On March 6, 2016, Rev. Tony Ponticello at the Community Miracles Center in San Francisco, CA welcomed everyone to the celebration of the CMC's 29th birthday. Then six other CMC ministers addressed the congregation. What follows is a lightly edited transcription of those talks.
Rev. Tony Ponticello
Happy Birthday, everybody! Woohoo! Special service here on the occasion of our 29th birthday. It seems like ... 29 years ago. (laughter) No, it's a blur. What we're actually celebrating is the 29th anniversary of the first time we opened our doors as Community Miracles Center. Actually, it was California Miracles Center at that time.
On March 1, 1987 we took over the lease at 612 Clayton Street in San Francisco and had our first meeting, which was a Sunday Service. If you look back to 1987 you will see that March 1, 1987 was a Sunday. We had already been meeting in that space for over two years, but as a different organization so it was just a continuing but that was when this business entity, this corporate entity, this church entity, named at that time California Miracles Center opened its doors. So that is what we celebrate!
In the beginning we just let the birthdays slide by. They didn't seem all that significant. As they piled on they started to seem more significant but we frequently just forgot about them. It would be April and we'd say, "We forgot about our birthday." But over the last couple of years we've been remembering and thinking about them. So 29, isn't that the Saturn return? I guess so. That's supposed to be significant and maybe that's why we've had a lot of issues this past year. We're in the middle of our Saturn return. We are having a special service today. We've asked some people who have been around a long time, who are ordained ministers and Supporting Members of Community Miracles Center to come up and say a few words about what it means for them to be here and to be participating in this organization for as long as they have been.
The first minister I want to call up is one of the first minsters we ordained in a big group on September 8, 1990. That's 26 years ago and he is the only minister coming up here today who has a single digit minister number. He is Minister #6. It is always a pleasure to have him here and to hear him speak. (Directly to Rev. Tedosio.) For me it is always a pleasure to see you still involved after all these years – Rev. Tedosio Samora. (applause)
Rev. Tedosio Samora
29 years! When I first came to the Community Miracles Center I was at that time spiritually deprived. I didn't have any spiritual understanding, because I was drinking and taking drugs in those early years. I was doing everything you can imagine. Then I went to AA and got clean and sober. Then I had to find more spiritual stuff and I couldn't find it. I go back to 1989 when I first saw this blue book, not the blue book of AA (laughter) but this one. I saw this blue book in one of the booths at the Castro Street Fair. (Rev. Tedosio held up a copy of the Foundation for Inner Peace *A Course in Miracles*.) So I looked at the book but I was still drinking then. I said "Aw this is nothing but a cult." I threw it back at the guy. I said "I'll never read that book." But I think that was kind of a sign at that time because the next year I was walking down Haight Street. I was looking up from the street at this building and I saw the sign California Miracles Center. (Editors note: The CMC had only a small sign in the window on the second floor and it was not lit. Rev. Tedosio must have truly been destined to see it.)
I walked up and I met Reverends Tony and Larry. Larry scared me. (laughter) I was welcomed. I bought A Course in Miracles and I started reading it. I think it changed my mind, because I saw things differently when I read the first things in the Course. It made sense to me now. I think this was because I was sober and I wasn't looking at it the other way. So I was very glad to start. Then Community Miracles Center started the classes, and I went to the classes and I went to the parties at Larry's house. They were fantastic and I was ordained at Rev. Larry's house. That was fantastic too. I'm very glad that I got involved at what is now called the Community Miracles Center. I never knew that I would become a board member. I've been here for a while and I just like the organization. I like what we've accomplished. We have places to go like Las Vegas next month. Those are the things I see that have grown out of Community Miracles Center and I am very happy to be part of it. So I thank you all for letting me be here and talk to you because I love you all. That's one thing I learned – unconditional love to all. Thank you. (applause)
Rev. Tedosio Samora is CMC's 6th Minister ordained September 8, 1990.
Rev. Tony Ponticello
Thank you, Rev. Tedosio. The next person I'm calling up here, near and dear to all of us, is the 10th minister that we ordained at Community Miracles Center. She's been involved ever since. She teaches many of our classes. She currently started teaching A Course of Love class here on Wednesday evenings. She was ordained on April 3rd, 1993. Let's give a nice round of applause for Rev. Judy Junghans.
