Knowing Peace in the Midst of War

Centers for Spiritual Living
An important message from your
CSL Spiritually Motivated Social Engagement Committee
  CONTENTS  
Christian Leaders’ Call to End Violence
What We Can Do
Join the Global CSL Community in Prayers for Peace
Today’s Prayer of Comfort
Your SMSE Committee Members
Not only must we have complete faith in Spirit and Its ability to know and to do, but we must have complete confidence in our approach to It. We must not be lukewarm in our conviction. We must know that we know.
— Ernest Holmes, “The Science of Mind,” page 159
October 13, 2023 — Given the current level of escalation in Israel and Palestine, we bring our awareness and love to all of those touched by this crisis, to all whom suffer.
 
We are saddened by the attacks against the Israeli people carried out by Hamas. The loss of life is devastating, and we decry violence in all forms. To quote the patriarchs of Jerusalem, “We unequivocally condemn any acts that target civilians, regardless of their nationality, ethnicity or faith.” Further, the patriarchs said, “We implore political leaders and authorities to engage in sincere dialogue, seeking lasting solutions that promote justice, peace and reconciliation for the people of this land, who have endured the burdens of conflict for far too long.”

Read the Christian leaders’ call to end violence here. We, too, pray for a cessation of violence and for the rights of the Israelis and the Palestinians to live free from fear, violence and war. 

As we explore the power of paradox as CSL’s global theme this month, we’re aware that war and peace form the biggest paradox of all. How do we continue to know peace in the midst of war? We cannot move toward a more peaceful world until we address the underlying causes of violence, inequity, injustice, colonialism and oppression of all forms.  
 
Our founder Ernest Holmes declared, “The promise that comes from practicing a conscious sense of union with the Divine is a deep, abiding peace even in the midst of personal or planetary challenges. We can create a spiritual chain reaction which can bring peace in the midst of chaos.” 

What We Can Do
We can unite in focusing the energy of love to bring peace to Israel and Palestine, to Ukraine and to all areas of the planet where there is no peace through the creation of a spiritual chain reaction. Allow the energies of peace, love and harmony to rise up and become strong. Peace begins at the center of our own being, where instead of moving to fear, anger or anxiety, we focus on the greater powers of love, peace and harmony.

We hold space for peace to be realized. We convene peace vigils, prayer calls and read sacred texts while also engaging in sacred activism. We band together to remind each other that there is an infinite and divine creative force of life that is wholeness and truth. We stay in constant prayer without ceasing to remember what we know, rekindle our sometimes-dwindling faith and continue to seek the light amid the dark abyss.

Join the Global CSL Community in Prayers for Peace

Peace Meditation & Prayers
Join CSL Geneva and CSL communities in Ukraine, Crimea at 12 p.m. (noon) U.S. Mountain Time, Monday through Friday at 12 p.m. (noon) U.S. Mountain Time. Here is the Zoom link.

Heart of Peace Meditation
Join the CSL Heart of Peace Initiative every Monday at 1 p.m. U.S. Mountain Time on CSL’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/centersforspiritualliving

However, it is not enough to simply pray. We must also act. Get involved in local agencies providing relief to refugees. Donate to reputable agencies working in areas of the world where there is strife. The GuideStar website provides information about how funds given to nonprofits are used: www.GuideStar.org.

Today’s Prayer of Comfort
We offer this prayer of comfort and truth as a collective show of peace and faith in the divine presence of love, right in the midst of war:
 
There is a power for good in the Universe, and it is moving in and through me this day to bring peace, harmony and good to all. The Divine is everywhere present, especially and including in all spaces of war, conflict and violence. We bless all who are impacted by conflict of any kind. We lift up peace in the midst of war. We pray for healing and comfort where it is needed right now. In gratitude, we declare this truth collectively. And so it is.

In love and solidarity,
CSL Spiritually Motivated Social Engagement Committee
Rev. Soni Cantrell-Smith, Spiritual Leader
Rev. Sunshine Michelle Coleman, Ph.D., Chair
Rev. Beth Linguiri Ayodele McClenney, RScP, liaison to the CSL Leadership Council
Rev. Mike McMorrow, D.D.
Rev. Kathleen Sibley, Director, CSL Global Services
Rev. Audri Williams
Questions? Email Communications@CSL.org

With Sorrow for the Loss of Constitutional Protection

Centers for Spiritual Living

Reproductive rights remain a highly polarized issue, with many differing points of view within each family and spiritual community. Centers for Spiritual Living’s North Star is our Global Vision, our organizational shared values, and our Science of Mind statement of belief, all of which speak directly to liberty, equality, equity, inclusion, human rights, compassion, safety, self-determination, and spiritual living. For that reason, we are unambiguously in support of the lives of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color; unambiguously in support of gender equity and equality; unambiguously in support of LGBTQi+ lives, and unambiguously in support of women being sole decision-makers about their lives, wellbeing, dignity, and choices.

Overturning constitutional rights may be seen to be the evidence of an organic, flexible self-renewing, democratic social structure, and its power to recreate itself according to the will of its people. Why then, is there a painful smoldering sadness and anger in our nation? Why then are the protesters of the 60s and 70s watching with shock and dismay? Why then are historically marginalized communities experiencing fear and despair?

Perhaps the answers lie in national polls which show that the Supreme Court’s decision is out of sync with the will of the people, Or perhaps the answer lies in the ominous language used by the dissenting Supreme Court Justices who issued a united statement of dissent:

“With sorrow — for this Court, but more, for the many millions of American women who have today lost a fundamental constitutional protection — we dissent,” they wrote and warned that “no one should be confident that this majority is done with its work.” I take that to heart when members of the highest court in the nation issue a warning to its people – saying don’t be fooled into thinking this is done.

What is contained in the warning from the Supreme Court dissenting Justices?

This: the blow to women’s rights, signals that other previously recognized rights now fall into jeopardy. The warning may stand also as a reminder to us all that it is spiritually appropriate for us to be unequivocally in favor of people’s rights, women’s rights, LBGTQi+ rights, and the rights of people who have been oppressed marginalized, and disenfranchised. The warning evokes the sentiment that we are not to be so spiritually minded, that we are no earthly good, a reminder that we ought not to take refuge in spiritual practice when others on the planet suffer, but instead to let spiritual practice propel us into action.

To quote Trauma & Co, an organization that supports people who live with and work with trauma, “The control and removal of body autonomy is traumatic and/or can activate trauma memory and trauma responses for so many humans.” Regardless of what an individual’s stance on reproductive rights may be, in the days and weeks that follow, it is likely that we will encounter in our families and communities the complex emotions that go with grieving a loss. We encourage you to reach out to the World Ministry of Prayer for spiritual support and to offer the resources to others who may be struggling with a traumatic response to the Supreme Court’s ruling.

World Ministry of Prayer – A Ministry of Centers for Spiritual Living (csl.org)

Dr. Edward Viljoen, Spiritual Leader
Rev. Sunday Cote, Field Leader
Centers for Spiritual Living

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/