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Fall 2016
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KC Area Faiths 2017-04-01T11:43:37+00:00

Here is a list with descriptions of 23 distinct faith philosophies represented in the Greater Kansas City community

The Alliance of Divine Love is an international, interfaith ministry which recognizes and honors the validity and wisdom of all faith traditions. ADL ministers practice within many faith traditions, including Christian, Native American Spirituality, Buddhist, Earth-based Spirituality, Oneness and many other traditions.

In the Alliance of Divine Love, there is no dogma except the belief in the power of Divine Love as the primary force in the universe. All ADL ministers take this vow “I pledge myself to Love/to be Love’s channel/In service to all humankind” and vow to minister to all through the Greatest Degree of Love… to approach every person and every situation with the Greatest Degree of Love for all concerned.

The Alliance of Divine Love offers training in spiritual and personal development, as well as ministerial and doctoral programs. ADL ministerial candidates complete training in counseling, teaching, and spiritual development through study and practical application programs. After satisfactory completion of studies and ordination, each minister performs an internship of one year, under the continuing direction of the Alliance of Divine Love certified teacher.

There are almost fifty active Alliance of Divine Love ministers within the Greater Kansas City area. ADL ministers tend to the needs of the community through prayer, counseling, comforting, ceremony and teaching, as well as through interfaith work. Interfaith activities include The Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council (several GKCIC Members and Alternates are ADL ministers) and through work with other interfaith organizations.

The Heartland Chapter of the Alliance of Divine Love hosts the Annual Interfaith Thanksgiving Ritual Dinner, an interfaith tradition in Kansas City since 1984. The Heartland Chapter also conducts special events and partners with other community organizations and occasionally hosts the international Alliance of Divine Love conference.

ADL ministers serve the community through prayer and ceremony and are available for weddings, commitment ceremonies, baby blessings, house blessings, and counseling. Contact the Heartland Chapter of the Alliance of Divine Love on the WEB, or email HeartlandADL@hotmail.com.

American Indian Spirituality as an oral tradition has no identifiable point of time origin and survives through its keepers who share and pass down the ancestral teachings. More a way of life than a religion, American Indian Spirituality is a shared cultural view that understands that the good health of one’s family and community is dependent upon each individual’s good relationship, alignment and harmony with Great Spirit and all of Creation.

One is taught to observe harmony and balance in nature, and to strive for that harmony and balance in one’s own life. It is believed that as one comes into harmony and balance and good relationship with All That Is, wellness of body, mind, spirit and emotions will come to pass, not only for one’s self, but for all of one’s family, extended family kinships and community.

Spiritual leaders, healers and keepers of the oral tradition are recognized as such within their community and in other Native communities by their activities, their relationships and their personal service within the community. While there are no holy books, sacred writings, or religious authorities that mandate tenets of faith for adherents to follow, the keepers of American Indian Spirituality pass down the teachings through storytelling, language and ceremony.

One does not become a keeper, spiritual leader or healer by going to school or receiving certification or a degree. Rather than by exacting personal selection as a vocation or community position, spiritual leaders, keepers and healers are usually the result of individual inspiration. Through prayer, the inspired individual acquires a practicing mentor for a life-long apprenticeship. The mentor will, over the course of time, share traditional knowledge with the apprentice and the application of the knowledge for appropriate ritual and ceremony that are applied with traditional teachings and understandings of the mentor of his environment and of his Creator/Higher Power.

Though there are more than 2.5 million Americans who are descendants of the original inhabitants of this country, not all Native Americans adhere to or support traditional beliefs. For those who do, there is much regional diversity in ceremonial and healing practices. There are 558 recognized tribes in 35 states in the United States. The largest tribe is the Navajo, or Dine´, with an estimated population of 250,000. The name for God is Great Spirit, and there are no sacred texts, this is an oral tradition.

The Baha’i Faith is an independent world religion, with members in more than 120,000 localities, in more than 200 countries. It was founded by Bahá’u’lláh, a Persian nobleman who sacrificed a life of privilege, knowing he would face persecution, imprisonment and exile for proclaiming his faith. He underwent great suffering to bring a message of peace and unity to the world. He claimed to be the promised Messenger of God for this age, continuing the progressive revelation of God taught by Abraham, Krishna, Moses, Zoroaster, Buddha, Jesus and Muhammad.

The central message of Bahá’u’lláh is unity. He said there is only one God, only one human race, and that all the world’s religions (in their essential core) represent stages in the growth of one common faith. He said humanity is in its adolescence, on the verge of spiritual maturity. The time has now arrived when the uniting of humanity into a peaceful, integrated global society is not only possible, but inevitable (as the Will of God.) “The earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens,” he wrote.

