Annalouiza rode to Earth on the back of a Great Horned Owl, on a sunny but cold day. She promised Creator she wouldn’t forget and could be counted on to help others remember. A visit from God, at age nine in the family’s garden, reminded her that all Creatures, Elements, Fauna, and Foliage spoke the Sacred Language. She took to listening to the wind, talking to trees, watching clouds cluster and disperse, and murmuring to all kinds of animals. These were all her initial teachers. Her curiosity opened her to other kinds of learning: BA Photography, MA Bilingual Education, Reiki Master, Community Herbalist, and Death Midwife. She enthusiastically shares her memories of the Creator while embodying her journey through Earth, holding sacred space for Ancestors, Animals, Plants, and the Elements. The Chaplaincy Institute bundled Perennial Wisdom by which she hopes to minister to those who are curious about the voices of The Divine.
Elizabeth cares most about kindness. She serves those on the threshold of something new with renewal and growth, meditation, and contemplative practices – including poetry, travel, and nature.
On the long road to ordination, Elizabeth experienced practicums in engagement and belonging, grief recovery, and Clinical Pastoral Education in a hospital. She is a commitment to gender and racial inclusion, equity, and justice in families, business, and healthcare. Once upon a time, she had a marketing consulting practice and also worked for technology companies.
Elizabeth has a hospitality degree from Penn State and certificates from UC Berkeley Haas School. She is a convener, board member, and author. She is writing a memoir, Answering the Call, and a poetry collection, In the Hands of the Sorceress, while living in a magical cottage in the Bay Area’s East Bay hills with her children, Sophie and Patrick, and loving her 97-year-old “uber-elder” father, John Becker.
One of the archetypes for chaplains is the Wounded Healer. For me, it was deep personal emotional trauma early in life, which was the original impetus that lead me to the search for The Divine. It is the Great Mystery that called me to find a way to heal and to be a vehicle whereby others might begin to heal. I have always wished to do the work of being of service to others in whatever it was that I did, working in technology, playing big band swing and being a bandleader, officiating services for the spiritual path of Eckankar, being a father and life partner, or promoting love and the sense of community in my neighborhood. Now I am taking this time in life to become a co-worker with God, to at times be a listener, a healer, and even at times, a teacher.
M.S. Jesse Ford
Born in New York City, perhaps it began
climbing the ginkgo tree above the East River
& refusing to come down.
Or learning rattlesnakes, poison ivy, & jewelweed
from my dad, as, at 10, I too pickaxed the concrete
outside old stables that would become
our family home.
But one night, in the aching cold & deep stillness of snow
the seed came clear
& grew, in burbling conversations with springtime creeks
and the riotous & necessary
kaleidoscopes of color and smell that is life
under autumnal skies.
Listen! our own bones know: right now,
hordes of brethren alchemists
are transmogrifying gas & sunlight
who walk slither fly crawl prance swim trot dart & pad
My call is to re/mind
s concerning these things
asking how this affects
the conduct of our days
on this third rock
out, from a minor sun
My call to ordained ministry is knotted by bell hooks’ instruction to meet and accompany those along my path with love and Judith Plaskow’s wisdom to listen and hear what is present and necessary but not necessarily heard or seen. Rooted in Judaism, my belief is intimately informed by exoteric experiences of nature and landscape. On my path, I experience these ontological apparatuses linked through apophatic theology and grow closer to the Divine not through epistemics, rather past ordinary perception and through what is unknowable, ineffable, and ultimately transcendent. A graduate of American Jewish University and Yale Divinity School, I was a chaplain intern with Johns Hopkins Medicine and will begin a chaplain residency at Mayo Clinic this fall. I want to thank Rabbi Pinchas Giller, Rev. Lauren Van Ham, Annalouiza Armendariz, and the eight generations of Texans it took to bring me to this threshold.
