Saturday, August 1, 2009

Love is My Religion: Ordination in Sacred Truth Mission

Sam Smith has asked me some tricky questions about ordination.
How does ordination cross dogma lines? The requirements Tom laid out for your ordination certainly were not the same as his ordination. Seems this is a question that would be asked by those trying to determine a sincere practice if organizational evidence is required. Kitty, a Wiccan, ordained Tom of OUR CHURCH, but Tom used the authority of The First Church of the Magi to ordain you. A Catholic can't ordain a Methodist.
Seems strange to me.

My first answer is this: Rastafari is about one love. Jah never endorsed our various viewpoints. We are all one. One louve. Anything that denies this unity, Inity, is not of Jah. My own path went through theism, agnosticism, Christianity, humanism and Wicca on the way to Rastafari, which is Gnostic and for me encompasses all of the above except agnosticism and humanism. It took all of those steps for me to get overstanding of Rastafari. Old style religion was exclusive, if you're a Catholic you cannot be a Baptist. But why is this? Being mutually exclusive might serve the church organization, but it does not serve either Jah or the I and I. So when we were drawing up membership requirements for Sacred Truth Mission, Jah gave InI the I-spiration to make membership inclusive instead of exclusive. One need not resign memberships in other churches to join STM. Nor does membership in STM invalidate membership in any other church. Sacred Truth Mission sees no conflict.

On a deeper level, the InI means, in part, that each of us who join in communion has within the I a spark of the Divine. Each I is a King or a Queen, and brings his/her own divinity to the union of kings and queens. So once any I with any viewpoint of spirituality joins in this union, the perspective of this I is joined to the perspective of all InI. So Rastafarians tend to be accepting of many spiritual traditions. To quote another Rasta who was writing me while I was in the process of writing this, "The various religions make the Creator's words into a multi-verse...Rasta sees all Books as one Book...or UNI-verse...One Verse."

A shorter answer: Kitty who was Wiccan ordained Tom who was Christian and then Rastafarian within the all-denominational Our Church. Tom ordained Nancy who is Rastafarian within First Church of the Magi which is part of Our Church. Nancy went on to found Sacred Truth Mission (all-denominational, Rastafarian, and part of Our Church), which formed an ordination policy and placed it into bylaws in 2002.

The shortest answer: Love is my religion. (As Ziggy Marley says)

Okay, now for the nuts and bolts. To be ordained by Sacred Truth Mission, first you must be a member. Here is Sacred Truth Mission's membership policy, adopted in 2002:

**Membership in Sacred Truth Mission is inclusive, not exclusive. We welcome you to join us in our collective pursuit of Truth, and we see no conflict between membership in Sacred Truth Mission and membership in any other church. So a member of Sacred Truth Mission may join or retain membership in First Church of the Magi, the Native American Church, or University Baptist Church, as far as we are concerned. (University Baptist might have a dim view of this, but we don't!)

**Because of governmental persecution, you are welcome to join under an alias and/or use a fictitious address if you feel the need.

**We encourage you to develop an organic relationship with the universe around us. Use of all the God-given plants is authorized by God. Those who have a Biblical orientation date this to the first chapter of the first book of the Bible.

**We are a Gnostic congregation, believing that each human needs to learn directly about God/Goddess, and that no individual's ideas take precedence over those of any other individual. Each human being has the right and responsibility to develop and nurture his or her own relationship with the Creator. Ideas must be shared freely, and if they are, we believe that those ideas with the most universal merit will rise, like cream, to the top. Our one theological requirement is that each of us treat each other, and the ideas of each other, with respect.

**Membership requirements include a dedication of yourself. You will be asked on the membership application to explain how you can enhance Sacred Truth Mission.

**All members will have access to the lending library and will be members of the Operations Board.

**All members will be eligible for ordination.

**Membership includes a commitment to Truth, even when it is unpopular.

Now, our Ordination Policy, also from 2002:

All members are eligible for ordination. To be ordained, a member must:

**Have read one of the widely recognized major religious books, such as the Bible or the Koran.

**Be familiar with at least one of the less widely-known religious practices, such as Wicca, Paganism, Native American Church, Rastafari, or Zoroastrianism.

**Have an awareness of the wide panorama of world religions.

**Lead a prayer at one of our services.

**Be willing to speak out for Truth.

**Have a knowledge of entheogenic herbs, obtained through personal experience or academic research.

**Have a knowledge of substance abuse problems, obtained through personal experience or academic research.

**Be willing to strive for cultural relativism, and to work at the elimination of racism, sexism, and ethnocentrism from his or her thinking and vocabulary.

**Have some experience at peer counseling and be willing to work on the continual development of "people skills."

**Explain how these requirements have been met in a written document, to be kept on file by Sacred Truth Mission.

Once a member has met these requirements and has requested ordination, that member will be ordained in a timely manner by any previously ordained member.

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