On February 23, 24, and 25, 2018, Community Miracles Center hosted the 2018 International *A Course In Miracles* Conference, "Love Makes No Exceptions" in San Francisco, CA. Here, the seven CMC ministers who were Conference Staff are reporting their experiences to you.
Love and Healing in San Francisco
by Rev. Peter Graham
CMC Minister #40 Ordained 2.23.02
As the 2018 Conference in San Francisco "Love Makes No Exceptions" approached, I began to feel that it was going to be the best conference that I had ever participated in. This is because I felt that my own healing towards the greater A Course in Miracles community had accelerated.
I have not publicly spoken much about my own personal choice of which version of A Course in Miracles I prefer or what interpretation that I subscribe to most, but I do have a preference. I prefer the Foundation for Inner Peace version of A Course in Miracles because I find it better edited and the format easier to read. This is funny to me, because it has less to do with the content and more to do with the form.
As far as Course interpretations that I subscribe to, I would best describe myself as a believer in non-dualism. I accept as fact that our essence was extended from God and our true state is Oneness with God as the Christ. I accept as fact that we are living in an illusory world that was created as a way for us to escape from God because we thought we had disobeyed him and were terrified that he was going to exact harsh revenge on us. If you need examples just read the Old Testament. Now that I have briefly outlined my perspective, my conclusion is "So What?"
Yes, I have a view of A Course in Miracles but my perspective is a small part of this amazing spiritual book's purpose. The rubber hits the road in the practice of ACIM, and this is what I felt was going to happen at this Conference. Naturally, I was aware of the closing skit and the healing between Gary Renard and Reverend Tony had something to do with it. However a larger part of it had to do with my own change of mind about the conflict that sometimes takes place over the interpretation of ACIM.
I realized that along with my preferred interpretation came a judgement of those who didn't agree with me. This blocked my ability to see them as innocent as opposed to the ego's interpretation of them as being wrong. This internal block also prevented me from being able to experience God's gifts that flowed so naturally from them. Coming to the 2018 Conference, I was now in a place where I could receive miracles and blessings from them.
As we started the Conference at the Presenters and Staff meeting at 10:00 a.m. on Friday, Rev. Tony had everyone introduce themselves and make some statement about what they hoped for at the Conference. I said that I felt like it was a family reunion and I truly felt love for everyone in the room regardless of A Course in Miracles affiliation. What I saw before me was a group of people who were completely dedicated to living and teaching A Course in Miracles in the best way they knew how. If I chose to, I could embrace them with openness and love so that I might experience the gifts of God through them. For after all, "Love makes No Exceptions!" I hope to see you all at our next Conference in Boston!
Stepping Into My Own Love
by Rev. Kelly Hallock
CMC Minister #89 Ordained 9.13.15
This Conference was very different for me compared to the 2016 Las Vegas Conference. In 2016, I was new to the Community Miracles Center and very nervous as I felt I had no idea what I was supposed to be doing as the co-organizer of the Conference. This year, I wasn't nervous because I didn't know what to do – I was nervous because I knew how much there was to do! Yet, I can say that it was an absolutely fantastic experience.
The theme this year was "Love Makes No Exceptions" and I made the intention to do my best to embody that at the Conference. I wanted to extend and share Love to all of the Staff, Presenters, and attendees. I did better some times than at other times, but whenever I got frazzled, I would remind myself that relationships and the extension of Love was the most important thing to focus on.
My experience at the A Course in Miracles Conferences is unique in that I typically only see the Finale in its entirety and maybe a few minutes here and there of other presentations. In regards to breakout and general sessions, I think the longest I was in any one session was about 15 minutes with Mari Perron. Then I had to step away when I saw a phone call come in on my cell that was from Gary Renard who needed to get backstage for the finale – so away I went! At other times, I am busy changing signs, straightening up the bookstore, or responding to text messages from Conference Staff. Though this limits my opportunities to see the Presenters, I feel like I am living my purpose in supporting the Staff and the attendees in getting to enjoy the presentations and grow in their spiritual journeys. It may seem like a small task to change the signs outside of each presentation. However, knowing that doing such tasks allow others to go see a Presenter that they feel led to hear makes me really happy, even if occasionally it also makes me a bit stressed when I forgot to change some signs!
