The UAC is The Healing Place
At the 2013 General Assembly of The UAC we talked and prayed at length about our identity and our mission. As we examined our work both individually and collectively, we came to the inescapable conclusion that in the work we do we seek to heal individuals, families, communities, cities, nations, and ultimately the world. Though each of us has our own unique approach and contribution to this mission, we are united in our goal to bring healing in a world where religion and spirituality have often been perverted into forces that bring division rather than unity, strife rather than concord, and war rather than peace. We are determined to be a voice and a force to change that unfortunate dynamic, and in doing so work toward the day when all people live together in peace and harmony. We invite you to explore this the page to learn more about what we mean when we say that we are A Healing Church!
Personal and Spiritual Healing
We live in a time of unprecedented stress on every level, and the impact of that stress can be devastating. Whether we are looking for help in making choices in our personal lives or careers, coping with changes in our health or that of someone close to us, struggling with the roller coaster that is raising children, seeking or maintaining a primary relationship, or any of life’s other issues, it can help to see that every problem has many dimensions. The often neglected dimension is the spiritual impact of our problems. We fully endorse traditional medicine including psychiatry and psychotherapy. There are problems that your clergy person or spiritual teacher simply isn’t qualified to address. If you break your leg, prayer may ease the pain but only a cast will repair the physical damage. There are, however, alternative healing modalities that often complement traditional medicine. The UAC is a proponent of Reiki, Yoga, and other healing modalities such as Healing and Therapeutic Touch, Prana Breathing, Gemstone healing, and many others. We have learned that alternative healing is an effective method of relieving pain on many different levels, and find it to be completely compatible with every spiritual and religious belief system. Contrary to what some believe, energy healing is an ancient tradition, not some new development that came on the scene recently. In our scientific and rationalistic age we have often ignored the wisdom of indigenous and Earth-based traditions because they cannot be measured with the tools at our disposal, but anyone in physical or emotional pain will tell you that relief is welcomed with open arms regardless of whether or not it can be measured! In addition to individual sessions, many of our clergy offer Healing Masses and other group opportunities to avail yourself of alternative healing!
In difficult times, we need somebody to hear us. As we struggle to cope with our problems, the deep spiritual questions of life often arise. Among them are “why is this happening to me?” Well meaning friends offer no shortage of popular slogan-based solutions, often unintentionally leaving us feeling as if we aren’t entitled to our feelings. At these times we can benefit from speaking with a member of the clergy or other spiritual teacher who can help us sort out the “God questions” in our life without rushing us to put them away or leaving us feeling as if we have asked a question that shouldn’t be asked. There is no question that shouldn’t be asked! At times like these, we need what used to be called a spiritual director, but now is more commonly called a spiritual guide or spiritual friend. UAC clergy are trained to be good listeners, and rather than offer pat answers to life’s difficult questions. In doing so they help each person discern how they are being called to respond to the challenges that confront them. We offer non-judgmental, caring, and professional pastoral services to all people without exception.
Our Cities and Families
Pioneering psychologist Abraham Maslow defined the three basic human needs as the need for food, clothing, and shelter. It seems that in our cities today none of these are guaranteed. As we struggle to raise our families in difficult economic times politicians keep saying that there aren’t enough resources to go around. Despite this, we never seem to lack money to go to war or create a new law enforcement program. Does that money come from a different source? Of course not. In truth the money that we as a society dedicate to violence has a direct impact on our ability to feed, clothe, shelter, and educate our young people. How will we continue to pay our bills as a nation when our young people lag so far behind in education that they are virtually unemployable and therefore cannot pay taxes? What will be the long term consequences of the foreclosure crisis of the last six years? How many boarded up homes and businesses will it take before we realize something has gone very wrong, indeed, and that the things that have gone wrong are caused by the choices we as a nation make? Perhaps most importantly, what is the impact of all of these things on our children and families?
We live in a culture replete with violence, from our entertainment forms all the way down to our streets, and we support a government that exports violence throughout the world. Our children play violent video games wherein they kill other people without consequence and we sit by dumbfounded when they act out violently against one another. Businesses have fled our urban areas, lured away by tax breaks in suburban areas or cheap labor overseas. The result is that our urban population cannot access employment opportunities that pay a living wage. Parents work two and three jobs just to get by and their children are home unsupervised. Feeling unloved and unwanted, they turn to the streets and violence for the rites of passage and feeling of belonging we all need. Alternative economies such as drug trafficking develop where there are no legitimate employment opportunities. Our response to that has not been a response of real reform or compassion but rather, unsurprisingly, a response of violent law enforcement and pandemic incarceration.
