REVIEW AND RENEW
I grew up in a religious household. My mother would preface every plan by saying, “If it’s God’s will, I’ll plant sweet potatoes in the morning.” If it’s God’s will was her constant prayer. We were fundamentalist Baptists. The family went to church every Sunday where passionate preachers shouted that the devil was going to send us to hell if we didn’t fall on our knees and repent of our sins. And we couldn’t waste another day because Jesus was coming soon and those who weren’t saved would be showered with fire and brimstone.
I listened fearfully. Those loud and hellish sermons repeated in my nightmares and many nights I’d wake up screaming. My mother would rush to comfort me. She understood that I wanted to know a better God, and one night she advised me to simply ask God what He was and what the Truth was and promised me that I would learn what I needed to know. What freedom she gave me! To this day I love and appreciate her for freeing me to search, especially when I compare it to my preacher uncle, who granted his children no freedom to be anything at all but a Baptist. They left home and the church as soon as they could.
To make a long story short, I reasoned my way out of fundamentalism into metaphysics, finally discovering the Science of Mind. As I pondered the writings of Ernest Holmes in a state of wonderment, all stored up fears dissolved and I felt liberated, healed. I searched for the right church, the right teacher and found Dr. David Walker in the Los Angeles Church of Religious Science. I relished classes and took every course offered, including the Practitioners’ class, the Practicum and the two-year ministerial course. I took none of these to become a professional. I just wanted to know the Truth and how to put it to work in my life.
The day came, though, when I had completed all the requirements to become a licensed minister. Dr. Walker invited me to come onto the staff where I occasionally spoke, taught classes and began a counselling and healing ministry. After five years of serving at LACRS, I felt it was time to begin my own work. On very little money, but with some dedicated workers we managed to open a spiritual center in 2007. We had almost a hundred people at the opening, but a scary shrinking attendance the following Sunday. Each Sunday I prepared and prayed that spiritual seekers would find us…and eventually they did. By 2012, we had 145 members and weekly attendance of 45-50 people. Donations were good. We were in the black from day one and when I left there was money in the bank for the new minister.
After four and a half years, however, I was eager to explore other options, one of which was to write a spiritual book. But after I left, I did nothing. I didn’t realize it then, but I was burned out from constant work, sitting at the computer, writing a Sunday message, preparing a weekly newsletter, printing programs, managing the business affairs, the board, advertising — well, if you’ve been there you know how much work a minister puts into each week’s gathering.
After leaving I felt rudderless, directionless, and I wandered around for almost a year, I didn’t start that book or do much of anything. I castigated myself for being so lazy. But now I realize that I needed time to refresh myself. I had been on a relentless track for twelve years, and it was time for me to step back and review and renew.
That’s why I appreciate the Phoenix Bridge so much. But the Committee does much more than serve ministers like me. It’s a place for newly licensed ministers waiting for letters of call to a new post to receive support and advice. It’s a place for well-seasoned ministers who need rest and healing, who are visioning for a new direction. It’s a place for ministers grieving the closing of a spiritual center they started with great enthusiasm, or smarting from a poor fit at a previous post. It’s a place for retired ordained ministers and Chaplains to reach out for inspiration, healing and support. The Phoenix Bridge Committee members love and support all ministers during bumpy times of all sorts. I am grateful to those members who are on the Phoenix Bridge Committee for all they do.
Rev. Joan McCall
Pastor Emeritus, Creative Arts Center for Spiritual Living (CACSL)
Author of The Science of Mind Way to Success Wealth and Love, published by Devorss & Co.