On 8 June 2019 I will be graduating as an Interfaith Minister from One Spirit Interfaith Seminary in New York. It is my personal dream come true. But I can only do it with your help.
You may like to learn more about One Spirit Interfaith Seminary here.
My interfaith background includes working with the global, grassroots San Francisco based organisation, United Religions Initiative, as cooperation circle liaison officer for Southern Africa. I moved from there to the Global White Lion Protection Trust where I worked closely with founder-CEO Linda Tucker, Keeper of the White Lions, to help inspire cross cultural, international cooperation for the care of the Earth and its inhabitants - particularly, the legendary White Lions of the Timbavati.
Since June 2018 I have worked in a full time, volunteer capacity for Cape Town Interfaith Initiative, in close collaboration with diverse local and international faith communities and their leaders. I am passionate about the work of Interfaith and the CTII mission: “We envision and embrace a country and peoples unified by interreligious and spiritual understanding and respect.”
Through CTII I have been mandated to create long term sustainability for the work of Interfaith in Cape Town, in a way that will contribute to unity, promote understanding between diverse communities and support a paradigm shift in the way people of different faiths engage with one another.
In 2017 I registered with One Spirit Interfaith Seminary in New York as a companion (distance) learner, with a view to qualifying as an Interfaith Minister. For five years (2011 - 2016) I ran Milnerton Light Centre, a spiritual gathering for those who were looking for spiritual nurturing in a different way than that offered by mainstream religions. I wanted to formalise my training in ministry, but the options open to me in South Africa were faith specific. Having let go that dream as possibly something just not meant to be, I unexpectedly discovered One Spirit Interfaith Seminary.
Fast forward to 2018, and my appointment as Chairperson of CTII with the specific mandate to take this sterling organisation into the future, creating a sustainable model and building on the considerable credibility already established over 18 dedicated years. We had to find new ways to keep CTII relevant and significant – and keep the educational conversations flowing.
CTII is still run by volunteers who believe, as I do, that interfaith dialogue and education will help knit together the fabric of a society that has been torn apart by so many factors, and that is looking for new ways to heal the wounds of the past, to coexist in harmony and to engage responsibly with the environment in which we live.
How will my ordination as an Interfaith Minister further the work of CTII and benefit the City of Cape Town?
Apart from CTII being able to generate income from offering pastoral services to our growing community such as Marriage Ceremonies, Memorial Services and Baby Blessings, we also envisage a long-term educational project that will continue to serve as a cohesive agent of harmonious transformation in our diverse and magnificent community.We already have a highly successful schools project (The Marlene Silbert Youth Interfaith Intercultural Programme), which brings together Muslim, Jewish, Christian and Hindu teenagers in a 2 year programme designed to build bridges of understanding that will pay dividends long into the future, and into every life those participating teenagers encounter. We envisage building on that idea to create a formalised adult interfaith education programme that will offer an opportunity for life-enhancing tuition designed to uplift and conscientize participants to the need for all of us to care for each other. The qualification of Interfaith/Interspiritual Minister will be a career booster in many professions and will also help to achieve a new social paradigm in which inclusivity and support is a deeply experienced element. For some, of course, like me, the qualification will in itself be the basis of a career.
Interfaith education is CTII's contribution to integrating the various layers of the Cape Town experience and creating a cohesive, dynamic community of common purpose, for the benefit of generations to come.
This request is to help me to get to New York for my graduation, which will directly help the CTII team to achieve the objectives of CTII stated here. Apart from New York, my desire is to visit communities and build cooperative relationships with groups in Colorado (Emissaries of Divine Light), Sedona and Atlanta (Compassionate Atlanta amongst others). These connections are beneficial to CTII and to Cape Town. Both Cape Town and Atlanta signed the Charter for Compassion in 2014, and building Cape Town up as a Compassionate City is high on CTII's agenda.
The cost of travel for this project would be around R24000, but with various accommodation and food requirements I estimate to the full cost of the trip to be in the region of R45000. Home stays have been generously offered in many instances, keeping costs down. I have made a small start... still need R40 000!
The cost of the actual studies over two years has been borne by myself with some very welcome bursary assistance from One Spirit and well-wishers to whom I am eternally grateful.
Should more than R40 000 be raised by this campaign, the balance will go to the study account for other Interfaith Ministers such as James Ellman of Faith Hope Love Communities in Elsie’s River, who is about to complete his first year at One Spirit and needs to cover R60000 costs. I have personally assisted James where possible with books, internet connection and a gogetfunding social media campaign (Imagine Peace), and we are deeply grateful to those who have supported his quest so far. In time, we would like to see an Interfaith Minister from each Faith Community, creating a core team for our developing adult education project.
Your support in the form of any sized contribution is welcome. We know that little by little and all pulling together, we can make this happen not only for me and my colleagues who are pioneering this path, but for all those who will benefit in the future.
In the interests of transparency and continued goodwill, all funds paid into the Paypal account on this fundraiser will go through CTII which is a registered NPO. CTII will send you a Section 18A certificate for tax purposes if you request it. CTII has agreed to manage a “study fund” for myself and other prospective students of Interfaith Ministry.
Thank you kindly for considering my request, and for being a companion on my journey. Please contact me if you have any questions.
In peace and in service,