Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Ordination



Just as expected, several people asked how I became an ordained minister. It's a rather long and complicated story, but I will keep it as brief and concise as possible.

In reality, the process of ordination began before I knew what happened. Before my father passed away, he created a way for me to inherit his spiritual responsibilities. I didn't fully understand the implications at the time it happened, but when he died, his 'ministry' essentially passed to me.

For several years, I practiced my father's rituals without understanding their deeper meaning. In time, I began to relate directly to the spirit within his ceremonies. I also began to awaken to a profound realization: my father was a spiritual leader in his own right, and had he belonged to a Christian church, he would have been a priest or minister. Seen from that perspective, I realized my father gave me a priesthood, a calling, and a lifelong ministry.

A combination of events eventually turned insight into action. First, I resigned my membership in the LDS Church and received a letter from Salt Lake City declaring my priesthood 'void.' As much as I trust my reasons for making that choice, I still grieved the loss of 'priesthood authority.' Second, my sister asked me to perform her wedding, but Washington State law only allows ordained ministers or judges to perform weddings. That's when a solution became obvious.

My father's religion is just as valid as Mormonism or the Roman Catholic Church, so why should he be prevented from performing weddings or any other 'ministerial' duties? Inspired by this knowledge, me and two other friends decided to incorporate our Native American spiritual system as a church, legally and lawfully organized under the laws of this state. We didn't create anything new; we simply defined ourselves in a way the government can recognize. After incorporating the church, we received 'ordination' in recognition of our spiritual callings.

We had some hesitation about subjecting our spirituality to the state, but the potential benefits outweigh the risks. Many Native Americans wish to celebrate marriage and find themselves in the awkward position of having to choose a ceremony devoid of their core spiritual traditions. Judges provide mainly secular weddings, and ministers often require people to profess non-Native religions or creeds. We also envision other benefits of incorporation, such as having Native American ministers as chaplains at hospitals and other institutions.

After careful consideration, I received further encouragement from a series of dreams allowing me to move forward with my ordination.

In any case, Native American spirituality is just as valid as any other religious system and deserves the same level of respect, dignity, and official recognition. I'm thankful the Creator gave me this calling and the ability to minister to Native people.

2 comments:

ratbert said...

barry, you are absolutely right! bravo to you. i did not realize one could send a letter to salt lake "resigning" one's membership.

the only reason those big churches are recognized is because of their power. which, in my mind, argues against their humility. power only increases the hunger for power. my problem with mormonism was its obsession with control. but to be spiritual in a true way, we must be free, and open to nature and others, to the past, to dreams. a centralized organization distrusts that.

sulustu said...

Yes, one can officially resign membership in the LDS Church.

It would seem many 'inspired' organizations eventually lose their initial appeal when they become enmeshed with power.

Ultimately, power is inevitable; that's why we have check's and balances in society. Sadly, many churches have no system of accountability to their members, much less the public.

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