Interfaith Ordination Ceremony - Fall 2013

On September 21st, The ChI Interfaith Community ordained seven Interfaith Ministers: Rev. April Bolin, Rev. Mark Estes, Rev. Diane Hirsch, Rev. Molly Miller, Rev. Rio Parfrey, Rev. Anne Phillips and Rev. Joan Wahlmeier,

The special event included an invocation by representatives of various faith traditions,including Judaism, Buddhism, and Earth Based Traditions.

You can read the bios and some of the sermons delivered by the new Interfaith Ministers during the ceremony, by clicking their names below.

Rev. April Bolin

Rev. Mark Estes

Rev. Molly Miller

Rev. Joan Wahlmeier

Rev. Diane Hirsch

Rev. Anne Phillips

Rev. Rio Parfrey


April Shon Bolin (Pleasant Hill, CA)

April Shon Bolin is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the San Francisco Bay Area with 24 years of experience in the fields of mental health and child welfare. Having spent many years as a psychotherapist working with LGBTQ communities, homeless youth, adults with disabling HIV, and people with psychiatric disorders, April now focuses primarily on Psycho-Spiritual Healing, an integrated approach which takes into account mind, body, spirit and emotions. Through her Forgiveness Workshops, she has guided participants along the paths of anger management, shame-reduction, relationship dynamics and spiritual wellness. April lives in the SF Bay Area where she enjoys being a soccer mom, walking the family dogs, being active in her spiritual community, and traveling.

Mark Eugene Estes (Oakland, CA)

My interfaith ministry is a creative expression of witnessing suffering and beauty, manifested through service in hospices and hospitals and creating art as a spiritual practice.

My sense of calling is rooted in empathy and compassion. Buddha’s Four Noble Truths are my guide. The Dalai Lama speaks my mind saying, “This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.” By skillful means I vow to serve the suffering and honor the symbols and languages they use to make meaning.

My path to ministry is as natural to me as it is surprising. In 2001, after viewing an art show that portrayed immense suffering, I found that I could not look away and began a 12-year search for my place of service. I didn’t set out to be clergy but have discovered that my ministry of being with the dying and those in trauma is what I am truly made for.

Diane M. Hirsch (Santa Cruz, CA)

For every mountain You brought me over, for every trial you’ve seen me through, for every blessing Hallelujah, for this I give You praise. (For Every Mountain- Kurt Carr)

Diane’s ministry is for praise of and service to the Divine through people. She defines ministry as blessing and being blessed. Her approach to ministry is holistic (mind-body-spirit) integrating psychology, holistic health practices and spirituality.

Diane holds a B.A. in Sociology from Louisiana State University in New Orleans, LA and an M.A. in Applied Behavioral Sciences specializing in counseling and organizational development from City University/The Leadership Institute of Seattle, Seattle, WA. She earned a certificate as a Clinical Hypnotherapist from the Northwest School of Clinical Hypnotherapy in Seattle, WA. Diane also holds a certificate as a certified Therapeutic Crisis Intervention Specialist from Cornell University College of Human Ecology. She is a New Thought Practitioner since 2010. In 2011 she completed the first degree in the Usui System of Reiki. For 22 years Diane worked as a social worker serving children, youth and families.

Diane’s ministry is pastoral care in congregational and community settings. She serves as the Director of the Pastoral Care Ministry at Inner Light Ministries, Soquel, CA. Diane is also a Music Minister having served in the Inner Light Choir for seven years. She is currently enrolled in The Chaplaincy Institute’s Interfaith Spiritual Direction Program and serves as the class Teaching Assistant.