However, I also took some time to rest (sometimes on the bookstore floor!) when I could. You'd be amazed how comfortable a carpeted floor can be when you are feeling tired. Curie (my dog), would curl up next to me and we would both relax for a bit. Rubbing the soft fur of a dog can be very therapeutic and allowed me to feel more centered and able to extend Love without exception when things got busy again.
Also throughout the Conference, I was dealing with a lot of emails regarding a house that I was in the process of buying in Washington state. Each request sent via email from my realtor or lender seemed to include a note that they needed the document reviewed and signed ASAP. That felt stressful at times but I just kept trying to handle what I could as it came up. I knew I could only do whatever I could do, and if it didn't get done then I would have to trust that was in perfect alignment with Holy Spirit's plan. Thankfully it did all get done and as I'm editing these articles for the printing of the this April edition of Miracles Monthly, I'm laying in bed in my new home in Washington. The birds are chirping outside and despite the weatherman's forecast of rain throughout the day, it came and went during the night so I can see the sun rising over the treetops.
When I was considering whether I should stay or leave San Francisco, many were opposed to my moving. Yet, I remember having an epiphany when I realized that staying in San Francisco would not be loving to myself. I would be excluding myself from Love if I tried to stay here despite having clear guidance to move, so the Conference theme was supporting me in my decisions even before the Conference happened!
The other big difference for me between 2016 and this year was that I knew what to expect at the Finale. My parents had planned to come to the 2016 finale in Las Vegas, so Rev. Tony did not tell me that he was going to strip for fear that I would tell my parents not to come. He should have had no worries though. They loved his strip show in Las Vegas. They said it "wasn't traditional church" but it was powerful and they had a blast. For San Francisco, I knew what was going to happen. I had helped coordinate getting Gary Renard to the back stage area without anyone seeing him. Even so, I cried when he came out and talked about his relationship with Rev. Tony. I could feel what many had seen as a division in the A Course in Miracles community being healed completely in that moment.
So the Conference was a success for me in many ways. I implemented self-care when I felt I needed to. I didn't get hives from nervousness as I had in 2016. I also felt more empowered than ever to stand in what I believe the Truth is of what I am to do next and to make sure that I did not make any exceptions of my Love to others or to myself. I got to see the healing and Love expressed at the Finale – not only by Rev. Tony and Gary Renard, or Rev. Tony and the Foundation for Inner Peace, but by all of those who had felt impacted by the seeming conflicts over the years.
I want to acknowledge that none of this could happen without the amazing collaboration that happens between Presenters, Staff, Rev. Tony, myself, and the attendees. Sometimes I am surprised when a seven-time veteran Staff member of the A Course in Miracles Conferences asks me what to do and does it. I try to keep that in mind and do what I can to support them so it's that type of team work that makes it work so beautifully.
I am also excited to see how the Community Miracles Center evolves going forward. I'll be assisting remotely from Washington doing many of the office-based tasks that I do now, including working with Rev. Tony to organize future conferences. I am excited to be already getting ready for the Boston Conference where I will again be able to join with everyone even though my flight will originate from a different city than the rest of the 2019 Conference Staff.
Sending love to everyone and looking forward to lots of fun and healing together in Boston!
Legionnaire Dusacus Speaks Out
by Rev. Dusa Althea Rammessirsingh
CMC Minister #21 Ordained 10.17.97
The Conference began with Rev. Tony, Rev. Kelly & myself arriving on Wednesday night to the beautifully remodeled Holiday Inn Golden Gateway. On Thursday, we were joined by the rest of the Staff. All together there were seven of us. Reverends: Tony, Kelly, Lucas, Kim, Peter, Vincent and myself. We began to set up the bookstore and we enjoyed each others company. We saw all of the presentation rooms and the dining room so we were prepared to give out information and we were able to direct people wherever they needed to go.
The Staff had each been given three Presenters to connect with. We set up a time to meet and greet each of our presenter. We were their Staff Liaison. When we met them, we gave them a colorful gift basket with: fruit, cheese, bottled water, snacks and a beautiful "silk" rose. This was greatly appreciated since most were traveling from a distance. We also let them know that we had a dance party on Saturday night and to be present Sunday for the grand finale, because we would have them stand and receive a heart-felt acknowledgement. After we had done all of the preparations, the Staff was given our schedules, where we needed to be during different times.
I got so many hugs. People were really friendly. I worked the registration table so I met people as they arrived and gave them their registration packets. Even though they were tired and wanted to get to their rooms, it made them smile when I asked them if they wanted a hug. Their faces would just light up with beautiful smiles and we had great big hugs.
