BURGESS BUS STOP UNDER RE-CONSTRUCTION AS MISSIONARY INDEPENDENT SPIRITUAL CHURCH.
WORKING OUR WAY THROUGH THE RULES OF LAWAs mentioned in our October 2006 Newsletter, we are in the process of having Missionary Independent formally incorporated as a church. In order to accomplish this task, we have had to write down quite a lot of information about the church's history, doctrines and creeds, ecclesiastical officers, and outreach services. For the benefit of those who are following this process with interest -- and in the spirit of full disclosure -- this month's Newsletter consists primarily of "Notes to Our Lawyer" about the categories of information required by the State and Federal Government. Enjoy!
Creed and Forms of Worship
We believe that the realm of Spirit is multifaceted and complex, and includes not only the spirits of the Dead and Angels, but also the Spirits of Celestial, Elemental, and Nature Beings; of Animals and Plants and Minerals; of Saints and Martyrs; and of Goddesses and Gods. We believe in the immanence of Spirit, the efficacy of Prayer, and the practice of Setting Lights. We perform regular and specific forms of altar work, such as Candle Services, Worship and Praise Services, Harvest Offerings, Blessings of the Animals, Blessings of the Tools, Anointing, and Rootwork for the alleviation of suffering and the achievement of conditions that can only be accomplished by the grace of Divine Will.
We believe that some among us are Prophets, Seers, and Visionaries, who, by the grace of Divine Will, are gifted to see into the realms of Spirit and to contact Spirits for the aid of those to whom they may read or carry messages, using such forms of divination as they see fit, whether by direct Spirit communion, consulting the Stars, working with Animal Spirits, talking to the Dead, or making use of Oracular tools of various culturally traditional types.
We are a "Full Gospel" church, accepting as Spiritually vital and worthy of study all of the Sacred Texts that have been revealed to humanity through the ages.
We practice Baptism by immersion, of consenting adults only. We perform Marriages and Funerals. We hold a regular Sunday service in our church building, which is open to the public, as is the church itself open on a daily basis for those who wish to use the space to meditate, pray, read, and set Lights for petition and praise.
We welcome all Deities to our altars and all congregants to our Fellowship.
We are a small church, but widespread. We have board members all around the United States and affiliated supporters in a number of foreign countries. With such a diverse membership, we do not stress ecclesiastical hierarchy, but we do recognize four levels of participation, viz.
- The public, affiliated supporters, and committee volunteers, comprising those who seek our services, those who have volunteered to help on various church committees, those who participate in our Times of Silent Prayer via the Crystal Silence League and/or who maintain contact with the church by means of the internet and printed literature, and Floor Members, by which latter name we signify those who have physically attended the church at least once;
- Deacons, Elders, and Practitioners, who perform the work of the church such as setting Lights for petitioners, transmitting messages and healings from Spirit, and giving spiritual counsel;
- Ministers of the Gospel who preach in the church and disseminate church sermons and tracts via the internet, audio recordings, and printed literature;
- and a governing board of Bishops who oversee the church's administrative needs and who work in ecumenical outreach with other Spiritual Churches and with the general public.
In addition, there are Volunteers who fill the usual non-ecclesiastical offices associated with many small churches, such as Ushers, Director of Music, Choir Members, Fellowship Committee, Building Committee, Missionary Committee, Web Site Developer, and so forth.
Formal Code of Discipline and Doctrine
Clergy of the church are expected to abide by a simple code of discipline that includes the practice of the Seven Virtues [Chastity (purity), Temperance (self-restraint), Charity (giving), Diligence (zeal/integrity), Meekness (composure), Kindness (admiration), and Humility (humbleness)] and the avoidance of the Seven Vices [Lust (depraved sexual appetites), Gluttony (overindulgence), Greed (avarice), Sloth (laziness/idleness), Wrath (anger), Envy (covetousness/jealousy), and Pride (vanity)]. We teach a doctrine of love, kindness, and tolerance, with a special and particular emphasis on community equality, social justice, and ecological responsibility through our stewardship of Earth. Within this broad doctrinal framework, we allow individual participants great latitude, because we do not seek to force them to abandon their own culture's connection to Spirit, but encourage them to bring to the church their traditional Spiritual values and to place these cultural treasures within our doctrine of adherence to the guiding principles of Spiritual Immanence and the efficacy of Prayer.
Distinct Religious History
The Spiritual Church Movement grew out of the Spiritualism and Spiritism Movements of the late 19th century. Missionary Independent Spiritual Church received its name and its call to action on June 6th, 2006. The founding members had been participants in a number of other churches and in several distinct religious traditions, and felt that this church was needed to provide a unique interdenominational wing of the Spiritual Church Movement.
The name "Missionary" expresses our church's desire to do outreach work for the Spiritual Church Movement as a whole and to bring wider understanding of Spiritual Churches to the public, especially via the internet and published literature.
The name "Independent" expresses the fact that at this time our church does not belong to any of the currently established conventions or synods of Spiritual Churches. Independence is actually quite common in the Spiritual Church Movement, especially among predominantly African American "revealed" Spiritual Churches whose members came out of a mixture of National Baptist, Pentecostal, Holiness, African Methodist Episcopal (AME), and Roman Catholic organizations. We go beyond a strictly Christian view of Spiritualism and make a place in our church for the beloved deities of Hinduism, Taoism, Buddhism, Animism, Neo-Paganism, Native American Religions, and African Traditional Religions.
