Monday, February 18, 2013

The 2nd Annual BIG I Conference

The second annual BIG I Conference on Inclusive Theology, Spirituality and Consciousness is now over and we are already looking forward to the next event.  However, before there is too much planning, a recap of the second conference is in order.

More structured with fewer speakers than the first event in February 2012, and offering formal question and answer time after each presentation, the second annual event was considered a better program that really created what Rabbi Rami Shapiro and I hoped this event could become--a place for the thinkers and vision-givers for the "interfaith, interspiritual and integral movement" to meet with clergy and lay-members of the communities to provide a chance to share and interact over the "best ideas" and the "visions for the way-ahead." 

Here was the final program:

Friday, February 1, 2013

The BIG Picture

   Rev. JoAnn Barrett MSC CASAC, Chair, Council of Interfaith Communities of the USA
   “Building Interfaith Communities”
   Huston Smith Interfaith Educator of the Year Presentation
   Rev. Diane Berke  Ph.D. L.M.H.C., Director, OneSpirit Interfaith Seminary
   “The View from 25 Years: Looking Back, Looking Forward”
   Rev. Paul Chaffee, Founder and editor, The Interfaith Observer
   “The Interfaith Movement – the First 120 Years”

Sacred Art: Movement
   Rev. Kathy S. Gracenin OUnI cmh MFA, Director, Chalice of the Heart
   “Body of Prayer...a moving experience”

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Ideas in Interfaith

   Rev. Dr. Andrea Mathews, LPC, DD, Director of Academics at the       American Institute of Holistic Theology
   ” Creating an Interfaith Theology”
   Paul McKenna, Interfaith Programs, Scarboro Missions, Ontario, Canada
   “How the Golden Rule, the Golden Rule Poster and the Golden Rule educational resources    produced by Scarboro Missions can be used to promote interfaith dialogue”

   Rev. Karen Baldwin, Author and American Ambassador to the Rural Women's Movement of South Africa
   “When Cultures Clash: Doing Interfaith Work in South Africa”

   Rabbi Rami Shapiro OUnI Ph.D., Middle Tennessee State University and author
   “Five Questions: Deepening Interfaith Conversation”

Ideas in Interspirituality

   Rev. Dr. Kurt Johnson CMH, Administrator of Community of The Mystic Heart and author
   “The Coming Interspiritual Age”

   Rev. T.S. Pennington OUnI, Board, Order of Universal Interfaith
   “Interspirituality and the Five Spheres of Interconnectedness”

   Adam Bucko, Activist, Spiritual Director to many NYC homeless youth
   “The New Monasticism”
Ideas in Integral and Integral Spirituality

   Rev. Tom Thresher ISN, UCC Minister and author
   “Building Integral Community and Resistance to Change”

   Cindy Wigglesworth, Author and Founder of Deep Change
   “Spiritual Intelligence”

7:00-8:00 pm Sacred Art: Interspiritual Education In Film
   Adam Bucko, Activist, Spiritual Director to many NYC homeless youth

Sunday, February 3, 2013

New Ideas and Programs for the Future
   The New Chaplaincy: Energy and Chaplaincy

   Dr. Sonya Jones (Sw. Shraddhananda), University of Kentucky
   “Sacred Energies”

   Rev. Frances Bagdasarian OUnI M.Div., M.P.S., R.N., Chaplaincy      Institute of Maine
   “Energy Healing and the New Chaplaincy”

   …. With a panel of clergy who are scientists as well (Rev. Tim Miner OUnI and Rev. Dr. Kurt Johnson, CMH)

Throughout the conference there were placed three calls to interfaith leaders from around the world lead by Rev. Tom Lynch OUnI, Director, International Academy for Interfaith Studies, Texas and Mexico.  The countries are: India, Uganda, and Australia/New Zealand.

The event was designed and co-hosted by Reverend Tim Miner OUnI and Rabbi Dr. Rami Shapiro OUnI.  The conference is already discussed by the leading interfaith newsletter in North America:


Rev. JoAnn Barrett MSC CASAC is the Senior Minister of the Gathering of Light Multifaith Spiritual Fellowship on Long Island, New York.  She is a founding board member of the Council of Interfaith Communities of the United States.  In 2012 she assumed the chair position of the Board of Directors for CIC-USA.

Rev. Diane Berke Ph.D. L.M.H.C. is the Spiritual Director and a Founder of OneSpirit Interfaith Seminary and the OneSpirit Learning Alliance. Since its beginning in 2002 over 750 students have graduated to ordination in Interfaith ministry.  Between 1988 and 2002, she was on the faculty of The New Seminary where she served as its Director between 1998 and 2002.  Much of the curriculum she developed during this time is still used in several Interfaith seminaries around the world. She is a founding board member of CIC-USA and is on the Leadership Circle of the Community of The Mystic Heart.  She is a core member of the faculty for the Institute for Sacred Activism.  She has an active psychotherapy and spiritual counseling practice in New York City.

