Dear Sanctuary …

Aside

Dear Sanctuary NYC Friends,
 
          Well, I woke up this morning and could feel the subtle shift of season. When I opened the window I was not met with wall of heat, but with a temperate breeze. Delicious! I love the subtle shifts in nature. Living in a city, we can get out of sync with the conversation that is always going on in the natural world.  We are on our way into Fall! Love it!
 
          Nature is such a great teacher. It works in different ways, some subtle and some dramatic, to keep a stasis on this planet that humans seem determined to throw off course. But the balance keeps coming:  hurricane here, a heat wave there. Our goal at Sanctuary NYC is to find a way to be in sync with the rhythms of ‘life more abundant,” instead of fighting it.
 
Jesus teaches about this when he says to those who would have him wage one political war or another: ” I come that you may HAVE LIFE, and have it more abundantly.”  Our challenge I think, is in being creative enough to truly envision a world of abundance and to live into that, rather than focusing on what we don’t want.
 
          When we are in a competitive or a gossip mode (see Ingrid’s piece) we are really siphoning energy from somebody else’s creativity.
 
What do YOU WANT? 
Who are YOU? 
What kind of world do YOU envision? 
 
          The more we focus on this, and the less we focus on what somebody else is doing, the more creative a world we find ourselves in. Don’t just critique somebody else’s work. Create your own!!!!
 
          Last Sunday we had a great time with Rev. Raedorah Stewart! As a prelude to our entering into the Season for Inter-Faith/Inter-cultural Harmony, she had us walking around the sanctuary in a living embodiment of our different roles in life. For instance, she asked us to go one place if we primarily identify as “white or black”. Then, to another location of we identify primarily as “LGBTQ or straight,” if we “supervise people or are supervised by,” and many more. 
 
It was fascinating to me for two reasons. One is that putting your body into something like this really drops the lesson into our physical being in a way that just thinking about it doesn’t. It did for me, and I think about these questions all of the time! Secondly, I was fascinated to see that some of us have a more fluid sense of identity, and others of us are much more fixed. A couple of people were always in the “white, supervisor, straight,” location.
 
 I was moving a lot. I went to one place for artist, then back to another place for otherparts of myself. It was really interesting.  I was also interested in the couple of people who elected to watch from their seats rather than jump into the game. The whole experience was really cool.
 
          We also had a fabulous presentation by the folks from JUST FOOD after the service as our final presentation for the Season for Humane Service. They taught us about what they do to re-green our city and how they are building the urban farming movement. Wow. So, so exciting!
 
I learned something new too, which is that compost makes soil! I may be the only person on the planet who didn’t know this, but I am now trying to figure out how to start composting. Also we learned that planting mint, all kinds of mint, repels mosquitoes. I am on my way to someplace to find some mint today!
 
The point of all this is to say that we can make a difference in our way of relating to one another and to the planet, and that it can be fun and creative, and community building. Together, we can figure out how to lighten our carbon footprint so that there is a world for our children and our children’s children to enjoy.
 
          This Sunday after service we will have a time to gather to just talk. I will be doing a “Spirit Talk with the Rev” in the sanctuary. One of our Steering Committee members mentioned that people were missing this time together to just talk, hear what we are up to in the Ministry team and the Steering Committee, ask questions, talk about ideas and to just hang out a little! This is my favorite activity to do really. I love to hear what you are thinking about. So we will plan to do just that from 4:15 until 5:30. See you then!
 
          Our September themes for the month are Flow and Abundance.  I am very excited to announce that Rev. Nancy Napier will be joining me as a regular part of the service to do a weekly teaching.  Nancy will do some teaching around the idea of  “Flow”, this Sunday and I will bring the message on “Abundance.”
 
We really have so enjoyed the five minute talks by the Ministry Team this month, and this whole new idea has sprung forth from that experience. I know you will love this new weekly additionI know I can’t wait! This Sunday Rev. Roger Mapes will be the final five minute speaker on Forgiveness.  Lots of good stuff goin’ on!!
 
