Reflections on Community Responses
1) What draws you to our community, or considering a community you were once a part of , what drew you to that?
*1. Sense of acceptance for who I am, who we all are as individuals 2. Respect for differences – cultural and spiritual. 3. Openness to explore increasing awareness of each other, the spiritual community, our world as a whole. 4. Opportunity to receive and give support, strengthening and growth
* The openness – shared values, i.e. individuality and freedom of expression
* I am drawn to the acceptance of all persons and the potentiality – the openness and inclusion and place that is free of fear.
* Initially, I was drawn to what seemed to me the non-denominational aspect of the services and a diversity of speakers within and outside the membership talking about their spiritual lives. And as well, the absence of dogma is important to me.
* I think I’m drawn to any community because it’s always been absent from my life.
* People with a common and meaningful purpose that respect and support each other in their endeavors.
* The openness to share and to be myself.
* I was drawn to this community 32 years ago because I knew this is where I’d grow spiritually. A couple of years ago this was not the case but this past year and a half of the SDC, we seem to be back on track; spirituality focused for all not just a few.
* – no pastor/”leader”- leaderfulness among members – freedom to be who one is – respect, warmth, love, support are freely given – the Men’s Circle – opportunity to contribute in several ways – earth-centric oneness spiritual philosophy.
* The aliveness and vibrancy of its members makes it a great place to spend time and learn about each other. The fact that there is no minister is a strong point.
* I am drawn to the spiritual, conscious group. I had the day off work and have never been here, so here I am. Now that I’m here (I didn’t have expectations). I love the discussion especially the one re: community as it is a priority for me, to find some community as I am quite isolated now (back in Victoria since May – away for 20 years). I don’t know if I ever found a community I felt really OK – other than the facebook groups I am part of. This is partially to do with me – self love and shame issues. But also even heart-centered yoga communities I don’t feel part of. I am new to Toastmasters group and it feels great being there as they support us in taking on Leadership roles as well as improving speaking. So, very empowering.
That it is a community of truth-seekers, that it is spiritually and community orientated – that grass roots and non-hierarchial; non-dogmatic
* Authentic sharing, supportive friendships, meeting likeminded people.
* – Meditation and prayer group – friendships – spiritual development
* the “message”, openness, the variety, the ‘attempts’ towards spirituality.
* I was invited by Francis.
* Together is Possibility.
* I’m new to this community so I come out of curiosity and willingness to learn and share at an authentic level. Common interests are important to me.
* It’s not religion, it’s spiritual. I grew up Catholic and found it oppressive and shame based. I have been seeking a community to feel spiritual, where people are real and genuine.
* A place to gather and be comfortable that’s inclusive and flexible and safe and beautiful!!
* I am visiting from Edmonton and was curious about your church. I have been part of the Centre for Spiritual Living in Edmonton for almost 20 years.
* There is a community spirit that is appreciated I think to the people that come have a common spirit that is appreciated – I think the prayers on the program are inspirational and well thought out. I hope they will continue to be cherished (i.e. Opening Song, Statement of Being, Offertory Prayer, Closing Prayer, Peace Song).
* I love that this Community is run by its members vs. “a leader” and everyone is given the opportunity to contribute.
* No minister! No doctrine.
* The openness/friendliness. Sense of community without judgment – a safe welcoming place for me to express myself.
* Spiritual Community vs. Organized Religion – happy to be part of a spiritual community that is open and accepting of a diverse range of spiritual paths or beliefs where there are no authority figures on Truth and there are also no enforced doctrines of what followers must or should believe; friendships with people and shared interests. Opportunities to bounce/implement ideas and thoughts, give/receive moral support and assistance while sharing our journey with each other.
* Support. Learning. Being with people of like mind; Love. Spirituality. Tribe. A place of solace. Fun; I love the interesting, amazing, talented, earnest, giving encouraging PEOPLE.
2) How can this relationship (community to you, you to the community) strengthen and flow both ways?
* 1. Continual sharing through community services like today where we learn who we are and are accepted as such. 2. Tolerance for the stage of growth of each individual community member – no pressure. 3. Loving opportunities for growth and interaction – service , interest groups, Oneness Wednesdays (meditative healing group) re-instated.
* Is there a time when one can say: This (whatever the ???) is what / would like to do / share with other members.
