Rev. Jeffrey's Ordination - Fillmore Chapel

UNITY ORDINATION SERVICE

for The Reverend Jeffrey Fowler 

Officiated by The Reverend Jan Stromseth

January 30, 2016

 

WELCOME

     Good afternoon.  I am Rev. Jan Stromseth, Associate Minister of Pastoral Care and Adult Education at Unity Church of Overland Park; and here today, on behalf of Unity Worldwide Ministries. On this 30th day of January, 2016, we gather together as a sacred body of family and friends to celebrate the ordination of Jeffrey Fowler, and his call to serve, to teach and to minister.

     On behalf of Jeffrey, and myself, thank you for your presence here with us this afternoon. Let us begin with prayer. 

Jeffrey's Family

OPENING PRAYER

     We open our mind and our hearts to the holy presence of Spirit that is upon us in this now moment.  

     On this special occasion, we gather to celebrate the ordination of our beloved Jeffrey.  And just as Jeffrey has committed himself to the calling of Spirit, so each of us opens our own hearts to the call of Spirit, and we, too, say YES to live into the wholeness and fullness of Spirit in our own lives.

     We feel into that place of gratitude for sending Jeffrey to us in this time, as a son, a friend, a counselor, teacher, and pastoral presence.

Spirit has sent him to proclaim the good news, and to teach the truth as modeled by Jesus the Christ, and our unity co-founders, Charles and Myrtle Fillmore:

·      so that the sick may be healed

·      the blind may see

·      that those who are persecuted shall be free

·      and any perceived lack or limitation may be transformed to sacred abundance and thriving prosperity.   

     All this we pray in the name and nature of the living Christ presence.

And so it is, and so we let it be. Amen. 

 

REMARKS

 

     I have been waiting for this day, as I know that Jeffrey has! We have been blessed with a rich history together. I have known Jeffrey since he first came to Unity Church of Overland Park; and from the very beginning, I knew he was someone special. I knew that he was an old soul, a powerful presence, and had an amazing ministry before him... however his life out-pictured. We served as Prayer Chaplains together at Unity Church of Overland Park. We also overlapped at Seminary for a few years.

     Our journeys kept bringing us together as support and a beacon for one another as we both stretched, grew, and surrendered again and again. I am grateful for you, Jeffrey, as you ministered to me many times by simply being you. I am grateful for who we are in each other's lives, and I look forward to our continued support of one another. Thank you for the honor of today.

 

HISTORY

     As I was preparing to create a history of Jeffrey's journey to include as part of this process today, I came across the letter that he wrote to his community at Unity of South Sound as an acceptance and introduction of himself. I thought that there could be no better way to tell his story than by you hearing it in his own words.

“Dear Friends,
    It is with great honor and respect that I accept your offer to serve as your minister. I feel so blessed to be stepping into a community of such openness, strength, abundance and love. I have enjoyed meeting many of you---and look forward to meeting many more---and have been touched by the love and openness that you have already shown me. During the two visits I have made to Unity of South Sound, I have felt so welcomed by you, and am already starting to experience a feeling of being at home.
    I’d like to take a moment to share a little about myself. I grew up in Kansas City and spent the first twenty years of my life attending the Episcopal Church. Following a deep spiritual awakening in the year 2000, I began to explore eastern religions and philosophies. This journey led me to many spiritual centers in the United States, to India twice and finally to Unity, in which I found a balance of both eastern and western approaches to spirituality. I have worked various jobs with a wide variety of people, ranging from data analyst at Kansas Geological Survey, to letter carrier for the U.S.P.S.
    In addition to my spiritual interests, I have a deep love of music, and have spent a large part of my 35 years studying and playing jazz and classical saxophone and piano (mainly saxophone).  I also love the outdoors: hiking, kayaking, and camping.
    The collective skills you have as a community and the enthusiasm and love I have already felt from you have impressed and moved me, and I see us doing wonderful things together. I am looking forward to getting to know and work with each of you personally, and I am very open to hearing and receiving your ideas, your thoughts, and your vision for Unity of South Sound.
    Let us celebrate this moment!  It is a moment in which deep intentions can be set.  We are Spirit-led, and have everything we need within us, around us, and among us to manifest our highest good.  I am excited about this new adventure, and am sending each of you blessings from my heart. I thank you for this opportunity to be your leader, to serve, and to learn from you. Hand-in-hand we continue our journey into the Light.

     Jeffrey went on to tell me that after his long journey with Native American sweat lodges, The Art of Living in Kansas City, Travels where he explored Buddhist monasteries in New York and Vermont, two trips to India exploring Hinduism and other influences, several trips to a Christian Community in California, he was tired and wanted to know. He had a vision one day and sat in meditation and said “speak to me.” He saw himself on stage speaking to an audience. He said’ “a Unity minister?” Jeffrey said that after saying that his body was filled with bliss. He went to speak with Rev. Patricia Bass at UCOP, and then started at Unity Institute and Seminary in the Fall of 2012. Jeffrey said that from his Vision to sitting at his desk at Unity of South Sound was 5 years.