Molly M. Miller (San Francisco, CA)

Molly was raised in Nashville, Tennessee, and moved to California in 1986, where she worked in the high-tech industry, ultimately as an entrepreneur running her own public relations firm. Molly retired from tech in 2009 and entered the Chaplaincy Institute in March 2011. For the last 9 years, she and her husband, Mark, have split their time between San Francisco and Whitefish, MT, where they eventually will live full time. Molly serves as the volunteer chaplain of the Whitefish Fire Department, offering spiritual support to active duty and retired firefighters and ministering to patients and their families when on call. In San Francisco, she has been the volunteer Chaplain at AgeSong Hayes Valley, providing rituals, prayer support, and other practices to help elders celebrate their spirituality. She also worked as a chaplain intern at California Pacific Medical Center to deepen her ministerial experience and to explore the role of chaplaincy in health-care settings. Molly finds joy and peace in nature and is an avid gardener, cyclist, hiker, and downhill skier.

Rio Parfrey (Los Angeles, CA)

In her vocation as interfaith minister, Rio envisions a parish without walls, serving all beings—sentient and otherwise. She will be involved in community ministry and environmental activism, in addition to continuing her work in providing comfort and companionship in the hospital and hospice settings.

As minister, she understands her role to be a bearer of, and a witness to, the limitless mercy of the Divine Mystery. As a humble “Thursday’s Child”, she has far to go on her pilgrim way. But onward she will go, for she is daily blessed by her family and friends, and each stranger she meets along the way.

“We have all known the long loneliness, and we have learned that the only solution is love and that love comes with community.”

--Dorothy Day

Anne Phillips (San Leandro, CA)

My spiritual search gained strength and voice midlife. I was invited into Spiritual Direction at a time of loss and change in my family and work. It provided support, light and new perspective on the path I was walking. Over time I became active in parish leadership and worship service. I was asked to lead a project that brought 7 people, including 4 teenagers to work at an Aids Orphanage in Ft. Portal, Uganda. Through Spiritual Direction, the Beloved led me by the hand to ChI in 2011.

The ChI program gradually illuminated and named what had always been my personal theology.

I believe we are interconnected with the Divine and Nature at every moment. We must dedicate ourselves with an open mind and heart to help others achieve happiness. We must liberate ourselves to give and receive inspiration, love and peace. We must keep devotion, inclusion, and acceptance in our awareness.

I work in Community Healthcare, and do volunteer work in family grief support and Hospice. I am active in 12-Step groups and my Episcopal parish. The path ahead of me is well-lit, beckoning and unclear as I become an Interfaith Minister today. Peace and Blessings to us all.

Joan Wahlmeier (Kent, WA)

The call to ministry and ordination have been with me from my youngest days. Surrounded by both loving parents (Wally and Georgine) and siblings (Bibi, Geri, Cam, Nate, Silver, Bobbi, Cordi, Rose, Thad and Mark) and immersed in Catholic ritual and community, the spark was ignited and became flame. In adolescence, the flame grew stronger and more insistent as I struggled to create meaning out of my mother’s early death and the ensuing heartache and grief, and led me to pursue education for ministry. Journeying with my beloved brother Silver through his illness and beyond death, the flame grew hotter and brighter as he became my first teacher and mentor in walking with those who are ill and dying. In the following years of Catholic parish ministry work, I tended and nurtured the flame, waiting for it to propel me forward.

The flame became fire as I made the leap from parish ministry to hospital ministry and began chaplaincy training, completing 8 units of Clinical Pastoral Education. Supported and challenged by Delmas, my 2nd teacher and mentor in illness and dying, I began the process of purifying, cleansing and healing my heart, and transforming the pain, loneliness and anger in my life. I came to fully understand and value that to the degree that I allow myself to be known and vulnerable, is the degree that I will go with another in their vulnerability. In the following years, I served as a BCC staff chaplain, humbled and honored to journey alongside of so many loving and diverse people in their moments of life’s crises and joys. Walking alongside others, facilitating processes that empowered patients/families and staff to find their inner resources that allowed them to experience hope, healing and wholeness fanned the fire within and transformed me and my theology. ChI became a container for articulation of this call to Interfaith Ministry. As I come to Ordination, I become Fire and stand in trust with Beloved as the path unfolds once again.

I am so grateful and thankful to all who have walked the journey before me, with me, all who have held me, carried me, cried with me, and laughed and celebrated life with me. Thank you! Namaste!

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