Writing Your Spiritual History to Become Ordained

Become Ordained Online OrdinationTo become an ordained minister or rabbi via our Interfaith Seminary, all candidates must write their spiritual history. Many who apply for ordination are not sure how to write it, so we email them back and say just hit reply and type up the story of religion and spirituality in your life from childhood to present. Here is what one of our recently ordained ministers came up with.

I was born and raised into the Catholic faith. My earliest childhood memory is actually of a Sunday morning where my mom was explaining to me to be good at church. I asked her what church was and she described the way the church looked with its tall ceilings and columns and I remembered what she was talking about.

 

I went to Catholic school. There was a big difference between going to my family’s church on Sundays and the three days we’d go to church in a school week. Where Sundays were so warm and I loved the priest, school church was cold, boring and it seemed as if I was always in trouble with a nun for taking my eyes off the altar.

 

As I grew older, I had questions. Like how come the Bible says that God told us to put no other Gods before Him, yet we were praying to Jesus’ mother, step father and a whole buffet of saints.

 

When I stopped being afraid of the nuns I started demanding answers to questions like these. But the nuns at my school wouldn’t answer the hard questions. They would make you feel stupid in front of the class for asking.

 

My last straw with the nuns came when I refused to believe that wearing a scapula would automatically send you to heaven if you died while wearing one. My question to the nun that day was what if while Hitler was sleeping, someone slipped a scapula around his neck and then he died without knowing he was wearing it.

 

I caught her off guard and while I believe she should have had an answer, getting stumped by an eighth grader really made her angry. I was sent to the principal who was also a nun and again, no answers were given.

 

In high school we had one nun but she was a different order. Her advice to us in my religion class was to forget everything the Dominican nuns had taught us.

 

That made me mad. I had just spent 8 years duking it out with the nuns for nothing it seemed.

 

That’s when I started to question it all.

 

That’s when I started a slow and downward spiral into the life of Godlessness where I wound up eventually on drugs and sleeping with many women, stealing and none of it bothered me for a second because I had become an immoral and selfish person. All my Catholic education had taught me was how to ignore God.

 

Many years later I married a woman I thought I was destined to marry. We had a child together. I felt complete but something was missing. I filled that emptiness with drinking which led me to cheat on my wife. After she left me and took my precious daughter away, I sank to the lowest point of my life.

 

Through that darkness my mother kept in touch with me and kept saying things like, “Turn to God” which I laughed at. Hearing that kind of advice was ridiculous to me.

 

I felt suicidal.

 

One morning I went for a walk. I was so depressed. I was sick with it. I was reviewing my life choices and I had just had enough.

 

I stood still and looked up into the sky and verbally asked God to take over. I told Him I was tired of screwing everything I ever did up. I begged Him to come and fix me. I started crying and begging and all these deep buried issues started to bubble up and I might have been babbling and choking through tears and sobs but after a few minutes, God showed up. I felt His presence.

 

God fixed me on the spot. I felt hope and had a knowledge that everything was going to be ok. I had been forgiven. God had just made me a brand new man.

 

That’s when I started to see all those times in my life that were the darkest, He was right there with me. God was always there, even though I had totally ignored Him, he never left my side.

 

I started going to a Baptist church near my house.

 

My wife came back.

 

I started reading the Bible.

 

I began seeking God more and more and my life just kept turning around.

 

I still attend a Baptist church, but I believe His love is bigger than even my church could understand.

 

I feel like they get hung up on social issues like homosexuality when adultery would be a better choice in a church full of straight people. Plus, in the Bible, Jesus explains the three type of men who don’t marry women.

 

In Matthew 19 he says…

A.) they’re born that way. (homosexuals)

B.) they’re made that way by others. (eunuchs who were castrated)

C.) they choose to live that way for the Kingdom of Heaven. (celibates)

 

I prayed for God to show me in the Bible where Jesus talked about gay people and I found that passage.