The Bahá’í Faith is innovative in many ways. It has a new system of global administration, with freely elected governing councils in nearly 10,000 localities. There are no clergy and no rituals. Women and men have an equal voice. The Bahá’í scriptures provide guidance for contemporary social problems, a deep commitment to family and community life, and renewed moral values. The faith calls for social justice, and a rich spiritual life for each individual and community.

Bahá’u’lláh’s mystical writings are deeply profound. His social teachings are wide in scope and fundamentally practical. He said the God-given purpose of mankind is “to carry forward an ever advancing civilization.” For a global society to flourish, he said, it must be based on spiritual principles. They include elimination of prejudice; equality of sexes; recognition of the essential oneness of the world’s great religions; elimination of extremes of poverty and wealth; universal education; harmony of science and religion; a sustainable balance between nature and technology; and the establishment of a world federal system, based on collective security and the oneness of humanity.

Inspired by this vision of a better world, Bahá’í s are committed to an ongoing process of personal and social transformation. They endeavor to share this vision without proselytizing. They welcome people of all faiths to their community gatherings, which include interfaith devotional services, moral education for children, “fireside” discussions of spiritual topics and neighborhood “study circles.” At these gatherings, there is no soliciting of funds, and no pressure to “convert.” More information on the Baha’i Faith can be found by visiting www.bahai.org.

  • Founder(s):
    • Bahá’u’lláh, meaning “The Glory of God”
    • Forerunner – The Báb, meaning “The Gate”
  • Founding Date: 1844
  • Principles of the Faith
    • the oneness of humanity
    • the common origin and unity of purpose of all world religions
    • the harmony of science and religion
    • equality of women and men
    • the elimination of all forms of prejudice
    • a spiritual solution to economic problems
    • the establishment of a world commonwealth of nations
  • Worldwide Members: Approx. 5 million
Buddhism is the world’s fourth largest religion with 350 million practitioners. Buddhism is a religion and philosophy based on the teachings of the Buddha who lived in the 6th century B.C.E. The goal of Buddhist practice is to end suffering in ourselves and others. The practice of meditation helps awaken the practitioner to the realization of true reality, the achievement of liberation. Great empha¬sis is placed upon non-harming and the practice of compassion extended to all beings.

Albert Einstein described Buddhism in the following way: “Buddhism has the characteristics of what would be expected in a cosmic religion for the future: it transcends a personal God, avoids dogmas and theology; it covers both the natural and spiritual, and it is based on a religious sense aspiring from the experience of all things, natural and spiritual, as a meaningful unity.”

Orthodox Christianity traces its roots to the original twelve Apostles of Christ. Growing together with the Church of Rome for the first thousand years of the Christian Era, it includes the majority of Christians in Greece, Cyprus, Russia, Georgia, Moldava, Belarus, Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia, Montenegro, Ethiopia, Egypt, and Armenia, and is represented by large Christian communities throughout Africa, Asia, North America, South America, and Australia.

Orthodox Christianity includes both the Eastern Orthodox Churches and the Oriental Orthodox Churches. The spiritual life centers around one God in Three Persons; the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Who sent His Son, Jesus, to restore humanity to the original image and likeness of God, through His death, burial, resurrection, and sending of the Holy Spirit. Since the early centuries of the Church, the spiritual life has been continually renewed through a deep connection with monasticism, sacraments, the prayer of the heart, non-judgment of others, and love for all humanity and creation.

Christianity has three main branches: Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and Protestantism, which developed from the 16th Century Reformation. Protestantism has further branched into hundreds of denominations arising from geographic, creedal, and organizational differences.

Doctrines common to Protestantism include justification by faith through grace (salvation is the gift of God and cannot be earned), the priesthood of all believers (each person may approach God directly, without any intermediary), and the authority of scriptures (the Bible is considered the ultimate guide for spiritual questions, though some traditions balance the Bible with other sources of understanding).

General forms of polity (church governance) include episcopal (authority centered in bishops), congregational (each local group governs its own affairs with lay leadership equal to clergy), and presbyterian (regional groups of clergy and lay leaders governing certain matters for local congregations while relating to a national assembly).

The Roman Catholic presence in our community continues Jesus’ mission, announcing the Good News that “the Kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:21) The Kansas City metropolitan area is comprised of two local churches. The Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas was established in 1850 and the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph in 1868. Archbishop Joseph Naumann and Bishop Robert Finn are the respective spiritual leaders of the 327,000 Catholics who comprise these churches.

It is not unusual for Catholics to use the word “church” in different ways. It can refer to our organizational structures, our parishes and schools, and our people who practice their faith. We believe that the church is first and foremost a community of disciples, women and men, trying to live their lives in the spirit of Jesus. Our principal form of worship is the Sunday Eucharist, also called the Mass, in which bread and wine become for us the body and blood of Christ. Our participation in this sacred ritual unites us to God and one another. It also sends us out in compassionate service to the world.