     What an amazing journey. His life is truly about Divine Love, and we see how and why his motto is Love in Action. With this in mind, I have some words of wisdom to pass on to you.

     As you have begun your new church ministry, you may already know that at times you may feel bombarded by more demands than you can possibly imagine. I offer these reminders to help prioritize the facets of your ministry.   

     Your first commitment is always to GOD. Nurture that relationship above all others. Spend time in prayer and silence and never let your relationship with God go untended. It is the most important relationship we have. I know that the temptation of a minister is to think the hours we spend at work can take the place of nurturing our relationship with God.  But they don’t.  So take time to be in love with God. And if you get this commitment straight, the rest will fall into place. 

     Make your next commitment to YOURSELF. Take time for your own self-care and personal needs, for play, for exercise, for spiritual renewal. As the flight attendant reminds us in the airplane, always remember to put our own oxygen mask on first, before attempting to assist others. 

     And finally your commitment is to your ministry and your congregation. I have no doubt that you will want to put them first – a lot. Sometimes that will feel like the right thing to do, and often it will not be. You cannot do right by them if you are not doing right by yourself.  And if you sacrifice yourself, you create the energy of sacrifice for your ministry, instead of an energy of love. 

     So if you love God, and love yourself, - and model that love for your congregation – what better gift could you possibly give to your community.

 

MUSIC

I Will Surrender, performed by Karen Drucker.

 

Chorus: I will surrender to my greatest highest good.

I will release any fear that blocks my way.

For every step I take is taken in pure faith,

and I am stronger every moment every day.

(2nd time: grateful 3rd time: kinder)

 

My mind is willing and my heart is open wide.

I trust my instincts and let Spirit be my guide.

I vow to live a life that's real and true and free,

as I continue walking in this mystery.

*Chorus*

There may be walls there may be roadblocks in my way,

but I can choose to take a higher path each day.

And now I know that what I thought was safe and sound,

was only habit and regret that held me down.

*Chorus*

There may be walls there may be roadblocks in my way,

but I can choose to take a higher path each day.

And now I know that what I thought was safe and sound,

was only habit and regret that held me down.

*Chorus*

 

ORDINATION

One of the definitions of the word ORDINATION is:

to invest officially with ministerial or priestly authority

But what I know is that TRUE ordination is something we receive from God, which comes to us in our own hearts and minds. And that beyond our spiritual call, it requires commitment, dedication, perseverance, integrity… and those things describe Jeffrey.

In his book, THE MYSTICAL I, author Joel Goldsmith writes these words about Ordination:

“When the spirit of the Lord God is upon you… you are ordained…. but you are not ordained to be set apart…. you are ordained…. to know the healing truth for the sick, to comfort the grieving, to feed the hungry by teaching and preaching…. and to forgive…This is the purpose of ordination… not that you may be glorified, but that you may be better equipped to give more abundantly. To share more freely… to understand more universally.”

      And Jeffrey, I know that you are more than equipped, And that you know to seek the spark of divinity in yourself first and foremost, so that you may then assist others to see the spark of divinity in themselves.

     As I was preparing for today, I received a letter from Timothy Alderman, the President of the Board of Trustees for Unity Worldwide Ministries. In partial, he wrote:

"Dear Jan,

This letter is to authorize you as a representative of Unity Worldwide Ministries Board of Trustees to ordain Jeffrey Fowler as a Unity minister.

Please extend greetings of love and a welcome from our Association of Unity Churches."

     And so, in that authority as a recognized representative of the Unity Worldwide Ministries Board of Trustees, we now move forward with your commitment to the Unity Minister Code of Ethics and the "I AM Unity” Declaration.

Declaration Based on the Code of Ethics for Ministers, Unity Worldwide Ministries

Ordaining Officer: Jeffrey, please stand and affirm your responsibility as a Minister of Unity Worldwide Ministries.

Ordaining Officer: I will say an affirmation and then ask you to say it with me.

Ordaining Officer:  l am Unity.

Together--I AM UNITY.

Ordaining Officer:  I affirm my Unity with God.

Together— I AFFIRM MY UNITY WITH GOD.

Ordaining Officer:  I affirm my consecration to God. I affirm I shall look to the indwelling Christ as my Source. I affirm my dedication to the principles of Truth to teach and to express.

Ordaining Officer:  I affirm my Unity with myself.

Together — I AFFIRM MY UNITY WITH MYSELF.

Ordaining Officer: I affirm my belief in the power of prayer by praying regularly. I affirm I teach more by what I am than by what I say. I affirm my integrity as a minister by high ethical and moral behavior. I affirm that should I experience a personal crisis, which could affect my ministry, I shall inform and cooperate with Unity Worldwide Ministries.

Ordaining Officer:  I affirm my Unity with all ministers.

Together-- I AFFIRM MY UNITY WITH ALL MINISTERS

Ordaining Officer:  I affirm I shall respect all ministers and protect their honor.