On Friday I opened up the Conference greeting everyone. I talked about "Love Makes No Exceptions" our theme, and that it was important to make eye contact with people. The example I gave was when a woman from my Toastmaster's group went downtown and pretended she was homeless. She noticed that lots of people gave money, but they did not make eye contact. That was painful for her. We can not make any exception with anyone in our lives. Every stranger we meet is a brother or a sister and they deserve our love. I am especially fond of this theme because it was one that I thought up. I am on the Theme Committee.
One time when I was walking around in the dining room, I met two Swedish men. I asked them how they were and if they were enjoying the Conference. One of them almost started to cry because after studying A Course In Miracles for 21 years, his lover had joined him here at an ACIM Conference for the first time. His partner also loved being here and learning about ACIM.
It was also good to see other familiar faces. Christine Milly is someone I knew even before I joined the Community Miracles Center. There is also Bertie Gilmore. She is 90 years young and she, with her gentleman friend Edward Dees, has been coming to the Conferences since they began. There were lots of people who came over and greeted me remembering me from previous CMC Conferences.
Each Presenter had their own way of presenting A Course In Miracles and it was powerful. Each Presenter I was able to see was unique and different. I learned a lot from them. Alan Cohen talked about what you are missing in relationships is what you are not giving to enhance each others lives. Corinne Zupko encouraged us to claim our own radical honesty. She shared about how she had panic attacks, hypochondria, and paranoia, but learned to hold onto nothing from studying ACIM. Craig Villarrubia said we should be willing to combust like kindling – which meant to me that we could spark each other's lives. We don't know anything and salvation is in a holy instant.
Jon Mundy told us to stop being insane we need to realize we really are insane. He talked about four illusions: you have a body, you created the world, it is painful to take care of the body, and the body lives and dies. Maureen Muldoon said that we learn and heal through stories when they are true and honest, so we need to be committed to finding our own voice. Ask for guidance and make it a daily exercise. Jennifer Hadley shared about the power of thoughts and words to help us grow and the power of the affirmation "I am perfect."
On Sunday Rev. Tony gave a great talk about how love makes no exceptions. Then he and the staff did a wonderful skit. I was behind the stage with Rev. Peter and Gary Renard. We had to be quiet as Rev. Tony gave his sermon, though at one point Gary said that he loved us.
I was playing the part of "Legionnaire Dusacus" who was to help with the "crucifixion" of Rev. Tony. I had to walk around the stage confused, not understanding what was going on as Centurion Petronius (Rev. Peter) read all of the crimes of Rev. Tony. After Rev. Tony was saved from the cross by Gary Renard, and I had untied Rev. Tony, I went over to Centurion Petronius and read these words to him:
"Centurion Petronius, A Course in Miracles teaches us that ‘Love Makes No Exceptions.' We, at the Community Miracles Center, don't exempt anyone from our love. We don't exempt the Foundation for Inner Peace from our love. We don't exempt Gary Renard from our love! We don't exempt you, Centurion Petronius, from our love! (Then I gave him a little kiss.) We certainly don't exempt our own beloved Rev. Tony from our love. And do you know why? (Then I said to the audience) Come on everybody – we all know why, because, ‘Love Makes No Exceptions!'"
What a wonderful way to end the Conference. Truly we all want to be loved even when we make mistakes in life. Being a part of the Community Miracles Center Healing Team helps me to understand that life gives us many challenges to grow and express our love to all we meet. Each one of us are helpers and healers if we allow our selves to love all who cross our paths.
LMNE a Seminal Event
by Rev. Tony Ponticello
CMC Minister #20 Ordained 10.17.97
(Editor's Prerogative: I'm going to write more then my fellow Staffers. They will forgive me!)
"Love Makes No Exceptions" LMNE as a three day A Course in Miracles teaching and healing experience was miraculously successful. I believe I can say that with confidence. I certainly know it was for me personally, and I believe that it was that way for almost everybody who came to San Francisco this past February and participated.
Every large A Course In Miracles Conference that the Community Miracles Center has run has been a seminal event in my life. LMNE was the eighth of these, and each one sits in my memory as a milestone of healing and accomplishment. I try not to compare them, because the current one is "present" and past ones are – in the past. We probably all know what ACIM teaches about the past!
