Friday, September 24, 2010

Gathering for a Blessing

Our next opportunity to communally share Divine Presence and Touch will be Sunday, September 26, when we gather for contemplative meditation. Karen McGinnis and her fellow blessing givers will offer the Oneness Blessing. Karen notes the Oneness Blessing board will also be available. If you wish to bring a photo or write a note regarding family, friends, pets, or anything else, you are invited to place it on the blessing board.

For more information before Sunday, check out San Angelo's Oneness Blessing website

This will be our last evening to collect beans and rice for our special 100 pounds of beans and 100 pounds of rice for Project Dignidad. At this point, we have about 65 pounds of each, so we're almost there! Our offering, then, will be for Project Dignidad - beans, rice, and monetary.

In honor of the Fall Equinox, occurring this week, our potluck theme is fall food.

Sunday, September 26, 5:30 pm
618 Locust Street

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Peace as a Foundation

All things pertaining to spiritual progress in life depend upon peace.

- Hazrat Inayat Khan quoted in The Heart of Sufism edited by H. J. Witteveen
In September, The Gathering has focused on the spiritual discipline of living and cultivating peace - both without and within. We do so in observance of the Season of Peace, which began on September 9th and will conclude with the International Day of Peace on September 21st. We have participated in prayer services and vigils, the 9/11 memorial service, worship, conversation, and of course, showing the movie One Peace at a Time. This Sunday we will continue to explore the theme as we worship together, 5:30 PM September 19th, 618 Locust Street. Many thanks to Nancy York and Trudy Darling for their efforts in helping create the worship experience.

Women for Women International will be our offering recipient as they are cultivating peace by providing women survivors of war, civil strife and other conflicts with the tools and resources to move from crisis and poverty to stability and self-sufficiency, thereby promoting viable civil societies. They state: We're changing the world one woman at a time. Our potluck will play on the old "peace" bumper sticker "Imagine Whirled Peas" (after all, one of our Practices is "humor"). Do with that what you will!

Sunday, September 19
5:30 PM, 618 Locust Street

Saturday, September 11, 2010

"One Peace at a Time" Showing this Thursday

One Peace at a Time will show September 16th at 6:30 pm at the San Angelo Convention Center. The movie is part of San Angelo's Season of Peace and The Gathering's film series. All are invited.

Over the next few months, the Gathering will host four films in a series titled "Neighbors Known and Unknown." Each film will highlight a different aspect of the broad and fascinating tapestry of human experience. One Peace at a Time is the first in the series.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Having Faith

What is faith? What does it mean to "have" faith? Or have a "crisis of faith"? What's the relationship between faith, mystery, and control? How does one nurture faith?

This Sunday, Teresa Rylander and I will lead an exploration of the subject based on insights from Sharon Salzberg's book Faith: Trusting Your Own Deepest Experience. "This is the best book about faith that we have read in a long time," say Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat at In addition to our offering of 1 pound bags of beans and rice for Project Dignidad, we will receive our fall semester offering for Angelo State's United Campus Ministries, a place "which exists to provide an environment where faith and knowledge and their relationship can be explored." Our potluck is anything light and cool.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Season of Peace Begins

Peace Ambassadors of West Texas, an interfaith group working to promote peace through understanding, invite all to join in the 2010 “Peace Begins with Me” Season of Peace. Becky Benes is serving as The Season of Peace coordinator.

The Season of Peace hosts an interfaith service this evening at 7:00 pm at Unity Church. The schedule is as follows:

1 a.m. today — Prayer vigil for peace and healing begins.

7 p.m. today — Interfaith prayer service, Unity Church of Christianity, 5237 S. Bryant Blvd.

9:30 a.m. Saturday — 9/11 Memorial Service at the 9/11 Memorial site by Celebration Bridge, behind the San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts, 1 Love St.

6:30 p.m. Sept. 16 — “One Peace at a Time,” a film by Turk Pipkin, San Angelo McNease Convention Center, 500 Rio Concho Drive. Sponsored by The Gathering-UCC.

12:30 p.m. Sept. 19 — Musical program with Dwain Briggs, Unity Church of Christianity, 5237 S. Bryant Blvd.

6:30 p.m. Sept. 21 — “The Many Names for God: Challenges of Interfaith Dialogue,” University of Houston world religions professor Helen Rose Ebaugh, ASU’s C.J. Davidson Conference Center, 1910 Rosemont Drive.

Midnight Sept. 21 — Prayer vigil ends.

The Gathering is showing the film, One Peace at a Time movie on September 16. All are invited to participate.

Over the 12 day Season, people are encouraged to pray for peace in their homes and faith communities.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Golden vs. "Gold &" Rule

Lonesome Rhodes: This whole country's just like my flock of sheep!

