Response to Presidential Remarks

On Sunday, January 14, 2018 Dr Kenn Gordon and the CSL SMSE posted this statement “Response to Presidential Remarks.”  In the face of the escalation of racist remarks and chants we’re currently hearing, we post this statement again. 

Centers for Spiritual Living

Response to Presidential Remarks

 “As a child, when I was bullied and called names, my mother tried to give me strength by teaching me the old adage ‘sticks and stones will break my bones, but names will never hurt me.’ It was useful for me to hang onto then, and still comes in handy now.  The only problem is that it’s not true. The words we use have a fundamental impact on us and on others. First, our words demonstrate what we really believe. Second, our words literally shape our experience, as the narrative we tell becomes the filter through which we see the world. And finally, in some fundamental way, our words shape the very fabric of Life itself by providing the mental equivalent in consciousness for the Universal Laws to use to shape reality.” 

~ Rev. Dr. Petra Weldes

In the Science of Mind™, our founder Ernest Holmes, states: “Jesus plainly tells us that we are held accountable for the very words which we speak.  No man ever lived who placed a greater power in the word. ‘By our words, we are justly condemned.’ The word may be considered to be the complete thought and act of man. There must be a thought before there can be an act, and a thinker before there can be any thought. The thinker condemns or justifies himself through his thought.”

So now we come to it…the words used by a person in power that are vulgar, racist, demeaning, and absolutely demonstrating what is in the mind and heart, as well as the world that is trying to be created. The President of the United States has time and again used harsh and racist language, most recently about residents of Baltimore and a black Congressman, shirking his responsibility to represent the highest values of the nation. This is not an isolated situation, but part of an ongoing pattern of racist behavior, and many will pay the price.

This is NOT the world we, as spiritual beings, are creating together. This is NOT the world that we, as human beings, want for our children. This is NOT the world that we as people of faith believe is what the Love of God is seeking to express through us. This is NOT the world that we, virtually all descendants of immigrants, indentured servants or slaves, are dreaming and building together. Every civilization has its ugly elements; the best leaders strive to help their society rise above limitations rather than validate and encourage them. Citizens are right to expect leaders to set an example based upon higher values. We speak out on this issue because we are called to do so by the spiritual principles which we hold dear.

Let us remember that words DO have power. Let us hold loving and compassionate intentions and speak words that demonstrate what we think and believe thereby living from a deeper spiritual reality. Let us celebrate and affirm our connection, oneness, and love for each other, our global family. Let us call to account ourselves, our friends and colleagues, our communities, and our leaders for the words that are used. Let us demand civility and respect for all people from our leaders and from one another.

From Centers for Spiritual Living Global Vision:

We envision a world in which we live and grow as One Global Family that respects and honors the interconnectedness of all life; a world where this kinship with all life prospers and connects through the guidance of spiritual wisdom and experience.

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 person has enough food, a home and a sense of belonging; a world of peace and harmony, enfranchisement and justice.

We believe in a world that works for everyone. While we may not perfectly know what this looks like, we do know that striving for it, speaking about, and claiming it with our words are a way to make it a reality.  Words DO have power. They have the power of truth in them. And Words of Truth, aligned with the spiritual teachings of the ages, “love thy neighbor as thyself,” create the world in which we all want to live.

Blessings to All,

Spiritual Motivated Social Engagement Committee

Dr. Kenn Gordon, Spiritual Leader
Dr. Petra Weldes, Chair
Rev. Andriette Earl
Dr. Jim Lockard
Rev. Sara Nichols
Rev. Abigail Schairer
Rev. Mark Gilbert
Sara Awad, RScP
Layne Taylor

Full text of Centers for Spiritual Living Global Vision

The Power of Spoken Words by Dr. Hyder Zahed

Words for the shootings in Gilroy, El Paso, Dayton, & Brooklyn this summer

Words for the shootings in Gilroy, CA; El Paso, TX; Dayton OH;  Brooklyn, New York; and so many more this summer in the USA, and for those suffering violence & bigotry.

adapted by CSL SMSE Committee from Masando and Rebecca Hiraoka’s Prayer for El Paso, TX  posted by MileChurch, Denver CO.

This weekend alone we must face, yet again, a peculiarly American tragedy – 3 mass shootings in the USA. The shooting in El Paso, like so many others, appears to have been driven by bigotry and the hatred and fear that bigotry creates. It is tempting to turn away from this news because we are numb from all the other days we’ve woken up to similar news of mass shootings, of bombings, of all manner of violence in the USA, and around the world, carried out in the name of division, fear, and bias so deep it rots the bones. 

We are asked, however, by the Spirit of Love & Unity that runs through our veins, that knits our communities and families together, and by the principle of Oneness by which we live to stand strongly and clearly in our compassion for and  support of  those who are suffering. 

We lean into the knowledge that Spirit is alive in El Paso, Dayton, in New York and CA, in the USA, and in the  world. We know that every moment Spirit is supporting us into a life of both compassion and action. Love asks to be multiplied, even in the harshest conditions. 

Today we hold in our hearts all those experiencing the terror of gun violence. We will not turn away from the suffering. We mourn for and honor our precious sisters and brothers whose lives were lost. We know that comfort and all needed resources are surrounding those who have lost loved ones. We know Divine healing is present at the bedside and in the bodies of those fighting for their lives in the hospital. We know comfort and Divine guidance for the first responders and medical professionals serving those impacted by this tragedy. 

As spiritual scientists, we know that what is happening in the world today is a reflection of a consciousness that is festering in the US and around the world.  We hold in our hearts all those who suffer under the weight of their own bigotry as we allow our own bias to be healed more and more each day. May we continually wake up to our Oneness with all of life. May we see God in all people and all living things.” We also know that words matter.  When the rhetoric of the time, particularly from the highest political offices, separate, divide, and call out our darkest selves, it makes incidents like these more likely.  

In this, we realize that Love is also ushering us into collective action, to bring forth a transformation and healing of the USA’s addiction to gun violence & bigotry.  We trust that each one of us is guided to take the right, necessary, and inspired actions that fosters healing, individually and with others who are  inspired to create systemic change.  We are, every day, celebrating diversity, fostering peace, and deepening belonging of all beings. We are divinely called to this work of peacemaking. 

We are grateful for the beloved community and this spiritual family that steps up and mourns together, provides resources, pours compassion into pain, and dares to build communities of peace where all people belong and are safe. 

With love for our human family, we release these words into the Universe knowing that hope, compassion, resources, love, and healing are alive today and always wherever these tragedies strike, in the United States, in the world, and in the hearts of all people. We Trust in Divine Guidance, our collective moral courage, and the willingness to act for the raising and transformation of consciousness.

In Love and Service,

The SMSE Committee

Dr. Kenn Gordon, Spiritual Leader
Dr. Petra Weldes, Chair
Dr. David Alexander
Dr. Jim Lockard
Rev. Andriette Earl
Rev. Mark Gilbert
Rev. Masando Hiraoka
Rev. Sara Nichols
Rev. Abigail Schairer
Sara Awad, RScP
Layne Taylor

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