We reach out in a variety of ways. Catholic Charities offers physical and emotional comfort to all in need. Catholic elementary schools, high schools and universities provide high-quality values-based education for young people and adults. Holy Family Catholic Worker House, Shalom House and numerous parishes throughout the area feed the poor and homeless. The Catholic Campaign for Human Development funds local self-help initiatives. Catholic hospitals continue the healing mission of Christ.

The Roman Catholic Church is a community committed to respect for life, social justice and interfaith cooperation around the world. Our inspiration is drawn from God’s Word handed down to us in the Bible. Our identity is shaped by a living tradition entrusted to our bishops. Our future is revealed to us in our prayerful responses to the Holy Spirit. Our essential challenge is offered by Jesus himself, “Do unto others whatever you would have them to do you.” (Matthew 7:12)

What We Believe
  • The professions of faith known as creeds—the Nicene Creed and the Apostle’s Creed—define Catholic belief. The richness of Catholic belief is revealed in the depth behind each pronouncement of belief.
What We Celebrate
  • The Sacraments of the Catholic Church are outward signs of grace, instituted by Christ to make us holy. The seven sacraments of the Catholic Church are Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Reconciliation, Anointing of the Sick, Matrimony and Holy Orders.
How We Live
  • At all times, Christian living requires us to follow the teaching and example of Christ, the commandments, the precepts of the Catholic Church, Catholic Social Teaching and the Church’s principles of moral life.
How We Pray
  • The Catechism of the Catholic Church quotes St. John Damascene’s classic definition of prayer: “Prayer is the raising of one’s mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God” #2559. Although Catholics pray in a wide variety of ways, we turn to Jesus as our model in the Gospel of Matthew, where He teaches us to pray with simplicity of words and confidence in a loving Father. (Mt 6:5-15; 7:7-11)
Learn more by visiting these sites:
  • God type: Single god
  • God name(s): The Holy Trinity, Father, Lord Jesus, Holy Spirit
  • Place of origin: Palestine
  • Sacred texts: Bible
  • Worship: The Mass
  • Members in USA: 64 million
  • Members worldwide: 1.2 billion
Christian Science is defined as “The law of God, the law of good, interpreting and demonstrating the divine Principle and rule of universal harmony.” Its church is designed to “reinstate primitive Christianity and its lost element of healing.” Christian Science was discovered in the 19th century by Mary Baker Eddy, who in 1875 published Science and Health, With Key to the Scriptures, providing a spiritual interpretation of the Bible and explaining the healing principles found there. Science and Health continues to be a bestselling Bible commentary, and is now available in 17 languages and Braille.

The Mother Church, whose headquarters is in Boston, MA, is dedicated to bringing healing to all humanity through its many venues including websites as well as weekly and monthly periodicals offering prayerful solutions to contemporary personal, community and global issues. Its Pulitzer Prize winning international newspaper, “The Christian Science Monitor,” whose purpose is “to injure no man, but to bless all mankind,” is available daily online and weekly in print form.

Weekly Bible lessons are available in print, audio, video and electronic formats for youth and adults. All of these resources may also be accessed or obtained in Reading Rooms found in many communities. Training programs for Christian Science nurses and armed forces chaplains are also provided.

Sunday and Wednesday healing services in local churches are open to all. An international Board of Lectureship offers public speakers on a changing variety of contemporary issues and their resolution. While there is no church hierarchy or clergy, trained practitioners devoted to healing ministry are available through local directories and The Christian Science Journal, online and in print. Many churches offer services in correctional facilities and senior care homes.

Church members are encouraged to include their communities and the world in their daily prayers. Locally, a weekly radio program on healing can be heard Sunday mornings at 8:30 a.m. on KCMO, 710 AM, and in Spanish at 9:00 a.m. on KYYS, 1250 AM.

Informational and interactive websites include:

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the official name of the religion commonly called the Mormon Church. We believe first and foremost that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world and the Son of God. While our backgrounds and experiences are diverse, Mormons are united by a commitment to Jesus Christ. As Mormons, we are followers of Jesus Christ. We believe we are to live our lives to serve Jesus and teach of his eternal plan for each of us.

Our faith influences nearly every aspect of our lives. Beyond simply believing in Jesus Christ, we try to bring His teachings to life at home, at work and in our communities. A few of the cultural priorities embraced by members of the Church around the world include humanitarian aid, community service, family history, strengthening families, missionary work and lifelong learning.