LMNE had its own unique challenges for me and for the Community Miracles Center. The fact that we met these challenges and rose above them is what seems miraculous in this present moment. I want to talk about some of those challenges.
In April of 2016 the Community Miracles Center put on a large A Course In Miracles Conference in Las Vegas, NV themed "Change Your Mind, Change the World" (CYM,CTW). 456 people were at The Rio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas participating in that event. It was amazing in so many ways. At the finale of CYM,CTW I was guided to demonstrate the oneness of our joining with our brothers and sisters working in the Las Vegas casinos and night clubs and I worked in a humorous, and profound (in the ACIM teaching kind of way) clothing strip into my presentation. I took off my clothes and in the end was down to my very skimpy skivvies. I challenged all to change their minds about our body image ideas and then watch the world change in front of us. (To watch a YouTube video of this Conference finale go to this link: http://bit.ly/2016_acim_conf_finale)
That was a very challenging presentation for me to do. If you watch the video you can see me trembling at a few places. Just pushing through that fear was amazing and cathartic. Plus I talked a lot about mental illness and my own bouts with it which was me getting "naked" and vulnerable in another way. Many people forget about that, and just remember the clothing strip.
It is true that some people were offended by my presentation and expressed that vocally and through many other actions. Many more people truly loved it and the message I was sharing. However the ones that did not are to be acknowledged, and for the next days, weeks, and months a considerable amount of time, energy and resources were spent managing the fall out, literally, from the Las Vegas finale. The Community Miracles Center lost members, financial support, and even CMC Board Members. It also soon became obvious that enrollment for the next Conference, the one we just had in San Francisco in February 2018, was lagging well behind expectations. There are many other factors as to why enrollment was low, however I admitted to all that the negative discussion following the Las Vegas Conference finale was probably one of the factors.
As we progressed towards the San Francisco Conference there were other things that were difficult. The Community Miracles Center had to move from its 30 year home and considerably downsize to a much smaller office and storage space. We needed to find a new place to do Sunday Service and have classes. All this was tremendously challenging and I am forever grateful for all the work my competent Assistant Minister, Rev. Kelly, did to make that happen, and it did happen! New procedures had to be developed and this took substantial energy, time, and resources.
As the San Francisco Conference got closer I found my own energy towards it sometimes at a low ebb. The negative Las Vegas "spin," the lower enrollment for San Francisco, the challenging office move all contributed. Our Community Miracles Center Board Member and Secretary, Rev. Peter Graham, had put forth the suggestion for the San Francisco finale that we stage a "mock crucifixion" of me, and that he appear as a Roman soldier organizing the crucifixion. A big challenge for this idea was having to build a suitable cross. That isn't just something you can go buy on Amazon. Plus there would be a tremendous amount of co-ordination and involvement from others. We also had to consider how it might be received. Some people might think it was disrespectful and sacrilegious. When the entire Board met in November the plan for the finale was explored and the Board gave the go ahead. Now the work began.
I miraculously found a carpenter who accepted the challenge of building a life size, sturdy, but movable cross and planning began. Somewhere I had to find the energy and focus to pull this all off. Since we always want to launch our next Conference at the previous one, I also had to work at organizing a 2019 Conference at the same time as I was doing the final work for 2018. January and February were amazingly busy and challenging. As I started talking to our large ticket selling Presenters to see if they wanted to participate in a 2019 Conference, I began to feel a real sense of "pull-back." I was told by a couple that the time of big A Course In Miracles Conferences was over. In short I didn't feel the support that I have felt previously.
In my quiet moments of reflection and guidance, I went to the Holy Spirit. Should we take a step back and go to less expensive, secondary markets and plan for smaller Conferences? Should we eliminate the meals and make the Conferences less expensive? Were the people correct – was the era of large A Course In Miracles Conferences indeed over?
The answer I got was very clear. "No." We shouldn't take a step back. We should take a bold step forward. I was to find a previously untapped primary market – hence Boston, MA. Then I got the boldest bit of guidance yet, plan the Conferences bigger by putting them on three day holiday weekends! The first few people I suggested this too were not supportive at all. In fact they thought this was a big mistake. I was told people have other travel plans for Memorial Day weekend. People do "family" things. Plus people don't like to travel on Memorial Day weekend because the airports are too crowded. It was this last bit of feedback that sealed the deal for me. The airports are crowded because there are a lot of people traveling on Memorial Day weekend. So Memorial Day weekend might just be the "perfect" time for people to plan a trip to Boston because it should be exactly when they are thinking of taking a vacation trip.