I affirm I shall be particularly careful to avoid criticism of the minister who precedes me. I affirm I shall seek the advancement of all the Unity ministers.

I affirm I shall conduct myself and my ministry without competition or contention, realizing we will do our greatest work in "unity."

I affirm I shall work in harmony with Unity Worldwide Ministries in what I teach, where I teach, and to whom I teach.

Ordaining Officer:  I affirm my Unity will all people.

Together-- I AFFIRM MY UNITY WITH ALL PEOPLE

Ordaining Officer:  I affirm I will give the people I serve sincere and faithful leadership.

I affirm the sacredness of every confidence shared with me.

I affirm I shall lovingly respect other churches and metaphysical groups.

I affirm my love for ALL people regardless of race, background, or religion. I affirm I shall seek to bring to all people the freeing Truth of God-within.

Ordaining Officer:  Repeat each of these statements after me.

Ordaining Officer:  I Am in Unity with the One.

Together — I Am in Unity with the One.

Ordaining Officer:  I Am One with the One.

Together --I Am One with the One.

Ordaining Officer:  I Am.

Together-- I Am.

ORDINATION BLESSING

In the name and nature of Jesus the Christ,

And by the power vested in me by Unity Worldwide Ministries,

I hereby ordain you –

Reverend Jeffrey Fowler, Ordained Unity Minister.

PRAYER FOR JEFFREY’S MINISTRY

(Laying on of Hands while I pray)

My Dedication
Words and music by Claudell County

Here I am Lord use me,
Guide me, fill me, take me,
Lead me by Your will.
Here I am Lord ready
To follow, to serve You, to love You,
To be You in this world.

Thy will is done through me this day
Thy will is done through me this day.

Lord you call, I answer,
I'm open, I listen, I hear you,
I feel you move in me.
Lord I come closer,
Humbled, surrendered, lifted,
Committed to your plan

Thy will is done through me this day
Thy will is done through me this day.

Here I am --- Lord I come - - - Here I am - - -
Lord - I - Come

 

     As many of you know, that song is very special to us students, and to many others as it is entitled, My Dedication, and by our own Claudell County. And now Debbie and Wayne Fowler, Jeffrey’s Mom and Dad, would like to say a few words to their son.

COMMUNITY BLESSING OF JEFFREY’S MINISTRY CEREMONY

     And now I am going to invite each of you present, to join me in a Community Blessing for Jeffrey, with the prayers and affirmations of your own heart. Each of you received a stone as you came into the sanctuary today, and I am going to ask you to pull that out now and to hold it in your hand. If you did not receive one please raise your hand so that Michael can get one to you.

     In a moment we will be moving into a time of silent blessing and ceremony, as each of us imbues our stones with our hopes and blessings for Jeffrey’s ministry.  After we bless these stones we will be placing them in a glass container that will become a permanent memento for Jeffrey of this ordination day and the blessings that each of you brings to confer onto him and his ministry.

I chose these glass stones for two reasons in mind:

1.   These stones represent a very solid, grounded foundation and energy, and

2.   They are also different and unique, such as different colors and sizes—just like us—and they are all part of a greater whole. And each one carries its own energy and blessing for Jeffrey.

May these be the first of many stones from folks who commit to hold love for you and your amazing ministry!!

MUSIC AND MEDITATION

     So let’s close our eyes as we move into a time of meditation and the blessing of our stones....when you are ready, you are invited to come up and add your stone.

 

COMMENTS BY JEFFREY AND
THE PASSING OF JOHN ANGEL

     And now before the benediction, Jeffrey would like to say a few words.

     Before we move into the benediction, I would like to pass on John Angel to Jeffrey.

SCRIPTURE BENEDICTION

     Jeffrey, one of my favorite Scripture verses that I meditate on and often use is one I leave with you today as our benediction. It is Philippians 4:4-9:

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. 6Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your heart and your mind in Christ Jesus. 8Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.

 

Go in love and peace dear Jeffrey as you minister to all with whom you meet!

Amen.

                                                                               

 

UNITY ORDINATION SERVICE

for The Reverend Jeffrey Fowler

Officiated by The Reverend Jan Stromseth

January 30, 2016

 

Order of Service

 

Prelude: Sacred Love CD, by Daniel Nahmod

Welcome and Opening Prayer

Remarks

History

Music: Morning Prayer: I Will Surrender, by Karen Drucker

Explanation of Ordination

I AM Declaration-- Based on the Code of Ethics for Ministers, UWM

Ordination

Prayer for Jeffrey’s Ministry

Music: My Dedication, by Claudell County, performed by New Day of Unity of Fairfax

Comments from Jeffrey’s Parents, Debbie and Wayne Fowler

Community Blessing of Jeffrey’s Ministry—accompanying music is Fred Albers’

             CD, Awaken to the Light

Comments from Jeffrey

Passing of John Angel

Scripture Benediction: Philippians 4:4-9

Postlude: Sacred Love CD, by Daniel Nahmod