Interfaith Ordination Ceremony - Fall 2014


On Saturday, September 20, 2014, The ChI Interfaith Community ordained 5 new ministers at Northbrae Community Church:

Father Tom Bonacci, Director of The Interfaith Peace Project and ChI Guest Faculty, delivered an inspiring invocation and message. The service also included music from Core Faculty members Rev. Dr. John Mabry and Pollyanna Bush. John, accompanied by his ukulele, led us in a rousing chorus of "May All Beings".  Pollyanna led the congregation in a song that wove together the ordination statements of each person being ordained. Rev. Dr. Megan Wagner, Rev. Jim Larkin, Rev. Jurgen Schwing and Rev. Scott Quinn also led various components of the service and the ordination rituals. The service concluded with a Benediction from Rabbi Tsvi Bar-David, who is a member of ChI's Guest Faculty.




The ChI Interfaith Community welcomes our newest Clergy in Good Standing and holds each of them in our prayers with joy and hope. 


Rev. Naomi-Hema Elmore  (Mulina, OR)

Naomi’s desire to serve patients in hospice, the elderly, the disadvantaged, the vulnerable stemmed  from her mother’s death thirteen years ago. Since then she has befriended, uplifted and served countless people in nursing homes, in their homes and in hospitals. For nine years Naomi served Providence Hospice in Oregon as a volunteer serving the patients by providing vigils for them, respite work, massaging them, and befriending them. Naomi earned her MDiv in June 2013. In May 2013 Providence Hospice hired her as a Licensed Massage Therapist and she massaged an average of 8-14 hospice people a week in their homes. In May 2013 she began her chaplain intern for two units of CPE (continuing pastoral education) at The Portland VA Medical Center, Portland, OR and in September 2014 completed her CPE as a chaplain resident (another two units) at Sequoia Hospital in Redwood City, CA. Naomi loves the philosophy, practicality, and the rich river of love that The Chaplaincy Institute is; she feels so graced to have been led to this path and to be an ordained Interfaith Minister by a truly credible and excellent institute. In the near future Naomi will be a board certified chaplain and work as a  hospice and/or palliative care chaplain.


Rev. Pamela Dawn deForest Hancock (Crestline, CA)

My spiritual life is tattooed across my body—telling the story of Gods and Goddesses, totems, familiars, relations, poems, symbols, loves, and the cycles of life, death and rebirth that have crafted me into the being that stands before you today.   Inside this artistic landscape I embody my calling as Interfaith Minister, Chaplain, Druid, Christian Mystic, Artist, Poet, Ritualist, Herbalist, Gardener, Yogini, Friend, Daughter, Wife, and Step-Mom. 

I was born and raised in Southern California where I currently reside with my partner and his children.  As a child I found the Divine at the lake near my parents' cabin. The big pine trees surrounding it were my sacred space—my church.  It was there that I began to understand that we are all part of the Divine Web of All Creation.  At the age of twelve I sought comprehension of that Web, beginning my study of the World's Religions.  While obtaining my B.A. from the University of Redlands, Johnston Center, I delved into Goddess Spirituality, Hinduism, Taoism and Buddhism.  I moved in and out of different spiritual practices after College—becoming dedicated to the Blue Medicine Buddha when one of my kidneys calcified. In 2011 in ritual with the group I led, I heard the call:  Nourish others' understanding of their connection to the Divine Web!  So off I went to Starr King for my Master's and ChI for Ordination!

Rev. Katie LeCount (Fairfax, CA)

I, Katie LeCount, am currently working at Our Lady of Lourdes Convent (Dominican Sisters of San Rafael) as Director of Pastoral Care.  In October 2013, I completed 4 units of CPE through Pacific Institute for Clinical Pastoral Training and Consultation, in Berkeley, CA.   In May 2013, I graduated from the College of Marin with a degree in psychology.   I have been a Licensed Spiritual Practitioner with the Centers of Spiritual Living (Religious Science) since 2008.  At my Center I serve on the Board of Trustees as Secretary, I have served as Ministry of Prayer (7 years), I Co-facilitate credited classes (6 years) , I Co-coordinate our Annual Northern California Practitioner Retreat, I facilitate workshops and support groups.  I have worked at Marin General Hospital as a Resident Chaplain and Kaiser in Vallejo and Vacaville as an Intern Chaplain.  I opened the doors to my housekeeping company, Count on LeCount, 28 years ago.  I support others as we all travel through the end of life issues and grief.  I facilitate grief support groups.  I am an advocate for women and children and a “keeper of unlived souls”.

