“The Times, They are A-Changin’ . . . and So Are We” Dr. Maxine Kaye

Our ministries tend to have seasons, and we are wise to move through them with as much grace as possible. Having served two previous Centers as Spiritual Leader and one as Assistant Minister, both on the West Coast, and three as Interim, I have now been Spiritual Leader on the East Coast for nearly five years. I also did a “free-form” ministry between my first and second Centers, traveling through the country, speaking and giving workshops, and, later, visited Centers in the U.S. and Canada as an R.S.I. Board Member, giving Practitioner Seminars, and conducting Regional Meetings. Ultimately, I offered “Co-Creation” work in many Centers. My experience has taught me that, “Wherever I go, there I am,” for both good and less good! The plus side is that I am more in love with Spirit and our teaching every day and am grateful always to be in community with people who are seeking to deepen their connection to Source, to live authentically from Spirit, and to continue expanding their creative, intelligent activity, for themselves and others.
No matter the culture in each Center, I have found it appropriate and acceptable to live from my Authentic Self while honoring and seeking to understand the traditions and mores of each group. Of course, it is greatly satisfying to remain with a community long enough to watch children grow from tots to teens and adults expand in consciousness and quite another thing to be a “circuit preacher,” loving and leaving them! In either case, we are sowing the healthiest seeds we know how to plant and encouraging the people to discover and use Principle.
It is difficult to leave each Community, and my heart has just grown larger each time I take all those people with me. It has had to soften over the years and I am sure has stretch marks, and that is okay with me. I prefer to have those tender feelings and to honor anyone who may have had a conflict with me, as well. This ministerial road is not for the faint of heart but for the fervent of soul, and that is whether we are in buildings, on the internet, traveling about the world, or seeking rest and repose. A minister is a minister no matter the circumstance, and we do well to flow with each change of scenery and every type of activity.
The models of ministry have changed over the past forty-three years, as well, and I have come to appreciate and embrace the cooperative, consensus-driven type of teamwork with the leadership of each community, unlike the benevolent-but-decisive minister-in-charge approach with which I grew up. Inviting God to be in charge, we gratefully employ the ego to become that finely-tuned instrument through which Spirit may flow with Grace and Power. My major lesson has been to trust the Infinite Wisdom within me to guide me confidently and successfully through each season of my life.

Spiritual Mind Treatment

Divine Mind, Powerful, Loving, and Wise, is the One Creative, Intelligent Life that acts upon Itself to bring all sentient beings into form. I am a beautiful, individualized expression of that Life, filled with the Mighty, Moving Power of God, and living in Its Perfect Flow.
My mind is clear, my heart is open, and I move with Grace in and through each valued change in my life, trusting my Inner Guidance, and delighting in the spiritual alchemy always at work within my consciousness.
Never resisting the forward impulsion that continuously shows me the way to the next sacred expression of my Authentic Self, I heed and obey its wise and loving call. Like the seasons, I live harmoniously with Life, honoring the balance in my world, as “God is a rest and a motion,” and I choose to “rest in reason and move in passion.”
Deeply thankful for my adventure in Spirit, I embrace and embody the truth of these words and now release them to the Perfect Law of Mind, confident that the Presence gives generously and the Law acts impeccably.
And so it is!

Rev. Dr. Maxine Kaye
Greater Philadelphia Center for Spiritual Living
Paoli, PA 19301

