(Main Cover Photo, “My Church is Nature,” By: Daven Wolf)
Well folks, I wasn’t kidding, I went and started a non-profit Multicultural Church! We are now registered with the state, cool with the IRS, and ready to get started.
Pretty exciting stuff, hey?!
I have been wanting to do this for years. I actually went to Seminary & Bible College, and then Hillsong International Leadership College in Australia to learn how to build non profits and churches from one of the world’s largest churches (and most globally recognized for multi-platinum worship albums.)
Treasured times. I really did love it.
Over the years, and through meeting many people from different cultures, I started to see the beauty in all religions and views. It was a very hard journey, because I was taught to think one way in church, and cast out any other belief (as misconstrued, uninformed views, or just plain demonic.)
But everywhere I looked, people were telling the same stories of their “God(s),” in different ways. I just couldn’t shake it. So I dove head first into researching stories from all across the world, connecting them.
An absolutely fascinating endeavor, indeed. It broke my heart, but opened my eyes.
It started when I became a Yogi a few years after leaving bible college, (because I found yoga very relaxing and a moment to connect to yourself and God), however, my pastoral friends were instantly hopping on me about going to Hell. That one hurt. Pretty bad.
And I started to wake up to the vast amounts of judgment that I too once carried as a strong conservative Christian.
I saw how we were casting people out left and right, in the name of “God.” We would say we were trying to save you from Your sins, but not recognizing our own faults in doing so.
(It’s so much easier to point fingers, isn’t it? But doesn’t the Bible say to pull the plank/log (depending on the version) out of your own eye before you point out the Speck in your brother’s eye? Yesssssss, it sure does! Wink!)
I was very wrong, and I am truly sorry to the people that I counseled at church during those years. I had a great heart and was trying to help, but I now see where I erred.
I was one of the only former badasses in leadership who had a past with sex, drugs, and rock & roll… You know…. like many wild teenagers. So they would send me the hard ones to counsel because the other leaders had no idea how to go about it.
My deepest ache is for the ones I worked with who wanted to have an abortion, or who, “struggled with being gay,” where I, (with an intentionally good heart at the time), “tried to help them overcome it with scripture and prayer.”
That haunts you eventually. Trust Me.
Looking back, I was my own worst nightmare. I became very exclusive, trying to protect my own virtues. I studied the Word day in and day out, went celibate for Years, (straight up Nun style, no joke, I even cut myself off from all t.v, movies, anything non-christian, you name it). And I secretly judged everyone else’s shortcomings or saw them as a potential soul to save.
I was one heck of an evangelist though. (Really. If you know me, you know that I am extremely animated with charisma, and that paired with years of biblical training, I could catch 50+ meandering souls in a day if I tried in an outreach if I wanted to. Way more if you put me onstage too. This girl had the Fire of the Lord! Whooo!)
Even as a Yogi, I was in and out of church for years. I mean, I still believed in God, I just didn’t want all the baggage of judgment I carried with me before.
I was so tired of judging people…..
But every church I went to, I was instantly judged and then ministered to for my obvious transgressions! LOL! The irony!!!
Judged for living with someone outside of marriage, for having tattoos, a past of partying and not being your ideal Bible Virgin Bride (shiiiiiiit, get real.) And if I brought up yoga or meditation…. Ohhh My Lawwwwd- It’s Devil Talk!
The kicker was when I owned a wellness center in a nice little mountain town where the church knew I went to the renown Hillsong, so they asked me to teach all of the kids “Praise Sign Language and Dance.” I said, “Oh sure, no problem!” I had volunteered for their Vacation Bible School before so I didn’t mind.
But the only stipulation was I had to do it at their church, because the kids were Not allowed to come to my center because I had statues of Buddha and pictures of Indian deities as well. (It was a multi cultural educational center! A big ol’ picture of Jesus was there too, I’ll have you know.)
So, needless to say, I said No. That was the straw that broke this camel’s back and also when I said a hearty, “Piss Off,” to regular churches in general.
I can still appreciate what they do, I really can. But I Refuse to live in a bubble of judgment (underlying hate), and hypocrisy ever again. It’s just not real to me. And it’s so Not like the character of Jesus.
Some can be great, and way more understanding, but many are just pushing people away with hate-filled rhetoric against specific groups of people.
And as a degreed Theologian (I’m just finishing my last class for my Masters in Theology and starting my Doctorate soon), I can tell you that a lot of what is being taught today is actually very unscriptural. It’s mostly just conjecture, personal translation, and denominational opinion. And I am always down for a theological debate on that. Anytime. Toot Toot!
I have taught at Jewish retreat centers and celebrated holidays with them. I meditated with the Buddhists and Hare Krishnas. Spent other holidays with the Sikhs and Hindus and experienced their beautiful culture. Dressed up and danced with the Pagans, done sacred ceremonies with the Druids, and honored nature with the finest folks.
I have met the Voodoo and Yoruba communities and learned the depths of their stories. Worked with Aboriginal spiritual leaders, learning of their Animist ways. I have drummed and sang straight into the divine with no name attached. And so many other experiences where all people and cultures were, “connecting with God.”