Rev. Judy Junghans
Thank you. Good morning everybody and Happy Birthday CMC! Okay, you're 29 years old. I've been around for 27 of those so I've seen some changes and "no," it does not seem like it was just yesterday. The person who came in here at first, and who I thought I was, is totally different than who I know I am now. I'm very grateful for all of you and for Reverends Tony and Larry for keeping this place open as a place where we can come and join together and teach and study A Course in Miracles.
I attended a Marianne Williamson workshop at Joy Lake, Nevada in the 1980s. I met Rev. Franz there and I don't know what number Rev. Franz was in the order of being ordained (Editor's note: Rev. Franz is #2. He was ordained in the same ordintion with Rev. Tedosio.) but he was a single, straight man, and he told me about the CMC in the Castro area. I did not want to come to the gay part of San Francisco. (laughter) I was a straight woman from Russian Hill and going all the way across town .... But my real fear or concern was that I wouldn't be accepted as a straight person. I was thinking that CMC was a gay organization. That was a misperception, big time. Yet I talked a friend into coming with me one Sunday and after Tony got done talking they opened it up for discussion. I thought, "Oh my God. I can talk to people about this" because I had studied by myself for a very long time and even though I want to a few other classes I never felt connected. I really felt a connection here. Then I signed up for ACIM-1 and the rest is history. (laughter) I really am glad that we had this brick and mortar building to come to. Not everyone does. I know some of my students are sad they don't. They're grateful that they have CMC via phone conference calls and the internet but they kind of miss having a place to go to. So congratulations Rev. Tony for keeping the place open for 29 years. It really is a feat.
Back in the day when CMC was called the California Miracles Center, here's a T-shirt to prove it. (Rev. Judy opened her blouse to show the tee shirt she was wearing that read: "California Miracles Center, teaching and living *A Course in Miracles*.") We used to go on Miracle Experience retreats in the redwoods. We'd spend the weekend together, and we'd have a guest speaker. They were really fun because the city kids got to go to the redwoods. Between 1990 and 2006 we had 25 of those retreats. I went to 24 of them. I only missed one because I had a wedding I needed to attend. It really was the beginning of the closeness that we've all developed and have kept going.
That's really the heart of CMC. In 1996, Rev. Tony had to expand and create a web site. So they decided to change the name to Community Miracles Center because we had become more national and international. We weren't just California based, and with that came a great spurt of growth for us. So now we're out of the redwoods and we've held 4 very successful conferences in San Francisco, one in Chicago, and in New York City and in April we're going to Vegas, baby! It's really going to be fun. It really is – especially when so many people are coming together from all over the world. We even have people coming from Japan. It's going to be a great melding and heart opening experience. So if you haven't signed up yet for "Change Your Mind, Change The World" (the theme of the *ACIM* Conference that was just held in April 2016) you can still do it.
Besides growth in years and numbers, we've really expanded greatly. Now, just from a room in San Francisco we've gone to telephone classes. I have students from all over the United States. I even had one from Spain for a while until she was ordained. Now this is going to be on YouTube so hello to everyone out there in YouTube land. Our ministerial program has been very successful. We've ordained 89 ministers so far in our programs. This just shows that there are a lot of dedicated people out there who are willing to stick with the classes, stick with the Workbook lessons, and do the work to be, and accept the title of, "Minister of God" which the Course asks us to do. We're going to have six more teachers of God ordained as ministers at the end of April. I'm really proud to say that four of them are my students. They are coming from Colorado, Iowa, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina. I'm not sure who the other two are but we welcome them all and keep April 24th open if you want to come to San Francisco and experience a wonderful ordination ceremony.
So again I just want to say "Happy Birthday CMC" and invite all of us here, and all of us on YouTube, to join the Great Crusade. Our function is to save the world. We do that by forgiveness and by claiming happiness for ourselves. This is the joy and the peace that we've found through our studies. So I'm really looking forward to an expanded spiritual maturity with all of you in the coming years. Thank you. (applause)
Rev. Judy Junghans is CMC's 10th Minister ordained April 3, 1993.
Rev. Tony Ponticello
Thank you, Rev. Judy. It's hard for me to believe that our next minister was ordained 21 years ago, and our ordination program was three years long at that time. That must mean that he's been around for 24 years with CMC and he looks just as young as he did on the first day that he came here. If you look at your program you will see a picture of Rev. Rudy and Rev. Brad right before their ordination. I was able to find that and put it there. It's really great. I'm very happy to call up our next minister. I'm really happy that The Unauthorized Rolling Stones with Rev. Rudy will be the featured musical act at the Las Vegas Conference in April. He was the 15th minister that we ordained. We ordained him on November 4, 1995 at Rev. Larry's mansion, as we used to call it. Let's give a nice round of applause for Rev. Rudy Colombini.
