Crossing the Great Divide: Spirit Communication and Healing through Spiritualism
Is it possible to communicate with those who have passed over? Is spiritual healing a reality? Is there a place called heaven and a place called hell? These and other questions are on the minds of many people these days. This is partly due to the movie "The Sixth Sense," which is about spirit communication. The interest is also being stimulated by such television shows with James von Prague, Sylvia Browne and John Edwards during which they have brought messages from those who have passed into the world of spirit to their loved ones sitting in the television audience. Additionally, in chat rooms such as the one hosted by international medium Robert Brown on the Internet, people share their own experiences of having seen visions of relatives who have passed. As communication technology makes the world smaller every day, people are becoming more open to sharing their stories of spirit.
Many people do not realize that there is a religion called Spiritualism whose main goals are to prove that we do survive the change called death, and to awaken one's inner spiritual resources. Spiritualists believe that life is continuous and that when one releases the physical body at the time death, the spirit maintains its consciousness. A well-trained medium is able to prove the existence of the spirit through evidential communication with those who have made their transition into eternal life. During the Spiritualist church service, the medium makes contact and brings those in the congregation messages of love, well being and insight.
While there are other locations where people can receive messages from spirit, such as independent mediums, metaphysical bookstores and new age centers, the Spiritualist church experience is more expanded. A service also includes a talk on Spiritualist philosophy and spiritual living, music and the opportunity to benefit from receiving the energy of healing by the laying-on of hands through the intervention of the God Power.
During the healing portion of the service, Spiritualists who are trained for healing stand behind the chairs reserved for healing and members of the congregation are invited to sit in these chairs. The healers place their hands on the shoulders, heads and upper backs of those who have come forward. The healers then act as channels for the healing energy of the Infinite Spirit to flow through their hands. It is important to understand that the Spiritualist healing team does not heal. They are acting as channels for the God Source.
Later in the service there is a half hour demonstration of spirit communication. The medium invited to serve explains to the congregation that s/he is going to link in with those in the spirit world acting as a channel to bring forth messages. As the medium receives messages from the spirit, s/he describes what is being received. When a person in the congregation recognizes the description of the person in spirit, it is a very heart-warming moment. How wonderful it is to experience that the spirit is alive and well! It is also life changing to realize that we actually survive death. For many people this realization removes their fear of dying, and they come to see death as a natural transition to the eternal life.
Most churches offer what is called a "mediums" or a "spiritual" day where more in-depth private readings by qualified mediums are available. On a one-to-one basis, a medium is able to give more personal evidence than the weekly church service allows. A nominal donation is requested for readings and these monies are used to support the church. It is important to note that most people who work in the Spiritualist community are volunteering their services or receiving very little remuneration.
A Vibrant Local Community Modern Spiritualism is a relatively new religion, with its beginnings on March 31, 1848. There are hundreds of Spiritualist churches through the United States, many of them within an hour of Boston. While modern Spiritualism was founded in the United States, there are churches in many countries of the world. People from all faiths are very welcome at Spiritualist services.
The Greater Boston Church of Spiritualism was founded in 1986 by Reverend Doctor Erle Myers. The church started with a dedicated group of charter members. Finding a location for a Spiritualist church was not easy in 1986. Reverend Myers reminisces about how Nancy Garber, now a well known Boston medium, at that time drove an unreliable vehicle, always accompanied by many prayers for the car's well-being! They spent hours driving around looking for a location. Many churches of other denominations had space to rent until they heard the word "Spiritualism." Suddenly there were no vacancies. At that time many people did not know about the religion of Spiritualism and renting space was not easy. Nancy and Erle were delighted to find a home for the church at the Masonic Center in Watertown where the church has resided for nearly fifteen years bringing hope, peace, and understanding to thousands of people. Pastor Erle and his wife Ida are always available for consultation on matters of the spirit. They spend many hours talking with those seeking an understanding of spirit communication.