Rev. Paul Chaffee  is a United Church of Christ clergyman and was the founding executive director of the Interfaith Center at the Presidio, serving for 17 years. A trustee on United Religions Initiative’s original board for six years and the North American Interfaith Network board for ten, he led the planning teams for the initial URI-North America summit in 2001 and NAIN’s 20th anniversary conference in 2008. Paul founded The Interfaith Observer (TIO), which he edits, in 2011.

Rev. Kathy S. Gracenin OUnI cmh MFA is OUnI’s artist-in-residence.  She has produced art displays of her interfaith-interspiritual photography and poetry gathered around the world for hospitals, chapels, airports and next-month in the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.  She has taught “sacred dance and movement” in the National Cathedral. She is a board member of OUnI and in 2012 founded the Chalice of the Heart ministry for interfaith-interspiritual art.

Rev. Dr. Andrea Mathews, LPC, DD the Director of Academics at the American Institute of Holistic Theology, is the author of two books, Restoring My Soul: A Workbook for Finding and Living the Authentic Self (2007), The Law of Attraction: The Soul’s Answer To Why It Isn’t Working And How It Can (2011, John Hunt Publishing, O Books). A third book, entitled Inhabiting Heaven NOW, The Answer to Every Moral Dilemma Ever Posed is set for publication in the spring of 2013, also by John Hunt Publishing. A published poet, with several magazine articles also published, Mathews has also served as the Editor of two small literary presses and won several literary awards. She is a psychotherapist with a thriving private practice where she uses both Cognitive and Transpersonal therapy to assist a diverse population with many different issues. And she offers Corporate Training, Motivational and Inspirational presentations to corporations, groups and the public. Mathews hosts the highly successful radio show, Authentic Living on, the 7th Wave Network, on which she has interviewed some of the world’s most profound and prolific bestselling authors in order to assist listeners in finding and living the authentic Self. You can learn more about Andrea’s books, articles, practice and more at and more about her trainings and speaking at

Paul McKenna teaches, writes and consults in the field of interfaith dialogue. Over his 35-year interfaith career, he has received a number of awards and honors for his interreligious work. Paul collaborated with a number of individuals in creating the Golden Rule multifaith poster which has achieved international renown as an educational and interfaith resource. To accompany the poster, he has produced educational resources for youth and adults. Currently Paul functions as the Director of the Scarboro Missions Interfaith Dept. in Toronto, Canada.

Rev.  Karen Baldwin is the American Ambassador to the Rural Women's Movement of South Africa, Interfaith Minister, Inspirational Speaker and author of "Ruby’s World," a memoir of her experience as the first white teacher in a rural Zulu school. There she had first-hand encounters with the AIDS crisis, strong Zulu traditions of infant scarification and female genital mutilation, witch doctor supremacy, and the Zulus’ desire for westernization. Karen is a graduate of the Chaplaincy Institute for Arts and Interfaith Ministry and holds a certificate in Spiritual Psychology from the West Coast Kabbalah School.

Rabbi Rami Shapiro OUnI Ph.D.  is an award winning poet and essayist, whose liturgical writings are used in prayer services throughout North America. He has written over a dozen works of translation, biblical commentary, and nonfiction. Rabbi Rami is a graduate of the Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion and hold a doctoral degree in Judaic studies from Union Graduate School. A congregational rabbi for 20 years, Rami is currently Adjunt Professor of Religious Studies at Middle Tennessee State University, and directs One River (, a not-for-profit educational foundation devoted to building community through contemplative conversation. His most recent books are The Sacred Art of Lovingkindness, The Divine Feminine, and Ethics of the Sages. He is a board member of OUnI.

Rev. Dr. Kurt Johnson CMH has worked in science and spirituality for over 40 years. In spirituality Kurt is co-author of the recently published book THE COMING INTERSPIRITUAL AGE with David Robert Ord. As a New Release the book has been in Amazon's Top Ten in Spirituality. In science Kurt is the co-author of the best-selling NABOKOV's BLUES, with Steve Coates of The New York Times, which was a Top Ten Book in science in 2000. Kurt founded, with Br. Wayne Teasdale and others, the InterSpiritual Dialogue ( association for discussion of contemplative experience across traditions. Ordained in three spiritual traditions, he works also with The Contemplative Alliance ( and the Community of The Mystic Heart.  In science Kurt's PhD is in evolution, ecology, systematics and comparative biology. Associated with the American Museum of Natural History (30 yrs.) he published 200+ articles on evolution and ecology.  He is a board member of OUnI.