And they are ALL beautiful. All searching for the deeper meanings in life. So who the hell are We to stand in their way, or tell them that they are wrong?
We run Drum Circles here and used to joke after many circles that it was like a church. We gather together for food, play music and drum to the divine (we all have individual beliefs but play and celebrate together).
Also, our post-drumming conversations were the Best! Full of life, religion, philosophy, folklore, acceptance of different views, etc. So connecting.
I called us, “The Little Weird Church in the Woods.” I even wrote a song for it about 2 years back! That will be another post, lol. I can’t lie, It’s pretty good.
So, although I no longer choose to tie myself down to organized religion and specific dogma, I still love to teach on All the stories of the world. I still dig the Bible, Torah, Quran, and all other sacred texts as well. They all tell the stories of human lives and lessons, and I truly believe that whatever people choose to see as “God,” is beautiful.
Even if you don’t believe in any god- Grand! I still value your opinion and am always open to other people’s views and beliefs.
So, whether your faith be in science, faith in doctrine, or faith in the Flying Spaghetti Monster, it’s all good by me. I’ll respect you either way. We just like to hang out and talk about things here.
Everyone is accepted here. Leave any hate or judgments at the door. Yewwwww! (Australians shout this in excitement).
We will have small gathering groups here at the Dome Home, but also do lots of online things for other people to lead Connection Circles with monthly guided curriculum (or topic prompts) at their own homes.
Women’s Groups, Men’s Groups, Kids Groups, Music Groups, Support Groups, Here’s a Group, There’s a Group, Everywhere’s a Group Group!
(We will have plenty listed on the website soon, fret not.)
I could go on all day about what we do, but our Mission Statement sums it up quite well. So here it is! (Some of it may be redundant to this post since it’s from our website, but I mean, just deal with it I guess. Lol.)
ReciprociTree Church Incorporated Mission Statement:
At ReciprociTree, we believe in a church for everyone. Friends gathering together from every background, every color, every culture, every belief system, any sexual preference or gender preference, every worldview (religious or non religious) and gaining wisdom from one another.
We believe in humanity, and that everyone has something to bring to the table, equally of value. That is our only creed.
Our vision and goal is to be the proverbial bridges of the world. Weaving the threads of stories, cultures, folklore, and religions across the globe, and finding the commonalities that hold us together as one human race.
With a heart for Social Justice, Education, Outreach, and Resourceful Information, we desire for people to feel accepted, and find their place spiritually in this world. Every human being deserves to feel connected and a part of something bigger than themselves.
We believe that by bringing people together for common goals of “helping thy neighbor,” in community outreaches and causes, (local or online), that the love for community overrides any prejudices and biases.
Also, by singing songs from all nations with respect for their ways, and sharing cultural foods and potlucks after each gathering, we gain understanding about the world and our neighbors.
Here we work with leaders from a wide array of religions and views across the world, who are able to guide people deeper on their personal paths if they desire to go one way.
From renowned scholars, educators, spiritual leaders, pastors, theologians, priests, rabbis, practitioners, counselors, and more, we try to cover all bases from all worldviews in order to make those meaningful connections for people.
At ReciprociTree Church, we work within our communities to build trust, understanding, and a sense of teamwork and camaraderie. We are strong believers in connection, gathering time, and hands on programs to bring people together.
From supporting local farmers and craft-workers, to working with local and international artists on fundraisers, LGBTQ community, immigrant care, conservation projects, animal protection services, cultural education in schools, and many more programs, we try to be involved with our community (both local and online) any way that we can.
If people feel forgotten or left out by society, our aim is to be there for Them, and remind them of their importance here.
We work hand in hand with other wonderful non-profits locally, nationally, and internationally, to bring awareness, break stigmas, and dismantle prejudices. Together, we connect the world!
About the Founder:
I (Amy) have Pastoral and Counseling degrees from multiple colleges including Hillsong International Leadership College in Australia where I worked for one of the world’s largest churches in Social Justice, Counseling, Youth Ministry, and Church Building.
Working hand and hand with many non-profits, ministries, and churches for almost 20 years, I have always desired to start my own.
Throughout the years, I have studied many religions and belief systems across the world, searching for similarities and the bridges of mankind. From my research and experience, I have seen the beauty in all of them, and have a passion for building connection, education and making informational resources available to all, in order to build relationships and break stigmas.
I got on an educational kick in my 20’s so I am also a certified Yogi, Personal Trainer, Fitness & Nutrition Specialist, Posture & Corrective Exercise Specialist, Senior Fitness Specialist, Vedic Thai Specialist, also certified in AromaTouch, The Biology of Sound, Positivity Psychology, Aboriginal Studies from the Univ of Sydney and about 10 other random certs or degrees as well. I never stopped going. I was making up for years of partying as a teen. Lol.
I also have an AMAZING TEAM here of comrades, educators, ministers, counselors, and more who are part of this church and I will have bios on shortly.
We Welcome You All! Xx