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Friday, July 16, 2004

Features

In light of many faiths

John Moreland delivers for Light on the Mountains


By TONY EVANS
For the Mountain Express

"I was about 6 or 7 years old when I knew I was going to be a minister," says the Rev. John Moreland, who recently received ordination as a minister in the Science of Mind Church. "I donít feel like I chose this life, but rather that it chose me."

Marty Bacher, left, and the Rev. John Moreland are the heart of Light on the Mountains Spiritual Center in Ketchum. Express photo by Dana DuGan

Morelandís ordination at the Light on the Mountain Spiritual Center in Ketchum is comparable to the taking of final vows in the Catholic tradition in which he was raised. The ceremony marks a final commitment to ministerial duties following a three year Masterís of Divinity program and a two-year trial period serving a growing congregation in the Wood River Valley.

During the same month, Moreland also celebrated a marriage commitment with his life partner, Marty Bacher, who served for 10 years in Dallas and Oklahoma City as a minister of his own congregation.

"The congregation has been very supportive of our commitment to one another," says Bacher, who plays an integral role in the activities at Light on the Mountain, offering a summer class called "Living Boldly" that is open to anyone in the community.

Moreland was raised in Los Angeles where his parents owned a mortuary. " I guess because of the family business, I found out at an early age that people do in fact die. When I first saw a young boy my age in a casket it had a profound effect upon me. I recall having a close personal relationship with God at that time. A relationship which was not attached to any official church teachings."

In addition to serving on the Pastoral Care Team at St Lukeís Wood River Medical Center, Moreland also leads a "Practical Mysticism" class at the Light on the Mountain. His remarkable Sunday sermons encourage an authentic relationship with God, borrowing ideas and practices from many of the worldís spiritual traditions.

The Science of Mind Church, which Moreland represents, was founded as the Church of Religious Science in 1927. Religious Science is based on the writings of Ernest P. Holmes, an independent metaphysician who studied the spiritual principles of the major world religions at the beginning of the 20th Century. Inspired by the writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Mary Baker Eddy, and Thomas Troward, Ernest P. Holmes eventually formed an incorporated church based on a synthesis of Eastern and Western religious ideas and practices.

Working at a time when the old religious paradigms were giving way to theories of natural law and cultural relativism, Holmes brought the principles of all world religions and the study of ancient philosophy into the light of the scientific method. His method was in identifying metaphysical laws, which might be as reliable as the physical laws in nature.

The result is an eclectic, common sense spirituality that cuts to the quick of what people face in their day to day lives. According to Moreland," the world is always coming to balance according to divine principles."

"I teach that the presence of God is in all things," Moreland says. "Our spiritual growth is a process of becoming more conscious of the divine within us, to find the sacredness in what we do. Everyoneís job in life has sacredness. Mine might just be more obvious."

Light on the Mountains was a somewhat mobile church until December 2002 when the congregation and a newly arrived John Moreland moved into its first permanent home at Gimlet View. Moreland has expanded the spiritual centerís missions.

Students of the Science of Mind teachings can enroll in the Foundation Class at the Light on the Mountain, which familiarizes them with "basic spiritual principles," according to Moreland.

"Prayer is viewed as a confirmation rather than a supplication. We are not asking for something, but aligning ourselves with a divine power. The effort is to change our own mind rather than to change the mind of God. Meditation is seen as receptive, as listening. Prayer as active confirmation."

"Practical Mysticism" classes are intended for students already familiar with basic spiritual principles. According to Moreland, the point of studying mystical thinkers like Lao Tzu, Jesus Christ, Plato, St. Thomas Aquinas, Teresa of Avila and the Prophet Mohammed is to "be open to a direct personal experience of God."

One of the most meaningful observances of the Light on the Mountainís year is the United Nationsí Season for Non-Violence celebrated annually from Jan. 4 to April 30 with speakers and book discussions on the practice of peace. Begun by Ahrun Ghandi, the son of Mahatma Ghandi, this nine-week period falls between the dates of the assassination of Ghandi and Martin Luther King Jr., Eastern and western proponents of the philosophy of non-violence.

In celebration of last yearís Season for Non-Violence a humanitarian award was given by Light on the Mountains to Ann and Doug Christensen for community humanitarian activities. Bob Grabowski serves as ecclesiastical representative to the congregation, providing general support to ministries in Russia and Canada.

The churchís music director, R.L. Rowsey and special musical guests enliven services in the growing congregation.

The Light on the Mountain Spiritual Center is located just north of the Sawtooth Botanical Garden on Highway 75 in Ketchum. Itís one of 400 Science of Mind Churches in the United States. In addition to 9:30 a.m. Sunday services, the Light on the Mountain began a weekly silent mediation Wednesdays at 6 p.m.


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The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.





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