9:49 am

About 10 homeless women won’t have to spend frigid, dangerous nights on the streets this winter in Redlands after the cold weather shelter closed due to code violations.

After the facility at Set Free Church shut down in the rain on Jan. 16, advocates scrambled to find solutions. A shelter, for the women at least, has since been established at the Center for Spiritual Living, but this one, too, could close, if not enough volunteers step forward.

“If I don’t have a female per shift, then it won’t open,” said Rick Ferguson, the cold weather shelter program manager for the Redlands Charitable Resources Coalition.

Nights are broken into two shifts, 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. and 1 a.m. to 7 a.m.

It’s the early morning shift that is hardest to fill, Ferguson said, “because people work, and people aren’t used to staying awake for that period. It’s one that we struggle with getting people, but so far we’re holding.”

There is also usually a male volunteer on duty for each shift.

Those interested in volunteering at the shelter may contact Ferguson at 909-362-2819 by voice or text or email, and should provide a cell phone number and email address.

In addition, there is a need for toilet paper, paper plates, coffee and coffee cups.

The shelter opens at 7 p.m. each night, and a light snack is served as the women arrive. In the morning volunteers make coffee and put out pastries. The plan is to have the shelter open nightly through March 31.

Ferguson said it’s vital to offer homeless women a place where they’re protected.

“It’s the only place where women can get off the street where they don’t have to worry about any type of violence or predators out there,” he said. “It’s the only place available, and that’s why we’re trying to make sure we’re able to continue this, and give them the option to get off the street.”

The public can learn more about homelessness in Redlands by attending the upcoming homeless forums at the University of Redlands, he said.

Topics include “Cities in Crisis, What is Being Done, Where Do We Go from Here?” on Jan 31, homelessness and mental health issues on Feb. 7, employability and other services on Feb. 21 and housing on March 7.

All forums will begin at 5:30 p.m. in the Casa Loma Room at the university, 1200 E. Colton Ave.

Following the forums, a city-wide summit is set for April which will then lead to recommendations to the City Council, likely in May.

“We want the pros and we want the cons, because we want to be educated, and we want everybody to be educated from the professionals that we’re bringing in (to speak),” Ferguson said. “If the citizens out there have great ideas, we all need to hear them.”

Original Article | Donate to the Women’s Shelter