I often say, if the fundies are right, i (and most of us) are HOSED; but if I'm right, then their is no penalty for them being wrong (other than maybe the day comes that they regret having made so many others miserable). I'd rather be wrong than spend 5 minutes (never mind eternity) with the god they present, and I'd rather live with the peace and hope that universalist, spiritual humanism offers than with the fear of an angry god (or the sadness that must accompany knowing that even if that god doesn't flick me like a booger into the fires of hell, the divine sadist is doing that to many good, kind, gentle, loving people simply for having one opinion rather than another). Not only could I never accept (or promote) the saved vs. damned brand of religion, i still don't understand how it appeals to those who do embrace it. but that's me...
Friday, February 28, 2014
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
The governor of Arizona vetoed the hateful anti-gay bill that the AZ legislature passed and predictions are currently that there won't be the votes needed to overide it. A victory for justice to be sure. Let's hope for marriage equality in AZ (and in FL and in AR and in TN and in MS and in ID and...you get it), but at least for now, one can't be denied service in AZ for being gay. Moving forward...
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
Homophobia is running rampant (again)~Arizona, Tennessee, Nigeria, Uganda...a lot of crazy in the world right now, and religion at its most dysfunctional is the root of almost all of it. Some have given up on religion (and honestly, who could blame them?).
Others of us have found myths and rituals and community to be healing and life-giving and we just refuse to give them up even if far too many have used religion as a weapon to oppress, vilify, marginalize, and torment first one group and then another.
As one who still believes in the potential of healthy religion, or at least in shared spirituality which religion at its best faciliates, today I pray:
May the divine Power, the indomitable hope, the mystery of life, the power of love, the vastness of the universe, the invisible ties that unite all living beings, the wisdom of ages, the indefatigable creativity of the human spirit known as gods and angels and guides and ancestors and magic lead us in the ways of healing, peace, and justice. May religion ill used be redeemed; and may those who use religion as a weapon have a change of heart. As I think of those who live in fear or danger because religion has dehumanized and demonized them, I pause in this moment to affirm their sacred value and to wish them safety and well-being; in the name of all I call holy. Amen.
-- Durrell Watkins (2014)
Monday, February 17, 2014
Tuesday, February 04, 2014
“Talking about privilege is difficult, if it makes you uncomfortable that's probably a good thing. Growth is uncomfortable. Let's all examine the places we have privilege. Are you white? Are you able-bodied? Are you not trans? Are you a man? Are you straight? Are you financially comfortable? Are you well educated? These aren't things that should make you feel shame! But if you are in these categories (especially if you are in most of these categories) please have some awareness about those whose lives are complicated simply by not being you.” Rev Jakob Hero (MCC minister/hospital chaplain)
Monday, February 03, 2014
7. THE CHRIST METHOD OF HEALING
6. WHAT'S A MIRACLE?
5. REASONABLE, RELEVANT RELIGION
4. SAVED FROM WHAT?
3. RESPONSIBILITY WITHOUT BLAME
2. IS THERE A SCIENCE TO PRAYER?
1 1. OMNIPRESENCE
Omnipresence, Is There a Science to Prayer?, Responsibility Without Blame, & Saved From What?are discussions with Rev Dr Durrell Watkins, Rev Cindy Lippert, and Practitioner Candice Gee
Reasonable, Relevant Religion is a discussion with Rev Dr Durrell Watkins, Rev Dr Will Mercer, and Rev Cindy Lippert
What’s a Miracle? is a discussion with Rev Dr Durrell Watkins, Rev Dr Will Mercer and Rev Sedare Coradin Mercer
The Christ Method of Healing is a discussion with Rev Dr Durrell Watkins, Rev Sedare Coradin Mercer and Rev Cindy Lippert
These lessons can be used individually or one after the other as an introductory course in New Thought metaphysics. These resources are available for you to use them as you will.
Durrell Watkins is ordained an MCC minister (since 1997), Certified Reiki Master (since 2001), ordained Divine Science minister (since 2011) and an initiate in the Kriya Yoga meditation method (since January 2014)
Durrell is the Senior Minister of Sunshine Cathedral in Fort Lauderdale, FL
He holds degrees from Henderson State University, Goddard College, Union Theological Seminary, and the Episcopal Divinity School with additional studies from the College of Divine Metaphysics and the United Divine Science Ministerial School.
Cindy Lippert is ordained a Divine Science minister and is formerly licensed as a Unity minister. She is the past president of the International New Thought Alliance. She has completed theological courses of study from the United Divine Science Ministerial School, the Unity Institute, and the Samaritan Institute.
Candice Gee is ordained as an Interfaith minister and is a practitioner and ministerial student at Agape International Spiritual Center in Culver City, CA.
