Happy "snowy here in Kelowna" Monday!
Thanks to those of you who joined us in person yesterday — in spite of the snow. (I loved Rev. Barbara Samuel's list of the benefits of snow!) As always, we're so happy to serve our online community ongoingly!
In honour of Kenn’s and my retirement, one of our former students, Rev. Karin Wilson, who is also a professional journalist, was very generous to us and created a media release celebrating our history and that of the Centre for Spiritual Living Kelowna. It was published yesterday on our local online news outlet, Castanet. We felt so honoured!
I thought for this week’s Happy Monday, I’d like to share the full original version with you. Not from a place of self-promotion, but to honour Rev. Karin’s words and the kind words of those who were generous to us with their comments, and also, to celebrate our beloved spiritual community.
Kelowna couple bids farewell to lifetime in ministry
Kelowna Secondary School sweethearts and reverends Drs. Kenn and Deborah Gordon retire with fanfare Nov. 25 after serving thousands of people who have flowed through the Centre for Spiritual Living doors over the past 30 years.
“I will remember them as wise companions who’ve journeyed with countless people, reminding us of who we really are and encouraging us patiently forward,” recalls assistant minister Rev. Corinne Crockett.
The community is celebrating the Gordons with a Legacy Gala, Friday, Nov. 25, 2022 at Manteo at Eldorado Resort in Kelowna with guests arriving from around North America. Tickets are available through the centre’s website. A special Sunday Service takes place at the Rotary Centre for the Arts, Nov. 27th at 10am.
The two co-pastors dedicated their ministry to the twin values of individual transformation and peace, anchored by the Pandosy Peace Centre which until recently served as its hub of activity for spiritual education, mindfulness practice, as well as supportive space for various community groups.
“We are about the inner God and the inner power of the individual,” says Dr. Deborah Gordon, “and we always ask ourselves: how do we reflect that in the best way possible so that people can awaken to it on their own? As my teacher said: ‘Just love everybody when they walk in.’ ”
That simple approach attracted people from around the valley and led to popular community events like the Spiritual Psychology Series held at Okanagan College, and the Celebration of Light, which filled the Kelowna Community Theatre to near-capacity each Christmas, put together by the Centre’s Music Director, Rev. Barbara Samuel.
“We became a social network of loving compassionate supportive individuals who saw the highest for the whole,” reflects Dr. Kenn, who rose to the role of Spiritual Leader for the international Centers for Spiritual Living organization. “We became a chalice where the contents – the people - were more important than the cup.”
In between Sunday services, students attended classes with several continuing on the path to become ministers themselves, serving elsewhere in Canada - Vernon, Kamloops, Vancouver, White Rock, Nanaimo, Campbell River in BC, Alberta, Manitoba – as well as around the globe in Arizona, Mexico and Kenya.
Today, the Kelowna Centre continues to thrive at the Studio 9 School of Arts thanks to the dedication of its members, its strong spiritual leadership team and board.
“Drs. Kenn and Deb are driven by their vision of a world that works for all,” says Board President Rev. Jeanette Vinek. “And it takes tireless, selfless, expansive pieces to live a life of Vision. This vision is unshakeable. It pulls them. It permeates everything they do.”
As a student, Vinek travelled to California where she attended the organizations’ business meeting during a pivotal time when Dr. Kenn was the president of what was then called Religious Science International.
“There was a lot of tension, a lot of angry members, a lot of strife. I watched my wise teacher skillfully listen, create safe space, listen to everyone, and gently, patiently, and so kindly steer two organizations into one. I had done many many years in organizations and had NEVER seen a business meeting run in such a way. I knew I wanted to be part of it.”
Whether at the personal level, or organization level, the Gordons help others to steer themselves through transformation, change, and upheaval with love at the wheel.
“I learned that ‘my story’ was everyone’s story,” says Rev. Corinne, of her early days. “In a society where the trance of unworthiness is pervasive, I felt such relief and safety. They saw abilities in me I was unaware of, and they constantly, gently, challenged me forward.”
Their impact is also felt in the simple joys of life.
“It was enlightening for me to hear that that I’m OK the way I am,” said founding member Margarget Timuss, noting their human touch was so profound that the Gordons officiated both her marriage to her husband Don, and later the marriages of each of her children.
Community member Claudia Hardy puts it this way.
“These teachings have changed my life from feeling a bit negative as a middle-aged woman to the comfort and knowledge that the world is truly a beautiful place.”
“Borrowing knowledge of reality from all sources, taking the best from every study, Science of Mind brings together the highest enlightenment of the ages.”
— Ernest Holmes
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