After speaking with Nicky's aunts, I had a clearer sense of the family and their history together with their mother. The family created most of what they wanted said, and I was honored to be able to provide the space for them to honor the passing of their beloved family member.
I never realized, when I started feeling the strong urge to be an Interfaith Minister, just how much this type of minister is needed in the world at this time.
It was 1997 when I became consumed with the passion to become an Interfaith Minister. I began searching for a seminary that would provide me with the training to fulfill my dream. All I could find at the time were seminaries too distant which would provide training through correspondence or ones that had requirements to start a splinter church in the area where the newly ordained minister resided. None of the philosophies resonated with me.
I had just completed a three-part program called the Curriculum for Living offered by Landmark Education. The last part, called the Self-Expression and Leadership Program, was designed to help each one of us create a community project and to overcome whatever fears we had along the way. The words from our facilitator over and over again were, "Don't get off the train." I still remember her parting words to us on that last day of the three month seminar. "Now you each know that whatever you desire you can have; if it is not available in your area, you know you can create it yourself."
These words came back to me one Sunday morning as I was finding a seat before our interfaith church service. Susan Richmond, who had become ordained in an interfaith seminary in New York, shared her experience with us and ended by stating that she was still feeling incomplete.
I saw my opportunity become a reality as I approached her after the service and asked if she would be willing to help me and our coordinating minister, the Reverend Gary Culp, if he were willing, to start an interfaith seminary right at our own interfaith community, Pebble Hill Church.
Our minister did agree to join us and we began two years of research and planning. Not only was Susan's background invaluable , but we were also gifted with talents we needed by people from the Pebble Hill community who volunteered for the founding committee.
We knew we were being guided by Source as instruments of a Higher Power. Whenever we would meet an obstacle, we would pray for help, providing it was Divine Will for the Ministry School to come into existence, and the obstacle would dissolve. We witnessed miracles along the way, increasing our faith in the guidance of a Higher Power. Powerful lessons were experienced in surrender.
I wonder how I could have imagined being ordained anywhere other than Pebble Hill, for it personifies the philosophies I believe. There is no dogma at Pebble Hill Church, for we believe that God is in each and every one of us. Our minister is called Coordinating Minister since we believe we all minister to each other. We believe in a Higher Power and that He/She is a non-punishing God who loves unconditionally. The book we study from is not the bible; but books such as A Course In Miracles and by authors such as Neale Donald Walsch and Don Miguel Ruiz.
The main function of the school is for students to have an awareness of all religions. The closer we come to understanding each other, the closer we come to harmony and peace. The school prides itself on the excellence of its instructors, which includes university professors, authors and professionals who are outstanding in their field. As Ellen Schipul, a past student says, "The School of Sacred Ministries gave me a vehicle to travel my soul path and come out seeing the whole picture."
Susan has passed over and Gary Culp retired as our minister, to be replaced by an incredible minister by the name of Rev. Stephen Heilakka, whose journey, should you some day come to know it, is the personification of the Interfaith Path.
For more information, please check out our website at SchoolofSacredMinistries.org
Editor's note: I've gotten to know the contents of the School of Sacred Ministries. It puts together an extraordinary curriculum with gifted teachers from many walks of life, covering every spiritual path you can imagine. Rob Kall