Rev. Laura Rolen (Richmond, CA)

After living most of my life in an idyllic Southwest Virginia mountain town, I moved to the Bay Area in 2008, along with my son Jordan, now age 21, and a few critters.  I enjoy reading, traveling, and writing. My favorite trip was a 2006 Europe tour with my son.  Current writing projects include a book about challenging experiences that ultimately led to a cross-country move and an ongoing spiritual journey, in addition to children’s books inspired by memories of simple everyday moments of riding my grandfather’s bread truck, sleigh riding on a slick blanket with neighbors in the summer, and experiencing the wonders of nature with my son. I have master’s degrees in psychology and theology, an EdS in school psychology, and a PhD in family and child development.  A former school psychologist, I am currently an online professor.  I am completing clinical pastoral education with the San Francisco Night Ministry and have interests in hospital chaplaincy, resulting from my husband’s 2003 cancer death, and in prison ministry, including advocating for systemic change.  I have trained with the Alternatives to Violence Project to facilitate prison workshops and have interests in restorative justice and a more humane legal system.

Chaplain Bill Sewall (Richmond, CA)

I entered college with the expectation I would major in Religion and pursue a path to become an Episcopalian minister. Four years later I graduated as a History major lost within a spiritual crisis and disillusioned with Christianity. After that I spent 40 years wandering in the wilderness of corporate America and raising a family, all the while looking half-heartedly for my spiritual path. Then late one night in October, 2011, I received my calling. It was a simple question from the Spirits - continue my aimless drifting or turn my life over to the Divine. I chose the latter and it has been an amazing adventure ever since. My spiritual path lead me to ChI in January, 2013. Four months later I was walking the El Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route in Spain. Eight months after that I entered a one year intensive Clinical Pastoral Education program as a chaplain intern at Kaiser-Permanente Hospital in Vallejo. These have been the most profound, transformative and rewarding experiences in my life.

Category: News

Jennifer Bernstein (San Rafael, CA)

Jennifer Bernstein believes that all individuals are entitled to an authentic, personal, and resonant relationship with Spiritual Presence, in whatever way or path presents itself. She is personally influenced by Judaism, Paganism, and the Tao. She is looking forward to walking with people on their paths towards their spiritual home. Jennifer plans to serve as an Interfaith Minister as well as a Community Chaplain, specializing as a Veterinary Chaplain, providing care and holding to people dealing with the illness and loss of the animals in their lives. Jennifer manages the Volunteer program at Guide Dogs for the Blind, in addition to providing chaplaincy services for numerous animal grief and bereavement groups. She volunteers at Halleck Creek Riding Club, where people on the autism spectrum or otherwise differently abled are provided with horseback riding therapy. She lives in Petaluma, CA with her daughter Rebecca, boyfriend David, his daughter Amanika, two big dogs and really big cat. Special thanks to Mom, Dad, and Sandra Younglove for all of their support.

Irene Boczeck

In the second quarter of my life, three of my beloved family members died, and I realized that the ladder I had been climbing was leaning against the wrong wall. That awareness offered the possibility and gift of accompanying folks on their sacred journey as they traverse life’s challenges and transitions. Now in the final fourth of my life, I am humbled to be on the threshold of beginning to serve in way that I was called to do so long ago.

I am deeply grateful to the ever-expanding community of love and support that has made this day possible. My family Jerome, Alexa and Nicholas, are eternally patient and supportive. My parents, siblings and brother-in-law all personify courage and live the dream of unconditional love. Diana, my dear friend, our relationship blossoms in shared ‘namaste’ and Lauren, my niece, tutors me by living her life with hands and heart aligned. And remarkable CHI community, you inspire me your deep well of exquisite goodness.