The UAC Response
UAC clergy are engaged in responding to the crisis in our families and our cities on several levels. The first is on the personal and spiritual level. We recognize that our churches have failed us over the last fifty to seventy-five years. They have been unable to adjust to the rapidly changing social, economic, and political climate and continue to offer responses more suited to a day gone by than to today. The UAC seeks to help people build spiritual and social community not by forcing people into a church building but rather by meeting people where they are and in ways that meet actual needs in their lives. The Church isn’t a building, it’s people, and it doesn’t matter where the people gather because God is present everywhere. It seems to us that this means the people who seek to do the work of God should be willing to go anywhere and everywhere that the need exists!
As mentioned above, violence is pandemic in America. The UAC is a Sanctuary Church, where all people are invited and welcomed and where violence is not tolerated. We live in a culture where men have been taught that to be a “real man” is to be violent. We reject that notion, as we reject the current political climate that seeks to turn back the clock on women’s rights, that seeks to make rape victims responsible for their assault, that seeks to limit access to birth control while at the same time claiming to be opposed to abortion, that seeks to defund the social safety net, and that leaves children in the custody of a parent who engages in violence against the other parent. We decry all violent acts and all hate based aggression, including but not limited to aggression against women, the LGBT community, and all at-risk populations. We must change the culture in America, and our clergy are engaged in doing just that all across the country. Won’t you join us in this important work?
We recognize the call of all the great religious traditions to respond to poverty and homelessness and respond to it through our ministries in urban areas. UAC clergy are engaged in street ministry to the poor and homeless in several major metropolitan areas. We are also directly involved in working to end the violence in our streets – both the violence perpetrated by citizens and the violence perpetrated by law enforcement. We recognize that gang violence in America is the result of many complex factors. Complex problems do not respond to simplistic solutions, yet the simplistic solution of mass incarceration and extended solitary confinement – recently defined as torture by the United Nations – see to be the best our government is willing to offer. The UAC calls us to do better because we hear God calling us to do better.
We have been engaging in domestic “wars” for generations, and perhaps most devastating have been the abysmal failures of the “war on drugs” and the “war on gangs.” Our police forces have been militarized, and we see the results every day in the form of police brutality and unnecessary violence. Perhaps it should be no surprise that since we ignore the tragic impact of PTSD on our returning veterans we also deny it exists among those living in urban areas and the police officers working there. What is needed is healing, and in August of 2013 UAC Priest Father Gerardo Serna convened the National Gathering for Peace in Chicago, Illinois to being developing a significant and impactful response to the pandemic violence and incarceration in our society.
Religious and Faith-Based Violence
The Universal Anglican Church is an Interspiritual Church that recognizes the validity of all the world’s great spiritual traditions and serves people from all spiritual and religious traditions – and those with no spiritual background at all.
As strange as it seems, the argument can be made that most of the wars fought throughout human history were the direct result of differing religious beliefs – differing beliefs about how the world works and what needs to be done to set it right. The events of September 11, 2001 quite literally brought this issue home to Americans, and American response has ranged from wholly inadequate to profoundly tragic. A new paradigm is needed, and The UAC is leading the way in reforming the way we understand different faith and belief systems.
The major world religions were developed at a time when tribal consciousness was predominant. If you weren’t a member of my tribe, you were automatically suspect and a threat to my continued existence. Religions quite naturally incorporated these predominant beliefs and sought to reassure members of our tribe that we were the only ones loved and favored by God. Today we can see the error of this way of thinking because many of us have evolved beyond it. It is absolutely contradictory to believe that God is somehow responsible for the creation and existence of everything and everybody while at the same time believing that a being advanced enough to be worshiped would loathe some of that creation while loving another part of it. In The UAC we recognize that if we are to have peace we must have interreligious understanding and cooperation.
To this end, we have developed a program called UAC Interspiritual, a network of UAC ministries and clergy whose spiritual walk has been enriched by the understandings of spiritual and religious traditions that complement our Christian walk. We see and appreciate the common values shared by all the great traditions, including but not limited to love, compassion, empathy, peace, prayer and meditation, service, and healing. In a world that is becoming increasingly pluralistic day by day, we recognize the responsibility we as faith leaders have to facilitate conversation, cooperation, and mutual understanding. This makes The UAC a place where all people are truly welcome!