Rev. Rudy Colombini
I'm going to take today's program home and frame it. (To Rev. Brad in the audience) Thank you Rev. Brad for being part of my life. (Rev. Brad in the audience: "And vice versa.") In a nutshell, being here means searching for a better way. Let's all admit it. We all want a better way, and I think we got it. I just want to do a little quickie on what it was like walking through the doors. (Singing) "Here's a sad and woeful story about a middle class executive, who enjoyed a life of prominence and position. But the pressures at the office and his socialite engagements, and his selfish wife's fanatical ambition, it turned him to the booze. And he got mixed up with a floozy and she led him to a life of indecision. The floozy made him spend his dole. She left him lying on skid row, a drunken lag ..." (from "Alcohol" by The Kinks) walked through the door and that was me. Not really. No alcohol dependency, but still thinking that there was something out there that was going to make me happy.
That's why I came and that's why I worked with all you guys and still am working. I guess more than anything I want to thank Rev. Tony for being a guiding light, for being stable. I mean for a quarter century guy – still hanging in there. He's got his thing, got his mission, got his purpose – floating through his own seasonal ups and downs and being a great mentor to all of us.
I think we all can be very happy that we are involved in a spiritual discipline that in 40 – 50 years has made it from a small unknown book to the mouth of Nelson Mandela. That must reinforce us. This is no small thing we do here at Community Miracles Center. So all in all, my love is here and I'm looking towards the future. We have a great Board of Directors. We're learning to work together. And I want to really push this one – the sky is the limit. We finally got our groove. We could really take this and heal the "hood." It's just a hood – all of it really. Thank you. (applause)
Rev. Rudy Colombini is CMC's 15th Minister ordained November 4, 1995.
Rev. Tony Ponticello
Thank you Rev. Rudy. Okay, as I said, on the program to the left of Rev. Rudy is Rev. Brad and it's great that Rev. Brad is here. I think the influence that Rev. Brad has had on the Community Miracles Center gets a little overlooked and I do like to mention it from time to time. Those beautiful angels that have always graced our wall gazing at the orb of light that is the CMC and blessing us with their angelic presence ... those were commissioned and gifted to us by Rev. Brad. So thank you so much. I always smile when I look at them. I really do think they are beautiful and over the years I've really grown to just love those angels. Thank you.
Rev. Brad also wrote our communion service which we will do in a little while. That was something that Rev. Brad created and did. He was always pushing us to get more solid, rigorous, and ritualistic – but in a meaningful way – moving us more towards being a real church. I really thank him for that. It's great that over the past few years he's been more involved than he was for a while. So the next minister that I would like to call up here is, indeed, the minister who was ordained with Rev. Rudy on November 4, 1995, 21 years ago, CMC Minister #16, Rev. Brad Pethoud.
Rev. Brad Pethoud
Thank you Rev. Tony. Those are very kind words and what I'd like to share is my own personal history. Rev. Tony gave you some highlights of it. Due to time constraints I can only give you "Part 1." "Part 2" I would like to give some other time.
In the late 1980s I underwent a very difficult career transition from social service to the for-profit business sector. The only marketable business skill I had was the ability to type. Looking back I see that's the one class I took in high school that was of any use. (laughter) At that time computers were gradually entering in offices, and I knew really nothing about them. That greatly handicapped my job search, but I had a friend who also left social service to publish a magazine. Some of you might have heard of it. It was Magical Blend. The magazine's office was fully computerized. It helped me gain computer skills when my friend offered me a job. Unfortunately he could only pay minimum wage, but thankfully the Magical Blend office was in the office of the Golden Gate Theatre in the Tenderloin so I could afford, albeit barely, to live and eat there.
While working at the magazine I heard of the book A Course in Miracles. I didn't know much about it other than the title, and the title really intrigued me, because at the time I really needed some miracles in my life. So I looked for the book at Fields Book Store on Polk Street. It's a metaphysical book store, no longer there, but they have an online store and I found A Course in Miracles there. I devoured the book from cover to cover. It really helped me to discern my inner guidance from the fear generated by my ego. So with newly minted computer skills in hand, my inner guidance lead me to a job as an administrative assistant for the San Francisco sales and support office of Octel Communications which was then a market leader in voice processing or voice mail equipment. I worked for the company for three years and it was the best job I ever had, or one of the best I should say.