Then the idea of adding a Pre-Conference workshop on Thursday was suggested as well as a Post-Conference workshop on Sunday afternoon. It felt right and we embraced it. That would make it easier to hit our hotel minimums. So the Conferences got bigger and not smaller and we committed to Boston right before San Francisco 2018 was to start at the end of February. We even engaged the Community Miracles Center theme committee ("yes" we have a theme committee and procedure) and decided on a wonderful theme for Boston, "The Power to Heal." Wow!
I can not begin to explain the whirlwind of activity, the enormous amount of details, and the energy that exists in the two weeks before any Conference. This was no exception. It was intense. Late nights with sleep deprivation becomes the norm. The phone rings constantly. Urgent emails are received by the plethora. Plus – I had to make sure my cross was getting built! The finale skit had to be perfected. A special mystery guest had to be arranged.
At our Conferences all the Presenters and Staff meet at a meeting on Friday morning at 10 a.m. We join and set a purpose. I often tell people that this full Presenter and Staff meeting on Friday morning is my most important goal, because after this meeting the Conference is just a boulder rolling down a mountain (now that is a true metaphor). Getting all the Presenters to that meeting is my supreme challenge. Realize that they don't even know when they are presenting until that meeting. We don't make the schedule public. This is when the Presenters get their schedules.
At that meeting with all the Presenters and Staff, this past February 23rd, at the Holiday Inn Golden Gateway in San Francisco, I openly acknowledged our lower enrollment. I expressed my responsibility in manifesting an atmosphere that might have prevented some people from enrolling. Plus I talked about other factors, how we could meet them, and how the Community Miracles Center was guided to keep moving forward and not to step back. I talked about the upcoming Boston event "The Power to Heal" and why I was truly excited about it. I explained my guidance on why I felt Memorial Day Weekend would be the perfect weekend to have the Boston Conference. I began to feel the energy for Boston shift at that meeting, and from that moment on more and more of the Presenters got on board with Boston They started to commit to buying blocks of tickets to help enrollment. It was slow at first, but the momentum picked up steadily as the San Francisco Conference moved forward and everybody started having such an amazing, healing time.
The healing effect of having The Foundation for Inner Peace represented at LMNE in San Francisco can not be under-estimated. Tamara Morgan and Dr. Bob Rosenthal did a wonderful job of healing any residual separation that may have still existed in the minds of the attendees. Tam talked very candidly about our previous differences and our moving through them. A new innovation at this Conference was to have two full assembly panels when all the Presenters got 8 minutes to address the entire assembly. Tam did her expose during that eight minute full assembly opportunity, so all who attended heard it. That was terrific!
Rev. Rudy Colombini bringing the Unauthorized Rolling Stones to the Saturday night dance party was again a big hit just as they had been in Las Vegas. Amazing rock and roll and miracles, such a powerful combination together.
I also truly loved our singing together during the Conference. It was a dream come true for me (literally) to hear everyone sing the old song by Foreigner, "I Want To Know What Love Is." Plus Rev. Kelly and I leading "All Together Now" at the Sunday Finale was awesome!
Oh yeah … then the finale. I have to admit I was nervous about whether we could pull all this off. This was the biggest, most elaborate finale we had ever planned. There were 2 staff that had to be in costume. Rev. Peter became Centurion Petronius and Rev. Dusa Althea was Legionnaire Dusacus. Our special surprise guest was none other than Gary Renard. We had to fly him in and get him into the hotel unnoticed, and then backstage Sunday morning, again unnoticed. We had no chance to rehearse anything. The day the cross was to be delivered the carpenter came down with the flu and a high fever! So many issues. – and still – OMG, it was amazing! It was funny, profound, and tremendously healing. (There's a wonderful YouTube video of the finale: http://bit.ly/2018_sf_conf_finale.) Then the surprising, unpredicted after effect of all this was tickets for Boston 2019 started selling like hotcakes! Presenters started buying bigger and bigger blocks. As I write this article (in the middle of April) we have already sold or otherwise distributed 313 tickets for Boston 2019. We can only bring 400. It's still more that a year away. Our final numbers for San Francisco were only 249.