Trust The Universe! – Rev. Angelica Jayne Taggart

Rev. Angelica Jayne Taggart

I’ve been a minister for 33 years. I’ve been the leader of 3 Centers, one that I started. I can’t imagine doing anything else.
In the early days of my ministry in Hawaii, I found myself at a board meeting being accused of taking money from the offering plate by one of my practitioner students. This student had gone behind my back, telling her story to the board members. They began to have secret meetings and there was whispering in the congregation. The story grew from my taking money out of an offering plate one time, to questioning how I was handling the money in general.
During the meeting, I felt attacked and betrayed. My integrity was being questioned. I had made change for someone from the offering plate one Sunday. I didn’t handle the finances – our administrator made the deposits and paid the bills. The board knew this.
Having founded the church, I had put more money into than I got out of it. The board knew this as well.
I’m not one to get angry easily, and yet this day, I was livid. I found myself yelling at the student. One of the board members said I scared them – I had no right to be angry. Which of course made me even angrier.
To tell you the truth, I don’t remember all that was said, but I do remember this. Part of me was ready to quit and the other part of me KNEW everything was going to turn out all right. No matter how mad I was, and how hurt I felt, I knew I had to be fully present. I called on that Presence Within to help me.
At one point, the student said I reminded her of her sister. I knew they did not have a good relationship. I suddenly realized this was a healing moment for her. She could carry on with her abusive stories, or we could heal them right then.
I took a deep breath and asked everyone to go into sacred silence. Inwardly I treated to know the right things would happen.
After a few moments, I was guided to apologize. I argued with myself about that, as I hadn’t done anything wrong, but the urge became stronger, so I apologized for yelling. I told the board our administrator would always show them the books & the Sunday deposit sheets if they desired. I told them I knew all of us had the highest good in mind for our Center and were doing what we thought we should do. I expressed my sorrow that the situation had grown so big and asked for agreement for more open communication in the future
One by one the others apologized as well. The meeting ended with a group hug and a great Treatment. My student and I met later to talk about the healing she needed because of her past.
This experience taught me about “triggers” – and that it wasn’t about me at all, it was about my student’s need to get back at her sister. It also reinforced my faith that everything happens for a reason and things come up to be healed, tho not always the way you’d like them too.
Though a part of me wanted to tell the story of not being appreciated, of being hurt because they believed I would steal, of being angry for being told I wasn’t allowed to get angry, and anger at the student for treating the situation as she did, I never brought up the story again, except to my journal, and with this writing. Whenever the feelings would come up, I reminded myself that my only job was to love her and the others that participated because of her.
It also reminded me I could trust the Universe!
Thank you for letting me serve you in this sharing.

Rev. Angelica Jayne Taggart
revangelica@gmail.com

I Live In New Beginnings – Rev. Nancy Fagen

Rev. Nancy Fagen

This writing is a response to an invitation to share some of my experiences as I continue to nurture my soul through my expressions and service to ministry. On March 30, 2016, it was with spiritual clarity and calmness that I resigned from the pulpit ministry of the Center for Spiritual Living Jacksonville after serving as Senior Minister for 15 years. Since that time my focus has been to keep discovering the unexplored spaces of my spirituality as I resonate with Rumi’s quote, “Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray.”

Before I left the pulpit ministry I followed a divine urge to write two books—Divine Nudges of Spirit  which can be viewed and ordered through www.nancyfagen.com and It’s a Divine Done Deal: Affirmative Prayers for Easy Living and Steps to Write Your Own available in print and kindle at www.amazon.com  These led me to continue answering the call to further writings which appeared in May of 2016 as Daily Guides in Science of Mind magazine and a feature article –In Your Dreams: Exploring Your Creative Imagination— scheduled to appear in the May 2017 issue.

One of my favorite writings to keep me in tune with myself is from Martha Graham, choreographer. It speaks to me as I focus on expressing my unique self. “There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium, and it will be lost. The world will not have it. …You do not even have to believe in your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you.”

How do I find my unique purpose—my soul power and keep myself open and aware to the urges that motivate me? I have found helpful sections of Thomas Moore’s book, Care of the Soul in which he suggests “It comes first of all from living close to the heart, and not at odds with it. It may emerge from depression, failure and loss. The general rule is that soul appears in the gaps and holes of experience. It is usually tempting to find some way of denying these holes or distancing ourselves from them.”

One of my affirmative prayers from It’s a Divine Done Deal: Affirmative Prayers for Easy Living and Steps to Create Your Own seems appropriate at this point. I share it through the following words.

Every time you are tempted to react in the same old way, ask if you want to be a prisoner of the past or a pioneer of the future. The past is closed and limited; the future is open and free.  Deepak Chopra

I Live in New Beginnings

God is the power of now—everywhere present in all manifestations. In this moment of sacred unity with the One Power and Presence, I rejoice as I now live, move and have my being in new beginnings.

I wisely choose new intentions, intelligently cooperating with the Law of the Universe and staying in tune with my intuition as it guides me in the perfection of each new creation. Letting go of any thoughts or feelings, regrets or successes from the past, I live in the infinite potential of each and every moment, initiating new and glorious beginnings that are unprecedented and unlimited expressions of magnificence personified. I easily keep the focus of my attention on my intentions, creating and sustaining new and opulent experiences, blessing myself and all others.

Unfolding more and more to the Divine potential within me, I gratefully and joyously know this to be the truth of my being in each moment of my life. I live in new beginnings. And so it is.