 

To me it’s plain and simple, where churches continue to drive people away with Old Testament lessons, Christ opened his arms to anyone that sought Him.

 

I know in my heart that God wants me to learn more and spread His message of love, and I intend to.

* * * * * * * * * *

We were very happy to ordain him and he is now Rev. Crankshaw.

Is your Seminary degree and ordination real? Is this a diploma mill?

religious online degree PhD in Metaphysics Spiritual PhilosophyA candidate for ordination and a religious doctorate degree asked recently:

“I’d like to ask you about the Doctor of Divinity and PhD in Spiritual Philosophy.  Does the diploma read Esoteric or Interfaith Theological Seminary and what would keep someone from looking it up online and seeing that only a paper was required?”

Somewhere online there are two negative comments about our seminary dated 2007 and 2009. They are actually forum or blog discussions, asking if the seminary is a “diploma mill”. Some guy without a seminary degree gives his opinion — that we are walking a “fine line” but stops short of calling us a diploma mill, then suggests people attend “real” seminaries if they want a Doctor of Theology, Divinity, PhD in Metaphysics, Religion, etc.

The traditional “mainstream” brick and mortar seminaries have been losing students by the droves, and the people they graduate simply cannot find jobs. It’s no wonder spiritual workers want to come to alternative online seminaries like ours. Even worse, each traditional seminary is denomination-specific (unlike ours) and teaches only a narrow set of religious subjects tailored to their specific belief system.  Worse yet(!), besides taking 4 or 5 years to grant you their degree, they are extremely expensive — student-loan debt is astronomical for clergy.

Our seminary is not only affordable with one-time donation fees for ordination or degree, but we are also completely flexible allowing the candidate to decide what and when they will study. And yes, we give credit for current work in the field! The most successful clergy are those that do not attend brick and mortar seminaries, but simply start preaching / teaching / guiding from wherever they are — even if it’s a house church or rented space in a shopping center. People flock to them because they sense the sincerity and the genuineness of the spiritual “food”. Traditional churches and synagogues are being sold off in the thousands due to chronic empty pew syndrome. Drastic decline in membership has been epidemic for the past two decades while alternative non-denominational self-started places of worship with alternative clergy and spiritual teachers are thriving.

There is a misconception that our seminary “only” requires a thesis paper before we grant a degree. Here is part of what I wrote back to the lady who asked about that.

Become an ordained minister online ordination spiritual counselor teacher PhDA religious degree means you become a Doctor of the Church.  The word Doctor comes from the Greek word meaning “Teacher.” The original doctors were spiritual teachers, not physical healers. Those are physicians. Something I notice in your spiritual history is in addition to receiving the “Call” to become ordained, you have also received the Call to TEACH, the Call to become a Doctor of Divinity.  There is presently a tremendous need for clergy and Doctors of the Faith.   And considering your current spiritual teaching / counseling / guiding / coaching you sound definitely called to be one, and qualified to be one.

A “funny” thing is, after so many years of screening applicants, we have developed an uncanny knack of recognizing the right candidates, and it seems of drawing only the right applicants to us. For over 25 years the Seminary has never (knock on wood) accidentally granted a degree to an unscrupulous person. We’ve had a few close calls over the years, but Providence always seems to intervene and indicate to us this is not someone truly “Called” for ordination or a religious doctorate degree. The candidates to whom the Seminary grants degrees are usually always people already working in the field of spirituality / religion and deserve the credentials they have technically earned through their personal study and work. We ordain many people as minister, rabbi, pastor, reverend, spiritual life coach, etc., but only rarely grant religious doctorate degrees – maybe a dozen per year.

You asked how the Seminary’s name will appear on your degree diploma. Our full name must be on there, which is the Esoteric Interfaith Theological Seminary, in order that the degree be valid. The Seminary is approved to grant religious degrees by the State. Each and every year we have to submit an affidavit to the State describing what we do, reaffirming that we only grant religious degrees to deserving people working in clergy-type fields (religion, spirituality), and that we only use specific degree titles with clearly religious words in them, such as PhD in Religion, PhD in Metaphysics, Doctor of Divinity, Doctor of Theology, and the PhD in Spiritual Philosophy that you are seeking.

