What's in a Name? - Onespirit Ministers in Connection

What’s in a Name?

Anne Cross reflects on the title OneSpirit Ministers use to identify the work they do

The New Seminary, as OneSpirit Interfaith Foundation was known when first brought to the UK by Miranda McPherson (now Holden) in late 1990s, was founded in a space between traditional faith paths. Its aim was to train people in an experiential understanding of world faiths and to be skilled in walking with others through spiritual accompaniment. And all those ordained were known as ‘ministers’……Interfaith Ministers.

For those who are ordained some 20 + years later and for those who they serve – does the title of Interfaith minister still hold meaning in our world?

James Lent’s fascinating book ‘the patterning instinct’ introduces a concept which he calls ‘cognitive history’. He suggests the cognitive frames through which different cultures perceive reality have had a profound effect on their unfolding narratives. The language and the metaphors we employ inevitably have significant impact on our understanding and therefore have a role in unfolding our future. We are what we say. We become our understanding.

A group of OneSpirit ministers held a conversation about how we describe ourselves – In three words how do you describe yourself after ordination? –

Rev Radi Master ~ Funny Hunny Bunny ~ Earth Angel ~ Change Maker in Service ~ Lover~ Rev HighPriestess Goddess ~ Friend, Helper, Accompanist ~

Or more traditional titles

~ Rev ~ Interfaith Minister ~  OneSpirit Minister ~ Independent Minister ~

The conversation came to no definitive conclusion – no surprise there. But it did raise lots of questions. And maybe in the lack of definition emerged some answers. And in the answers the joy of our work….and the challenge of seeing ourselves as a collective. We each define our work in different ways, and we see ourselves as our work. Perhaps being defined by a name beyond our personal given or chosen name is futile? Maybe being defined by a role title is of past paradigms.

As OSMIC seeks to amplify the conversation of OneSpirit ministers and our work in the world the language we use will impact the story we seek to tell. And we know that the language we use will land differently in different spaces – the title ‘minister’ will be heard differently by someone with a Christian heritage to one of Jewish tradition where the word is not used.

And so, this, like so much we do as ministers, is a dance! Aware of the diversity of ourselves, the diversity of the work we do, our contexts and our connections, our task is not to reduce our language to the lowest common denominator but to expand and include!

……And to dream into the ‘what next’, the unfolding next epoch, which has an awareness of the centrality of spirituality in a new and defining way. 

As we claim awareness of one Spirit, of ultimate interconnectedness, of spirituality in an integral age; let us dance with these words, let us try them on, try them out, hold them lightly. We know that ultimate reality is beyond our wildest dreams – like the 99 names of God in Islam (& in most of our ceremonies!) how can we possibly find one or two words to describe us?

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