* including introspective time and time for sharing our selves and being heard in that – enhances the freedom of self and discovery.
* Participation, involvement, sharing (of thoughts, feeling and oneself)
* Keeping communication and all our relationships open, honest, clear & respectful.
* By feeling safe and trust that I’m allowed to express or not ….by choice …. who I am.
* I can always give more. The community as a whole can strive to recognize the gifts we all embody, encourage their expression, receive with gratitude communicated, and help those who need assistance to express their gifts.
* I wish people could be even more inclusive to regular members, perhaps by talking to different people at each opportunity even though it’s great to catch up with people you know better.
* I need to show up to and join in (won’t be possible except for Wednesday Meditation) because otherwise the bond won’t grow. I need to learn to trust (issues from growing up make it harder for me to join – a lifelong challenge). I don’t know how the community can know but I would say it goes both ways. Show up and participate.
* I’m not sure it can as the services don’t seem to fit so much for me now as they seem somewhat christianity oriented in structure and, at times, in content. While I’ve been a COCL member for many years, was on the Board, and retain membership, I’m no longer active with the church. I do attend and enjoy some events.
* By me showing up – contributing, risking, more involvement. By receiving the blessing and meaning of others’ and being transformed.
* By my enjoyable participation.
* ? I’m open to ideas!
* Participation, active involvement, opportunity to share ideas and thoughts in a safe and supportive environment.
* – Social and humanitary activism – meditation for healing strength
* Being open to ‘change’, flexible, not be stuck – community to me, me to community, let it flow. Continuing to offer my services, allowing me to give input.
* Conversation and music, new people is the key.
* What flows is love and connection which will grow.
* We all need support at times and I think a community like this offers that kind of caring — and some aspect of ‘service’ to each other, and the people around us.
* I have received a lot coming here. I find hearing people speak from their experience and truth very inspiring. We all have personal journeys and sharing gives us more of an understanding of that each person is unique and has something to give. I believe it’s to give and receive relationship.
* Not sure that how any relationship flows – it’s all a mystery.
* Feeling considered, heard, valued.
* By my continuing to be involved by attending church and learning of different ways I can be involved.
3) How might you further contribute to our Community?
* Possibly talent night, meditation at services.
* 1. By becoming more involved with the present activities or being allowed to initiate other activities. 2. Invite outsiders to experience this space (literally) as well as the spiritual.
* Grow into and be part of the community as a I feel comfortable.
* Attendance, being involved, honest self-expression.
* Letting the S.D.C. know what I enjoy doing.
* I help in any way I can or as needed.
* I will continue to be a member of the SDC and contribute my musical talents as requested.
* Women’s Circle; be part of our community’s choir.
* I have a long history of commitment, experience and awareness with this community that allows me to feel comfortable and appreciated when, where and how I feel moved to contribute. My contribution varies and are dynamic, changing with the situations as they relate to the community and myself.
* By finding deeper parts of me…talents, gifts (soulful) experiences.
* The sky ‘s the limit, except admin.
* Think of projects we might undertake together to build our sense of knowing each other better. Continue to meet and get to know as many people as possible.
* 1. This is my 1st time. Don’t know what’s here. I am a wellness practitioner – offer trainings in self-care + lifestyle changes 2. Potlucks – I like those 3. Games Nights.
* Take a role/ongoing involvement, in weekly services, maintenance (of premises).
* Ongoing participation.
* After I’m finished with this year’s 6th Annual Creatively United Earth Week event and other obligations that will take me until July, I would be happy to explore how to be more involved but welcome the community to take part in this is leadership as a forum and event site, directory, etc.
* Join choir – facilitate meetings
* Helping in all ways, as much as possible.
* Attendance on a regular basis.
* C of T Book writers revealed a depth of community; plus being comfortable about sharing – being real, authentic.
* Being a model of the above – and the Bambalela theme – never give up.
* By participating in the service and helping with ideas to help our community grow.
* Not sure.
* More service to the larger community.
* I’m still looking for ways, by connecting with people in the community and joining them in activities.
4) What is your vision of the COT-CCL’s connection to, and service to, the larger community?
* Continued support of homeless (Our Place) and other marginal groups (Single parents, etc.)
* The Community Service much as this one today; have each here bring a new person to the event to experience sharing.
* Not sure at this time.
* To be an example of light, and wholeness and peace and acceptance.