In the spring of 1820, a 14-year-old boy named Joseph Smith went into a grove of trees near his home in Palmyra, New York, and prayed to learn which church he should join. In answer to his prayer, God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, appeared to him, just as heavenly beings had appeared to prophets like Moses and Paul in biblical times. Joseph learned that the Church originally organized by Jesus Christ was no longer on the earth.

Joseph Smith was chosen by God to restore the Church of Jesus Christ to the earth. During the next 10 years, Joseph was visited by other heavenly messengers, translated the Book of Mormon by the power of God, and received divine authority to organize the Church. The Church was organized in Fayette, New York, on 6 April 1830, under the leadership of Joseph Smith. It has grown to an organization with members and congregations throughout the world. Two years before he died, the Prophet Joseph Smith wrote them in a letter to a newspaper editor, John Wentworth, who had asked for information about the Church.

Ever since the Articles of Faith were written, they’ve inspired and directed us in the basic principles of our gospel. They enhance our understanding of certain doctrines and help us commit to living them. They invite further thought. And they’re a good tool for explaining our beliefs to people unfamiliar with them.

13 Articles of Faith
  1. We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.
  2. We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.
  3. We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.
  4. We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.
  5. We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof.
  6. We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth.
  7. We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, and so forth.
  8. We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.
  9. We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.
  10. We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.
  11. We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.
  12. We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.
  13. We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul-We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.
Community of Christ’s 250,000 members live and minister in more than 60 nations. We proclaim Jesus Christ and promote communities of joy, hope, love, and peace. Christ’s mission is our mission. In Luke 4:18–19, in response to the Spirit’s guidance, Jesus proclaims his mission when he reads from the Isaiah scroll. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Jesus is anointed for a divine mission:

  • Evangelism—sent to proclaim good news and invite others to join him in mission
  • Compassionate ministries—reaching the brokenhearted, the suffering, and those who need hope and Christ’s peace
  • Justice and peacemaking—release those held captive by unjust systems and the circumstances of life that devalue the worth of any person

The kingdom was present in Jesus’ ministry and his disciples’ actions as described in Acts. Those first Christians continued Christ’s mission by proclaiming the Living Christ, inviting all people into fellowship, valuing the worth of each person, generously and compassionately meeting their needs, and pursuing justice and peace for everyone.

Our call is to reclaim the same vision and passion for the full mission of Jesus Christ today! It’s time for us to be a prophetic people characterized by uncommon devotion to the compassion and peace of God revealed in Jesus Christ.

God’s revelation in Jesus Christ and continuing presence through the Holy Spirit, as proclaimed by scripture, is the foundation of our faith, identity, mission, message, and beliefs. We do our best to uphold these principles (values, concepts, themes) as a faithful response to our heritage and our continuing experience with God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit.

Enduring Principles

  • Grace and Generosity
  • Sacredness of Creation
  • Continuing Revelation
  • Worth of All Persons
  • All Are Called
  • Responsible Choices
  • Pursuit of Peace (Shalom)
  • Unity in Diversity
  • Blessings of Community

Each principle includes statements that help explain its meaning. These statements are not meant to be limiting or comprehensive. For more information visit us ONLINE.

Hinduism is one of the oldest religions known to man dating back several thousand years. Of the three oldest religions, namely, Hinduism, Judaism and Zoroastrianism, Hinduism has survived the best. Sect after sect arose in India to shake the religion of the Vedas to its very depths, but like the waters of the ocean in a tremendous earthquake, Hinduism receded for awhile only to return more vigorously, absorbing and assimilating them back into the immense body of the mother faith.

Hinduism began with the ancient wise men of India called Rishis (Seers) to whom, by meditating in isolation in the forests, mountain tops or ocean-side, were revealed the spiritual truths which we call Vedas (or Knowledge). These truths were revealed over several centuries to the Rishis before writing began. These truths were passed orally from one generation to the other until writing was developed and then were documented for posterity. Thus, Hinduism does not have any single prophet like other monotheistic religions. Hindus believe that the various religions are manifestations of the same single reality. Like many rivers flowing into the same ocean, Hindus believe all religions lead us to the same Universal God.

Hindus believe that the human being has divinity enshrined within, and we are all like sparks of the same Universal fire of super-consciousness, which we call the Brahman.