For your continuing reading pleasure, I present this excerpt from Divine Nudges of Spirit: www.nancyfagen.com

A Deep Spiritual Book, a Metaphysical Journey, Delighting the Soul in an Exploration of Intuition—Divine Nudges of Spirit

Casual is Causal

Driving home from a conference, I casually mentioned to a friend, “I’m ready for an angel to come for my white wicker furniture.” I was making a geographic move in a week and had already sold many items. The only major item left to sell was my white wicker furniture.

When I returned to my home, there was a message on the answering machine from a woman saying she was interested in buying a small television for her son. She wanted to come look at the one that I had advertised.

We arranged a time, and while she was looking at the television, she spotted the white wicker furniture. She immediately expressed an interest in buying it.

We arrived at a price, and she said her husband would return at five o’clock with a truck. I agreed and she left.

A few minutes after five o’clock, the doorbell rang. When I opened the door, a man introduced himself to me. “My name is Angel,” he said. “I’ve come for the furniture.” Feeling amazed but appearing calm, I said, “Yes, of course, please come in.”

In a flash of awareness, I recalled my comment to my friend the day before. After loading the furniture on his truck, Angel presented me with a check, saying, “And this check is good.”

I answered, “I’m sure it is!” The check has his name, Angel, on it and was beautifully decorated with small cherubs.

When I think of this event, I am reminded that any thought I think-expressed or unexpressed, however casual–is indeed causal to my experience.

In spiritual support

Rev. Nancy Fagen, Ph.D

32100 Harbour Vista Circle

St. Augustine, FL 32080

nancyfagen@comcast.net

904-471-9024

The Unknown – Vanecia Wills-Leufroy RScP

Vanecia Wills-Leufroy RScP

Phoenix Bridge allows. It allows me to be me in all my uniqueness. It allows my uniqueness as a person and minister to be supported and fed. My feedings are unique to the expression of the God that I reflect for I reflect the I am. I am guided; yet, I am also free to create, to create what Spirit is calling forth through me. Unencumbered am I. Free to create my path; free to learn what I am; an even greater expression of Spirit.

I am free to not know. I am free to seek and be in the seeking of something unknown. Free to play, to grow comfortable in the realm of the invisible. Free to develop the flexibility of the mind and the openness of the heart. Free to trust as I seek.

A poem I wrote some time ago fits quite perfectly with what I am sharing here.

What We Seek
We are always seeking.
Often this takes place on the outside of ourselves, rather than the inside.
We are always seeking.
Often what we seek is through the physical world rather than the spiritual world. Because we are not always aware, of what is most important to our souls. The tangible becomes our desire rather than the intangible. So we seek others, we seek things that leave us still seeking. As we become more aware, more conscious we find:

What we seek is:
To feel alive
To feel whole
To feel appreciated
To feel heard
To feel accepted
To feel loved
To feel expressed

The inner voice knows what we truly seek. This voice whispers to us. We must be still, we must listen. We must be open and receptive. We must seek this inner voice, this knowing part of us.

We will then find what we seek is intangible.
For what we seek
is to be alive
is to be whole
is to be appreciated
is to be heard
is to be accepted
is to be loved
Is to be expressed

This is what we seek!

This is certainly what I seek.

Review and Renew – Rev. Joan McCall

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.

Email: Joanmccall135@sbcglobal.net

Living an Intentional Life – By Rev. Eileen O. Brownell

Rev. Eileen O. Brownell

In The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo, he tells the story of a friend who decided that it was time to paint his living room. The next day he went to the store purchased all the necessary paints, brushes, tarps, and rollers and returned home. Before entering the house, he meticulously stood on the front porch and removed the lids from each paint can and began to mix them. Next, with the brush in his mouth, the tarp under his arm and a gallon of paint in hand he approached the front door. He stood there in front of the door and made every effort he could while still holding everything to open the door. After a few moments of struggle and almost having the door handle turned, he teeter a little and then ultimately lost his balance and fell backwards. Needless to say, red and white paint went everywhere! It was all over the porch, in his hair, on his clothes, and he had lost almost everything. The beauty of this story is that in order to be open to something new, a new way of doing something, we have to be willing to set something down. We have to be willing to let go of what’s no longer working.

In the Seat of the Soul, Gary Zukav states “Each intention–anger, greed, compassion, understanding–sets energy into motion…What you intend is what you become…Power is energy that is formed by the intentions of the soul. It is Light shaped by the intentions of love and compassion guided by wisdom. It is energy that is focused and directed toward the fulfillment of the tasks of the soul upon the Earth.