As you mentioned, a handful of visitors to the Seminary’s website per year do indeed criticize our educational method because we don’t demand they sit through four+ years of denomination-specific classes at a brick and mortar school. We put candidates through an application process, require written work, thorough description of what religious work the candidate is currently doing in the field of spirituality, a detailed description of their goals as clergy and how they will use their ordination and/or degree. The spiritual history compilation and the writing of a doctorate level thesis (or masters level thesis, or Bachelors research paper) are large written works required from each and every candidate before ordination or a degree can be conferred upon them.  We have hundreds of lessons online, that all applicants are invited to study if the particular lesson appeals to them. Most of our lessons are optional (only required if you want a transcript) because as mentioned above, most people who study here are already spiritual leaders, teachers or spiritual / pastoral counselors.

Furthermore, we only grant degrees to active clergy. If a person is not an ordained minister or other clergy when they come to us, the Seminary’s parent church will ordain them for free as a requirement for the religious degree. Communities are in great need of clergy and religious teachers who give people guidance that truly resonates with their life. People crave spiritual teachings and religious “systems” that make sense in today’s world, not something that only makes sense thousands of years ago — although it’s especially awesome when a teaching applies to BOTH ancient man and current humanity!

PhD in Spiritual Counseling Religion Doctor of Theology Divinity Life CoachAs the seminary repeatedly reminds everyone in our online lessons, we humans are 3-part beings, Mind-Body-Spirit. For too long people have ignored or suppressed their spiritual third. Many (most?) are asleep to their spiritual side, but for those actively seeking spiritual “food” aka teachings, for those wanting to “awaken”, we want teachers (like you) to be out there ready to point the way, gently guide, suggest, lead, inspire – and above all READY TO SERVE. Serving the religious and spiritual needs of a community is a very high Calling indeed. It’s a calling with a capital “C”, as the saying goes. That much has not changed over thousands of years.

In the past there have been restrictions on who gets to answer that Call, and who gets to be “certified” and “labelled” as clergy, as religious doctors aka teachers. For instance, women have not been able to answer that Call until quite recently. And there are restrictions put on even the men — “requirements” and “rules” for who can do spiritual teaching, preaching, advising, life coaching. You have to be approved by committee and “authorities”.

Our Seminary and the Esoteric Interfaith Church, Inc. that founded it, believe only the Divine can choose who gets ordained, who gets degreed as a Doctor (“Teacher”) of the Faith. There should be no restrictions on who is allowed to answer the Call, as long as they espouse a positive spirituality, no matter if they are male or female, seminary trained or self-trained. When the Call comes to a person it is a very intimate, powerful, personal event. Who has the right to demean or disparage a person answering that Call to ordination, spiritual healing or teaching?

Of course clergy should be put through an application process where all who want clergy credentials are screened to make sure they are not pretending to have been Called, not intending to use their clergy status to harm others while claiming to want to help them.  We screen all our applicants via the application process, the compilation of the spiritual history, etc. and require them to make a pledge to use their ordination status only for the service of humanity. Each candidate must make that pledge or their application is not approved.

One major goal of the Esoteric Interfaith Theological Seminary and its parent the Esoteric Interfaith Church, Inc. is to end up with graduates spread across the country, in every state, in every county and city,  We actually have dozens of alumni now in many countries all around the world, including places you might not expect such as China, the Middle East, Nigeria, Indonesia (struggling population there as Islam continues to take over all aspects of life).

Our alumni give the people they serve an alternative to the restrictive, exclusive “club”, tired-old forms of religion. Today’s spiritual seeker wants a new kind of clergy, someone who can give them spiritual gems they can put to use immediately in their life. If you weren’t one of those “different kind of clergy”, it is my firm belief you would not be reading this.

spiritual counselor pastor reverend rabbi

You can read more about some of these legal issues on our FAQ page here:  http://northernway.org/faq.html

Get Ordained: to see the three-step process how to become an ordained minister, visit this page.