Something was and is still definitely in the air. It is something bigger than myself, but yet an energy wave that Rev. Tony and the Community Miracles Center are still surfing. I want to sincerely thank everybody who stayed on board with us and decided to play bigger and not smaller! Thank you all so much. I know "The Power to Heal" on Memorial Day Weekend in Boston is going to be fucking awesome! I know it will be another seminal event in my life. See you there. (Again, see page #13.)
Healing in Unexpected Ways
by Rev. Vincent Fuqua
CMC Minister #51 Ordained 10.02.04
As I write this, It has been a little over a week since the San Francisco Conference has ended. As I take time to reflect on my experience, I must say that it brings me a huge amount of joy. The theme, "Love Makes No Exceptions" brings such a sense of comfort and love in me.
This was my seventh conference and I must say that this one touched me on a new level. There has been a lot on my plate this past year. I was feeling overwhelmed and thought that this was not a good time for me to take so much time off to be at a Conference. However, the minute that I arrived there on Thursday evening after work, I knew this was exactly where I was supposed to be. The energy was already high.
Having the opportunity to meet with the Presenters that I had been assigned to assist ahead of time was an incredible experience. The joy and love that they displayed was absolutely remarkable. Getting to listen to each of these Presenters workshops enhanced my experience at the Conference. Each one of them brought a new light to experiencing the theme of "Love Makes No Exceptions. It is amazing how Spirit knows exactly what you need and makes sure that you experience it. For me, the key is to allow myself to be open to all of the experiences that are meant to happen.
Along with having a great experience meeting my Presenters ahead of time and attending their sessions, there was a healing experience that was taking place throughout the Conference. It was an amazing reminder for me as a Course student of how much love and healing can happen when I allow and trust the Holy Spirit guidance. Putting the Course into practice makes a world of difference.
As the weekend progressed, I found watching the interaction that people were having with one another priceless. I really saw this during meal times when I had the opportunity to sit down at the tables and speak with some of the people. I had the opportunity to listen to their stories and saw how much the Course connects us of all no matter how much it might appear otherwise or how separate we think we are. I saw that there was a lot of healing and love happening doing those meals time. I enjoyed connecting and experiencing those healing moments.
With all of the incredible experiences that I had experienced during the weekend, I was surprised how one workshop I went to had me in tears by the end. I was not aware of the healing that I needed within myself. It was remarkable for me to be in that moment and allow those emotions to come out.
To end the Conference with so much love and healing at the Sunday Finale was exactly the way it was to be. It showed the people that attended what it is like when you put A Course in Miracles into practice and how it touches us all. To be part of a group at the Community Miracles Center that continues to demonstrate this, brings nothing but joy and love to my heart. When we are able to love ourselves and love this world that we are in, then truly can we say, "Love Makes No Exceptions."
I'm Singing from All the Love
by Rev. Kim Wilson
CMC Minister #85 Ordained 03.15.15
Why would we all travel across the state of California, the nation, and the world to attend the Community Miracles Center's A Course in Miracles Conference entitled "Love Makes No Exceptions?" We came in answer to Love's invitation to be recognized by our brothers and to recognize our brothers as having being in Him Who is all Being with no exceptions. Oh, what perfect peace we experience in each other's eyes. "Healing is a way of forgetting the sense of danger the ego has induced in you by not recognizing its existence in your brothers." (OrEd.Tx.7.38) We have only fallen in Love, we have nothing to fear. We have been healed, "All Together Now!" (This famous song by the Beatles was sung during the Sunday Finale at the Conference.)
This Spirit-inspired A Course In Miracles Conference prepared us to be gently taken home after three days. We were shown what Love is. I know that I could feel it. There is no where left to hide. Love has finally found us. And voilà, our lonely lives have been changed! (Rev. Kim is alluding to the classic Foreigner song "I Want to Know What Love Is" which was sung by every one on Saturday morning.) Truly... that's what friends are for.
Right now, I close my eyes and try to feel the way we felt at the "Love Makes No Exceptions" ACIM Conference. I can remember and I keep smiling, keep shining, knowing you can always count on me because that's what friends are for. I will be on your side forever more, no exceptions. (Dianne Warwick's, "That's What Friends Are For" was sung by all Saturday afternoon.)
I reflect on each beautiful moment of our Conference, from the "love lines" at registration on Friday, to our closing good-byes at the bookstore on Sunday. We joined in healing as we all dined together, and in the large general assembly sessions. We all received healing in the breakout sessions, too. I witnessed tears of redemption and cries of joy. Who knew what gifts were being brought to this union of Being? The good times were unanimous and the party never ended.