* To become and be a group light including love…. sharing our presences, truths, food/money….company.
* I see ever-expanding circles of connection to communities in my life and would hope to see the Community of Conscious Living do the same, to support all life, for dignity, justice and love.
* Be welcoming at all times, offering the premises for rental and contributing to local projects.
* Deepening connections through special events.
* I envision us continuing to keep our intention of reaching out to the large community, as the need or our inspiration arises. We are a deliberately -planned “leaderful” community of equals. Our society is currently craving for models of our type of mindful, bottom-up, grass-roots leadership, so we have a vital responsibility to share what we have learned and what we can offer, in order to learn with others.
* I have talked to Bill Israel extensively about this: we should be doing more outreach – specifically James Bay – it is our home after all. There is so much need out there and a lot of services in James Bay that don’t get media exposure and are in other municipalities. I’d like to see COT-CCL help these smaller, worthy causes more.
* Potlucks feeding the larger community – open mics re: social concerns
* Rentals continue to be a significant connection to, and service to, the larger community. Our modest fees allow us to share our magnificent building which attracts many from the larger community. I appreciate that the COCL donates to charities and other worthwhile causes. No recommendations for change but an open and interested in others’ views.
* Have a very clear focus on 1 or 2 services to the greater community. Invite those 1 or 2 community services to COT and explain their mission.
* Working to connect with other people and ? of the community is key.
* C o T keeps deepening new connections — committed to Life that continues to grow.
* Not sure, as I’m new to this – but perhaps modelling that is possible to share vastly different “truths” and still care for each other.
* That we continue to find ways to assist / reach out to the larger community by donations of money, time, etc.
*To be a Centre for Conscious Living; To be caring, compassionate and creative. To be socially and environmentally responsive.
* To turn our attention toward practice (the application of what we believe in and value). What practices, personally and collectively do we engage in? How do we live consciously? What can we do or be to cultivate a life that helps us to flourish, be compassionate, and act mindfully with wisdom and happiness.
* My vision is to see this community grow in members and draw more young people in and families. Also a sharing of resources – to agencies who serve those who are struggling with food, supports,
* A gathering place for “spiritually” seeking groups and individuals.
* I think church outreach to members experiencing grief or hardship should be recognized i.e. Ella Brown losing her husband and Esther Hart stepping in. This compassion could be done by the Board – i.e. note of sympathy. I think too this type of survey is appreciated and involves the members and attendees and expresses community in action.
* I appreciate that the COT rents this space at an affordable price to worthy groups and causes.
* Slow but very deep. Bill Israel’s idea of one person at a time. Starting with James Bay.
* Helping and supporting homelessness shelters for women and children.
5) Our Mission: “We are a spiritual community supporting each other in exploring our personal journeys regardless of spiritual path or belief. ” Do you agree? If yes, please share your thoughts.
* Yes, (see above) – I find there is at times, too much explaining in the services re: personal growth/journey through business started or in progress – I would rather have speaker speak of spiritual growth rather than business (private) other for profit.
* To me the Wednesday Meditation is the yeast to the loaf.
* Yes – a community that offers the opportunity to be who we are and accepted at whatever place we are in our personal journey. This allows each of us to be fully ourselves to reach our potential.
* Yes, everyone is very open and accepting.
*Yes, every journey leads to the heart and desires, dreams, hopes and happiness and joy helping each other to get there eventually.
* We are unique in staying strong to this brave Mission. We feel the strength and growth that is possible when people come together in peaceful, loving Oneness, without relying on one person or small group to direct our path.
* Yes. This might be a good addition to our weekly liturgy, so that we can always reflect on “supporting each other.”
I appreciate there is no dogma and think we offer something very important to the larger community . Important to have a variety of speakers with diverse backgrounds to help us discover more about what is really important to us, and our values.
* YES!!! I don’t feel the community as a whole is supportive as it once was. I’ll take responsibility for not knowing a lot of what’s happening health wise to our members as I don’t have a computer, but we had things in place i.e. pastoral care, members not well in newsletters, etc. so members could call them and/or help in any way.
* I definitely agree with the vision of the statement.
No, I’m not sure our services reflect the statement as they seem to me somewhat christianity focused. Even our opening and closing songs refer to “God” which to me seems not inclusive of other paths that don’t have that belief. All that’s ok if that’s what others are happy with, but seems inconsistent with the statement.
