On Fri, Jan 13, 2017 Jerry Matiatos emailed you both regarding the potential of me applying for a First Unitarian Church of Honolulu (First U) Minister in Residence (MIR) position. His original email notes:
I have just met Soul Dancer (his given birth name) who could be an MIR for us. I am still getting to know him and I like his energy.
Could you please send us the application materials for the MIR?
I met Jerry though a post indicating the formation of a Rainbow Sangha in February. Jerry was one of the first souls to respond. I’m delighted to know Jerry, a man who’s so passionate about being of service. When he learned I’m a:
- monk in three Buddhist orders
- licensed Hawaii wedding officiant
- social worker (masters level with a focus on community organizing)
he spoke of First U MIR program. Upon an extensive review of your site as well as a number of related resources:
I sense I have the spiritual, professional, social and presentation training, skills and talents necessary to apply for consideration of a MIR position. If approved for this position I’d be delighted to explore additional ways to be of service.
With each new formal introduction I always share insights regarding my unique given birth name. For official purposes (databases requiring two separate fields to record one’s first and last name) my official name is Soul Dancer. My birth certificate, passport, Hawaiian drivers license (etc.) reflect Soul Dancer. My given birth name is spelt Souldancer. Whenever I have the opportunity to use the correct spelling of my given name, I do (e.g. my diplomas). When folks ask what do we call you I often say – anything you want just not late for dinner! (I appreciate a heathy sense of humor! Call me Soul, sd, souldancer – what feels right for you is fine with me.)
Starting at age 11 I sensed a calling to be of service. This feeling led me to complete the following credentials while living and training in over 20 countries. In 2004 I moved to the Big Island to be near Kalani where I hosted a number of retreats, workshops, sweat-lodges and seminars. In 2012 I left the Big Island to begin an extensive teaching journey connected to my published book. While off-island I also created this site (as well as hundreds of recorded – on-demand classes featured on my radio stations) to capture what I sensed I needed to share with those seeking to begin or continue their awakening journey. To date over 250,000 people have experienced my work first hand. Now I sense it’s time to settle down and plant roots.
We are often called to do the difficult, if not the seemingly impossible, and it is vital to our spiritual growth that we not ignore these challenges.
Janice Marie Johnson (Unitarian Universalist, educator, activist, faith leader) Bless the Imperfect: Meditations for Congregational Leaders
Why do I seek a MIR opportunity?
As a monk and social worker my passion is service. May I be honored to be of service to First U congregation?
Upon close review of the 60th Anniversary Booklet from a perspective of a social worker (masters level with a focus on community organizing) it seems First U experiences growth cycles between a Settled Minister and a series of Contract Ministers mixed with MIR’s. If my observations are accurate it seems First U is ready to attract a Settled Minister.
My 40+ years of spiritual studies has taught me to embrace change. I treat every change as a teacher. I love learning. If you see fit to offer me a MIR position you’ll experience my training first hand. From what you experience – if invited to do so – I’ll ask to be considered for a Contract Minister (CM). As an CM I’ll work with the Future Shaping Committee to set the stage for First Unitarian Church of Honolulu to attract another person to become a First Unitarian Church of Honolulu Settled Minister.
My why aligns with my skills and talents to:
- gently assess and evaluate resources and potential,
- co-create plans based on affirmed assets and actions,
- birth a new chapter in an individual or organization’s life.
When we love, truly love, we are as filled with and as close to the deep and sustaining mystery of life as we may ever be. We are as safe and as strong as we may ever be. When we love, we dwell in a sweet and holy place.
Jeanne Harrison Nieuwejaar (Unitarian Universalist, educator, author, clergy) Fluent in Faith: A Unitarian Universalist Embrace of Religious Language
- University of Minnesota Masters in Social Work with a focus on community organizing and a minor in Gerontology. I’ve lead groups as large as 25K (national groups).
- University of Minnesota Bachelors of Science in Human Relationships. I tapped into the U of M’s ability to craft a customized undergraduate degree. I selected coursework from colleges to create a robust understanding of relationships from personal, professional, social, cultural, biological, spiritual, religious, political and religious perspectives. My interdisciplinary degree engaged the Colleges of Liberal Arts, Design, Continuing Education, Education and Human Development, Carlson School of Management and School of Public Health.