See our religious degree programs here, and for the PhD specifically go here.

Pastoral Counseling as an Ordained Minister

One of our ordained ministers, a Licensed Interfaith Minister and Pastoral Counselor, posted to our alumni forum about pastoral counseling in his state. Because the government does not control a minister, rabbi, priest, etc., clergy are exempt from the licensing requirement. They are offering religious / spiritual counseling, usually called in legal circles “pastoral counseling”, and not mental health counseling. No license other than legal ordination of course, is required for a clergy-person to be able to give spiritual / religious guidance.

Our alumnus asked:

Legal Question: Georgia does not license pastoral counselors. But I’m wondering what the legal parameters of pastoral counseling entails and if my minister’s license allows me to provide this service.

I’m also wondering if anyone has sought pastoral counseling / psychotherapy licensure through the Pastoral Medical Association.”

A faculty member (who knows the Law) responded:

You may want to review the licensing exemptions in GA Code 43-10A-7 and contact the appropriate state agencies for any needed clarification, especially as to (11). As usual, this is not legal advice, seek counsel in your state, etc….

a) Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, a person who is not licensed under this chapter shall not practice professional counseling, social work, or marriage and family therapy, nor advertise the performance of such practice, nor use the title “professional counselor,” “associate professional counselor,” “social worker,” “marriage and family therapist,” or “associate marriage and family therapist,” nor use any words, letters, titles, or figures indicating or implying that the person is a professional counselor, associate professional counselor, social worker, marriage and family therapist, or associate marriage and family therapist or is licensed under this chapter.

(b) The prohibition of subsection (a) of this Code section shall not apply to the following persons:

(9) Active members of the clergy but only when the practice of their specialty is in the course of their service as clergy;

(10) Members of religious ministries responsible to their established ecclesiastical authority who possess a master’s degree or its equivalent in theological studies;

(11) Persons engaged in the practice of a specialty in accordance with Biblical doctrine in public or nonprofit agencies or entities or in private practice;

Start Your Own Church, Ministry, Spiritual Healing / Counseling Practice

Found a Church or Spiritual Healing Counseling Center Become ordainedWe help you become an ordained minister, so that you can found your own Church or ministry, start a Spiritual Healing Counseling Center, Incorporate as a church and become tax-exempt, thus being able to accept donations for your spiritual services.

For two decades now the Seminary has helped clergy get ordained and start their own churches and spiritual counseling / healing practices. Online here since 1999 we help you with all the paperwork to become ordained legally in three easy steps. You can then start the spiritual teaching and counseling, accept donations, and do the clergy work you have always felt called to do.

When ordained by us you become a wedding officiant at the same time, and can perform a wedding or weddings. You will have the legal ability to officiate marriages in all 50 states.

Some of our graduates have set up their own online and telephone spiritual counseling service (for example on Keen dot com) to compliment their live in-person house church, wedding chapel or ministry. A few have established spiritual healing centers where people come for all manner of spiritual services.

There is a great need in our uncertain times for alternative clergy, spiritual practitioners, ministers, rabbis, and anyone who can provide the public with the spiritual services mainstream churches, temples and synagogues deny them because they are not a member.

The Seminary also offers religious doctorate degrees such as the PhD in Religion, Metaphysics, the Doctor of Divinity, and Doctor of Theology (Th.D.) to those who want to enhance their minister credentials with a degree and the status of spiritual doctor. Free ordination with every degree if you are already not an ordained minister or other clergy.

PhD in Religion, Pastoral Counseling, Metaphysics, with a Concentration

Get a degree online PhD Pastoral Counseling Metaphysics ReligionCustomize your PhD Title

For years now the seminary has offered religious PhD degrees in Metaphysics, Religion, Religious Studies, Ministry, Pastoral Counseling, Spiritual Counseling, etc. Degree candidates can customize their PhD according to the work they are doing in the field of spirituality. Some are working in a spiritual healing center, or maintaining a spiritual counseling practice as a part of their ministry. (All of our PhD’s and Doctor of Divinity, Doctor of Theology graduates must become ordained as clergy by us — which is free with their degree — if they are not already ordained elsewhere).

