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Photos by Chris Woodrow
On Saturday, September 24, 2016, The ChI Interfaith Community ordained 11 new interfaith ministers at All Souls Parish in Berkeley, California before a congregation of more than 200 people, including ChI students, clergy, faculty, staff, board members and ordinands' family members, partners, spouses, and friends. Pictured above they are: (front row from left): Doug Myers, Elizabeth Hutchins, Jenifer Miller, Susana Brown, Noel Tendick, (back row from left) Pat Kleinberg, Erin Hollander, Amy Selena Reynolds-Wrobleski, Riley Sophia, Kara Rosseaux and Mary Rhine.
This event also included a special ceremony for 10 recent graduates of ChI's Interfaith Spiritual Direction Certificate Program. Pictured below, they are (from left): Julie Vesely, Jane Ramsey, Cynthia Peter, Juliana Perez, Christy Parks-Ramage, Mary Anne O'Halloran, Willie Ruth Harris, Jerilyn Harris, Karen Gatlin and Susan Flax.
The service began with a processional accompanied by the lively drumming and singing of ChI Core Faculty members, Rev. Jim Larkin and Rev. Megan Wagner, Ph.D. Due to frail health, Rev Gina Rose Halpern, D.Min, ChI's founder, delivered a touching invocation with assistance from Rev. Lauren Van Ham, ChI's Dean of Interfaith Studies Certificate Program. Rev. John Mabry, Ph.D, Core Faculty member and Director of the Interfaith Spiritual Direction Certificate Program delivered certificates to the program's 10 recent graduates. Pollyanna Bush provided the musical offering, which included words chosen by the ordinands. Rev. Jessica Shine, M.Div, ChI Interfaith Community Minister gave the offering prayer and conducted the ordination vows, and Rev. Lauren Van Ham, blessed the ordinands' stoles. After the entire community confirmed the ordination of the graduates through a ritual of laying on of hands, the service concluded with a Benediction from Rev. John Mabry and a rousing rendition of Berkina Faso's "Bo Bo Mah Lay, which is West African for "Spirit come into my body and make me dance!" The ChI Interfaith Community welcomes our 11 new clery and holds each of them in our prayers with joy and hope.
Rev. Dr. Susana Brown (Charlottesville, VA)
I was welcomed to this world by a wildly tempestuous Midwestern summer thunderstorm and have loved them ever since. Perhaps it was inevitable that I would seek change my entire life, drawn to the alchemical process of transformation like a moth to the flame. Inspired by mystery and fueled by a search for meaning, my journey has taken me around the globe living abroad while exploring and experiencing diverse cultures and spiritual traditions.
My career path has evolved along serpentine lines taking many creative forms; entrepreneur/business owner of a gift manufacturing, import and export company in Hawaii, field researcher in Egypt, therapist, teacher, tour guide and artisan jewelry designer. Each new turn has brought awareness and spiritual maturity deepening both my sense of self and purpose in the world. Discerning a call to ordination, working as a Palliative Chaplain and training toward becoming an ACPE Supervisor are the culmination of this 40 yr. journey. As a mystic, I know Divinity is our birthright. Everything has lead me to this moment with you, where we are not now nor ever have been separate. I am deeply grateful.
Rev. Erin Hollander, Chaplain (Los Angeles, CA)
I was called to ministry while standing at a copying machine in my office. I wasn’t particularly miserable as the scene might suggest - it just became unmistakably clear that it was time for me to take a step towards living on purpose.
I have always been drawn to wholehearted people who are wrestling with their biggest questions, who are in spiritual discernment, finding meaning through loss and grief, or who are looking for ways to ritualize a life transition. In short, I am called to walk with people through their wilderness. My work is to help people discover what is most meaningful about their life, and to connect with that which sustains and guides them. I am the founder of Wilder Healing, a private practice of holistic spiritual care in Los Angeles, California.
I am grateful to the founders and faculty of The Chaplaincy Institute for their incredible mission and for the ripple effect of goodness that is created with every ordination. May this goodness be returned to you ten thousand fold.
Rev. Elizabeth Oakley Hutchins (Albany, CA)
Growing up in New York State with an inveterate curiosity and wanderlust, my life has been enriched by living on the East Coast, Midwest, and Asia where I have met persons from diverse racial/ethnic backgrounds, socio-economic classes, sexual orientation, and a variety of world religions and spiritual paths. Now living in California, I enjoy being near my two daughters and their families who reside in Portland, Oregon, and Albany, CA.
Throughout my life, I have been passionately engaged as a teacher, librarian, and educational leader. At the heart of my work has been a calling to build community, offer hope, and provide safe places where others may discover purpose and meaning in their learning and life’s work. Discerning that my career as an educator was also a ministry, I received a Master of Divinity in 1994. Subsequently, I have volunteered as a pastoral companion with persons living with HIV/AIDS, a chaplain in a women’s homeless shelter, co-founder of a natural food co-op which now serves as the heart of its community, and a lay religious leader. My ministry is grounded in a deep, mystical connection with nature. I honor an interfaith reality that celebrates the Divine spark in each one of us and am called to a ministry of radical hospitality, spiritual companionship, and community building which offers welcome to many so that their stories may be heard and voices lifted up.