In the early 1990s I moved from the Tenderloin to the Castro. On one of my strolls through the Castro, I came upon the then California Miracles Center here on Market Street. It was the sidewalk sign that caught my eye. So I began attending services here. I took the classes on the Text, Workbook for Students, and Manual for Teachers. On November 4, as Rev. Tony pointed out, Rev. Rudy and I were ordained A Course in Miracles ministers in the home of Rev. Larry. Rev. Rudy as was mentioned is the 15th minister, and I'm the 16th and I love the picture of us! (laughter) We were so young – and beautiful. We are still beautiful. (more laughter) On May 10, 1998 Jack Mangimelli (who used to come here with me) and I were married in a commitment ceremony. At that time there weren't legal same sex marriages so we had a commitment ceremony and Rev. Tony officiated. It took place at Rev. Larry's house. Rev. Larry's house was just wonderful – I called it a "mansionette" in Laurel Heights – just gorgeous really. Unfortunately though, on August 7th Jack died of AIDS related causes. His funeral was held at Sullivan's Funeral Home, which is across the street and the wake reception was held here at the Center. I was blessed by the support of the Community Miracles Center then and I continue to be supported by the CMC now and I'm so grateful. I'd like to give you "Part 2" of the story some other time. Thank you. (applause)
Rev. Brad Pethoud is CMC's 16th Minister ordained November 4, 1995.
Rev. Tony Ponticello
Great! Thank you, Rev. Brad. The next minister I'm going to call up here is obviously somebody near and dear to my heart, a significant other of mine. I can be public about that. She took our class program which I said at that time was three years long, but she was actually on the four year plan. (laughter) She resisted somewhat. It took her 4 years to get through the program. Rev. Dusa Althea has taken to the Course, but sort of kicking and screaming her way through it. But she is, as you know, a great force here, a great demonstration of eternal youth here. I love it that she always opens up our conferences. She is the first person to speak at the conferences and that always gives me a smile and makes me feel wonderful.
She was ordained again at Rev. Larry's, but she worked it out so that she was ordained on her birthday. So she was ordained on October 17th and the year was 1997. That's 19 years ago. I was actually ordained at that ceremony as well, because I had not been ordained by the Community Miracles Center. I had been ordained by the previous organization. The CMC Board of Directors at that time was gracious and blessed me with an ordination saying that the classes that I taught were equivalent to actually taking the program so I could get ordained and say that I went through the same program. I was obviously in the classes with all those people so I now have two ordinations. I do have an ordination from the organization that I serve as Executive Minister for. I'm happy about that. Let's give a nice round of applause for our 21st minister, Rev. Dusa Althea Rammessirsingh.
Rev. Dusa Althea Rammessirsingh
It's great to be here. Thank you all for coming. Well I'm not going to repeat the beginning. I started at the healing circles, the First Friday Healing Ritual. That was the first time I came to the Community Miracles Center and I can tell you when I came I had a lot of depression. You know how life is, ups and downs. Once I got into the Course those depressions all went away. They flew. I don't know where they went.
I can tell you I had many gifts at the Community Miracles Center. After my ordination within two weeks I had to do a funeral. I didn't even know the person, but things just come to you and I've done at least 3 or 4 weddings. So every time you look around there's another gift. Of course I didn't expect those gifts, but they have all been wonderful. They have expanded me. Of course that is what A Course in Miracles is trying to do – to shift your mind and make you more aware of yourself and how you are thinking. So I feel really great for that.
Another gift I got was Rev. Brad. Rev. Brad and I were roommates for two years! I didn't have a place to live and Rev. Brad was also alone. We had this gorgeous apartment in Glen Park – really beautiful. I have friends who still remember Rev. Brad because Rev. Brad would wear some kind of spiritual garment when we had parties and we had little ceremonies. People would ask, "What is he doing?" (laughter) So I feel really blessed. Then of course there is my lesson partner. I had a friend Norma who used to come and we were lesson partners and one day she said she didn't want to do it anymore. Well guess who I got? Rev. Alicia! Rev. Alicia has been my lesson partner now for many, many years and it's wonderful because in the morning now I'm not able to read, so she reads to me. I feel so blessed that I have someone who understands and we're on the same wave length. We do the lessons all the time.