PhD with a Concentration

Not only can you choose your PhD discipline and thus your PhD title, you can also add a concentration on your degree diploma. For example, last month we conferred a PhD in Metaphysics with a Concentration in Holistic Counseling. Another concentration was PhD in Pastoral Counseling with a concentration in Ministry. There are all manner of ways to describe what you do. You must of course write your thesis / dissertation on that topic, but if it’s the area you are focusing your current spiritual work, writing the thesis about it will go easy.

Get ordained on Easter Sunday

Get ordained become a minister

Certificate of Ordination from our church

There is still time for Easter Sunday ordinations in 2014.  Every year we have people want to become an ordained minister on Easter Sunday.

For centuries since the earliest days of Christianity during the Roman Empire, the traditional day for baptisms and ordinations — either to the priesthood or to become an ordained deacon — were held on Easter Sunday.  It is a tradition many of our clergy want to be a part of.

If you want to be part of this tradition, all you need to do is follow the three steps to ordination, then fill out the online minister application and let us know you want Easter Sunday for your ordination.

(You can actually choose any date that has special meaning to you for your ordination)

Get Ordained to Officiate Weddings, We do all the paperwork

Get ordained become a minister

Certificate of Ordination from our church

Wedding season is here!  Get ordained in time to officiate marriagess, become a wedding officiant today. We take care of all the legal paperwork.

The Esoteric Interfaith Church, Inc. has always assisted our ordained ministers get their paperwork in line so they are able to officiate a wedding in any US State. Some States require more than the signed Certificate of Ordination from us, they require you to register first with them before you can perform the marriage.

We help you with all required paperwork.   Nevada, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Hawaii, Virginia and cities like New York City and Washington, D.C. require extra paperwork before the minister is allowed to officiate weddings. There are other “picky” states, too, and we help you with all of them.  Our ministers and rabbis are able to legally officiate weddings in all 50 States.

For example, we are notarizing a special Nevada affidavit to solemnize marriage for one of our ordained ministers. [Our Seminary also granted him a PhD in Religious Studies and Doctor of Divinity, but you don't need a religious degree to legally perform a wedding.  All you need is your Certificate of Ordination such as those we give to those we ordain.]

In Nevada, the minister who wants to perform a wedding there has to fill out extra paperwork and get a notarized affidavit from us.   He was ordained as a minister and earned not only his PhD in Theology degree here, but also a Doctor of Divinity years ago. But now he wants to do weddings. So we got him all set up.

Many ministers also need to be what’s called a “visiting minister” when they officiate an out-of-state wedding. We also help with that paperwork. We just got an ordained minister in Maryland all squared away with Virginia because he will be performing a marriage as a visiting minister. We contacted the court directly, found out exactly what was needed to show the Clerk of the Court in Virginia, which is a Letter of Good Standing from us on church letterhead, copy of his credentials from us, etc.

How to Register as an Ordained Minister to Officiate Weddings in Nevada

Clark County Nevada and Washoe County both have the paperwork you need right online.  All you have to do is fill in the blanks, then print it out. We will send you the link, if you can’t find it. One page however is for us, the church that ordains you. It’s called the Affidavit of Authority to Solemnize Marriages in Nevada. The church fills our page out, gets it notarized and sends to you to submit all at once with the pages you fill out.

Get Ordained with a nationwide church that supports you

If you are thinking about getting ordained, starting your own church or wedding chapel, setting up a pastoral / spiritual counseling or healing practice, we have been helping clergy (ministers, rabbis, chaplains, priests) with their paperwork for 26 years, and have been here online since 1999.

