A Panel Discussion With Four Dynamic Women in Powerful Ministries
February might be considered the month of love. It also is the month when the world celebrates and honors black history. Within Centers for Spiritual Living, it is the month of our annual convention.
In recognition of all that February is to so many, we gathered together four women in leadership within CSL for a virtual conversation. Below we offer perspectives given to us by:
- Tracy Brown, RScP, CSL Leadership Chair and Religious Science practitioner from Dallas, Texas;
- Dr. Crystal Davis, CSL laity leader, professional consultant and servant leadership expert from Kansas;
- Rev. Andriette Earl, founding spiritual leader from Heart and Soul Center of Light in Oakland, California; and
- Rev. Cynthia James, longtime CSL minister and voice of “The Science of Mind” audiobook with a global virtual and sacred travel ministry based in Colorado.
In the February 2020 issue of Guide for Spiritual Living: Science of Mind magazine, these leaders discussed their answers to five questions:
- What’s one way the principles of Science of Mind help you navigate the complexities of your daily life?
- Please share your favorite Ernest Holmes quote and explain why it’s meaningful to you and your ministry.
- This issue’s theme is “All the Colors of Love.” What color — passions, skills, vision — do you bring in service to your Science of Mind community?
- Is there a black ancestor from our movement or within Religious Science who has inspired your work?
- Looking forward, what is your fondest knowing for CSL’s future?
Here we offer a recap of their discussion around two additional questions.
How has your life been enriched by being in service and leadership with Centers for Spiritual Living?
Brown: Probably the most unexpected way my life has been enriched by being in service and leadership is the many opportunities I have had to test my own faith. I cannot count the number of times I have said to myself, “If you really believe what we teach, then act like it!” That has required me to consider solutions I wouldn’t have otherwise considered and to build productive relationships with people I would otherwise have avoided.
Davis: Nearly 11 years ago, this teaching helped to awaken me from my unconscious sleep. I felt so much love and acceptance when I entered the doors of the center at CSL-KC and I will never forget when Dr. Chris Michaels, standing at the door to greet us after service, said to me, “I saw the Love of God in your eyes the moment I saw you.”
You cannot imagine how that statement brought deep healing and awareness to my soul at that very moment. I have met and am in fellowship with so many wonderful heart-centered people who have a mind for results and a heart for service. They have blessed my son and me in so many ways, and I am in a debt of gratitude for this. I have a beautiful prayer partner who has unconditional positive regard for me, and having her as a prayer partner is healthy and rewarding.
My son and I have developed strong bonds and deep connections with our church family in Kansas City. On the national level, I have had the opportunity to meet people who are ministers, practitioners and members who are at the top of their game in the secular world. We have developed fast friendships as colleagues and members of the beloved organization. We have worked together beautifully for the benefit of CSL. This has been a joy — to be respected for my knowledge and skill set for the good of our organization.
My life as a metaphysician and person who practices Science of Mind principles is forever enlightened and enriched by this organization, and I will continue to serve in ways that show up for me. I am an emerging Servant Leader.
Earl: My service in leadership to CSL has helped me cultivate and strengthen my awareness of truth — our Oneness — even while peeking behind the curtain of our organization.
I have often experienced disappointment and pain with how we are with one another. I chose to be in service as an active and engaged member and leader of CSL to ensure that I would not just stand in complaint of our movement and also that I not isolate from us. Without service as my spiritual practice, I knew I could isolate myself and felt that I would. This is about cultivating my vision, strength and courage to stand and lead beyond my pain and disappointment.
Being in service and leadership, both challenges and blesses me. I am blessed to have met and work with amazing allies and folks of like consciousness. I can feel a shift, and I look forward to witnessing the pain and disappointment, as Rickie Byars sings, “all fade into God.”
James: I have grown in ways that will forever be with me. Old wounds no longer run me. I can honestly say that I walk through this life with confidence, clarity of purpose and joy in my soul. I will forever be grateful to this teaching
Looking back, please share one of the contributions you’re proud of making to CSL and the New Thought movement.
Brown: My goal as an elected leader has been to: “Honor Legacy. Demonstrate Love. And Redefine Leadership.” I believe I have been an unofficial spokesperson for the concept that you don’t have to be a minister to have a ministry. And, as a leader, I am really proud of strengthening our capacity for open communication both within Centers for Spiritual Living and between CSL and other New Thought organizations. I am also proud of contributing to an elevated expectation for financial stability and organizational prosperity.
Davis: I am a passionate seeker on a personal journey that has led me through many spiritual disciplines. The Science of Mind philosophy resonated so deeply with me and my message of servant leadership that I immediately began selfless service when I joined Center for Spiritual Living in Kansas City in 2008. As the former Executive Director of the CSL~KC Community Outreach Ministry, my team of volunteers and I built a comprehensive outreach program that continues to be a successful ministry today.
Desiring a deeper level of service, I served on the Member Council and as vice chair and chair for nearly six years. I also served on the Executive Director Realignment Committee and on the Lifelong Learning Spiritual Leadership Education working group. Currently, I am in service to the Science of Mind Archives and Library Foundation.
I believe my greatest contribution in all of the aforementioned acts of service to our beloved organization was to conduct research and write my dissertation on self-transcendence and servant leadership with Centers for Spiritual Living in the United States. I live a life of sacred service to my family, business and spiritual home at Center for Spiritual Living in Kansas City.
Earl: Without question, it is having founded Heart and Soul Center of Light in 2009. HSCL has been a personal experiment in using these principles in consistent, creative and expansive ways, with people from a variety of backgrounds (race/ethnicity, age, socioeconomic backgrounds, including churched and unchurched) to expand our consciousness in the most beneficial ways. We offer a viable alternative to spiritual community than what is more typically available (especially for people of color). Teaching, empowerment, transformation — personal liberation — is what we’re up to.
James: I became a practitioner in 1995. I taught classes and spoke at different services. During that time, I was the first Vision Core coordinator for the organization. I facilitated visioning as two organizations became one. I also taught many organizations and leaders to use the power of visioning. Today, I speak and teach in many CSL communities, facilitate board and practitioner retreats, and coach ministers and leaders. I was a keynote speaker at the convention two years ago, and that experience made my heart smile.