          Rev. John Elliot’s class on Intention, Intuition and Inspiration starts on Thursday Sept. 13th. Rev. John was my teacher at Agape UTSLA, and is a friend and a really terrific teacher. You won’t want to miss this. As with all of our classes, we offer this for a love offering.  Revs Glen Ganaway and Roger Mapes ongoing “A  Course in Miracles” continues on Wednesdays. We are planning a beautiful and meaningful service to honor the memory and further heal on the 11th anniversary of 9/11, Sunday 9/9. 
 
My class will be announced as soon as we are able to confirm dates and locations that don’t conflict with the many other exciting events we are planning.  Check the website at Sanctuarynyc.org for details and to sign up.
 
          Our ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY GALA will be held on Saturday evening, Nov.10th at a beautiful brownstone in Harlem. We are going to party!!! and celebrate this beautiful movement in Spirit called Sanctuary NYC. Tickets for the gala will be available soon, so get out your evening wear!
 
We are also about to do a major and wonderful RAFFLE. This Sunday the Steering Committee will tell you all about it. There are some awesome prizes in the pot. Tickets are ten dollars. I would definitely buy a few to possibly get an iPad or a dinner for two at any number of delicious restaurants or well, show up Sunday to hear about it! The person who sells the most tickets will win 5 days to one week (depending on location) at my time share! The main site for that is in Palm Springs, CA, but there are places all over the world where it can be used.
 
So have a great late summer rest of the week.
 
We love to see your face.
YOU are a blessing,
 
Love,
Rev. Jane
 
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Does Landmark Forum Do Hospital Calls?

I am noticing something “fascinating-to-me.” I have no idea how to interpret it, but I am sure the wonderful S-pacebook community will have some brilliant thoughts on it. I hope so.
I notice that the wave has been, of late, for the skills of the minister to be deconstructed for hire. It is so interesting to me, as I was trained to be a Pastor…to create a place where people commit to getting to k

now one another at a deeper level and to grow in the fruits of the spirit together to make a better world for both them and their families and the globe…
This may be like learning to construct the perfect record player for 45 rpm discs…ie: not what people are looking for anymore… But I was trained to see the whole of the work as part of the life of a community of faith…not as a la carte selections from a menu of possible services. 

So the components of this thing called spiritual community have become increasingly commodified.

A list of services might be:
Delivering inspiring and entertaining lectures with a self help, upbeat and not too thought provoking bent..hopefully with great music attached.
Conducting “sacred rituals or ceremonies” for marriages, house blessings, etc.
Providing a good reading list for self study of those who may enjoy item number one.
Offering classes which may or may not connect to the larger program of any center or community…largely for the purpose of personal growth or self help.
Offering “simple”, sound bite type solutions to complex issues couched in simple and digestible portions to “solve” immediate crises.
Creating opportunities for people with a desire to sell their packaged “enlightenment services” ranging from Reiki, to get rich quick schemes to meditation for dummies, to colonics for success on Broadway, to…well you get my drift…

I am not sure I have any interest in this kind of thing.
No, I am sure I don’t.
I do love the idea of a community center for renewal and research and deeper learning and community.
I sure love having somebody to call to pray for me if I am going under the knife. I don’t know if Landmark Forum does pastoral hospital calls
I think places like the Open Center do the learning and workshop part so well, and AA does the ‘community to support deeper mature search/self help” so well…and I think they should continue to do it!
So what is the purpose of a spiritual community in this age?

I do think this a la carte thing is the move of the culture
Weird to have all of these skills for something which may be dying off like the buggy whip …
My grandmother watched the horse and buggy and gas lights be replaced by…
Yikes…I got a $375.00 Con Ed bill this month. 

I love the possibility of something integral and integrated which I feel emerging through Sanctuary nyc…
But these questions just won’t stop coming…

Is there any desire in the general world out there- outside of Academia and the Episcopalian church- for the deeper, non oppressive learning about various topics like the wisdom of the Nag Hammadi Scrolls and a critical analysis of comparative texts? 
Is there a place where critical refinement of artistic expression combines with a community experience which sees as its’ goal to both love and serve?

Beyond this? Starbucks here I come!!!
I am looking for investors to buy a franchise…Maybe we could have a gospel brunch there and do away with the whole idea of programs and just do menus instead.
The kids can go to the kids gym, the dogs to doggie playgroup, the parents can do the gospel brunch and the collection can go to help the homeless people who have been displaced from the neighborhood where the Starbucks moved in.
If you want to get married, the chiropractor has a sacred ceremonies license from Universal Life church, if you get really sick or die or lose a loved one…..hmmm not sure where you buy that part…Stay tuned.
I just hope I can learn how to make those pretty leaf designs out of foam.