  • God type: Multiple gods
  • God name(s): Brahma (Creator) Vishnu (Preserver), Shiva (Destroyer) , Goddesses Lakshmi, Saraswati and Durga or Kali
  • Founder: No single founder. Based on revelations made to our ancient sages (Rishis) who meditated in isolation in the forests, mountain tops and river banks over several centuries handed down by word of mouth from generation to generation initially and then documented after writing was invented
  • Founding date: Exact info available because it is ancient. One guesstimate is 10,000 years old
  • Place of origin: North west India by the banks of the indus River ( now in Pakistan)
  • Sacred texts: Upanishads, the Vedas, Bhagavat Gita, Ramayana and Mahabharata
  • Worship: Normally in temples but every practicing Hindu has a little shrine in his/her home for daily worship
  • Members in USA: Close to 2 million
  • Members worldwide: 1.2 billion
Everything in Islam begins with God, the Creator of the Heavens, the Earth, and everything in between. The oneness and uniqueness of God is paramount in Islam. Faith is characterized by belief in God (Allah), angels, prophets of God, books of God, and the Day of Judgment. On the Day of Judgment, every human being will stand in front of the Almighty God to be judged for his/her actions and deeds.

A Muslim worships God by performing daily prayers, giving alms, fasting in the month of Rama¬dan, and performing pilgrimage (Hajj). A Muslim strives to please God through worship, speaking the truth, enjoining the right and forbidding the wrong, practicing charity, caring for other people and the environment, and striving towards peace and justice for all. Islam encourages activism and commitment to humanity by honoring God and obeying His laws.

Judaism is a monotheistic religion and an ethical way of life. One of its core beliefs is that all humans are created in the image of God. Therefore, Judaism engages the Divine in all aspects of Jewish conduct.

In order to effectively actualize this behavior in relationship (with God, ourselves, all peoples, and all of creation), we were given the Torah (a combination of written and oral teachings). Within the written Torah are 613 Mitzvot (commandments). These commandments plus their oral interpretations, clarifications, and modernizations combine to provide rules for holiday observance, dietary laws, civil and criminal law, business practice, medical ethics, family regulations, ritual practice, the conduct of daily life, and more.

While many rituals and prayers are of an individual nature, the emphasis is always on community; and, there are certain rituals and prayers that can only be done with Minyan (group of 10 or more adults). With all of this in mind, Rabbi Hillel (born in 65 BCE) is attributed with teaching Judaism as: “What is hateful to you, do not do to others. This is the law: all the rest is commentary.”

Another method of actualizing this behavior is through Tikkun Olam (Repair the World). Jewish communities worldwide engage in social justice and environmental improvement. Whether Jews are helping to keep people fed, assisting individuals in finding meaningful work, taking action against genocide, starting recycling projects, or just helping a neighbor or stranger in need, these actions are considered partnering with God in creation.

Within the United States, the predominant branches of Judaism include Hasidic, Orthodox, Conservative, Reconstructionist, Reform, and Renewal. Each of these groups has renewed or developed itself over time as a Jewish community that seeks to meet the needs of its people through the oral tradition of re-interpretation for modern times.

Paganism, sometimes called Neopaganism, describes a wide variety of religions, each with their own set of beliefs, structure and style of worship. Some mainstream Pagan religions include Wicca, Druidry and Reclaiming. Though diverse in their beliefs, Pagans share a conviction that the Earth is sacred, which is why they are sometimes called “Earth-Centered Religions.”

Another commonly held belief is that the Divine can be found in both masculine and feminine images—God and Goddess. A third belief is that all things are interconnected. This worldview provides for some common ground to be found among Pagans. Inspiration for worship is drawn from ancient myths and practices of the Romans, Greeks, Egyptians, Norse and many other cultures. Modern interpretations emphasize an individual’s relationship with the sacred, a respect for diversity, and that we all walk our paths with authenticity.

Based in Golden, Colorado, Centers for Spiritual Living™  is a global community comprised of more than 400 spiritual communities, teaching chapters, study groups and other ministries in 30 countries. These communities teach a New Thought philosophy that brings religion and science together and offers spiritual tools to transform personal lives and help make the world a better place. This is done through the study and practice of Science of Mind® and Spirit, also known as Religious Science®, which holds that all life is sacred—that each human being is an expression of God. We believe in Cause and Effect and teach that “it is done unto you as you believe.” In essence, our thinking and expectations create our reality. Our teachings incorporate the ancient wisdom of spiritual traditions through the ages. People of all spiritual paths — Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, and others — are welcome in our communities. We help people experience a personal relationship with the creator; promote a community of tolerance, understanding and respect; provide classes, programs, prayer and meditation; and advocate a safe spiritual community of like-minded people interested in living a spiritual life.

Dr. Ernest Holmes founded the spiritual movement that started Centers for Spiritual Living. Born in 1887 on a small Maine farm, Dr. Holmes spent his teenage years outdoors, asking himself “What is God? Who am I? Why am I here?” This questioning led to his 1926 book, The Science of Mind, which outlined the foundational viewpoints of modern New Thought. It is a philosophy that integrates spiritual truths with science and physics. Simply put, it teaches the unity of all life. Intentions and ideas flow through a field of consciousness, which actually affects and creates the world around us. This idea is common to most major religions and is supported by the teachings of psychology and quantum physics.