As with all Community Miracles Center Conferences, there is a method to the scheduling madness. Divine inspiration plans the Conference theme, the song list, the timing of dinner, general sessions, and breakout sessions. Think of the CMC as a screenplay or storyline in which you have a starring role. Your participation allows you to follow the Divine script to a climax of energy at the Saturday night dance, followed by sweet surrender in the Sunday morning service. Yes! You have been had!!! Now close your eyes and try to remember. "Keep smiling, keep shining."
Thank you one more time to Rev. Tony and the Community Miracles Center for another world-class ACIM Conference. You did it again with no exceptions. Now that we have been healed and gladdened in the process, we eagerly await the Boston celebration.The theme for the Community Miracles Center's 2019 International A Course In Miracles Conference in Boston, May (23), 24, 25, 26, 2019 "The Power to Heal" encourages us next year to expand our limited learning of healing into world challenging efforts. "Learning is constant and so vital in its power for change that a Son of God can recognize his power in one instant and change the world in the next." (OrEd.Tx.7.47) "Nothing will be beyond your healing power because nothing will be denied your simple request." (FIP.T-11.VIII.10.4)(OrEd.Tx.10.85)
Lots of Anxiety and Love
by Rev. Lucas Sanchez
CMC Minister #103 Ordained 04.08.17
I have only been to one other of the Community Miracles Center's Conferences being the one in Las Vegas in 2016 as an attendee. It is much different to be on Staff at a Conference. In Las Vegas I was concerned about my experience where in San Francisco I was concerned about the Presenters and attendees experience.
In 2016, it felt more relaxed, as in more space and time, although I felt taxed because of being in Las Vegas, we were constantly around people. This year I felt rushed, there was always somewhere I needed to be, and I wished I had more time to really talk to people. I hoped that I was able to help people. It all seems a blur. There was a responsibility and ownership of the Conference for me being on Staff. I was more in contact with the Presenters. They seemed more accessible, I guess because I was a Liaison to a few of them. The barrier that I usually see between me and the speakers was brought down.
There were numerous sources of anxiety for me when coming to the 2018 conference. One of them was feeling the dread of coming in contact with lots of people who would "misgender" me. (Editor's note: Rev. Lucas identifies as non-binary gender, meaning not male or female, and uses the pronouns of "they," "them" and "theirs.") It has gotten to the point somewhat recently where when someone addresses me as "she," I cringe and my heart sinks. There are times I would rather spend time at home than subject myself to this. I chose to wear a button stating my pronouns and that helped quite a bit and prompted conversations about gender that I was pleasantly surprised about.
Another source of stress was having to address the general assembly with a short five minute talk. I heard the other Staff saying that they were not going to plan what they were going to say ahead of time, that they would just let inspiration guide them and I did the same. As much anxiety as I felt before my time to speak, it felt natural when I was actually up there and I got a number of positive responses from what I shared. It was a considerable growth point for me to talk in front of around 250 people.
And lastly I felt anxious about appearing knowledgeable and helpful to the Presenters that I was a Liaison for. I had seen the layout of the hotel conference rooms only a couple hours before I was to meet with my Presenters to show them around. I think all of them had requests for things I could not provide. I felt bad but was assured that it would be okay, and I had done everything I should have. I wish I could have been more helpful and knowledgeable. I didn't think to have done some research ahead of time so I could talk to them about their work in my initial meet-up with them. And there was the frustration of not having good cell phone service so I wasn't as accessible as I would have like to have been.
Yet, it felt exciting to be a part of this year's Conference with people from the Foundation for Inner Peace, Course in Miracles Society, and Gary Renard. There was a coming together for a common purpose and I heard numerous people say that it was very healing for them. The reaction from the crowd as Gary Renard came on to the stage was priceless. People were shocked. It seems that each year the Sunday Finale proves to be a showstopper.
I admire the enormous amount of planning and work it takes to produce one of these Conferences. Rev. Tony and Rev. Kelly, you did an awesome job and we as Staff had a good chemistry in getting things done. The great amount of effort it takes to create an environment where the Presenters and the attendees are brought together in community is something that I gather doesn't happen elsewhere. ♥
San Francisco, CA 94147
This article appeared in the April 2018 (Vol. 32 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.