Rev. Patrice Greenwood Kleinberg, Chaplain (San Francisco, CA)
I was born in Oakland but consider myself to be a native San Franciscan since I have lived there most of my life and my family has been there since the California Gold Rush. As a girl, the lives of my mother, sisters and I revolved around the activities of our neighborhood community church. But it was not until later in life that I had a spiritual awakening. My spiritual journey continued as I embraced Twelve Step Spirituality with my Christian faith tradition. I attended the Spiritual Direction Institute at Mercy Center, Burlingame and was certified as a spiritual director for individuals and groups in 2011. I was an education administrator for 20 years for Bay Area Classic Learning, a non-profit organization that my husband David and I founded to sponsor Elderhostel/Road Scholar programs – short-term travel education experiences for older adults. My “heart work” began when I served as a spiritual director for the women of the SVdP’s Catherine Center, a spiritually-based transitional living program for women released from jail and prison. The goal of the program was to integrate the women back into the community. I led a weekly group for the women and met with them individually. Answering God’s call to become an ordained minister, I have attended The Chaplaincy Institute for the past two years. While at ChI, I served as an intern chaplain at On Lok Lifeways, a comprehensive care center for the frail elderly. That experience was so meaningful to me that I have continued to serve there as a volunteer chaplain. At On Lok, I meet with participants individually and co-lead spirituality groups.
I feel blessed to have found my purpose in life which is to serve God by serving others. Learning about and ministering to people of different faith traditions meshes with my own beliefs. They are all paths to God (however named) who is Love. My goals are to be the best chaplain I can be and to be a minister for my community.
Rev. Jenifer Ingerman Miller, Chaplain (Castro Valley, CA)
Jenifer began her process of becoming underneath the redwood canopies of West Marin, while being actively raised in the Quaker faith. Her early understanding of the Divine came through constant contact with nature and through silent worship; which together formed the foundation for her nontraditional chosen paths of education and exploration. At age 12, she discovered Kabbalah and was fascinated by tarot, quartz crystals, and energy healing. These interests, once discovered, were set aside for two decades as she entered adulthood, married, and dedicated herself to a life of domestic arts with four children.Through a series of divinely-orchestrated events, Jenifer, at age 40, was gently and firmly returned to the path of her calling. She returned to school and studied graphic design and illustration. She began writing and became a published author and illustrator. She completed extensive training in Pranic Healing, and served several times a week as a volunteer healer in free clinics around the Bay Area, from 2010-2013. In 2013, she served as a Prayer Chaplain for Unity Church of San Leandro, and began co-facilitating an alternative healing circle there, which continued for three years. In 2014 she attended HCH in Lafayette, CA and became a certified hypnotherapist, focusing on past-life regression and spirit releasement. This extraordinary education led to a profound desire to put her gifts to work in the wider community. She attended all modules of ChI’s Interfaith Studies Certificate Program in 2015, during which she reconnected with her own Jewish roots and studied Tibetan Buddhism as a secondary faith tradition. During her first unit of CPE, she united her passion for healing with her creative spark, and the AltarNative Angel and www.altarnativearts.com came into being. As part of her ministry, Jenifer delights in bringing art and prayer together for her patients. She continues to offer presence as a chaplain intern, now in her 2nd unit of CPE at Kaiser, San Leandro, California, bringing alternative healing methods to patients (and staff) in the ER. Jenifer is bilingual in Spanish, and has been known to sing on occasion, as well.
Rev. Douglas James Myers (Orinda, CA)
On a hot Bastille Day in 1959, I made my appearance here on Earth. My family has lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for five generations. As a child, I was raised Catholic. While I could never remember the Apostle’s Creed, but I do remember having a lot of tuna salad and fish sticks on Friday growing up. The year before college and the year after I spent in France. I then worked for 8 years in executive retail management, until I got the urge to move abroad again. On a whim, I accepted a teaching position in Japan, and ended up staying for 5 years. While there I was drawn to visit Buddhist temples and over the course of two and half years visited at least 34 temples all over Japan. I have worked as a curriculum developer in the high-tech industry since 1998. My call to explore more fully my spirituality began in earnest in 2001. I have been a Licensed Spiritual Practitioner with the Centers of Spiritual Living since 2005.
I entered the Chaplaincy Institute in September, 2013. I serve as a volunteer chaplain of the Walnut Creek Police Department, offering spiritual support to police officers and ministering community members when on call. I also volunteer as a chaplain intern at Gentiva Hospice to deepen my ministerial experience and to explore the role of chaplaincy in bereavement support. I live with my partner Joe, and our three rescue dogs: Thor (a miniature pincher), Celeste (a puggle), and Zion (a German Shepherd Dog).