The word Sikh is derived from the Sanskrit ‘shishya’ meaning disciple. Sikhs are the disciples of their ten Gurus beginning with Guru Nanak Dev Ji (1469 – 1539) and ending with Guru Gobind Singh Ji (1666 -1708). Today, Sikhs are the disciples of their scriptures, their one true and eternal Guru, the Siri Guru Granth Sahib. If a Sikh wishes advice or solace or inspiration he or she only need to enter a Gurdwara (Sikh house of worship) bow their head and listen to a reading or read themselves from the holy scripture.

There are over 22 million Sikhs in the world today, the vast majority live in the northwestern Indian state of Punjab. There are though many Sikhs throughout the world. They migrated from India seeking opportunity and a new life. Their communities can be found in many cities in the form of Gurdwaras and free kitchens where all who come are honored and fed.

GURU NANAK, THE 1ST SIKH GURU

Guru Nanak Dev Ji the founder of the Sikh faith was the son of a Hindu official with a small holding of land in a village northwest of Lahore. Guru ji had his elementary education in Sanskrit and Persian. (This education served him well later in life as he composed many devotional poems and hymns.) His father intended to train him as an accountant so that he could get a job in the court of the Muslim governor of the district. But Guru Nanak Dev Ji turned out to be indifferent to his school text books and instead engaged in long and deep discourses with holy men both Hindu and Muslim, who turned up at his village. As a young boy he was the despair of his parents as he would not attend to family business and used what ever money they gave him to feed the poor. When he grew to be a young man, they arranged a marriage for him. And for a time he devoted himself to the care of his wife and two sons.

But the search for truth became too overpowering; one day, while bathing in a river young Nanak had a divine revelation in which he entered the court of Akal Purkh (God, the Great Undying Creator of All) who sent him on a mission to spread his word. For three days Guru Nanak, as he was to become known, was missing and presumed drowned. On the third day he reappeared and began his mission from God with a simple message:

‘There is no Hindu, there is no Mussulman’. By this statement he was not denying Hinduism or Islam, but stating that in Gods eyes all worshippers are equal. He set out on the first of several journeys taking with him, as his companions, a Muslim musician Mardana Ji and a Hindu peasant Bhai Bala. The three went preaching from village to village. Guru Nanak ji composed his sermons in ragas (musical modes) which were sung to the accompaniment of the Rabab (a lute style instrument played by Mardana Ji).

Guru Nanak’s teachings inspired many people and within a few years his disciples or students became a homogeneous group whose faith was exclusively within the teachings of Guru Nanak. Nanak traveled all over India as far as Assam, south to Sri Lanka, and north to Tibet. He also went westwards beyond India to Mecca and Medina in Arabia, and to Baghdad (where there is today a war torn Gurdwara or shrine commemorating his visit.) Wherever he went, he sang his hymns which told the people that if they wanted to love God they should learn first to love themselves and each other.

Sufis believe there is One God; One God whose message has been given to the world through history by a chain of masters, saints, and prophets. This chain of messengers, united with God, serves humanity as the Spirit of guidance. Sufism is the religion of the heart, the religion in which one thing is most important, and that is to seek God in the heart of mankind. Sufis believe we live and move and have our being in God.

If one goes to the Christian church, or to the Synagogue, to the Buddhist temple, the Hindu shrine or the mosque of the Muslim, there is God. Sufism, in the meaning of the word, is wisdom. The purpose of Sufism is to bring souls to God-realization.

Founded in Japan in 1959 by Kōtama Okada (1901-1974), Sukyo Mahikari is dedicated to the worship of God and the promotion of peace and happiness throughout the world. Sukyo refers to “the universal laws established by God at the time of creation for the eternal prosperity of all.” Mahikari means “True Light.” It is the Light of God which purifies all things.

God’s Light contains God’s wisdom, love and will. It permeates the whole universe. True Light purifies and eliminates spiritual impurities, as well as emotional and physical impurities. The True Light also nurtures the human soul and helps open our “spiritual eyes,” by enabling us to have spiritual experiences, and to awaken to the existence of God, God’s Light and the invisible spiritual realm. With this awakening, our spiritual development increases, cultivating a deeper understanding and practice of God’s Universal Principles. It creates a positive spiral leading to the full awakening of the soul, increasing the desire to accomplish the goal of God’s Plan—the establishment of a God-centered civilization on Earth, a civilization where peace, harmony and prosperity for everyone is a reality.

“The origin of the world is one and only one; the origin of all human beings is one and only one; and the origin of all religions is one and only one.” This teaching of Sukyo Mahikari states that since the origin is God, all human beings are brothers and sisters, i.e. children of God. Therefore, the attitudes of helping, loving and respecting one another, without judgment, resentment or blame, is fundamental for achieving a harmonious and peaceful family, society and world.