Marcia Jeffries: Sheep?

Lonesome Rhodes: Rednecks, crackers, hillbillies, hausfraus, shut-ins, pea-pickers - everybody that's got to jump when somebody else blows the whistle. They don't know it yet, but they're all gonna be 'Fighters for Fuller'. They're mine! I own 'em! They think like I do. Only they're even more stupid than I am, so I gotta think for 'em. Marcia, you just wait and see. I'm gonna be the power behind the president - and you'll be the power behind me!

Lonesome Rhodes
: I'm not just an entertainer. I'm an influence, a wielder of opinion, a force... a force!

In the 1957 black-and-white film, A Face in the Crowd, the scariest Andy Griffith you ever did see plays Lonesome Rhodes a raucous hayseed that starts as an itinerant Ozark guitar picker who catches on as an incendiary inciter and then becomes a TV big time personality and political king-maker. Marcia Jefferies is the media shaker and mover that discovers him literally along side the road and helps to launch the career that becomes a monster. Could it be that the line between film and reality gets blurred upon occasion?

On August 28th Glen Lee Beck was the organizer and master of ceremonies for his Restoring Honor Rally at the Lincoln Memorial. The crowd estimates vary, but certainly multiple thousands came out to hear speech and song in a staged effort to let the rest of America know that there are citizens that feel passionately about the safety of their Christian Nation.

Mr. Beck’s admirers and supporters are attracted to and moved by “this [man] who stands for truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth”, a recent letter to the editor writer allowed. The assertion is that Americans have lost their sense of honor as it “has been disappearing from our lives and dictionaries over the past 20 years, maybe longer.” The writer went on to say that what has to be done to save the country is to start making some changes as a nation, and as individuals, including recognizing that not only America, but the world as a whole needs God.

When there is such passion and conviction by admirers and followers one wonders why those who are not fans of Beck don’t get it? Just what accounts for such a dramatic split?

Mr. Beck presents himself as a common sense man come to lead the lost out of the wilderness and away from socialism, communism and a racist president. Supporters experience him as a man of passion and reverence who has overcome problems in his personal life to be their champion of truth, honor and the American Way.

His critics see a dog-and-pony circus clown who is now making 32 million dollars a year via crocodile tears and finger pointing as he rants Beck-basics from a self serving black board.

As the movie demonstrates this type of public figure is nothing new under the sun. There is a long line of American characters that have popped up, especially on the radios of the common man, telling all who would listen about what it takes to get on the right track. Aimee Semple McPherson in the 1920’s, Father Coughlin in the 1930’s, Joe McCarthy in the 1950’s and of course, Rush Limbaugh in more recent time have shouted down sin and stupidity as the protectors of American freedom, pride and exceptional values.

These days of course fear mongering is daily fair on 24/7 on cable news. If a viewer sits for too long in front of the tube it becomes very difficult to keep separate the paper tigers of our mind versus the real tigers of our lives as the echo chamber amplifies constantly.

When conviction and hostility flow like a raging river separating neighbors and community what can be the solution? Could it be as simple as not doing to others what we don’t want done to us? Oh, but wait, that might close the circus and take away multi-million dollar incomes and influential positions of adulation. Once again, that doggone Golden Rule, it can be just so inconvenient at times.

Guest post written by Neil Snipes.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Sacred Work

Labor Day was established to honor workers and commemorate their contributions and struggles, past and present, to bring justice and dignity to the workplace and to society. Since its founding 100+ years ago, the struggle for justice and dignity in the workplace continues. Currently, more than two million full-time, year round US workers live below the poverty line, struggling to pay for necessities such as food, housing, healthcare, transportation, and childcare. Since 1996, thousands of faith communities have focused Labor Day weekend services on injustices facing low-wage workers and the religious community's efforts to support workers' struggles for living wages and family-sustaining benefits.

The Gathering will join this effort Sunday night as well as reflect on what makes "work" - whether it's sweeping, teaching, painting, preaching, banking, gardening, or whatever else - sacred. Our monetary offering will be designated for an organization whose "work" is to end hunger and poverty and care for the earth by helping others work: Heifer Project. They stress that "by giving families a hand- up, not just a hand-out, we empower them to turn lives of hunger and poverty into self-reliance and hope."

In addition, you are invited to bring the classic healthy hardy budget meal: one pound bags of beans and one pound bags of rice for a special "September Beans and Rice" offering for Project Dignidad. (See below for further story.) Our potluck will be dishes containing beans and rice and anything that accompanies this delicacy.

Gathering for Worship
Labor Day Weekend
Sacred Work
Sunday, 5 September
5:30 PM, 618 Locust Street