 
With love on the journey,
Rev. Jane
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Powerful Women For Whom I am Grateful (and the men who love them)

Dear Sanctuary NYC Friends,

 

          This month we have been entertaining the powerful duo of Forgiveness and Gratitude. In the five minute teaching section of the service, we have heard from Revs. Carol Napier, Jeffrey Lepinske and Nancy Napier on the topic of Forgiveness. I have then woven their powerful reflections into the message on Gratitude, and the music has brought all the threads together with a beauty that only music can provide.

 

As we approach the last Sunday of August, we are looking forward to our guest speaker, the womanist theologian, poet, preacher Rev. Raedorah C. Stewart.  In her honor, I would like to use this piece this week to share some of my own profound feelings of gratitude for the many extraordinary women in my life. 

 

When I moved to NYC in 1970, I was a “baby feminist.”  I looked up to my elders including the glamorous and brilliant Gloria Steinem, who seemed almost too perfect in her embodiment of smarts and style and courage. I admired Angela Davis for her bravery and searing cultural and intellectual critique. I learned from a wonderful pioneer named Flo Kennedy, and loved the writings of Alice Walker and the raw revelations of the woman’s heart from Ntozake Shange. The artist-activists June Jordan, Marlo Thomas, Jane Fonda and others powerfully shaped my understanding of a life that might be possible for me.

 

I came of age just at the end of a time when women were taught to compete with one another for men, for popularity, for position. It never felt good to me. I loved the emerging feminist understanding of honoring one another’s contributions academically and socially. It used to be assumed that you would break any plans you had with another woman if a man asked you out and no explanation necessary. I didn’t like that either! These were some of the practical and radical changes the women’s movement addressed. 

 

Of course the fact that women held either pink collar or no collar jobs, and were paid less than men, that their bodies were considered the property of men, these were the deeper areas of inequality. And many women were afraid to even speak of that.

 

While I was coming of age in NYC, there were movements in academia that were separating out the issues of separateness between African American and Euro American women, of lesbian women and straight women. The womanist movement grew in this time, and was defined initially by a writing of Alice Walker in which she defined a woman of color who was also community affirming, who may or may not be same gender loving etc. And so divisions began to be defined.  Separatists exist in every new movement. There were feminist separatists and womanist separatists and still are.

 

 

But the women I admire, like the womanist scholar Rev. Raedorah, and the African American feminist writer bell hooks, are speaking to the larger human condition beyond the divisions that separate us.These women are looking for the things that connect us at the level of our humanity. And this is what I aspire to do as well.

 

I give thanks for the women who have shaped me. I give thanks for a mother who was brave enough to walk out of an abusive marriage and take me with her. I am grateful for a grandmother who stood strongly in her faith in G-d and passed it on, even as the world changed radically from the horse and buggy to space ships. I am grateful for my sister Judith who is a warrior for human equity working with the mayor’s office in Portland, Oregon.

 

I give thanks for the two women who have stepped into the leadership of Sanctuary NYC with me, Revs Ingrid Scott and Karen Osit, for the women on the Ministry team who embody a desire to manifest an integrated model of communication and of leadership.

 

I give thanks for the men who are strong enough and sensitive enough to want to work in a model with strong female leadership, and who represent the truly evolving ideal of strong and loving male-ness.  I give thanks for the women who are leading communities to birth a new age with a transformed value system: for Revs. Diane Berke, Jennifer Berkeley, Francine Brookins, Marianne Williamson and the whole younger generation of soul sisters who are doing inspiring online ministry. 

 

I give thanks for Donna Redwing, and for Oprah Winfrey. I believe that we benefit more from supporting one another, and from looking for the places where we are One. The model I grew up with of squaring off against one another is falling away. It must fall away for a new age to dawn.  I know that as each of us truly embodies the uniqueness within, as we allow ourselves to truly listen for the guidance that is uniquely ours, a new model of how the world can be is emerging. It has the power to transform the way we communicate, the way we lead, the way we live. 

 

And I am grateful to be alive to be part of how it comes forth.