Spiritualist principles state that each one of us has our own personal responsibility in life. Reverend Myers says, "We believe that what others call 'heaven and hell' are states of consciousness, not locations. Good and evil are equated as positive and negative states of consciousness. If we have a positive state of consciousness in this life, we will enter the next life with the same. If we have a negative consciousness in this life, we will enter the next life with the same. In believing that evil is human made, we realize that souls entering the spirit world who have lived negative lives must overcome their negativity before they can experience the peace and beauty of the spirit environment." Myers points out that one of the principles of the Spiritualist religion states, "The doorway to reformation is never closed to any human soul here or hereafter."
While having deep respect for other religious beliefs, Reverend Myers wishes to help those who are open to Spiritualist philosophy to overcome their fear of a supposed angry God who can send people to "hell." Spiritualists believe that the spiritual consciousness we evolve while living on Earth will be the consciousness with which we enter the world of the spirit. Myers states, "When we have made our transition to the world of spirit, each one of us will continue to learn and grow spiritually. There will be teachers and helpers there to work with us in our spiritual evolvement. We must progress to the world of spirit as part of our own natural evolvement, never taking this transition into our own hands." Reverend Myers reminds us that eternity is a very long time.
The Plymouth Spiritualist Church was founded by the Reverend Irene Harding and makes its home at 131 Standish Avenue. Co-Pastors Reverend Irene and Charles Harding give a warm welcome to all whom enter the church. Back in 1974, Reverend Irene proved the reality of the saying "thoughts are things." She put her thoughts into action when she rented a church, with an option to buy, from the Portuguese Methodists. Her dream of a healing sanctuary came true in June of 1975 when the membership was able to purchase the building. It has been said that the Plymouth Spiritualist Church was born in Reverend Irene's thoughts.
The Hardings are dedicated to the advancement of the religion of Spiritualism, and it is important to them that people understand Spiritualism's history and philosophy. In their lectures they will often speak of the forerunners and pioneers of Spiritualism. Besides being busy with their own church, the Hardings devote a great deal of their time to the American Federation of Spiritualist Churches. Reverend Charles is president and Reverend Irene is Vice President of the AFSC, of which both the Plymouth Spiritualist Church and the Greater Boston Church of Spiritualism are members, as well as other churches outside of Massachusetts. The Plymouth Church is also a member of the Plymouth Area Interfaith Clergy Association.
The Hardings are well known for their contributions to the education of those who wish to study the religion of Spiritualism. Reverend Irene says, "Spiritualism is a bonafide religion just as other religions are. It is a religion that is both ancient and modern. From the very beginnings of known time, it has run like a golden strand through all spiritual pathways. Then, through the efforts of the pioneers in the mid 1800's, Spiritualism was officially organized and registered as a religion." Reverend Irene expresses her strong faith in the principles of Spiritualism by saying, "Our evolutionary process is not just a phase of our physical world, but continues on into the realm of spirit. When we pass into the spirit realm, we do not lose our identity. We continue on with all of our spiritual attributes that are innately within the soul."
The First Spiritualist Church of Quincy, at 40 West Street, was founded in 1893. In those days, the group called themselves The Ladies Aid Society to avoid prejudice from the community. In the 1970's, the group became known as the First Spiritualist Church of Quincy. Reverend Rita Berkowitz is the pastor.
Reverend Berkowitz emphatically states that "Healing is what Spiritualism is all about." She says, "Even the messages that we give are healing. A lot of people will come to a Spiritualist church for the first time to try to get a message. They want a message from a loved one. I have seen their lives change totally when they have received communication from the spirit side of life. Once that happens, they know that their loved one is fine and their lives change forever. A healing has taken place." She continues, "They are excited and they tell me, 'You know what? My loved one is fine. They are talking to me, they are sharing memories with me, they are sharing things they have seen me do.'"
Reverend Berkowitz feels that the most profound healing that people receive in Spiritualism is the acceptance of death and the loss of the fear that is often associated with the ending of our physical lives. When one has received communication from a loved one in spirit during a demonstration of mediumship, one's outlook on life and death changes. Reverend Berkowitz relates that many Spiritualists say, "I am not afraid to die. When my time comes it is a glorious thing."