Also our Wed. eve. Meditation Circle with its reference to “soul” and “group soul” seems inconsistent with the mission statement. In Buddhism, as just one example, there is not a belief in a soul, therefore how is this Wed. meditation inclusive of other paths or beliefs?
* Sounds good. I don’t know if this community meet the mission. I agree wholeheartedly with the statement. I am of the same belief – we are all journeying in our own way and many ways to get there.
* Yes! I agree,
* Yes, we are united by a common cause or spiritual path.
* Yes!! Sharing beyond via reading autobiographies; extraordinary music — so many ways to include —
* Yes, I agree. I think it’s important to nurture and support each other to grow in our personal journeys into the light.
* In general, I believe this is the aspiration, however, there seems to be a strong Christian voice (read the last newsletter)
* Yes. We are all connected by a collective consciousness and it is best to use the universal laws to achieve a caring, sharing community. Focus on what you want and the Universe always responds. Your thoughts are the consciousness that brings what we want/need in our lives and love is the catalyst for an abundant life here.
* I think this type of survey is appreciated and invites the members and attendees and expresses community in action.
* I’d like to think that but find it ironic that some member(s) hold long-held grudges and anger towards other members.
* Yes. Helping or joining me in carrying out my gifts and talents, me helping the others.
* Yes. We have the opportunity to be in the company of others – to learn from each other, to share our thoughts and views, to be in an atmosphere of genuine interest and inquiry while continuing to take personal responsibility for our own spiritual development.
* Yes! I share my own beliefs with this mission.
If no, please suggest what the Community needs to strive towards in truly being an ‘inclusive spiritual community’?
* A broader frame of reference – re: talks given – personal ??? could be left to Q + A or private discussion at coffee afterwards.
* More participation….willingness to step up to the plate and recognize more of our essential purpose of existence as one humanity. One Earth …together.
* A more contemporary music program.
* Not quite. Not enough ‘spirituality’! Re-consider and refresh ‘spirituality’. Re-visit and refresh our Mission Statement.
* Revisit our Community’s name in light of our Mission Statement, Vision and Shared Values.
* 3 things: 1. Use gender-inclusive language in all material. 2. Screen music and prayers for unequal representation of “gods” genders if God or Goddess is used. Gender-awareness is welcome.
* Provide support to safely discuss sensitive issues so there is unity in the congregation and hear all sides if necessary to create open, sincere dialogue.
* Perhaps more services that include speakers from other spiritual paths, as well as no path, i.e. those that live “spiritual ” life without a particular path, or follow a mystic way. Also maybe speakers with some knowledge re: what science says about humanity, earth, the universe and how that may relate to spirituality.
Also, I would really be interested in hearing speakers from our own membership, and former members, talk about their spiritual lives. (I wonder why former members left).
Music that reflects love, beauty, joy, etc. that is broad and inclusive – it may include words or be just instrumental without words.
Wednesday evening silent meditations that allow attendees to meditate silently in the way they choose. Belief terminology such as “soul” and “group soul” may not be inclusive and reflective of diversity (again, not all spiritual paths include belief in a soul; “spirit” may a broader word). Personally, it seems to me that anyone trying to lead the process with words, chants, etc. may be acting in accord with their own beliefs, but that may not include others. For example, some may believe it’s helpful to meditate with a specific intent or goal; others may prefer to meditate allowing the universal energy or spirit (or whatever one chooses to call it) to guide them in their lives; others may have another preference. Silence may allow that freedom. Nevertheless, if those attending Meditation are happy with the current process, that’s great. I’m not advocating change; it’s just that it doesn’t fit for me and may not for others. I would attend if the meditations were truly silent and feel again part of the Community.
Still, the COCL is a special place for me, with a warm and extremely generous community, and an awesome building. I’m deeply grateful and truly appreciate the hard work and significant contribution of the Board, SDC and many others. Thank you all!!!
* A look at the songs we sing for gender equality, for relevance, for meaning and for some of the songs (like the Unitarians) modify the words of the songs to fit our diverse beliefs. I personally have a preference for contemporary songs, beautiful chants….. I enjoy singing Brian Martin’s songs as well as those in the Gettin Higher Choir/High Noon Choir repertoire.
* A coming together without ‘labels’ just people sharing our journey through life that is unique and often experienced differently – one that we can learn from each other.