Will Mercer is a retired attorney, former chaplain, the President of the Divine Science Federation International and the Assistant Minister of the United Divine Freedom Church of the Healing Christ in NYC where he also has a very active wedding ministry. He is a graduate of the Lola Pauline Mays Seminary and is an ordained Divine Science minister.
Sedare Coradin Mercer holds a Master’s degree in Finance and is a graduate of the United Divine Science Ministerial School. She is the founding minister of United Divine Freedom Church of the Healing Christ in NYC, the President of the Divine Science Ministers Association, and a member of the INTA Governing Board. Before becoming a Divine Science practitioner and minister she was active in the I AM movement.
Sunday, February 02, 2014
Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins
Senior Minister, Sunshine Cathedral
Maybe we’ve achieved many of our goals. Maybe we haven’t done as well as we once hoped we might. Maybe we seem miles away from our hearts’ desires. Maybe we’ve been outrageously fortunate. In any case, the past is PAST. What is our current potential? What might we achieve today and in the days ahead? Success is neither a memory nor a fantasy; it’s a very real possibility NOW. Let’s embrace our potential and remember that the future has INFINITE possibilities.
The past is past and the future has infinite possibilities!
Saturday, February 01, 2014
Preparing for and Continuing in Ministry
Rev Dr Durrell Watkins
I had a lot of preparation for ministry. When I was ordained in MCC a BA in SOMETHING was required (study skills, contacts, social skills, negotiating shared space, research skills…these are the gifts of an undergraduate education that go well beyond one’s major and minor. Even a fluff major at a party school involves meeting deadlines, working with diverse people, setting and achieving goals, and these are all skills that are VERY useful in pastoring.
Beyond the BA (or its equivalent, there are alternative ways to meet the same goals), a set of courses was required from MCC’s ministry school (now defunct), or a master’s degree from a theological seminary was required in lieu of the course of study prescribed by MCC’s school. The training was meant to be at the graduate level and included very practical skills such as Church Administration, Religious Education, Preaching, Worship, and Pastoral Care as well as more “academic” studies such as bible and church history (a pastor is not only a care-giver and administrator, but is also a teacher and public intellectual, so the academic pieces are equally important).
The BA, the graduate level courses, a criminal background check, an internship, and an interview with a “Board of Ordained Ministry” rounded out the requirements. I can’t imagine if they had been less than they were…I have used every resource, and the thought of having fewer than I started with is terrifying! (MCC went on to increase the requirements…now a Master of Divinity, two and sometimes three internships are required, background checks and psychological testing are required, and there is still the final interview…I think MCC has done its pastors a HUGE favor by requiring more and thereby offering more for the work they must do).
MCC also requires 9 hours a year of continuing education for clergy.
I have spent most of my professional years getting those hours pursuing higher degrees. A liberal arts MA, an MDiv from a world class seminary, a Doctor of Ministry from another great divinity school, two semesters toward a third master’s degree, and lots of workshops, books, webinars, and conferences have kept me going.
So, while there is always more to learn, I at least don’t feel “under prepared” and I know lots of places to turn for further help and development.
That having been said, there are many “traps” that I have learned to avoid (after falling face first into a few of them).
1. In MCC, there is an assumption that only senior/solo pastoring is “real” pastoring. This attitude obviously won’t attract (and keep) quality staff ministers. I firmly believe that that some people are particularly gifted as support, programming, or team ministers. Staff ministers are ministers. Assistant pastors are pastors. Chaplains, interim pastors as well as senior pastors are all needed, have special gifts, and should be affirmed for doing what they do well. I have spent years trying to persuade my colleagues (I finally just gave up because I didn’t want to seem contentious about it) that at Sunshine Cathedral we don’t have associate or assistant ministers. We have ministers who bring their expertise to an executive team and I lead the team that collectively leads the church. I am the CEO/Senior Minister, but without my team I would be a solo minister and that is a very different job (I’ve been a staff minister, a solo minister, a chaplain, and a senior minister…and in every position I was a minister). So I very much appreciate the ministers who work with me in a way that makes us all collectively effective. If we don’t start affirming the legitimacy (and necessity) of all pastors (and not just senior pastors), we will lose a lot of great talent and that will not serve our movement well.