 

This Sunday we will hear from Rev. Raedorah, form Nancy Napier and of course, I will be there to do the announcements. LOL.  After the service, join us for a talk on Food and Food Equity in the chapel, where we will also have refreshments and fellowship.

 

This is also Auto Tithe Sunday! So you will all have a chance to sign up for that too!

 

WE LOVE TO SEE YOUR FACE!!

 

Have a great rest of the week,

 

See you Sunday at 2 pm on the corner of Amsterdam and 86th!

 

I am grateful for YOU.

 

With love,

Rev. Jane

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It’s ALL A Gift

 

Dear Sanctuary NYC Friends, 
 
Do you notice the blessings that appear in your life? The story about the Eskimo is one that people use in Twelve Step conversations about the presence of the power of the Universe working through people. It tells about a man who somehow got himself out on a sled in the middle of the arctic and had no clue how to get to safety. He was stranded, freezing to death, and utterly alone. He was also an atheist, and yet in that desperate situation he thought he would give a shout out to any possible aid. So he yelled out “OK God if you exist, PLEASE SAVE ME! I promise if you do I will tell people about it, and will remember that you are my Source.” 
 
About a second later, an Eskimo with a dog sled appeared, and rescued the guy.  He wrapped him up in blankets and took him to a warm place. As he sat drinking a hot chocolate, with his frost bitten feet thawing by a crackling fire, someone said to him, “Wow, God must really like you!” 
 
“God?” said the man, “That wasn’t God! It was an Eskimo!”
 
Anyway, you get the point. Miracles are all around us, in many disguises. It is our job to recognize them! 
 
We are looking at the two topics of Forgiveness and Gratitude this month. Another profound part of the 12 Step Path involves becoming ready to really look at ourselves in a deep way, in order to see where we may have injured ourselves and/or others. I must say, only the desperate seem willing to go to this depth to find the road back to their true self. I am glad that at one time I was truly desperate enough to say yes to the downward avalanche that was my emotional life. 
 
There is such wisdom in the 12 Step teaching that says that we do no one a favor by preventing them from hitting a bottom. I see the bottom in my own case, that I hit many years ago, as a kind of miracle trampoline! As soon as I really really went down down down, and felt that sense of utter aloneness and despair, something in me became willing to surrender. And honestly the second I did that, there was an Eskimo in my bedroom! The bottom I hit turned out to have springs in it!  There was a whole new life waiting for me to say YES!!
 
I learned that day that my gift was never going to be re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic – my Titanic or anyone else’s. My job was going to be a daily surrender to the creative action of love and grace in my heart, to be truly willing to say “this or something better…I will to will thy will.”
 
And what a ride it has been, and continues to be!  
 
I would like to encourage you this week to look around at every seeming trial as a gift. What is it trying to tell you? What is trying to emerge through you to connect you to the cosmic force which truly IS, to your own version of supernatural resilience, to your trampoline? This week we give thanks for the things that refuse to make “staying stuck” easy.  We recognize the messengers who may be our very own God/Eskimos. And we become truly ready to spring forth into our greater good.
 
Have a great week.
 
I am grateful for YOU!!!
 
See you Sunday at 2!
With love,
Rev. Jane
 
 
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Where To Look For The Key- Hint- (inside)

Dear Sanctuary NYC Friends,

 

Gratitude and Forgiveness are two spiritual practices that are intertwined.  These two themes are our focus for the month of August.  One of our greatest teachers, Jesus of Nazareth, taught the wisdom path that directs our spiritual search to “the Kingdom of G-d within.”  This is a radical and revolutionary teaching.  

 

Many interpreters have obscured the profound wisdom and power of this teaching.  Yet through the process of reconnecting to the deep Spirit within, we are able to access the experience of connection to Source, which needs no interpretation. It speaks for itself.  We become truly powerful by connecting to the Source of the power.  And the way to find Source is to go within.

 

Gratitude and forgiveness are both tools that open the path inward so that we may access the deeper wisdom and The Kingdom of G-d. Resentment and fear clog the pathway. In order to travel the path to the inner Source, a daily practice of saying thank you is an invaluable tool. Jesus teaches that if you are on your way to the altar to give your “gift”, and realize on your way there that you hold a grudge against your sister or brother, you should first go to that person and make the amend and then make your offering.