Rev. Thomas “TS” Pennington OUnI  is an Interfaith-Interspiritual Minister in North Carolina.  He is currently working on his Ph.D. in interspirituality from Wisdom University.  TS is a board member of OUnI and on the Leadership Circle of the Community of The Mystic Heart.  He is a graduate of the OneSpirit Interfaith Seminary in New York City.

Adam Bucko is an Activist and the Spiritual Guide for homeless youth in New York City.  He is an advocate for a contemplative approach to social change. He grew up in Poland behind the Iron Curtain and spent his early years exploring the anarchist youth movement as a force for social and political change. At the age of 17, Adam immigrated to America where his desire to find his path towards a meaningful life led him to monasteries in the US and India. His life-defining experience took place in India, where on his way to a Himalayan hermitage he met a homeless child who lived on the streets of Delhi. This brief encounter led him to the “Ashram of the Poor” where he began his work with homeless youth. After returning to the US, he worked on the streets of various American cities with young people struggling against homelessness and prostitution. In 2004, Adam co-founded (with Taz Tagore) the Reciprocity Foundation, an award winning nonprofit that empowers homeless and at-risk youth to break the cycle of poverty. The Foundation offers programs that combine contemplative, therapeutic, and creative tools for personal transformation with business skills.

Rev. Tom Thresher ISN Ph.D. is currently the pastor of a nascent Integral Church (UCC) in western Washington.  Long a student of consciousness and spirituality, Tom’s exploration was inspired by eight years of intensive transformational work in a small group setting nearly 40 years ago. Ironically, that experience led him into economics. After completing a Masters in Economics and a Doctorate in Education at Stanford University, Tom taught economics for a decade. He is now an ordained minister and spiritual teacher in the emerging field of Evolutionary Christianity. He has studied and taught Integral Theory for over 15 years. In addition to pastoring, Tom teaches Leadership and Personal Development at Bainbridge Graduate Institute, an MBA program in sustainable business.  For the past seven years Tom has led groups exploring the interface of religion, spirituality, and science. He continues to develop and lead workshops in Transformational Inquiry and Integral philosophy.  He is the author of “Reverent Irreverence: Integral Church for the 21st Century.” He does his best not to take any of this seriously.

Cindy Wigglesworth has 20 years of experience in human resources management with ExxonMobil. She founded her business, now called Deep Change, in 2000. Cindy is certified in Emotional Intelligence and has created, validated and researched the first skills-based Spiritual Intelligence Assessment instrument for business and personal use.  This instrument is both faith-neutral and faith-friendly.  It allows business people to talk about Spiritual Intelligence skills and how to develop them without using the language of religion – while still making the connection to beliefs and practices that are of deep personal importance for each person.   She is a gifted speaker and well known author.

Dr. Sonya L. Jones (Swami  Shraddhananda) earned a doctorate in interdisciplinary studies from Emory University. She rose through the ranks to senior professor of English and interdisciplinary studies at Allegheny College from which she took early retirement in the year 2000 to return to her native Kentucky. She currently teaches in the Honors Program at the University of Kentucky and serves as Trustee and Distinguished Alumni Scholar at Union College. Dr. Jones also serves as Retreat Master at Slate Branch Retreat Ashram, home of Adishraddha or Sacred Feet Yoga.

Rev. Frances Bagdasarian OUnI, M.Div., M.P.S., R.N. is a graduate of Georgetown University School of Nursing & Health Studies, Bangor Theological Seminary, Loyola University of New Orleans and the Chaplaincy Institute of Maine. She is the chair of the OUnI Energy Healing Committee.  She is a board member and Treasurer of A World Alliance of Interfaith Clergy, a member of the Board of Trustees of the Chaplaincy Institutue of Maine, a member of the American Association of Holistic Nursing.  She is a Reki Healing Master and holds a current RN license in the state of Maine. She has developed a private spiritual care practice that supports holistic health. Her ministry includes interreligious and interspritual consultation/education and dialog, as well as, community organizing in areas of awareness, meditation, energy healing, personal empowerment, emotional intelligence, women's health. 

Rev. Timothy Miner OUnI cmh M.Div. M.A. CBC is a co-creater of the conference and its co-host for the first two years.  He is a chaplain for federal and local law-enforcement in Virginia and a former chaplain for hospice care.  He is the co-founder of the Order of Universal Interfaith (OUnI) and the founding Executive Director of the Council of Interfaith Communities of the United States.  With an extensive background in meteorology and weather/physical geography studies, he is active in the American Meteorological Society's Aviation, Range and Aerospace Committee.