Rev. Amy Selena Reynolds-Wrobleski (Manzanita, OR)
I have been walking the path towards becoming an interfaith/interspiritual mystic since I was a young child. Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, my heart feels at home when I am near water and trees. I feel a deep connection to Spirit when I am in nature. My family did not adhere to any any specific spiritual tradition. We went hiking and camping in the mountains and at the ocean and were taught how to appreciate and respect all people, cultures, and traditions. I am very grateful for the humanistic and Earth loving ways that I was raised and feel that my parents planted the first seeds of interfaith spirituality within me. I have been blessed with many opportunities to travel and experience cultures and realities very different from my own. Living, working, and traveling abroad opened my eyes and heart to the beauty of the multitude of the human experience and showed me many ways to nurture and express my spirituality. Making art has been a touchstone for me since I was a child and has given me a sacred space to pay attention, be mindful of the present moment, and process my emotions and experiences. In my own life, art has brought many insights and deep healing. I feel called to share this creative process with others, and know this to be part of the ministry I will offer to others. Currently, I am a hospice volunteer and this summer I assisted at a bereavement camp for kids. This fall I will begin the process of becoming a facilitator of a children’s bereavement support group and also bring art activities to sick kids and their families through two different organizations in Portland, OR. I feel called to be of service to others in a deep and meaningful way. My own Dark Nights of the Soul have given me insights into both suffering and the healing process. I have learned how to be with difficult emotions and to allow Spirit to guide me. Using creativity, mindfulness, ritual, and deep listening, my ministry will offer children and adults tools for healing and transformation.
Rev. Mary Margaret Adams Rhine (Tacoma, WA)
I was born, raised, and have lived my entire life in Western Washington, never too far from a view of Mount Rainier or the Puget Sound. Living in close proximity to the wonders and beauty of nature has greatly influenced my spirit and my spirituality. Growing up summer vacations were always spent camping in the woods, and as an adult, it was at Unitarian Universalist summer camp, on the beautiful Hood Canal, that I met my husband of 25 years, Richard Rhine.
My work-life has included several careers. I graduated from the University of Washington in 1976 with a degree in journalism, and worked for the next eight years in the publishing industry. At that time jobs in publishing were not very stable, so I went back to school and finished a degree in computer programming. After teaching programming for about a year, I went to work for the City of Tacoma as a programmer, and retired from the City 25 years later as an IT Manager. My transition from programming into management was significant, because I discovered that working with people was much more rewarding than working with computers, and that my people skills were much stronger than my technical skills. Throughout much of this time I would occasionally facilitate adult religious exploration classes at my church. Through this work I realized my calling: To help others find and walk their spiritual path. Because I realize that each person’s path can be unique, and equally valid to anyone else’s path, I am firmly committed to an interfaith perspective. I have walked several paths myself, and so I was delighted to discover the Chaplaincy Institute, where I have participated in both the Interfaith Studies and Spiritual Direction courses.
Rev. Kara Rosseaux (Chandler, AZ)
Arizona is home and where I share life with my family, friends and partner, Leslie. The roots of the Sonoran Desert are woven deeply into my history. As an Arizona native, I treasure the extraordinary patience belonging to the desert and it profoundly influences my interfaith spirituality. In my free time, I enjoy cycling, gardening, and searching out amazing tree house vacations. Little did I know that my career in organizational development and human resource management would be the perfect training ground for ministry. Almost daily, I was shown the often painful gap between life as it is and life as we hope it will be. If asked, I would have said that a call to ministry was about as likely as my being struck by lightning. Chance became certainty when my friend, Keith died from pancreatic cancer in 2009. In his final hours, I was given the gift of bearing witness to the vitality of this life infusing the anticipated life that awaits us in death. It was out of that experience my passion to be a chaplain emerged. My ministry will find me serving as an airport chaplain to passengers and employees at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, where 3.5 million passengers pass through annually and over 32,000 people are employed. Following ordination, I will be pursuing my certificate in te in Spiritual Direction through the Tacheria Interfaith Spirituality Center.
Rev. Riley Sophia (Eugene OR)
I have followed a winding path of hardship, joy and longing to arrive at this transformational point of the journey. While I left behind the trauma of my childhood and the conservatism of my upbringing, the gifts and tools that I was able to hone from these experiences (through recognition, grief, recovery and the willingness to be changed) have equipped me to see my place in the world of ministry as a Hospice Chaplain, and accept my call to this work.
Through social justice work, an intimate Interspiritual path of connection to the Divine Beloved, singing as sacrament, listening to trees, my Bachelors in Sociology/Women's Studies, 13+ years of practicing Massage Therapy from a Mind/Body/Spirit perspective, my Masters of Divinity from Starr King, and my deep and rewarding training at the Chaplaincy Institute, I feel I have received a virtual cornucopia of tools and blessings in order to answer my call to death midwifery and hospice chaplaincy, in order to serve the interconnected web of all living things in a way that is sustainable and rewarding. Blessed Be.
Rev. Noel Blue Sky Tendrick (Portland, OR)
Noel has been baptized by ocean surf, redrocks, redwoods, and world wide waterfalls. He works with the Elements in his practices of Aikido, writing, photography, shamanic healing arts, and Reverend Blue Sky ministry. He loves living in the Pacific Northwest where he and his partner make marionberry jam sometimes.