Reverend Berkowitz's belief in healing comes from her battle with cancer. She tells about the time she was depleted from chemotherapy treatments. "I was absolutely exhausted to the point where I could not drive or even stand up very long. I sat in a healing chair. After the healing was over, I felt good enough to drive and to work for a full day. After the surgical removal of the tumor, the healing helped me regain my strength much faster than the doctors expected. That let me know that healing works so I don't even have a question about it." Reverend Berkowitz goes on to say, "But it works for the highest and best of the healee. It is not always an "all better situation." Sometimes it is for the highest good to help somebody pass."
Reverend Berkowitz tells a story about the power of healing. "I had a situation years ago. A young man who was a good friend of mine was in the hospital. They called me and put the phone next to his ear so that I could say goodbye to him. And two days later, I got a phone call saying, "Hey girlfriend, I'm fine. The doctors can't figure it out." And people all over the country were sitting in healing for him. The young man spent the last year of his life talking about spiritual healing to AIDS patients and teaching them meditation. And when he did go through his transition, he just closed his eyes and went. He did not have suffering. That, to me, is also a healing. So, there are so many ways that healing can take place. It is a magnificent thing." Berkowitz says that what happened to her in the healing circle is what people years ago might have called a miraculous healing. In the philosophy of Spiritualism, healing is in fact considered a natural occurrence.
Expanding the Circle Sometimes, older traditional religions do not have an easy time relating to Spiritualism. Many people, when thinking about spirits, still carry images of scary Halloween ghosts and the supernatural. Spiritualist demonstrations of spirit communication have absolutely nothing to do with such images. In fact, the religion of Spiritualism is dignified and the communication with those from the spirit side of life is sacred.
It is difficult for some Spiritualists to understand why there is not more understanding of Spiritualism when many of the world's religions do accept the concept of afterlife. In the books of many religions will be found references to communications with those in the afterlife, with angels, the saints and with God. It is often religious leaders who feel that those in the hierarchy of the religion are able to communicate with spirit. Perhaps this is one of the difficulties which arises in the acceptance of Spiritualism. In the philosophy of Spiritualism, it is believed that the ability to communicate with those in spirit is a natural one. While not everyone is a medium, there are those in the process of spiritual unfoldment who discover that they have mediumistic ability.
In Spiritualist philosophy and mediumship classes, students explore their abilities. As they unfold, they may find that they have an interest in spiritual healing, speaking about Spiritualist philosophy, or the development of mediumship. Spiritual unfoldment is a process whereby students can expand their abilities and become aware of their deep spiritual callings. There is no requirement to take courses and there are many people who just wish to attend church regularly and learn to live by the principles of Spiritualism. Spiritualist teachings emphasize the concept of God, the Infinite Spirit and Creator of all that exists.
Many Spiritualists are interested in the teachings of the world's great religions. Spiritualism certainly does not have and has never had a monopoly on communication with those in the world of spirit. Humankind has always communicated with spirit and always will. The Spiritualist church service provides a dignified and reverent place for such communication.
Carole Lynne is a certified medium and licentiate minister working towards ordination with the American Federation of Spiritualist Churches. She is also an award holder with the Spiritualist National Union of Great Britain. Ms. Lynne is a medium, public speaker, and published songwriter serving regularly in several countries of the world. She may be contacted at 617-964-0058 or through e-mail at SINGYES@aol.com
If you are interested in attending a Spiritualist church, the pastors will be happy to receive calls from you regarding services.
- Greater Boston Church of Spiritualism Reverend Doctor Erle Myers: 617-923-4334
- The Plymouth Spiritualist Church Reverend Irene Harding and Reverend Charles Harding: 508-888-6049
- The First Spiritualist Church of Quincy Reverend Rita Berkowitz: 781-659-6531
- Swampscott Church of Spiritualism Reverend Leo E. Rogers Jr., Pastor, and Reverend Mary M. Fitzpatrick, Associate Pastor: 781-595-6972
- The First Spiritualist Church of Brockton Pastoral Committee: 401-245-8307
- The Church of Spiritual Life Reverend Ken Wingood: 978-454-4163
- The First Spiritualist Church of Salem Reverend Muriel Karolides, President, Bradley Gosselin: 978-774-1571
- The Onset Spiritualist Church Reverend Kenneth Custance: 508-295-1441