Join us at Unity Village, MO for a weekend of joyful LGBT community Sept. 26-29! Click this link for more information…
The sixth annual Lyceum academic conference at Unity Village is just two weeks away! Unity Institute welcomes scholars, students, and the ever curious to engage in enthusiastic and open dialogue around this year’s theme, Sacred Texts: From the Bhagavad Gita to the Bible and Beyond.
“Sacred Texts is an exploration of the scriptures of world religions,” says Mark Fuss, Unity Institute admissions director. “We’ll look at how they are alike, how they are different, and the impact they have had through the centuries.”
Keynote presentations from acclaimed authors Bart Ehrman and Philip Goldberg will open and close the conference. In addition, visiting scholars and Unity Institute faculty and students will present papers and participate in panel discussions about this year’s topic.
For tickets and details, visit unityinstitute.org/lyceum.
“Grace… I can feel it. Moving through my soul…”
The ending of one year and the beginning of another. And I am grateful-thankful-moved by the grace that fills my life.
Like spending time with my family for the Holidays… the warmth, the love, the good food. And the small opportunity to give back to those who have given so much to me through the years. Grace.
Like the friends I cherish… the ones I should tell more often how much I love them. That they move me, inspire me with their creativity, spirit and dedication… through good times and through shadow. Grace.
Like the work that feeds my soul… the joy of being part of someone’s spiritual journey-watching their soul unfold, bloom and grow-the process of becoming. I celebrate my place to give back, to belong, to create. Grace.
Like the home I return to… cozy, warm, and full of light. My sanctuary in the woods, blanketed by snow this morning… sparkling in the New Year sunrise. Grace.
There was a time in my life-not so long ago-that I longed for all of these things. They were absent because of my hurt, my choices, my own sense of unworthiness. Then I found a sweet community called Unity… and began the process of becoming that continues today. Grace.
“So much more than enough… I am rising. Grace, can you feel it?” (Song lyrics from Daniel Nahmod’s album Sacred Love 2: Hymns for Humanity”)
I wish you all a 2013 filled with Grace. You are loved and lifted up, Mark
Call for papers has been issued and Keynote speakers announced! Join us April 4-6, 2013 at Unity Village Hotel and Conference Center.
A Portion of God Made Manifest…
I am a gay man, a Unity minister, “and a portion of God made manifest.”
This snippet of a quote by H. Emilie Cady has given me joy and strength for many years now. The idea that I was any part of anything divine was foreign to me for much of my life. Growing up gay in the deep South… coming of age in the 70′s… I was immersed in the theology of sin-fall-redemption… of traditional Christianity.
My first time in seminary was a gut wrenching exercise in self-loathing, shame, and guilt. My inevitable crisis of faith was like a tsunami of anger, darkness, and shame. If God could not love me as I was created… then for me there was no God. Closeted until my 20′s, I came out with abandon, dismissing religion from my life and rarely looking back. My career and clubs (dancing, drinking, and drugs) took center stage in my life. I found all of my self-worth in a job well done and quickly self-medicated anything approaching a painful feeling. This roller-coaster seemed to work well for two decades… only occasionally jumping the tracks.
The bottom of the barrel found me homeless in NYC, strung out and lost, at the end of my long ride. Early one morning sitting on a park bench, the thought, “There must be more than this…” entered my mind. I knew I had to get a grip, make some changes, if I wanted to live. I moved to Florida, Mom providing a bus ticket. The next two years were a struggle. Getting work after years of being unemployable… drying myself out, beginning to put myself back together.
It was 2001 when I first visited a Unity Church… Unity of Panama City, FL. I was stunned and overwhelmed by the love, acceptance, and joy that I found there. It was palpable… in the energy, in the people, and as the minister’s message. God is Good. Your essence is of God, therefore you are inherently Good. Not fallen, sinful, broken, but spiraling upward… an expression of God made manifest. I began to read and study Unity and New Thought teachings and theology. I joyfully joined the choir, became a chaplain, and soon was on the board of this spiritual community.
Now a decade later, I am an ordained Unity minister and serve as Admissions Representative for Unity Institute and Seminary. I share as widely as possible, much the same message that I heard my first Sunday in Unity. One Presence, One Power, God the Good… and you are a portion of God made manifest. It is a message that many of my brothers and sisters in the LGBT community desperately long (and need) to hear. And it is a message that I continue to study and try to embody… I am a portion of God made manifest.
I know first hand just how shame and guilt can burrow deep in our consciousness and require regular excavations. Just when I think I am done and can move on… oops there it is. But it does get better, you get better at noticing and exorcising it. This is why I am so happy to be a part of an upcoming retreat at Unity Village!