- Monk of three Buddhist orders: Tibetan (Yellow Hats – the same order led by HH Dalai Lama), Tao and Theravada (Vipassana – The Ledi lineage). The 253 vows of a Tibetan ordained monk align with UU Beliefs in many ways. How? Kindly review the three proposed sermons and one workshop outlined below. Each and every student I’ve taught I consider to be one of my Ohana (congregation).
- Founder: Soul University – this site – offering over 200 on-demand classes – all based on my training noted above. Visit our iTunes station to sample over 200 actual classes.
- Published author: Pay Me What I’m Worth. The title captures attention. The content inspires students / readers to take a deep spiritual journey they never expected. Over 100 actual classes are available to listen to – any time! I look forward to sharing stories about the results of the 33 unique exercises found in this workbook.
- Private client practice providing instruction and guidance to identify and release unhealthy habits to include doubt, guilt, shame and worry.
- Uncle to 56 nieces / nephews. I was born an Uncle. I’m the youngest of nine. Great-Uncle 14 times already!
Preaching is of much avail, but practice is far more effective. A godly life is the strongest argument that you can offer to the sceptic (sic.).
Janice Marie Johnson (Unitarian Universalist, educator, activist, faith leader) Hosea Ballou (Universalist, clergy)
I’m open to your guidance on sermon themes. Based on my research as well as a desire to start our discussion I propose the following …
MIR Theme: Feeding the roots of compassion, justice, and joy.
For more than a decade I’ve studied the concept of worth at length. Given the results of several venues to include in-person events (workshops, retreats, etc.), TV interviews and ongoing talk-radio shows more than a million people pondered my questions:
- What is worth?
- How do we define our sense of worth?
- What happens when our sense of worth decays (aka: worth-decay)?
- How do we identify and resolve (prevent) worth-decay?
My journey is balanced between learning and teaching concepts of worth on seven levels. These levels include: personal, social, emotional, professional, spiritual, financial and organizational. The results of this journey shapes me to be recognized as a worth expert. I seek to share this expertise in three proposed sermons and one workshop.
Upon review of the 60th Anniversary Booklet I’m drawn to follow the footsteps of Rev. Robert Fraser. I savor Socratic dialog. I prefer active congregant engagement over passive entertainment. In 20-30 minutes I’ll:
- set the stage for the concept I seek to explore with congregants. Using personal experiences mixed with gentle wit and a some hard-earned wisdom I’ll share a story to start our journey.
- Within a few minutes of starting our sermon I’ll invite congregants to huddle-up in groups of 4-6 people to dive deep into a question I propose they explore. I’ll suggest they share from first hand experiences (avoid arm-chair philosophizing). I’ll also invite souls to be mindful of time such that each person has a chance to speak.
- After 6-8 minutes of collaborate discussion time I’ll ring a bell to draw us back into silence.
- I’ll invite congregants to reflect on the questions pop-corning in their minds.
- After a moment of silence I’ll ask for three volunteers to share their thoughts or pressing questions. As congregants share we invoke the art of divine revelation.
- As I close the sermon I’ll suggest people share their pop-corn (questions) with family and friends to grow and nurture the roots of the lesson at hand. By sharing these questions and ideas we expand First U’s ministry exponentially.
- I’ll close with a call to action to include a gentle, simple form of accountability grounded in one Covenant of Right Relations.
We are not human because we think. We are human because we care. All true meaning is shared meaning.
Forrest Church (Unitarian Universalist, clergy, author) Love & Death: My Journey Through The Valley of The Shadow
First sermon: Feeding the roots of compassion.
Opening story: How our sense of worth colors our sense of compassion based on how compassionate we are starting with the person looking back in the morning mirror.
Covenant of Right Relations focus: When in disagreement or conflict with each other, take a deep breath(!), speak respectfully and stay relaxed; avoid labeling, judging, or criticizing.