Maria Elaine Brittle (Minnetonka, MN)

Maria was raised in rural Missouri reveling in nature, a sense of Divine presence, and a desire to minister to others. Her spiritual quest included ecumenical exploration of Christianity before settling into the Episcopal Church, her husband, Allan’s, denomination. Moving to Minnesota in 1980, they raised two children while Maria completed a Masters in Clinical Psychology, a Doctorate in Education, and worked as a regulatory affairs professional in medical device companies. Approaching 50, Maria experienced, through mindfulness meditation, a reconnection with her core being and early sense of calling. This rekindled spiritual quest led to CPE and The Chaplaincy Institute, where she has reveled in interfaith exploration of the Divine. Meditation and

Dharma teachings also altered her life processing. A corporate five-year plan approach was replaced with one like Indiana Jones’ in The Last Crusade, walking across a chasm with one step appearing at a time. Since her husband’s death last May, Maria has been transitioning to a solo existence including significant downsizing. Lightness and mobility feel important for the next step in her path, as yet unseen.

Michele Casale (Davis, CA)

My call to ministry arrived as a bright, golden light within my chest that announced "this is where I want to work with people." I'd been listening to an elderly woman tell me her feelings of loneliness and fear while she waited for a taxi at the hospital where I was a volunteer. I knew to listen to this voice with a certainty I had never experienced.

This voice led me to Interfaith Chaplaincy. Here I have the privilege of serving as a witness to all the experiences and emotions of being human. Here I have the privilege of offering support and connection to those who are suffering. It is my goal to do so with compassion and warmth. It is my goal to embody gratitude and presence as I open to the grace that allows me to do this work.

I have always been a seeker of depth, truth and connection. This work centers me within these very qualities. It centers me within the radiance of my being and calls me to relate to the radiance present within everyone I encounter. I currently work at Green Valley Hospice in Roseville, California and Woodland Memorial Hospital in Woodland, California.

Eleesabeth Miraseena Hager (Oakland, CA)

I was born an artist and an observer of life on the prairies of Oklahoma. I became a Landscape Architect, and an entrepreneur - all the time knowing that through these 'stories", I would find my way back to my center - to be a minister. In showing up for my mother's long journey into dementia, I found my path to this place of chaplaincy and to this moment. Chaplaincy will allow me to use ALL my creativity and talents and will, in turn, inform my art, my landscapes and my writing. I will leave any future serial entrepreneur-ism in God's hands. Blessed be, ah ho and amen.

Marybeth Melcher (Center Point,TX)

A native of Southern California, Marybeth is the eldest of five sisters. She was baptized, confirmed, and married in the Episcopal tradition. In her forties, Marybeth began attending services with the Unitarian Universalists and was introduced to the Dances of Universal Peace while living in Wyoming (where her heart remains).

A caregiver from early on, Marybeth looked after her younger sisters, has been a Licensed Vocational Nurse for 35 years, earned her undergraduate degree in gerontology, and spent 30 years attending to a severely incapacitated partner.

Her work as a nurse was a spiritual segway into chaplaincy. She completed 3 units of Clinical Pastoral Education prior to starting at ChI.

For Marybeth, ordination is the fruition of a lifetime of self healing and recovery and the beginning of an ever deepening relationship with the Divine.

It is with humble gratitude that she steps onto the next path to which Spirit leads her.

Suzanne Tindall (Oakland, CA)

Discerning my calling has been a bit like making a patchwork quilt. Personal experiences with the divine, moments of connection and relationship found in deep listening, and silence, in art and beauty, poetry and nature, create the bits and pieces of the fabric of that quilt. They are moments of insight or healing that have to be stitched together before they make any sense as a single cloth.

Similarly, my working experience is also made up of bits and pieces that are part of this quilt. From realtor and artist, to Montessori and music teacher, from mortgages and reverse mortgages to nonprofit management and medical missions to Jamaica and eventually to directing a meditation center and working as a spiritual director, my path looks a bit like a crazy quilt. But each and every piece has informed my calling to ministry.

My calling is to experience and serve Divine Presence, the experienced felt presence of God, using creativity and wonder, opening to love and compassionate action, holding beauty and suffering, joy and grief, birth and death alike.

Jodi Lynn Varner (San Diego, CA )

Jodi Varner is currently a hospice Chaplain for Hospice by the Sea and a hospital Chaplain for Sharp Healthcare in San Diego. She began her calling in chaplaincy in 2009 after surviving 16 years in the business world managing people, assets, non-profits and great deals of stress. She received a BA from Michigan State University and a MA from the University of Florida. When not at work, she has the great honor of raising her 5 ½ year old daughter Zoe, volunteering for the amazing social change organization Shakti Rising, meditating with her Sangha and getting her yoga on with other yogini?s. Her dream is to build a community in Idyllwild to practice Council, the Beauty Way and other paths to peace.

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