From a very early age, I felt a call to minister to others, though I had no idea what that might mean or even look like. That primordial call has never left and has even led me to beautiful teachers throughout Latin America and half a dozen states. With each place I have gone, I have seen more clearly the beauty in just being with people and walking with them. In trying to live out this call, I feel most at home right now as a hospice chaplain and spiritual director, which led me to the Chaplaincy Institute. I am so grateful for my wife and the friends I have made along the way as well as for the support this community has offered me as I continue in this work. It has truly been an adventure and I am excited to see what comes next!
I have learned many things from travel, work, and my formal education, but my spiritual and ministerial formation has come through relationships. My journey to this moment has been a co-creation with the Divine. I am grateful for my familial ancestors and for our mother earth. I am grateful for my parents who helped me to begin the path of living into my full self. I am grateful for all the people who have been a listening presence for me and who have modeled how to walk the path of companionship. I am grateful for my holy brother Rabbi Bob without whom I would not be here at this threshold. I am grateful for my children Caledonia, Ella, and Ben. They inspire me to be my best self and they kindly accept me no matter how many times I stumble on the path.
Allie (she/they) is an autistic spiritual leader originally from South Dakota. With experiences in ministry, yoga, non-profit work, and education, Allie feels called to congregational pastoral care while embodying a creative spirit and growth mindset. Wherever the path guides Allie, the journey will certainly include activism for climate justice, disability justice, and socioeconomic equity, as well as continual support from family, friends, and spiritual mentors.
Lauren is a sixth-generation settler on traditional Coast Miwok, Lisjan, and Ramaytush Ohlone land. She calls the San Francisco Bay Area home, as well as the rainforests of the Pacific Northwest and the Sonoran desert of the Southwest. She is supported in her ministry by her Italian, German, Irish and Welsh ancestors (and the ancient ones before these categories existed), the Oak woodlands, Redwood forests and waters of her childhood home, the Plant Beings, and the Divine Mother. She is supported by her loving family and friends. She is a Witch, plant medicine worker, a doula in death and grief, and deeply rooted in somatic relational healing within the human web and larger Earth body. Lauren is dedicated to a life and spiritual path that is anti-racist, anti-capitalist, and belonging to the Earth.
Annalouiza Armendariz has spent her life training to be a listener for the Divine. Her Spiritual Formation began in her family’s garden where she met God. Spiritual Direction training is the culmination of a life spent walking the lands, from the wind blown snowy desert of Antarctica, to volcanic peaks in Central America. She listens to the Divine and shares what is offered. She is a Certified Community Herbalist, Reiki Master, Death Midwife, and Mother and is here to serve others. Annalouiza continues to create and hold space for the Divine in everyday life.
Deidre Combs is an executive coach, leadership development consultant, and the author of three books, The Way of Conflict, Worst Enemy, Best Teacher and Thriving Through Tough Times. For the past thirteen years, Combs has taught thousands of US State Department-selected fellows leadership development and conflict resolution through day-long to semester-length classes. Combs is also a certified mediator and Empowerment Coach, and holds a Doctorate of Ministry from the University of Creation Spirituality and now a certificate in Spiritual Direction from The Chaplaincy Institute. She lives in Bozeman, Montana with her husband with whom she has three now grown children.
Rev. Hanna Hymans Ostroff
Hanna is the creator of the virtual reality experience Breathe Peace World, utilized for pain management in children’s hospitals and in healthcare settings all over the world. Breathe Peace World debuted at the United Nations’ SDG Interactive Exhibition General Assembly. She is the author of Aya, the story of a purposeful little panda whose search for beauty leads her to a peaceful place, the one inside her beautiful heart! Hanna is an ordained Interfaith Minister and Peace Advocate, commissioned by Chaplaincy Institute founder Rev. Dr. Gina Rose Halpern. Early in her career, Hanna worked in clinical wellness and international public relations. From her Interfaith Spiritual Direction private practice located in Northern California, Hanna will serve a global community and every spiritual path. Hanna and her beloved husband and life partner Greg are blessed with four beautiful children, two adorable dogs, and one virtual panda.