Questions to explore: How is gaining and maintaining good health an act of self-compassion?
Lesson: Good health fosters our ability to be grounded and centered. When we become ill we lack the ability to be focused or observant of another’s pain / suffering. Poor health depletes our ability to be kind, relaxed and non-judgmental.
Call to action: The simple act of drinking enough water – just water – will enable us to gain and maintain good health, remain cool, calm and collected in times of chaos. Replace beverages containing sugar, caffeine or spirits with plain purified water. When I close the sermon I let them know I hope I see almost everyone with a REFILLABLE water bottle in their hands!
To commit to creating a prophetic congregation today is to grapple with what it means to take responsibility for co-creating the holy right here on earth.
Meg Riley (Unitarian Universalist, clergy, activist) “Prophetic Congregations in the Twenty-First Century” A People So Bold, ed. John Gibb Millspaugh
Second sermon: Feeding the roots of justice.
Opening story: How our sense of worth colors our sense of justice based on our unique filters such as gender, age, ability, orientation, socioeconomic status or academic training. My short story reflects on how growing up as a closeted child in a devoutly Catholic family formed and fuels my call to be an agent of change for justice.
Covenant of Right Relations focus: Create mutual trust by communicating privately and promptly with each other to resolve problems; refrain from speaking ill of another.
Questions to explore: How do we honor the inherent worth and dignity of every person?
Lesson: remember each soul is the sum total of their life lessons. We honor the inherent worth and dignity of every person by being mindful of “judge not lest you be judged.”
Call to action: The simple act of dissolving the need to gossip or judge dramatically increases our ability to communicate openly, transparently and respectfully. When congregants return next Sunday with genuinely lighter souls – we’ll feel that light and celebrate it!
To attain happiness in another world we need only to believe something, while to secure it in this world we must do something.
Charlotte Perkins Gilman (Unitarian, author, reformer)
Third sermon: Feeding the roots of joy.
Opening story: How our sense of worth dulls or enhances our sense of joy. My short story reflects on the many times where I felt utterly worthless and devoid of joy due to my endless analyzing of people’s intentions. I’ll close the sermon (during the call to action) with how my joy came flooding in when I allowed my heart to hear (thus accept) the appreciation others have for me.
Covenant of Right Relations focus: Express our appreciation frequently for the amazing contributions of our church members, leaders, and professionals.
Question to explore: In what ways do personal and communal spiritual growth inspire more joy?
Lesson: remember each soul is on their own unique journey. Remember it’s the journey (versus the destination) that holds the greatest joys. We enhance joy by accepting souls as they are thus honoring their divinely driven journey.
Call to action: The simple act of releasing any and all expectations we hold for ourselves or anyone / anything dramatically, exponentially increases our ability to FEEL more joy! I’ll task congregants to start a joy journal. At some point in the day recall (journal) ONE person or action that inspired joy in them that day. Print and bring ONE example of how JOY shined upon you that week to share at the next Sunday fellowship. We’ll wall-paper a place of your choosing with these printouts for one and all to savor! Folks will return home with their notes of joy after fellowship.
… if you are sceptical [sic] as to the essential worth of Freedom, just allow yourself to be locked up for a while, with no clear prospect of liberation at any specified or definite time.
Horace Greeley (Universalist, journalist, editor, reformer)
Proposed Workshop: Preventing Worth Decay
Our sense of worth is often locked up in beliefs, attitudes, morals and social echo-chambers. We hold the keys to unlock our limited perspectives regarding worth. These keys both identify and vaccinate us from worth decay. Much like tooth-decay (an act that often begins unnoticed until one day an afflicted tooth causes us pain) worth decay also begins deep within our subconscious before it surfaces into our conscious.
In my workshop participants will expand their awareness and understanding of how multi-faceted our sense of worth truly is! I’ll draw upon an existing Soul University class titled: Worth: 31 Flavors. By the end of this workshop participants will know how to spot (thus prevent) worth decay BEFORE it begins!
I look forward to hearing your thoughts on my proposal to be honored to experience a First Unitarian Church of Honolulu Minister in Residence position.