There are many other gifts I've gotten from Community Miracles Center. Running to the post office, calling people to see if they'll speak for special services and many, many other things and also Fellowship and Holiday events. Now we have Thanksgiving at my apartment house and the Academy Awards parties are held there too. There are a lot of things. I feel there's no way my life would have expanded this much if I had gone on a solitary path of just my work and living. And of course I have my wonderful relationship with Rev. Tony. That has gone very well. (laughter) I'm happy to say. When I first started here ... you know that quote from the Course, "Do you prefer that you be right or happy?" (OrEd.Tx.29.43) Of course I always wanted to be right. It took some years, but I got it. Now I'd rather be happy.
Another favorite thing that I do at the Community Miracles Center is spend time with Rev. Rudy Columbini. (laughter) He's in my life. I love going to watch him sing and perform with The Unauthorized Rolling Stones. There are so many other people. There's Rev. Vincent, There's Rev. Peter. We have our Fellowship Committee which is really wonderful because we plan all the Fellowship events. I don't do it alone.
Yet my biggest job which I was surprised to learn, because at this age when are you going to learn to do something new? ... I'm doing the banking. I can barely count, but I'm doing the banking. (laughter) How did I get stuck with that? (more laughter) I feel like, "Gosh, I'm learning and I'm lucky," because you know everybody says you're going to go downhill as you get older. No! I'm going uphill. I want to thank all of you for coming to our parties, to Thanksgiving, and always helping us to celebrate. You help me to face and change and shift my perception of what life is about. I'm thanking the CMC, Rev. Larry, Rev. Tony, Rev. Rudy, Rev. Peter, Rev. Vincent, Rev. Brad, all of the Reverends and of course all of the people who just come: Rev. Judy, Rev. Tedosio, Sue our pianist. You know we had another piano player some time ago. I love the drop in class. I share that with Rev. Vincent. That is also one of my favorite things. I like actually seeing people in a class. I wasn't hooked on the phone classes. So many things I can be very grateful for. I can't complain. There's no room for complaints. Thank you Rev. Tony and Rev. Larry for keeping us going and I am so glad to celebrate 29 years. (applause)
Rev. Dusa Althea Rammessirsingh is CMC's 21st Minister ordained October 17, 1997.
Rev. Tony Ponticello
Okay. So the final minister that we're going to bring up here to chat – it's sort of amusing as we were trying to decide who was going to speak (laughter) we thought we'd cut it off with Rev. Dusa Althea, with 19 years a CMC Minister and Rev. Peter said, "Hey, what about me?!" I looked at his ordination date and thought it's only 14 years ago Rev. Peter. You're just a young whippersnapper. (laughter) You just haven't been around long enough yet. He was the next in line and of course we love having Rev. Peter up here. Rev. Peter has been a great force in the Community Miracles Center. He is also the Secretary of the Board of Directors. He is our 40th minister ordained on February 23, 2002.
I did want to say the reason why Rev. Dusa Althea now does the bank deposits for Community Miracles Center is because she is the Treasurer of the Community Miracles Center! (laughter) It is actually fitting. (To Rev. Dusa Althea) On all those government documents you are listed as the Treasurer. That's why you are doing the bank deposits.
Okay, back to Rev. Peter. Rev. Peter is the Secretary of the Community Miracles Center, very active, one of our regular speakers. Also for the past five years Rev. Peter Graham has been my apartment mate. That kind of happened spontaneously. Nobody was planning that. I probably wouldn't have chosen Rev. Peter, because I didn't think he's stay around long enough. I thought, "You know this man is used to being in live-in relationships. I don't really know how he's going to take to an apartment situation. It's probably just a transition for him. He has a partner who seems to want him to live with him." So I figured it's probably just a matter of a couple of months. But he asked, and he's with the Miracles Center and he is a friend, so I said yes – reluctantly. (laughter) I like more longevity in apartment mates, but he never moved. He's still there. It's great. He's a great person to live with and I would have to say, because we live together, one of my best friends. If I'm having a down time or a down moment I can always go to Rev. Peter and talk to him. He's a great ear. He's a great presence at the Community Miracles Center. He's a great presence in our lives. He's a great presence for everyone I know that he comes in contact with. Even though he hasn't been around her very long, just 16, 18 years, (laughter) we decided to give him a shot at the microphone anyway – Rev. Peter Graham.