Filing your taxes as a minister or other clergy member, don’t forget your tax breaks!

get ordained onlineWell, it’s tax time and as usual, I am slogging thru the sea of rules for ordained ministers and clergy. Since I direct a Seminary that ordains several ministers per month, I am also asked tax questions by our alumni this time of year. I came across some very big tax breaks for ministers I had forgotten about! With this economy, we clergy need every tax break we can get.

For example, all these years I’ve been filing my taxes as a member of the clergy, first as an ordained minister / pastor, priest and then bishop, and all these years as an advisor to hundreds of ministers and rabbis we have ordained over the years (we’ve been ordaining ministers since 1987), I have been missing out on some of the many tax benefits.

Most ministers know you can (with a bunch of paperwork) exempt yourself from paying federal income taxes and social security. You then have to figure out your own retirement, but there are tons of cool retirement benefits for pastors and ministers, so it’s not that bad. I personally pay into the social security system every year called self employment tax. Ministers can report income as self-employment income if their church issues them a 1099 (which is easier than you think, church founders and directors – as church director, I have to sign my own 1099, ironically). The church can also pay you with a W2 – also not hard to draw up if you have founded a church and are now worried sick, just get organized in January to make the deadlines. Some ministers even get one W2 showing salary paid and a 1099 for all the fees they earned from performing a baptism, officiating a wedding, funeral, etc. My church doesn’t really make enough to pay me a salary, but I do get some fees as a wedding officiant, for doing an in person ordination ceremony, etc. So the church pays me every year with a 1099 MISC.

What a lot of ministers are missing out on and which I used to not really care about, is the housing allowance. If you have founded a church as a non-profit and it is bringing in donations and finally able to pay you the minister, (or rabbi, chaplain, priest) a salary or with a 1099 for a bunch of fees, you can subtract a huge amount of that income from your taxable income – that is you don’t have to pay taxes on it. The housing allowance means you can basically “deduct” not only your mortgage or rent payment, but also utilities, repairs and even furniture purchases. IRS Publication 517 which you can find online easily, explains a lot of the details. One of our ordained ministers recently ordained founded their own church and is now issuing themselves a salary. The board of directors (you only have to have 3 people, one of which is yourself to found a church) then made a resolution at their very first meeting to pay her a salary and also a housing allowance of $2000 a month, which is the going rate in her area for a furnished house plus utilities.

To be able to use the housing allowance, they said it is best to be an ordained minister, not just a licensed or a commissioned minister. In an audit if you are a “duly ordained minister” you have the best chance for the housing allowance to be upheld by the IRS. Licensed or commissioned ministers do not normally qualify for it. At first I thought that doesn’t make sense, but then again we have always “duly” ordained our candidates never really having a need to make a licensed or commissioned minister.

Those who found and run a wedding chapel also can benefit from the ordained minister tax breaks, and the wealth of info in the online IRS publications pertaining to clergy and members of religious orders.

Render unto Caesar that which is “his” would now be “Render unto Uncle Sam!”

Email me if you have any questions about becoming ordained.

Sincerely,

Bishop Katia

When Loved Ones Die, Funeral & Spiritual Counseling Ideas for Ordained Ministers

when somebody dies - funeral comforting resources for the ordained minister, pastor, rabbi, spiritual counselor

Ordained clergy should deliver comfort and solace when loved ones die

Inspiring online resources for ordained ministers and all clergy to use when counseling people who have lost loved ones

If you have been asked to perform a funeral, or give a eulogy, or just be there to comfort the family of the departed one, these resources will not only inspire and uplift you, but give you ideas and words to say to bring solace to the grieving. This is what “ministering” is all about, this is one of the most difficult jobs for ordained clergy.