Our history owes a debt of gratitude and respect to a number of spiritual leaders who came before us, and the Spiritual Churches that they founded, notably Mother Leafy Anderson's Spiritual Church Movement, Reverend Father Hurley's Universal Hagar's Spiritual Church, Apostle Father Elias Dempsy Smith's Triumph the Church and Kingdom of God in Christ, and Bishop Priestess Miriam Chemani's cross-cultural Voodoo Spiritual Temple.
Membership Not Associated With Other Churches
We believe, as the old Gospel song has it, "When you see a Member jump from Church to Church, you know their conversion don't amount to much." We prefer stable members who really embrace Spiritual Church ideas as their own, for life -- but we will never force members of our church to abandon the churches of their childhood or their home culture. Rather, we encourage our members to honour and to preserve what they can of their traditional cultural customs and practices within the broad tent of the Spiritual Church Movement. Chinese Lunar New Year, Divali, Purim, Yule, the Day of the Dead, Passover, Easter -- all of these are holidays we recognize, respect, and celebrate among our church members.
Ordained Ministers Ministering to a Congregation
Long before the formal organization of Missionary Independent Spiritual Church, our clergy were engaged in pastoral counselling, preaching, gospel singing, and the performance of ministerial duties through other Church organizations. By creating a formal church structure with a regular church building and order of services that reflects our beliefs and practices, we feel we are even better able to serve our congregants. We maintain Books of Prayer and Healing for members and other petitioners, set Vigil and Novena Lights for petitioners and their loved ones on an ongoing basis, perform spiritual readings and divinations when requested, and provide counselling services. Our ministerial duties are conducted in person at the church, by telephone, and via the internet.
Ordained Ministers Selected After Completing Prescribed Courses of Study
We recognize formal ordinations, but as a Spiritual Church, we believe that the call to preach the Gospel and to Prophesy are revealed gifts of the Spirit and thus they are not solely within the provenance of Clerical Institutions to bestow. However, that being said, we require that those who perform spiritual services in connection with our church be well conversant with the principles and proficient at the practices of this work. Deacon-Practitioners are required to take a 52-week course of practical training in African American spiritual work, with particular emphasis on understanding the Spiritual properties of Herbs and Minerals; administration of Spiritual Baths; creation of anointing oils; setting of Lights; writing out of prayers and petitions, working with the Dead; and developing the gifts of Divination, Prophesy, and Dream-Work. Upon completion of the course and the satisfactory submission of eight examples of personal work with herbs, oils, petition papers, and the like, a certificate of Graduation is given. Course Graduates who are called to serve may become Deacon-Practitioners at the Missionary Independent Spiritual Church if they apply and are approved.
Literature of Our Own
Missionary Independent Spiritual Church publishes a regular monthly newsletter via the internet as well as printed tracts, pamphlets, flyers, and books that explain the principles and practices of the Church and its affiliated Crystal Silence League. Our bookstore also carries literature from similar but formally non-affiliated spiritual organizations.
Established Places of Worship
As an Independent church, we have only one established place of worship, our church building in Forestville, California. This building houses four candle altars, four multi-denominational statuary and offering altars, and private space for prayer and meditation, as well as for ministerial counselling services during which messages from the Dead and other Spirits are brought through for the benefit of petitioners. It is perhaps an interesting matter of note that the church building, a four-square Victorian cross-gabled structure with a vaulted ceiling, is among the smallest churches on record in the United States of America in terms of square footage. Since many of the congregants and members of the public who request prayer and candle services first became aware of the church through the internet, the actual smallness of the church building is considered one of its endearing quirks, making the building itself somewhat of a tourist destination for those interested in unusual ecclesiastical architecture.
A Regular Congregation
At the present time, about 150 people have signed up to receive the monthly church newsletter, although, as is to be expected, their activity level is not constant. Board Members and Practitioner-Deacons number about 20 at this time.
Regular Religious Services
Candle services are held daily. Call for worship is held weekly each Sunday morning. The General Public, Visitors (Floor Members), Deacons, Ministers, and Bishops may participate in the regular daily activities of the Crystal Silence League as they are Spirit-led to do so.
Sunday Schools for Instruction of the Young
We do not believe it is morally sound to inculcate the impressionable young on an institutional basis. They may accompany their parents to services, where they are fully welcomed as individuals. When sufficiently mature, they may act as Church Ushers. Upon reaching the age of rational consent, they may request the rite of Baptism.
Schools for Preparation of Ministers
Training for Practitioner-Deacons is provided by a 52-week correspondence course with physical homework to be turned in and graded. For more details on this course, see above, under the heading "Ordained Ministers Selected After Completing Prescribed Courses of Study."
Are you a Church member or a visitor who wants to help The World's Smallest Church to stay online or contribute to one (or more) of our Church Committees?
If so, please click on the Paypal Secure Server logo to make a
small donation to Missionary Independent Spiritual Church
for the creation and maintenance of this site, or to dedicate
your offering to any of our Committees or fund-raising projects.
OUR WEB SITE
Missionary independent Spiritual Church can be found on the world wide web at