Rev. Peter Graham:
Everything that all the speakers have said has echoed everything that I want to say as well. First of all, a great deal of gratitude to Rev. Tony and Rev. Larry, as other speakers have said, for establishing the California Miracles Center and then the Community Miracles Center and keeping it going all these years. Those of us who have been involved for a while know that there have been many challenges at times, and those two forces have been there keeping it going for all those years. I have a great deal of gratitude for that. The other thing that strikes me is that I've actually lived in either Rev. Larry's home or Rev. Tony's home for probably 10 of the 16 years that I've been here in San Francisco. Because when Rev. Vincent and I first moved in together… we lived together maybe 3 or 4 years we lived in an aprtment in Rev. Larry's basement. So the CMC has provided me with housing. (laughter) I better keep coming!
Gratitude, that's the first thing when I think of the Community Miracles Center. My story with A Course in Miracles was – I was part of this organization called Dignity, which was an LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) group for Catholics in Philadelphia. It's a national organization, but I was part of the Philadelphia chapter. I was part of a group of folks who were spiritual minded. One of them gifted me with Marianne Williamson's book A Return to Love. That was my first exposure to A Course in Miracles. I happened to be at this book store in Philadelphia on South Street, which is a hip neighborhood in Philadelphia. There was a new age book store there called A Garland of Letters. I used to go there to buy books and look for cutting edge spiritual stuff. I came across this conservatively designed book. It was blue. It wasn't like the other ones that were all hip and what not. I started reading this and I said "Wow!" Some of the ideas in the book just seemed other worldly. I eventually read the book, tried to do the lessons, and I got depressed because I couldn't figure out ideas like everything I see doesn't mean anything. What is that?! I didn't get it at all. So a friend of mine moved to San Francisco and I visited him. He lived right here on 17th and Noe and I would walk the neighborhood just like Rev. Brad said, and I came upon the Community Miracles Center. I was reading information posted outside and I said to myself, "If I ever move out here I'm going to come here and study A Course in Miracles."
Eventually, as circumstances would have it, I made a spiritual journey across the country after I lost my job in the Philadelphia area. I got here in December of 1999, and in January of 2000 I signed up for classes here at the Community Miracles Center. I started taking the ACIM-1 class with Rev. Larry. I still didn't understand what was inside the book, but at that point Rev. Alicia and Rev. Adrienne were in the class. Rev. Larry lead the class and I just remember Rev. Larry's soothing reading of the book. By the end of the class I was more healed. I just felt relief, just from that experience. So that was my introduction to A Course in Miracles and the Community Miracles Center.
One of the things that I really remember was that I was the kind of person who really needed this kind of organization to learn A Course in Miracles. I was raised Catholic and the structure of a church was what I needed to have in order to learn this discipline. Now it's somewhat paradoxical, because I don't believe we should turn A Course in Miracles into a religion. Yet at the same time, for me, the church structure really works. So, I don't know (laughter). I have a great deal of gratitude. Of course over time, as many of you know, you get introduced to the A Course in Miracles concepts of healing, forgiveness, seeing the purpose of special relationships and transforming them with the Holy Spirit. Those were truly amazing and they helped me grow and get through many, many different situations.
The other thing about the Community Miracles Center, besides gratitude, in my experience is inspiration. I have been inspired by all of you here. All the people who come here on a regular basis, however I encounter them, whether it's, as Rev. Dusa Althea said, at a social event, whether it's in a class I have been inspired. Perhaps it was when I was teaching a class or coming here for a Sunday Service. I was really thinking about that at this birthday service today. I know that Tony says I'm only – what – a baby or whatever, (laughter) but I've probably come to 35 to 40 services a year since the year 2000. I'm kind of a regular so however many that is (~ 610) but I've left inspired I would say, 99.5% of the time that I've come here. That means to me that my heart has been opened when I've left here. I've felt love, and I've radiated love. That to me is our mission as the Community Miracles Center. That's what A Course in Miracles is really about, to remove the blockages to love. As we all know, we go out, we live our lives, and our egos – I think a lot of times – are running the show. Yet, A Course in Miracles, particularly for me, and Community Miracles Center has inspired me to connect with my Higher Self and to be able to bring that message to those people who are in my life and in the world. Thanks. (applause)
Rev. Peter Graham is CMC's 40th Minister ordained February 23 2002.