          “Yes, yes” you say. “I know that!” My question to you however, is do you live it? Do you live an intentional life? Do you have a covenant and intentions that guide your ministry? Do you have intentions that guide you?

So often when a major change occurs in our life, we are not content and so our intentions may become a way of getting ourselves out of an unlikeable position. In Luke 5: 37-38, we know that Jesus told the parable of old wine skins. No man pours new wine into worn-out skins; else the new wine will rend the skins, and the wine will run out and the skins will be ruined. But they pour new wine into new skins, and both are well preserved.

Nine years ago I went to Israel and this parable came alive for me. I learned that the fermentation process that occurs in new wine is one of expansion and movement. It isn’t like pouring a cup of water in a bowl. Wine expands and contracts as it ferments. Old wine skins are already formed and hard. If you pour new wine into the old skins, they will crack and loose the wine.

So often we are like the old wine skins. We are so set in our ways, that we are unwilling to even try something new. When a major challenge occurs in our life like job loss, divorce, or major illness, we yearn for life to return to what it once was….even when we know it was not working.

One of my teachers Lloyd Stromm indicated that the “universe if full of principles and laws. However there is only one law that truly empowers us to take charge of the conditions and circumstances of our lives and that is the Great Law of Life.” And just what is the Great Law of Life?  You receive what you believe!

This has become a widely accepted principle of mainstream psychology as well as modern quantum physics. Jesus tells us in Matthew 8:13….” As you have believed, so be it done unto you.” Whatever is transpiring in our life, we are creating. Every challenge or conflict in our life is waking us up to the fact that we are believing something that is not true about us or our life.

The Great Law of Life provides us with not only what we believe consciously or in our subconscious, but also what we think we deserve. And our desires can easily be corrupted by our own fears. So to change those challenging beliefs and thoughts we must replace our fears and wants with love. Love is the universal healing elixir that brings newness to all things. That is living an intentional life.

If you are interested in learning more about covenants and intentions, feel free to contact
Rev. Eileen at eobrownell@comcast.net
Christ Light Ministries

Spiritual Mind Treatment

In recognition of the Divine Creator and knowing that right here right now, God is all there is within me, guiding me and surrounding me in love, light and joy. I set my intentions with ease and grace and know that as I state them they are set in motion. My life opens to a new existence as my intentions become the roadmap to my future. I release and let go of what no longer works and am open to change. Blessings flow each and every moment as I move forward in contentment and joy. I listen to the Christ consciousness within and creation begins. All that I have shared and stated is already done in Mind, Love and Law. For this I am grateful and so it is.

The Dream Down the Hall – Rev. Lynn Chaplin-Noe

I lived in New York City for many years…in apartments. The worst part of living in an apartment was hearing other people’s music (mostly the base line) from down the hall, through the walls, hearing their voices and many arguments. Hey, it’s New York! Got a problem with that?

New York was in the 60s and I just turned 70. And for that many years, that’s how my dream, my highest idea of my Self felt to me, like a low, thud from another room down the hall, through many walls has been experienced. Since 1997, I had spent years being of service to my Centers, experiencing a great sense of purpose, acquiring a myriad of skills tailored toward Ministry, but in retrospect, during those same years, I was not being particularly kind to my Self.

One day in February 2014, I was awakened by my dream, not from it. I was suddenly sharply conscious, with full awareness that, yes, I was serving someplace very special at my Center where I had been associate Minister for almost 9 years. And yet deep within I was aware that I had a different destination beginning to be revealed in consciousness.

The walls had come down and there was no longer the sound of others’ opinions, the feeling of life going on without me. Gone was the low, dull thud of a baseline dream from somewhere down the hall, replaced by a symphony of rich ideas, and goals. It was NOW my dream loud and clear. I had caught up with it. We were in step, in the same room.

I knew immediately, as I was guided impeccably, to contact CSL headquarters to learn of the protocol for resigning from a Center where I was being of service. After I was sent to a few “wrong” contacts, (let’s hear an LOL for how Spirit works), I was directed to Nadene Rogers and the rest is a revelation in Discovery!

Not only was there a loving home, a bridge, for people who were experiencing what I was feeling so deeply, but there was a great relief in knowing that people like I was, seeking a new direction, were not to be cast out, but instead listened to and and provided resources to guide them along their new path.