WHEN LOVED ONES & FRIENDS PASS FROM THIS WORLD TO THE NEXT

Resources recommended by David Sunfellow

Watch all the videos recommended in this post on NHNE Pulse:

http://nhne-pulse.org/when-loved-ones-friends-pass-from-this-world-to-the-next/

Many people suffer terribly when a family member or dear friend passes from this world to the next. If you are looking for something to ease your pain and/or lift the pain of another, here are a few helpful resources to explore and possibly share…

Nurse Shares 30 Years Of Spiritual Experiences With Death & Dying

Surviving Death, A Short Documentary About Near-Death Experience

Near-Death Experience Documentary – Commonalities Of The Experience

ADDITIONAL NDE VIDEOS

Hundreds of near-death experience videos, most of them first-person accounts, can be found here:

NHNE’s “Must Watch” NDE Playlist

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLkvfKrW6cwjh65uVMQps0yqf77ZhCREw5

NHNE’s Archive of NDE Testimonials

http://nhneneardeath.ning.com/video/video/listFeatured

RELATED LINKS

NHNE Pulse on Shared-Death Communications

http://nhne-pulse.org/category/shared-death-experiences/

NHNE Pulse on Death-Bed Experiences

http://nhne-pulse.org/category/death-bed-experiences/

NHNE Pulse on After-Death Communications

http://nhne-pulse.org/category/after-death-communications/

BOOKS

GLIMPSES OF ETERNITY
By Raymond Moody

http://astore.amazon.com/newheavenneweart/detail/0824948130

Book Description:

Raymond Moody, author of the multimillion copy best-seller, Life After Life, reveals new results from his lifelong investigation of what happens when we die. Raymond Moody revolutionized the way we think about death with his first book, Life After Life, which was stories of people who died and then returned to life. Going through a tunnel, encountering an angelic being or having an out-of-body experience are hallmarks of what Moody termed a ‘near death experience.’ Since the publication of his multimillion copy best-seller, hundreds of thousands of people have contacted Moody to share their own experiences. The startling pattern that Moody discovered is that at the time of death, loved ones also have inexplicable experiences. Glimpses of Eternity is the first book to talk about the phenomenon of ‘shared death experiences.’ Readers will discover deathbed moments when entire families see the light or the room changes shape. Others tell of seeing a film like review of a loved one’s life and learning things that they could never have known otherwise. The stories are at once a comfort and a mystery, giving us a new understanding of the journey that we will take at the end of our lives.

HELLO FROM HEAVEN: A NEW FIELD OF RESEARCH-AFTER-DEATH COMMUNICATION CONFIRMS THAT LIFE AND LOVE ARE ETERNAL
By Bill Guggenheim, Judy Guggenheim

http://astore.amazon.com/newheavenneweart/detail/0553576348

Book Description:

“After-death communications,” or “ADCs, ” occur when someone is contacted spontaneously and directly by a deceased family member or friend, without the help of any medium. The authors’ research shows that these spiritual experiences offer hope, love, and comfort for thousands of people. Included are more than 350 first-hand accounts of those whose lives have been changed and even protected by messages or signs from the deceased.

TRANSITIONS: A NURSE’S EDUCATION ABOUT LIFE AND DEATH
By Becki Hawkins

http://astore.amazon.com/newheavenneweart/detail/0984744509

Book Description:

Transitions: A Nurse’s Education about Life and Death is a collection of stories from Becki Hawkins’s patients over the past thirty years of her career. She started off as a nurse’s aide, became a registered nurse, and began her career in oncology. A couple of years later she also started seeing hospice patients. She also did outpatient oncology nursing, home health/hospice, became a hospice chaplain, and later a hospice volunteer. She now sees patients on a volunteer basis. She began writing a feature column, “Beyond Statistics,” for a local newspaper when her husband told her one evening after her shift at work, “Please don’t tell me about it. Write it down.” The first article was published in 1986. These stories are the patients’ stories and their education to Becki as she visited them about the transitions we make in life and in death. Some of them involve patients in the nursing home, others in the hospital or an outpatient setting, and many others in the patients’ homes. Some of the patients were strangers, some were friends, some acquaintances, and some were family. You will find humor, heartbreak, wisdom, and frequent spiritual allusions in Transitions. The author reminds us that life is brief and fragile, and laced with story after story of how each of us is “learning” in this place that one patient named “Earth School.”