Call now to register for Out In The Open: An LGBT Spiritual Experience at Unity Village Sept 27-30, 2012! 1-866-348-6489
This retreat is blossoming and bubbling with fun and creativity. It will feature our friends Sal Sapienza, Robin Reiter, Skip Sams, Ken Daigle and yours truly! Musical guest is the amazing Jack Fowler! Artist Jenny Hahn will lead us in a painting as process workshop experience too. Put us on your calendar and make plans to visit Unity Village in late September… http://unityvillage.org/retreats/event/out-open-lgbt-spiritual-experience
Hope to see you there… Rev. Mark
I am a gay man, a Unity minister, and a portion of God made manifest…
Most Read Blog
In looking over the 2011 stats for my blog… I wasn’t really surprised to see that this blog from last February was the most read, shared, and commented on. Everywhere I have traveled over the last year (and that is a lot of places) people have shared how they were touched by what I wrote. “You have helped me to be more open and honest about who I am,” “Thanks for being real,” “I sent it to a friend/family member who is struggling… going through a difficult time and needed to hear this message.”
God is Good. Your essence is of God, therefore you are inherently Good. Not fallen, sinful, broken, but spiraling upward… an expression of God made manifest.
In writing about my own journey, my journey of becoming real… I was able once again to see clearly just how important that affirmation was in my life. ‘You are good, you are God in expression.” Admittedly, it is an affirmation I still work to embody. It is a healing message and one that my LGBT community needs to hear loudly and often. Speaking from experience, I can say it takes time and effort to hear it, begin to believe it, and then to embody it… put it in practice. It is a process of becoming real.
Believing We Are Worthy
It is also easy to get stuck in the strokes. Looking outside ourselves for constant approval and affirmation of our self worth. Becoming Real means you come to believe that you are worthy of all that the Universe has to offer. It takes a lot of loving, a lot of living, a lot of learning for most of us to reach this place. That is my wish for each of you this year… A lot of loving, living, and learning on the way to becoming Real.
Said the Skin Horse to the Velveteen Rabbit
“By the time you are Real most of your fur has been rubbed off, your eyes drop out, you get loose in the joints and a little shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people that don’t understand… and once you are Real you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always.”
If you know someone who needs to hear this more deeply… or if you would welcome time with like-minded people willing to love you til your fur is rubbed off… consider joining us at Unity Village Sept. 27-30, 2012 for Out In The Open: An LGBT Spiritual Experience. For more information visit http://www.unityvillage.org/lgbt
Here’s to a year of loving and becoming Real.
Special Announcement! We are excited to announce we have added a Cosmic Mass on Saturday night following this years Lyceum. Resurrecting The Cosmic Christ with Matthew Fox and Friends, Sat. April 14th, 7-9pm at Unity Village Hotel and Conference Center. Stay tuned for more info soon!
“Come on out, come on out into the light. There is no jury. There is no judge. Ready and waiting are the steady arms of love. … So I’m standing here spinning around in the fields of freedom, and I’m still alive and reaching out. And I can feel the healing.”
—“Out in the Open” by Chris Eaton and Amy Grant
Join us for a weekend of joyful community and inspired learning at beautiful Unity Village. Together we will create an experience that feeds us and lifts us up to a more authentic way of living … Out in the Open.
Hosts Rev. Mark Fuss, Jenny Hahn and Skip Sams invite you to attend this weekend retreat filled with fun, healing and heart-expanding community. There will be time for nature walks, walking the labyrinth, meditations, drumming and more.
Retreat presenters include Salvatore Sapienza, author of Gay Is a Gift, Rev. Robin Reiter, founder of Sacred Abundance Ministries, and Ken Daigle, creator of Coming Out Spiritually. Music will be provided by Jack Fowler.
For more info visit http://www.reseze.net/cassets/mkt/1322/retreats_calendar.htm
It is so tempting to want the answers before we begin the journey. We like to know our way. We like to have maps. We like to have guides. But we are more like a breathing puzzle, a living bag of pieces, and each day shows us what a piece or two is for, where it might go, how it might fit. Over time, a picture starts to emerge by which we begin to understand our place in the world. –Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening
We all want answers… don’t we? We want to plan things, make lists, think of every detail that might come up. We want to know how things will unfold, how we will pay for it, how long it will take. It sounds almost trite to say it, but we are too often focused on the destination at the expense of the journey. The best advice I ever got when stepping out on my journey to ministry was, “Take the next step, do the next thing.”
I spend a good bit of my time talking with people who are feeling called to a life of service. This past week in Virginia Beach for Unity’s Eastern Region conference, I had multiple conversations with people studying the “how” of things. Don’t get me wrong, we all do it. My friends will smile (or laugh out loud) and tell you I do it. What Mark’s quote has stirred for me though is relevant to us all… not just to those called to a life of ministry.
How often do we miss what might be by clutching at what we can see? How often do we settle for a lesser experience because we can see how it might happen? The question that has stayed with me this week is–How can I live in the realm of the possible? What can I let go of, what gets in my way? Plans, lists, need to know… how? Can I step out in faith to do the next thing? And like Mark says, live as a breathing puzzle-open to the piece each new day brings.