It’s been a long year for me as the process of leaving one’s spiritual family, purpose and expressiveness is not an easy journey. Compelled by my new dream gaining clarity, lovingly guided by Rev. Nadene and supported by friends, I am grateful to say Faith is being restored, the dream is being nurtured. It’s found its tune. I give it a voice.

I am so blessed to be on the Phoenix Bridge, blessed by my dream and double blessed with the friendship and support of Rev. Nadene Rogers.

Blessings, Lynn
Lynn Chaplin-Noe

Don’t Just Do Something … Sit There – Dr. Jaine Ryder

Dr Jaine Ryder

As the Manager of the Licensing and Credentialing Dept. at Centers for Spiritual Living’s Home Office in Golden, Colorado, I am privileged to witness an amazingly diverse array of ‘calls’ to the ministry. These calls get answered as uniquely as the individuals who receive them with deep mixtures of awe, joy, resistance, enthusiasm, fear, courage, grace and gratitude. Almost always they are answered with deeply held personal expectations of what the ministry is supposed to look and feel like once we have arrived, how it is actually supposed to be. Sometimes the vision and the ministry just don’t appear to be walking the same path. Surprise! Life is serving up an opportunity for a shift in consciousness, a course correction to bring vision, expectations and current realities into more harmonious balance.
This can feel like a very slippery slope. We step forward into this most amazing and uniquely challenging ministerial life feeling well prepared and called. The surprises and course corrections can appear early on the path or many successful and fulfilling years into the call. The very human ‘shock hurdles’ still have to be scaled before we can get into the deeper spiritual look at what is being offered to each of us for growth and greatness. We are called to be supremely and humbly teachable at these times, not an easy task. When and if our personal realities don’t match up with our personal visions we can be shocked and deeply bruised, questioning our call and whether or not it was even ‘true’ to begin with. This is a time that calls for deep peace and an honest inner journey in order to ask and answer all the questions that naturally rise from our humanity.
We can become reactionary and defensive, jumping back and forth in the mental calisthenics of the human questions… What’s wrong with them? What’s wrong with me? My answer to both of those questions is the same. Nothing. Nothing is wrong with you. Nothing is wrong with them. Nothing is wrong with anyone in your ministerial story, but something is definitely out of tune, balance or alignment with it. You are called to surrender your bruised and protective ego in order to receive the wisdom of the teachable moments. You are called to stop defending or explaining and simply contemplate what is yours to know, do or be. No one else can do this inner work for you, but spiritual mirrors and the support of your colleagues can be such a blessing. That is why the Phoenix Bridge exists.
Sometimes we react by attempting to go invisible. Sometimes it seems so much easier to just slide off the radar of our peer support and not have to think about or share our learning curves. We don’t ask for support, prayer or wise counsel. We even push it away when it is offered. We might even use this intelligent and wonderful teaching of the Science of Mind to shame or blame ourselves. Please don’t. The spiritual journey is one of constant evolution. The irritation can become the pearl if you will only let it.
There have been many twists and turns on my own path, times of deep humbling, times of great celebration and times of deeply mystical awareness. I stopped questioning my call many years ago, but am still surprised by it. Why me? Why not me? I just take it one moment at a time, do my spiritual practices and listen to my internal guidance system. When it’s right I know it.
I urge each of you to sit with your questions, experience and process before jumping back into action. Take the time to reflect and heal before taking your next steps. When it’s right you will know it.

Minister is Also A Verb – Rev Myrna Hirst

To have the word Reverend in front of your name is a lovely thing. It is something that you have worked for, as have I, long and hard. And no matter what called you to ministry, each of us certainly has a very deep feeling about what it means to be a minister.

It may also be true for you, as it has been for me, that the field of ministry is much larger than I once thought. In my schooling, as well as in my life experience, the model was always that of a minister in a church somewhere, speaking on Sundays, teaching classes, and supporting the congregation in their spiritual growth.

My early experience within that paradigm, as a senior minister in a small church, was much less satisfying than it should have been for me. I was surprised about that.

I was called to ministry rather late in life. I was happy working as a Practitioner and administrator in a midsize church, so the call to ministry was a surprise. I did follow the call, though, and I was in my late 60s before I graduated. I had always thought that I would go back to my home church as a staff minister, or possibly an assistant minister. Further, I really thought that I knew what I was supposed to do with this new calling, With the support of my home church.

It turns out that I was wrong. I wasn’t as welcome into that church as a minister as I had been as the administrator. It seem that there wasn’t really a place for what I wanted to do. Further, there wasn’t really a place for me in the organization beyond the rule that I had always filled. I must say that I was very disappointed.