For more information about Becki Hawkins and her book, go here:

http://ladyhawkpublishing.com/

Wisdom of Near Death Experiences: How Understanding NDEs Can Help Us Live More Fully
By Penny Sartori

http://astore.amazon.com/newheavenneweart/detail/1780285655

Book Description:

This book considers a wide range of experiences of dying patients that Dr. Sartori has encountered during her nursing career. It focuses on the near-death experiences (NDEs) of patients Dr. Sartori has nursed as well as the hundreds of cases of people who have contacted her over the years. Many people take NDEs at surface value and are mis-informed about the full extent of this highly complex phenomenon. This book examines all aspects of the NDE and Dr. Sartori emphasizes that by pathologising the NDE we are missing out on very important insights which can empower us to live fulfilled and meaningful lives. The results of her hospital research and that of others could not find a physiological or psychological explanation for these experiences and they can no longer be ignored or explained away. The crucial point of this book is that NDEs undoubtedly occur and have very real, often dramatic, life changing after effects. Further to that, the wisdom gained during the NDE can be life enhancing and have hugely positive effects on those who don’t have a NDE – all we have to do is take notice and hear what these people have to say. A greater understanding of NDEs can not only enhance the way in which we care for dying patients but also revolutionize our current world view. This book encourages readers to take notice of and incorporate the wisdom and powerful message of NDEs into their own lives.

For more information about Dr. Penny Sartori, her book, and the wide-spread interest her book has generated, go here:

http://nhne-pulse.org/new-book-the-wisdom-of-near-death-experiences/

 

Free Online Minister Manual

Bishop James, our Dean of Students at the Seminary, found this link to the New Minister’s Manual.  He writes: It is an excellent resource. As with many internet resources, shelf life is unpredictable, and you should save it if you are interested. +James   http://www.vfwofwa.org/Announcements/state_chaplain/ministers_manual.pdf

He means the manual above is currently a free PDF, but we don’t know how long the authors will continue to so generously make it available.

Several of the ministers and clergy in our network of graduates, including me, immediately downloaded and started to use this new manual. One ordained minister pointed out the manual is not as inclusive as it could be, is Christian-only, not Interfaith.  She made a good point.

minmanualFor the past twenty plus years as we ordain ministers, rabbis and other clergy of all callings and faiths, we offer them the Interfaith Minister Manual pictured right.  I think both these minister manuals are a good addition to one’s library. Now that I think about it, I should photograph my shelf of clergy manuals here at the Seminary. This “collection” compiled over the past quarter century now takes up two shelves on their own, and that does not include all the other liturgy and ceremony / ritual books. Does anyone else “collect” minister manuals? We have long considered putting a minister manual online somehow, or at least a compilation of religious ceremonies, rites of passage, etc.  We used to have some nice funeral ceremony “templates” and of course a bunch of wedding ceremonies online back in 1999 and 2000 when the Seminary first went online. Wonder what happened to those.

So many of our clergy create their own ceremonies these days that not too many want to follow along a set “script”.  However, doing so is much easier when you can cut and paste, pick and choose elements from a  minister manual or wedding ceremonies you find online.  With the help of the bride and groom, a wedding officiant usually customizes the ceremony by using all these minister tools.  That reminds me of one of the little known ancient meanings of the word ordination.  It means “to have the tools placed in hand” by the Divine.  In the Hebrew Bible (Christian Old Testament) we find the first use of the word ordination. God would ordain priests, clergy, etc. by placing “tools” of the ministry in their hands.   They were empowered, ordained, set to work.  Our formal Certificate of Ordination uses an old turn of phrase, “Ordained to the work of ______________ Minister”. The minister or clergy title such as Interfaith Minister, Chaplain, Spiritual Minister, Rabbi, Priest goes in there.

Being clergy is a special kind of work (with tools handed down from on High!). Some would say it is the Great Work.

+Katia