After I left Santa Barbara, where I had been a minister for about 9 years, I then went to Soho to actually close a church there and since then I’ve been speaking at many spiritual centers but haven’t been the senior minister of a specific center yet. I was at keynote speaker at the Asilomar Conference in the summer of 2011 which has been a fascinating experience. Sunday I attended a church in Beverly Hills and noticed that people did not seem very inspired. My belief that a Sunday service needs to inspire people, uplift people, and touch hearts. When you stop talking about love, what was once a very powerful church can become one where people are not inspired most ministers prepare all week to deliver their talk on Sunday. It doesn’t matter how many people are in your congregation but how many hearts you touch. I’m so used to pumping people up. If you want to inspire people you’ve really go to get them moving.
I’m all for church being all fired up. If you are not uplifted, ignited, and fueled, then why are you going? I started my ministry at Agape although I was always a believer in God. As a child I had polio. I was told I would never walk but thank God my folks didn’t believe that and they were inspired to pray and deepened their faith in God. I really do BELIEVE in God and do believe in faith and I absolutely believe in the power of prayer. and I was raised in a tradition of Judaism however there were parts of it that just never resonated, such as, the part that says you are the chosen one. I believe we were all the chosen ones. It was also a little oblique rather than direct. . I was there for years but my first teacher was really Ram Dass for many reasons (http://www.ramdass.org/). One because he was grounded in spirit and he had a great sense of humor. I loved the fact that spirituality doesn’t have to be so serious. I continued my studies with Yogananda (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paramahansa_Yogananda) with his self-realization fellowship in L.A. on sunset Blvd.
After many years of being with Yogananda which is a a very sacred path and very beautiful path I felt that for me I was ready for more energetic and eclectic music I continued my spiritual journey b attending services and classes at the Agape International Center of Truth and richly inspired spiritual leader Rev. Michael Beckwith. Rev. Nirvana Gayle is another senior minister who is highly inspired.
After many years of study I graduated and became a licensed practitioner and I continued to maintain that license from the year 2000 to the present. I was privileged to lead several ministries such as one for uniquely abled children called Angel Buddies the (web site for Agape http://www.agapelive.com/ . We created parties for the Junior Blind and at Agape I also created a ministry called The Ministry for Creative Expression where I brought in art and sculpture for the sanctuary, classrooms and hallways. I established many exhibits and art shows.
I attended and graduated from Holmes Institute in their Ministerial Program and after graduating while I was in Ministerial School I was required to do and internship and I was told I was told there was one available in Santa Barbara. I immediately became involved at the center and I was asked to become their senior minister. I needed and received permission from Dr. Rev. Kathy Hearn the Community Spiritual leader for Centers for Spiritual living.
That was a great honor and I stepped into it truly not knowing what I was doing but trusting that God was going to show the way and that if I say, “Yes!” It is going to unfold. So I was there for nine years and loved the entire experience. I loved the music and I loved the creativity and loved writing lyrics for songs every week and affirmation poetry as well. I am completely committed to excellence in every area of ministry which also includes beauty everywhere in the center. I changed the name from Lighthouse Church of Religious Science to reflect our deeper intentions and so we named it Center of the Heart. The entire experience of growing the Center to almost 300 people was both thrilling and exciting. Santa Barbara for me did not enough have diversity so I decided to move to New York not knowing what I was going to do there.
(The Wikipedia definition of Soho is “SoHo is a neighborhood in Lower Manhattan, New York City, notable for being the location of many artists’ lofts and art galleries, and also, more recently, for the wide variety of stores and shops ranging from trendy boutiques to outlets of upscale national and international chain stores. The area’s history is an archetypal example of inner-city regeneration and gentrification, encompassing socio-economic, cultural, political and architectural developments.
Almost all of SoHo is included in the SoHo-Cast Iron Historic District, which was designated by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1973, extended in 2010, and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places and declared a National Historic Landmark in 1978. It consists of 26 blocks and approximately 500 buildings, many of them incorporating cast iron architectural elements. The side streets in the district are notable for being paved with Belgian blocks.)
It is one thing to be able to meditate on top of a sacred mountain and remain spiritual on top of a mountain and quite another thing to remain centered in the middle of Manhattan. I loved the diversity in New York and also loved the fact loved the fact that I could do my spiritual practice with the bus drivers and the cab drivers and the people on the street. No matter what is said about New Yorkers I find them open hearted if you approach them that way. So that is what I did. I would have bus drivers and they would wait for me and drop me off where I wanted to go even if there wasn’t a bus stop and it was a great experience. New York is tough living and expensive and after completing my work at that Center and decided to come back to come back to Southern California. Now I don’t believe you can ever come back to anything totally because you can never step into the same river twice so I went forward to California and here is where I am in Beverly Hills and speaking all over now and enjoying that and teaching and counseling and offering seminars and retreats and the next one will be in Calgary in April Of course keeping busy means not being 24/7 and my spiritual work is every moment no matter who I am in contact with. The world is my congregation. It is my responsibility to be a loving light and presence to everyone I meet no matter where whether I am seeing them formerly or on the street.
It is never ending. As ministers change and pastors change and it is the evolution of spiritual gifts that is so wonderful. I believe being a loving presence in life is a blessing. I have always said it isn’t how many people you’ve touched but how many hearts you’ve touched and I continue to feel blessed to be able to do that whether it is in the capacity of being a minister or the capacity of just being in life. I think there is a real shift from the old way of looking at religion where there is a lot of sin and guilt and hell and people are looking up to the fact that that doesn’t work. What works is love and the real spirit and if you are going to cite the teachings of Jesus which I believe in, it is all about love and forgiveness. I don’t understand churches that don’t pull that together.
I love human beings and the more you love people will determine the quality of the life that you have. I believe that every human being has the responsibility to awaken, raise their frequency and vibrate at the level of love and accept our individual and collective part in the evolution of our planet. I know that the essence of human being is LOVE!
Rev. Karen is the author of two books “I Am the Party” and “Divine Declarations”.