Sukyo Mahikari’s teachings encompass science, religion, education, agriculture, arts, history, politics, as well as other fields. Learning Sukyo Mahikari teachings and practicing the Art of True Light, brings new insights, as well as creative and spiritual growth, within the chosen profession or study. Many scholars and young people are now practicing the True Light and Universal Principles, as a means of discovering solutions to global issues.

Purifying ourselves and the environment with the Light of God is indicative of a heart to apologize for the degradation of the environment, and to achieve oneness with God and unity with others and nature, towards overcoming global problems. Our spirit-first youth education program promotes the importance of purity and positive attitudes, while utilizing the energy of youth for self-improvement and service to society. God’s Light illuminates the path of hope for all humankind!

Sukyo Mahikari has centers throughout the world, with more than one million members in more than sixty countries. It is spread through the pioneering spirit and altruistic love of those who have embraced God’s vision for world peace—establishing a civilization of harmony based upon love for all humankind. To receive Light and/or learn more in the greater Kansas City area, please contact Susan Nakao, Ph.D., 785-242-4262. Please visit our website at www.sukyomahikari.org.

Unitarian Universalism is a doctrinally-free, liberal religion with historical roots in the Judeo-Christian tradition. Both Unitarianism and Universalism grew out of the left wing of the Protestant Reformation. Both religions also originated in part as a protest against the Calvinist doctrines of Total Depravity (Original Sin) and Predestination (the belief that God has determined whether you will go to Heaven even before you were born).

We need not think alike to love alike. -Francis David, 16th century Unitarian
Unitarians did not believe that anyone was born in a state of total corruption; rather they believed that human beings were born with the potential for good. Universalists believed in Universal Salvation, meaning that the souls of every human being would be reconciled to a loving God.

The Unitarians and the Universalists recognized commonalities in their faith and beliefs and merged in 1961. Today, Unitarian Universalists believe that personal experience, conscience, and reason should be the final authorities in religion, and that in the end, religious authority lies not in a book, person, or institution, but in ourselves. While we do not ask members to subscribe to a creed, the Unitarian Universalist Association adopted the following set of principles that reflect our common values:

  • We, the member congregations of the Unitarian Universalist Association, covenant to affirm and promote:
    • The inherent worth and dignity of every person
    • Justice, equity and compassion in human relations
    • Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations
    • A free and responsible search for truth and meaning
    • The right of conscience and use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large
    • The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all
    • Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part

Because Unitarian Universalism is non-creedal, our religious beliefs and practices are diverse. Sources of faith and inspiration include: liberal Christianity, Judaism, Paganism, Buddhism, Atheism, and Humanism. All of our members are faithful Unitarian Universalists committed to the practice of free religion. Unitarian Universalists affirm life by focusing on this world. Our members believe in the power of social justice to change the world and continue to be active leaders in the struggle for freedom, peace, and equal rights for all people.

Charles and Myrtle Fillmore founded Unity in Kansas City in 1890 as a healing ministry based on the power of prayer and the power to create one’s own reality through thoughts and feelings. The Fillmores regarded Jesus as a great example rather than the great exception, interpreted the Bible metaphysically, and taught that God is present within all of us.

Today, Unity offers a positive path for spiritual living with teachings that help people live healthy, prosperous and meaningful lives. Unity World Headquarters, based in Unity Village, Missouri, touches millions of lives each year through Silent Unity, a non-denominational prayer ministry; DailyWord, a daily devotional magazine; Unity Magazine, an inspirational spiritual magazine; and Unity Online Radio, a spiritual online radio network. Unity Village also hosts spiritual education classes, events and retreats.

The Unity movement includes about 1,000 churches and spiritual centers worldwide. In 1965, Unity ministers and churches formed the Unity Worldwide Ministries in order to establish new churches, support existing ones, ordain ministers and license Unity teachers. Unity Worldwide Ministries is the sister organization of Unity World Headquarters at Unity Village.

Unity embraces five basic principles:
  1. God is the source and creator of all. There is no other enduring power. God is good and present everywhere.
  2. Humans are spiritual beings created in God’s image, and everyone is created with this inherent divinity.
  3. We create our life experiences through our thoughts, feelings and intentions.
  4. There is power in affirmative prayer, which reinforces our awareness of oneness with God.
  5. Knowledge of these spiritual principles is not enough. We must live them.

Unity teaches that all people are created with sacred worth. Although Unity follows the teachings of Jesus as a master teacher, it also honors all paths to God and respects each individual’s right to choose their own spiritual path. Unity believes that God is Good, and because all people exist within God, they also are inherently good.