2. When denominations exist to equip, support, and encourage local churches and ministries, then the local church or ministry can do what it exists to do…reach out to the community. When churches are expected to make denominational bureaucracy a priority and meeting affiliation requirements are seen as more important than doing ministry and being a spiritual home for those in the local community, then ministry becomes a burden, stewardship becomes “taxation without representation” and the energy and resources needed to “be” the local church are siphoned off and the local church suffers. Sometimes MCC has longed to look like older, larger structures with superintendents, bishops, archbishops, archdeacons, overseers, apostles and prophets, but trying to build an institution rather than having a lean support system that can help churches build themselves has been very draining on MCC in recent years. I have great respect for a good Moderator, a good CFO, and an effective resourcing arm (like our amazing Office of Formation & Leadership Development) as well as a professional support staff and dedicated volunteer governing board, but I hope our focus in the future is more on local ministry than on “the organization” which, without local churches, has no reason to exist.
3. In churches (not just MCC), pastors are often seen as either super human or subhuman.
When I am put on a pedestal I quake with terror because I know that when the person venerating me figures out that I am as mortal (and maybe more flawed) than he or she is, then his/her disappointment may well present as rage and be directed toward their former hero!
Also, there are those who hate all authority figures and who expect churches to be the place that will allow them to act out their various dysfunctions (and when they are held accountable for their behavior, the behavior sometimes becomes much worse before it improves or the bad actor leaves).
The people who take out their disappointments with life or who try to feel good about themselves by controlling or humiliating an authority figure can cause a lot of emotional damage and the pain and psychic wreckage takes a huge toll; and while pastors are expected to be bullet proof, I can assure you that the soul killing experience of dealing with a full on antagonist is enough to make one consider a “safer” line of work.
4. Of course things like days off and vacations are important. Of course, having adequate support staff and committed volunteers is important. Of course continuing education is important. But what is as important as all of this is on-going spiritual practice.
Writing a sermon is not the same as hearing one; preparing a class lesson is not the same as taking a class. Praying aloud in public worship services is not the same as quiet time in the “secret place of the most high” and leading worship is not the same as participating in an experience you haven’t crafted and supervised.
The work and study we do is spiritual, but it is mostly what we give. The psalmist wrote, “My cup overflows.” The overflow is what we have to share, but if we aren’t filling our cups, all the “wine” will flow out and our cup will become empty.
Daily meditation, private prayer, retreats or classes or reading just for personal enjoyment and enrichment are essential. If spiritual leaders don’t intentionally renew their own spiritual reserves, then they won’t have what they need to endure the difficulties, uncertainties, and anxieties of ministry.
A piece on Ex-pastors.com offers these tidbits:
Most pastors are overworked.
90% of pastors report working between 55 to 75 hours per week and 50% feel unable to meet the demands of the job.
And 70% of pastors feel grossly underpaid.
Most pastors feel unprepared.
90% of pastors said the ministry was completely different than what they thought it would be like before they entered the ministry.
Many pastors struggle with depression and discouragement.
70% of pastors constantly fight depression and 50% of pastors feel so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if they could, but have no other way of making a living.
This means that half of the 1,700 or so pastors who leave the ministry each month have no other way of making a living. Their education and experience is wrapped up solely in the work of the ministry.
So, not only do pastors struggle with their choice to leave ministry, they have to worry about how they are going to feed their families.
Speaking of families, most pastors’ families are negatively impacted.
80% believe pastoral ministry has negatively affected their families.
Many pastors are lonely.
70% do not have someone they consider a close friend and 40% report serious conflict with a parishioner at least once a month.
50% of the ministers starting out will not last 5 years.
And 4,000 new churches begin each year while 7,000 churches close.
Working in ministry can be challenging. Families suffer, discouragement and depression – amongst a gamut of other things – runs like a river in the lives of those who sacrifice their own life to the cause of the church.
Self-care, spiritual practices, continuing education, an appreciation for all the kinds of pastors there are, and a primary focus on local rather than denominational ministry, I believe, are essential to survival in the professional ministry. Otherwise, the discouraging trends of decline, burnout, and bailout will likely continue. And that is something “the Church” can’t afford, and it’s something that people who need “the Church” can’t afford either. Fellow ministers, let’s support one another as much as we can. Our work is important and rewarding, but it ain’t always easy and if we aren’t careful, things might not work out as we once hoped and dreamed.
Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins
Senior Minister, Sunshine Cathedral
Sometimes, we confuse being made in God’s image with God being made in ours. We imagine God as a dictator (according to our image of power); or, we imagine God as white, or male, or American, or heterosexual (or asexual with a pathological bias against gays & lesbians). We often imagine God hating all the things and people we find objectionable. But God isn’t a reflection of our socially conditioned selves; we are part of the Wholeness and Perfection that is divine. When we see ourselves in God’s image instead of imagining God constrained by human conditions, we seek “power with” rather than “power over.” When we trust our goodness, we just don’t need others to be “bad.”
Today I will try to remember to live a bit more into my divinity.