 

Our offerings come in many forms.  The easiest way to understand this is to know that the way we come to any situation makes all the difference.  Motive is everything.  Our relationships, according to A Course In Miracles, all of our relationships, are assignments, which are focused upon teaching us to see one another as love. It would be very difficult to live in a world where every single relationship presented a troublesome challenge, but the teaching of wise ones from many paths indicate that these are our deepest teachers. 

 

Today I am grateful for the continual teaching of nature. I am grateful for the planet that shows me it is leaning toward Source by seeking the sun. I am grateful for the lesson that some plants are designed to flourish in many different climates and that some thrive only in very specific settings. I am grateful for the teachers who have come in the form of challenging relationships, of seeming betrayals and of losses. I am grateful that by exercising radical self-forgiveness first, I can see these teachers through the lens of love. I am grateful for the gentle move forward that reminds me everything changes.  Everything evolves.  Only I stay stuck if I hold on to a resentment. Life has already moved on.

 

Today I see each of us in the Light of this Truth. The Kingdom of G-d is within.

I am grateful for YOU.

 

See you Sunday.

Namaste’,

Rev. Jane

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What’s Really …

Aside

What’s Really Real

 

Dear Sanctuary NYC Friends,

  This month we are going to look at two topics together: Gratitude and Forgiveness.  They really go together.  We are also going to mix our service up a little and have five minute talks offered by each member of the Sanctuary NYC Ministry Team, on the topic of Forgiveness.  I wanted to tell you a little bit about the process we have developed at Sanctuary NYC, which is designed to empower the gifts of those who serve closely to bring you the Sunday service.

  After 9/11, there was a real quickening in New York City, in people of conscience and purpose, toward preparation for ministry through several different schools offering spiritual development programs. I have had the privilege of working with a team of deeply thoughtful, service oriented people, all of whom have primary professions in a variety of areas ranging from school counseling to psychotherapy to making reservations for news people to travel to hot spots around the globe. Along with their diverse primary professions, a core group of these people have worked along with me to develop and execute the Sunday service for you each week, as a part of their ministries. 

You would never be able to tell this today, but a couple of the cornerstones of our Ministry Team, as it has come to be known, were nervous about leading public prayer or meditation when we started out. Now they are deeply connected practitioners of these spiritual arts, and it has been my great pleasure to work with them as their gifts have matured and blossomed.

  Several months ago, I suggested to the team that I would like for us to use the month of August for them to offer five minute inspirational contributions to the service.  I am happy to share with you that it is August and we are embarking upon this wonderful experiment this Sunday! Rev. Carol Napier will be starting off the rotation. You won’t want to miss it.

I have been asking the question a lot lately about what pastoral ministry means in this age.  I have discovered that there is a huge crisis of faith among liberal mainline denominational clergy, and the personality driven mega TV evangelists who tell us we are going to hell for one reason or another are hard to take.  I am not convinced however, that the self-styled, entrepreneurial, personality-based ministries that proliferate in the New Thought arena are a good replacement for what is clearly an outmoded religious authoritarian paradigm.  If the ministry is about the person and not the content, I wonder what it is we are ultimately supposed to take away from the experience of hearing them.

The quote I most love in this regard comes from the Baha’i tradition and is this: “Worship the Light, not the Lamp.”  One of the deepest spiritual qualities that I see present in the avatars of the ages is that of humility.  In the center of the heart chakra of these simple people, glows the Light. They are humble lamps, glowing with the Light of the Divine.

  The wisdom teachers whom I most admire spoke to the excesses of their respective ages. Gautama Buddha was raised in luxury as a prince, but when he finally got out among the people and saw suffering, he dedicated his life, and subsequent lives, to healing that suffering. Much as the current unholy alliance between Putin and the newly resurrected Russian orthodox clerics is responsible for the trial of the young punk group in Russia, the temple elite in the time of Jesus were tools of Roman tyranny.  Archaeological excavations have discovered palatial apartments belonging to the priestly class.  Jesus of Nazareth was ultimately killed in a political murder for challenging the tyranny of the Roman Empire that was in collusion with religious leaders in an oppressive system that squeezed the 99% while enjoying privilege. Hmmm, sound familiar?    

