From time to time, I am asked where I attended ministerial school and was ordained. The New Seminary idea was born out of meetings of yogi Sri Swami Satchidananda, Rev. Jon Mundy, Rabbi Joseph Gelberman, and others so that members of many faiths could come together in celebration and kindle feelings of peace and unity among all peoples. It was founded in 1981 by Rabbi Gelberman, Rev. Jon Mundy, and Father Giles Spoonhour.
As I was sorting through old papers, I found the “Affirmations and Principles of Interfaith” from The New Seminary which are enduring and beautiful. Although fewer and fewer people claim a particular faith today than when I attended the seminary, these principles apply to any spiritual seeker whether or not adhering to a particular faith. I share them with you here as I think you will find them meaningful and helpful. I have added bold type in places.
- We affirm the beauty, the value, and the significance of the Interfaith concept as an important source of our spiritual teaching.
- We believe in the One God of all humanity. We think of God as a beneficent Divine Presence in every human heart, not as separate and remote.
- We believe that mediation, inward spiritual seeking, is an instrument of attuning to the Divine Presence that is at the very core of our human nature. We affirm the essential goodness of the human being and believe that meditation can evoke the Divine Presence.
- We believe that new and renewed forms of individual and communal prayer, such as meditation, visualization, and affirmation, can enhance the real purpose of the prayer experience. This purpose is to attain a God-consciousness and spiritual awakening – a deeper realization of the spiritual depths of our being.
- We hold that one of the most important purposes of religion is healing – the seeking of wholeness in body, mind, and spirit. Healing comes from knowing the wholeness of the spiritual essence that is the true essence of our being.
- We have faith in the ultimate healing of the planet that has been symbolized as the Messiah. We affirm that each human being is part of this healing process, the healing of the world. Each of us, as we fulfill our own highest good, bring this healing vision nearer to reality.
- We view ritual as a way of opening to and touching the spiritual dimension of life. We find little value in ritualism for its own sake.
The New Seminary is incorporated and chartered by the Board of Regents of the University of the State of New York on behalf of the State Department of Education. Since its inception, it is held dear that, “The closer contact that exists today among diverse ethnic, cultural, racial and religious groups of humanity leads us to a deeper sense of the oneness of humanity. The differences that exist need not be a threat to a basic human unity, and in fact can be a source of enrichment. Old dichotomies of “us” vs. “them” do not serve the healing of our world. We affirm an inclusive vision of ‘We’. We experience ourselves as part of the global human family and the wholeness of creation.”
Our ordination was held at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, in New York City, which was built as a house of prayer for “all peoples”. It was a hot summer’s day, June 19, 1994, and New York City was in a blistering drought. The hot weather had caused the leather strapping on the organ pipes to come undone and an extensive repair was taking place. As we gathered for the ordination, a singular cloud formed above the cathedral, thunder rumbled through the old stone church and vibrated in our chests. There was a cloud burst right over the church that cleared within minutes. While I was being ordained, as the three who were coming around the circle to ordain and bless us, a beam of light shown on me as Father Giles Spoonhour put his hands on my head.
In my ministry without walls, I strive to do my best to help people grow toward spiritual attunement, conscious living that unfolds inner human possibilities and the experience of the Divine presence in everyday life.
To find our more about The New Seminary, here is a link to the website: https://www.new-seminary.com/ . Perhaps it will call to you as well.