The Unity movement openly welcomes everyone. To reflect its inclusiveness, Unity issued a formal Statement of Diversity in 1995: 

We believe that all people are created with sacred worth. Therefore, we recognize the importance of serving all people within the Unity family in spiritually and emotionally caring ways. We strive for our ministries, publications and programs to reach out to all who seek Unity support and spiritual growth. It is imperative that our ministries and outreaches be free of discrimination on the basis of race, color, gender, age, creed, religion, national origin, ethnicity, physical disability or sexual orientation …

Although Unity takes no official position on social issues, Unity churches are free to support same-sex marriages. Unity World Headquarters at Unity Village and many churches and centers perform holy unions and marriages, where they are legal. Unity World Headquarters at Unity Village is located at 1901 NW Blue Parkway, Unity Village, MO, 64065. 

Vedanta is a universal religion and philosophy based on discoveries made by ancient sages in India who searched for Truth through self-discipline and meditation. Their realizations and experiences were later recorded in the Upanishads (or Vedanta) which form the concluding portions of four ancient scriptures called the Vedas. In Sanskrit veda means knowledge, anta means end or conclusion. Vedanta literally means culmination of knowledge. Records such as these are still being recorded.

You may build a temple in which to worship God, and that may be good, but a better one, a higher one, already exists: the human body.
Perhaps very few people would consider Vedanta to be a common word. Yet, what is called Vedanta is found everywhere, because it is the basis of the spiritual quest. Those ancient sages were spiritual scientists seeking Truth. They asked themselves the same questions that have absorbed men and women throughout the ages. Who am I? What is this world? Why are we here? What is our purpose? What happens when we die? Is there a higher principle? A higher being? Through their deep meditation, they found answers which form the teachings, the highest teachings, known as the Vedanta or the Upanishads.

Vedanta is the philosophical basis of Hinduism, but cannot be confined to any one religion or culture. Vedanta is all-inclusive and embraces universal spiritual principles. Nurtured by Vedanta’s insights, one recognizes it as the essence of religion.

Four tenets of Vedanta are:
  • The divinity of the soul
  • The unity of existence
  • The oneness of Godhead
  • The harmony of religions

Vedanta teaches that there is one Ultimate, Supreme Reality, which is Absolute Existence, Consciousness, and Bliss. It is One without a second. All beings and all things are pervaded by this divine Reality – this Pure Consciousness – and all religions are different paths leading to the same Reality.

Our goal in life is to realize our own divinity and then see it everywhere. Vedanta says that we are spirit and have a body, not the other way around. Vedanta calls the Absolute Supreme Reality by the name Brahman, but regards It as inexpressible. Through Its own power, Brahman creates, preserves, and destroys, and It manifests from time to time in human incarnations such as Rama, Krishna, Buddha, Jesus, and many others who have come in the past or who will come in the future.

Vedanta teaches the harmony of religions, as the same basic truths underlie all religions of the world. Vedanta recognizes the necessity and the beauty of having many different religious traditions and spiritual paths available to us to suit different temperaments.

The Rig Veda states: “Truth is One. Sages call it by various names.” Sri Ramakrishna (1836-1886) wanted to test the truth of this statement. Through his own severe series of spiritual disciplines, covering a twelve-year period, he proved to himself the truth of that statement. Practicing all disciplines contained in Hinduism and Vedanta, he found that they all led him to the same God-realization. He then practiced the paths of Islam and Christianity, and found that they also led him to the same God-realization. He then declared: “As many faiths, so many paths.”

Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902), a disciple of Sri Ramakrishna, taught Vedanta in the West and organized the first Vedanta societies. He said: “Religion is realization. The one central idea of all the Upanishads is realization. Religion is neither talk, nor theory, nor intellectual consent. It is realization in the heart of our hearts; it is touching God.”

What we call God is really only the Self, from which we have separated ourselves and which we worship outside us; but it is our true Self all the time, the one and only God.
As aids to realizing our own divinity, Vedanta teaches four basic yogas. Yoga means union with God. Karma yoga (the path of unselfish action, dedicating one’s actions to God); bhakti yoga (cultivating devotion and love for God); raja yoga (self-control and meditation); and jnana yoga (discrimination between the Real and the unreal). Vedanta teachers emphasize the need for balancing these four yogas in daily life. To that end, students establish a room or space in their home for daily prayer and meditation. In addition, other disciplines are practiced throughout daily activities.

In his commentary on Raja Yoga, Vivekananda declared: “Each soul is potentially divine. The goal is to manifest this Divinity within by controlling nature, external and internal. Do this either by work or worship, or psychic control, or philosophy – by one or more or all of these – and be free. This is the whole of religion. Doctrines, or dogmas, or rituals, or books, or temples, or forms, are but secondary details.”