Jesus once said “A prophet is not without honor save in his own country.” He spoke these words to the people of Nazareth, the town where he grew up. They refused to believe in his teaching because they considered him one of themselves and therefore without authority to preach to them. That, as it turns out, was my experience as well.

So I took what I knew about ministry, what I had learned in school, and what I believed society expected of me. I open my own church in a small town, settled in, and had a couple of really great years. But this wasn’t really my calling. I had accepted someone else’s version of “church” and assumed that that was what I was supposed to do. Needless to say, since it wasn’t my passion, I failed.

Now that I’m no longer senior minister, I realize there is much a broader definition of the word minister. I have realized that “minister” is not so much what I do as who I am – more of a verb than a title. Ministry appears in every aspect of my life. Ministry describes my relationship with the clerk in the grocery store, with my neighbors and friends, with my family, and in the world.

Please know I don’t intend to belittle the work that is done by pulpit ministers. This is the furthest thing from my mind. Pulpit ministry is difficult, necessary, and very rewarding. It is however not my path. It took me a long time, and a great deal of pain, to figure that out.

Currently I serve as a staff minister in the small church, and I love doing that work. But my ministry is so much larger than that. My ministry pretty much takes place in every moment of every day in my life. My ministry is in the larger world of every day.

I believe that’s true for all of us.

Importance of Prayer as a Guide to “What’s Next” – Rev. Dr. Arleen Bump Austin

Rev. Dr. Arleen Bump Austin

I’ve been involved with supporting the Phoenix Bridge since its inception – serving as mentor, counselor and practitioner to many ministers who were “in transition” in a variety of ways in their ministry.

And now it’s “my turn” as I retired after 44 years of CSL Pastorship the end of 2016, after serving my longest and latest pulpit in Fort Lauderdale for 25 years.

I was newly married in 2016 and knew I would be retiring. My husband, Dr. Harvey Austin (a retired surgeon) said to me: “If you could live anywhere in the world, where would that be?” My response was “I’ll get back to you in 2 weeks as I have to pray about it”. After 2 weeks I had come to the startling conclusion that my entire adult life from age 30 on had been spent as a minister/pastor and I lived in that box called “my ministry” and did not have a clue of what my life would be like – or WHO I would be – once I stepped out of that “minister” box and took a good look at the rest of the world. What a shock!

Ao we moved West, choosing Southern Oregon, where I have some family and Harvey has a few friends. It was a start – and we were also fortunate to discover and join the CSL Rogue Valley (Medford) where we could participate, and I could support their wonderful minister, Rev. Kimberly Hawkins whenever she asked. It’s been great.

About a month into this new life, I began to feel restless and felt I needed spiritual support about this major change. So I contacted my dear friend, Rev. Nadene Rogers, chairperson of the Phoenix Bridge, and we began talking, and then we talked some more. We talked about identity, teaching desires, grief and loss (lots of it) and the importance of creating a new vision/intention for my life.

The “Phoenix Bridge Team” members are always available to listen, counsel, and offer a strong shoulder when there may be necessary tears and the need to acknowledge sadness, loss or other disruptive feelings. Being able to talk randomly about our feelings, fears and to process questions, etc. is so valuable. And having these discussions with a member of the Phoenix Bridge Team is invaluable because these precious folks have “been there, done that” and are grounded in the importance of prayer as a guide to “what’s next”.

My first teacher (1963), Rev. Ruth Wright (founder, Napa Valley Church) used to often say: “Change is the only permanent thing in the Universe,” paraphrasing Dr. Holmes. As ministers and practitioners, we go through many life changes within our ministry – from being a newbie, to changing titles, to changing churches, to juggling with our everyday personal lives while all the time spiritually moving forward in our clarity, dedication and commitment to being in service to our community and to humanity in general.

I continue to minister in a way that fits my life and know that the idea of sacred service is ever available to all of us. I do “my version” of ministry and it is fulfilling and joyous.

Whatever your challenge(s) may be, I urge you to avail yourself of the many services of CSL’s Phoenix Bridge. It supported me over some challenges as I realized I didn’t have to go through these changes alone. And you can be sure that as any future changes come up, I will pick up the phone and make one of the most important calls ever; the call for emotional support and prayer from this amazing team of folks who are in service to our highest and best selves.

I close with my favorite prayer: “Keep fresh before me the moments of my high resolve.” And I shall never forget! And so it is.

Dr. Arleen Bump Austin, Pastor Retired