Rev. Tony Ponticello
Okay, great. I get to talk for a few minutes. As I said earlier I was ordained by the Community Miracles Center in that same ceremony as Rev. Dusa Althea, on October 17, 1999. I am CMC's 20th minister. I could talk a lot about our history. Actually last year at our birthday service I went through our history so I don't really want to go there again. I had been studying A Course in Miracles for many years before Rev. Larry and I formed the Community Miracles Center. I was actively involved with a couple of other local A Course In Miracles organizations even before that. I didn't think I was young at the time but I guess I was now that I consider it.
However, what I really want to do is just look to the future. In the near future, we've got this amazing conference coming up in Las Vegas. I checked the enrollment numbers yesterday. We have 435 enrolled right now, which is a good number. Some enrollments are coming in. The people who bought lots of tickets are now filling those blocks and so those numbers should go up. I do know that at the last minute, there are always a handful of people, maybe 20, who don't show even though they are registered. I'm just predicting we'll probably have 420 there which will make this one of our most attended conferences so that's really amazing. (Editor's note: There was a large spurt of late enrollment and our final number at the Conference was 456. We exceeded my expectations.)
We're in negotiations right now with the Holiday Inn in San Francisco on Van Ness Avenue to do a conference there in two years, in 2018. I'm happy to say that the two people who are going to be the co-presidents of the Foundation to Inner Peace have agreed to be presenters at that conference, Tam Morgan and Bob Rosenthal. Bob Rosenthal also wrote the book that we sell called From Plagues to Miracles. Tam Morgan is Judith Skutch Whitson's daughter. I met with Tam. We had a wonderful time and a really wonderful connection. I've been emailing her back and forth and she was very happy to accept the invitation. Now I've communicated with Bob Rosenthal and he is very happy to be participating too. I've communicated with Alan Cohen who is a very well-known spiritual author. He recently wrote the book named *A Course in Miracles* Made Easy and for some reason Alan Cohen has been a fan of mine for many years. He was really inspired by something I wrote years ago. I really appreciate that. He wrote the Foreword to my book After Enlightenment. I don't know how many spiritual self-help books Alan has written including The Dragon Doesn't Live Here Anymore, (a quick Google search later revealed it to be 23) and he was very involved with the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. Yesterday, I just heard back from him and he has agreed to be a presenter at the 2018 Conference in San Francisco. That is great. I'm really looking forward to bringing the conferences back home after our little trek across the country to Chicago, New York City and now Las Vegas. I think it's just amazing that we accomplished that. These conferences are awesome and it's just terrific that we do that.
What I see for Community Miracles Center is truly an organization that is going to exist on in perpetuity. It's way bigger than my little vanity organization. It's not really about Rev. Tony Ponticello. It certainly wasn't about Rev. Larry Bedini. As you see here from the six long time ministers who came up here and spoke, we have a deep foundation, and a very stable foundation. This is the house that is built upon concrete and stone. It's not built upon dirt and sticks. It's built upon bricks. There is a very solid foundation to the Community Miracles Center, a very deep managerial foundation to the CMC.
I have no doubt that we are going to continue to do what we do, to keep studying, and teaching, and putting out there A Course in Miracles and some related teachings. We're going to be doing this for decades more than we already have been doing it. I feel truly blessed. I am really, really grateful to be in the position that I am in. I'm very, very grateful for all of you, and certainly for all the people who have been participating for so long. I am gratedul for all the ministers who were up here, for all the love and support that you give to me and to the organization. I am grateful for your acceptance of me with my ups and downs. I'm certainly not a perfect person. I certainly get into my ego rather viciously sometimes, (laughter) but the support that you have all given me through that has really meant the world to me.
So think about Community Miracles Center on this 29th birthday and think about the future. Think about where we're going, what we're going to do, what we're going to build upon this house with the foundation of brick. Think about how we are going to be there, as we have been, but even in greater ways for A Course in Miracles students everywhere. We really are on the Great Crusade, and we are winning tha crusade to heal our minds, heal the world – change our minds, change the world. Thank you! (applause) ♥
Rev. Tony Ponticello is CMC's 20th Minister ordained October 17 1997.
2269 Market Street
San Francisco, CA 94114
This article appeared in the April 2016 (Vol. 30 No. 2) issue of Miracles Monthly. Miracles Monthly is published by Community Miracles Center in San Francisco, CA. CMC is supported solely by people just like you who: become CMC Supporting Members, Give Donations and Purchase Books and Products through us.