During this coming month, I would like to ask you to focus on what you are truly grateful for. I have worked in hospice and have been blessed to accompany numerous people on that journey we all will take. I got right up to the door with them, and what I can tell you for sure is that no matter how much money they had, or didn’t have, everybody was focused on the quality of their journey at that moment. I am grateful for them, and for each of you. I know that “what is really real” lasts beyond that doorway, and that this is maybe the best gift I can share with you. I know it to be true.

Have a wonderful week.  I am so looking forward to hearing our Ministry Team, and to singing our new closing song together this Sunday.

Love each other,

Many blessings,

Rev. Jane

 Image

What’s Really …

Aside

What’s Really Real

 

Dear Sanctuary NYC Friends,

  This month we are going to look at two topics together: Gratitude and Forgiveness.  They really go together.  We are also going to mix our service up a little and have five minute talks offered by each member of the Sanctuary NYC Ministry Team, on the topic of Forgiveness.  I wanted to tell you a little bit about the process we have developed at Sanctuary NYC, which is designed to empower the gifts of those who serve closely to bring you the Sunday service.

  After 9/11, there was a real quickening in New York City, in people of conscience and purpose, toward preparation for ministry through several different schools offering spiritual development programs. I have had the privilege of working with a team of deeply thoughtful, service oriented people, all of whom have primary professions in a variety of areas ranging from school counseling to psychotherapy to making reservations for news people to travel to hot spots around the globe. Along with their diverse primary professions, a core group of these people have worked along with me to develop and execute the Sunday service for you each week, as a part of their ministries. 

You would never be able to tell this today, but a couple of the cornerstones of our Ministry Team, as it has come to be known, were nervous about leading public prayer or meditation when we started out. Now they are deeply connected practitioners of these spiritual arts, and it has been my great pleasure to work with them as their gifts have matured and blossomed.

  Several months ago, I suggested to the team that I would like for us to use the month of August for them to offer five minute inspirational contributions to the service.  I am happy to share with you that it is August and we are embarking upon this wonderful experiment this Sunday! Rev. Carol Napier will be starting off the rotation. You won’t want to miss it.

I have been asking the question a lot lately about what pastoral ministry means in this age.  I have discovered that there is a huge crisis of faith among liberal mainline denominational clergy, and the personality driven mega TV evangelists who tell us we are going to hell for one reason or another are hard to take.  I am not convinced however, that the self-styled, entrepreneurial, personality-based ministries that proliferate in the New Thought arena are a good replacement for what is clearly an outmoded religious authoritarian paradigm.  If the ministry is about the person and not the content, I wonder what it is we are ultimately supposed to take away from the experience of hearing them.

The quote I most love in this regard comes from the Baha’i tradition and is this: “Worship the Light, not the Lamp.”  One of the deepest spiritual qualities that I see present in the avatars of the ages is that of humility.  In the center of the heart chakra of these simple people, glows the Light. They are humble lamps, glowing with the Light of the Divine.

  The wisdom teachers whom I most admire spoke to the excesses of their respective ages. Gautama Buddha was raised in luxury as a prince, but when he finally got out among the people and saw suffering, he dedicated his life, and subsequent lives, to healing that suffering. Much as the current unholy alliance between Putin and the newly resurrected Russian orthodox clerics is responsible for the trial of the young punk group in Russia, the temple elite in the time of Jesus were tools of Roman tyranny.  Archaeological excavations have discovered palatial apartments belonging to the priestly class.  Jesus of Nazareth was ultimately killed in a political murder for challenging the tyranny of the Roman Empire that was in collusion with religious leaders in an oppressive system that squeezed the 99% while enjoying privilege. Hmmm, sound familiar?    

During this coming month, I would like to ask you to focus on what you are truly grateful for. I have worked in hospice and have been blessed to accompany numerous people on that journey we all will take. I got right up to the door with them, and what I can tell you for sure is that no matter how much money they had, or didn’t have, everybody was focused on the quality of their journey at that moment. I am grateful for them, and for each of you. I know that “what is really real” lasts beyond that doorway, and that this is maybe the best gift I can share with you. I know it to be true.

Have a wonderful week.  I am so looking forward to hearing our Ministry Team, and to singing our new closing song together this Sunday.

Love each other,

Many blessings,

Rev. Jane