by Rev. Carolyne Mathlin
At our Annual General Membership Meeting on March 13 I shared some insights into where I see critical shifts in consciousness and key ministries where that shift is showing up in 2016. I likened the process we are in to taking a hike on solid ground, only to discover that the trail is leading us to another summit. And to get there, we must walk the tightrope in-between. We aren’t taking the long way down one mountain and up another. We are being invited to make a momentous leap. The following is what I shared with our community.
Consciousness Shift / Stage Shift
The first and second principle of Unity is that there is only one power and one presence in the universe, God and that we are each individualized expressions of God. Yet, so often when it comes to interacting with the world and getting our basic needs met we can unconsciously revert back to seeing a dualistic force at play, that is denying our good or that we need to look outside ourselves in order to survive. The shift for us is to know and live from a field of consciousness that recognizes God in all of it and that we are the point of power for God in this world. There is no source outside of us. We are the conduits for good, security, love, etc. What we embody and how we create that is what we ultimately are looking for. We are the source, not something or someone outside of us. As a community, we are the source of what we experience here. It cannot be about a small group of people alone that support our community in prayer, financial gifts and service. It takes all of us.
This diversified engagement will help sustain an important vision that I hold. I see us moving from a minister-centric to mission-centric church. This is part of the movement into being a second tier spiritual community. A minister-centric church is one where a lot of what happens (or doesn’t) is based on a minister and select leadership. Members give because they like what the minister says or does. Historically, churches and organizations that are based on the cult of personality struggle when the figurehead struggles or leaves. The culture and viability of the church is based on a subjective, transient reality where the mentality is based in dualistic thinking.
A mission-centric ministry is really about participating in and supporting what we are here for. It is a call to action and embodiment, an extension of you. You are supporting and giving toward why Unity of Tustin exists and ensuring that our mission is here for you and the ones that are to still come. There is a greater sense of ownership and engagement. It’s less about the figure-head and more about why we are here. There is a partnership with all of us who consider Unity of Tustin our spiritual community that ensures that this is a place of deep mystical, spiritual practice for everyone where all can heal their lives, build their dreams, and realize God.
Through the power of guidance, listening, wisdom and love we embark on the journey of moving more into a sense of ownership and engagement with all the aspects of Unity of Tustin. As we heal our lives, build our dreams and realize God we individually will thrive. As we individually thrive, our community thrives. It is part of our testimony to the importance and power of why Unity of Tustin exists at all.
There are four key areas that I see this shift in consciousness showing up most prominently.
Deepen our prayer, meditation
Prayer and meditation will be a focus throughout 2016, particularly the practice of Centering Prayer. I will be leading a variety of classes and on-site mini-retreats so that we as a community have the opportunity to pray and meditate together. We have 25 prayer chaplains that just committed to another year of serving us and I am in the middle of teaching a prayer class that 30 people attended. Prayer and Silence is our foundation in Unity. It is one of the key ways we cultivate a capacity for God and a consciousness beyond our current level.
Revitalize Spiritual Education & Affinity Groups
Last year a team looked at the mission and vision of our Spiritual Education ministry and put into place some guidelines for living from our highest vision for spiritual education at Unity of Tustin. In 2016 we will look to implement that vision as well as support our current ongoing groups (affinity groups) to ensure a vital, spiritually fed and consciousness growing culture. These ministries are a clear vehicle for filling in the gaps in consciousness with spiritual teachers, teachings & ministries that will change your life and your / the world. Specifically, we will be offering more:
Unity International Spiritual Education and Enrichment classes
Integral Framework Classes & Teachers
Glimpse Practice Group (based on the work of Loch Kelly)
Develop Leadership for next 5-15 years
We have been in a time of great transition. Many key leaders and community members have literally moved away over last 2 years. Other key active leaders are moving into new roles as wisdom holders. It is time to call forward the next generation of leaders at Unity of Tustin to continue the legacy that has been tenderly cared for and cultivated here. Is this you?
In 2015 we started a new program as a part of our Outreach Ministry, the OC Food Project. We have been donating food and supplies to St. Paul’s Sunday Supper for almost nine months now. In 2016 we will expand our outreach and service to the community. Every 5th Sunday, starting on May 29, we will be putting together the entire meal at St. Paul’s. Many have held a vision of doing more in our local community. Now we are seeing the fruition of that vision. And, it will take us to realize it! More information will be coming soon so you can partner with us in serving our greater community in this loving way.
I came back from our February retreat inspired and feeling deeply connected to the Source of Being. During the retreat a line from Rumi kept coming through “There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.” In the yogic traditions, kneeling and kissing the ground is known as pranam. Pranam literally translated means complete salutation. It is an expression of reverence to God and to the Divine in someone or something. We are not standing on the edge of the cliff any more – we are in the air, between two points of solid ground. And it is both exhilarating and a little unnerving. Karl Anthony was recently at Unity of Tustin for a Mantra concert/event. His new CD “Hold the Sky” is based on the idea that when the earth is shaking around you, the steady point is to hold the sky. My personal practice right now is to energetically kneel and kiss the sky in reverence to the path we are walking, to the Divine expressing in all that is arising and in devotion to the mystery unfolding.