interfaith minister UK

"Interfaith is about the infinite number of ways of finding our
true selves and our place
and connection in the
Cosmos in whatever way is
most meaningful and, typically, unique for us."


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brochure.

One Spirit Interfaith Foundation - training interfaith ministers in the UK

One Spirit Interfaith Foundation
One Spirit Interfaith Foundation trains people to be Interfaith Ministers and offers cemonies, including wedding ceremonies and spiritual counselling to people of all faiths or none.

UK Interfaith Ministers Association

Interfaith Ministers Association
The Interfaith Ministers Association (IMA) provides support to the spiritual community of ministers and counsellors who offer ceremonies for weddings, civil partnerships, namings, blessings, funerals and memorials and more private sessions for personal counselling, direction or healing.


About Ceremony

"Ceremony usually marks an important point in someone’s life, perhaps a transition into a new phase of life (a rite of passage), a celebration of a commitment to a new or an old relationship (as in a relationship blessing or wedding), or to help a person to process the change that they are passing through, often involving to remember, commit or let go. "

interfaith minister UK

"I vow to serve the spiritual needs of anyone where it's
clear that I am meant to."


About Ceremony

Feedback for ceremonies:

“I am sitting here in tears. I love my ceremony. There is nothing I would change.”

“Thank you for your wonderful work. Very inspiring and clear – lovely.”

“These are beautiful vows. The first one hit just the right note for me.”

“I'm going to read the ceremony several times…there is so much in it that resonates with me.”


About – interfaith, ceremony and me

On this page I say a little about:

Who I am and what led me to become a minister
How I describe my ministry
Where I practice
The Code of Ethics and Code of Conduct that I adhere to (including a procedure for making a complaint)
My vow
How I suggest working with clients
My fees
My network of fellow ministers
What is interfaith
What is ceremony and when and why may a ceremony be important
What to expect at a ceremony
Example ceremonies
How to contact me.

Who I am and what led me to become a minister

I am an interfaith minister, trained, ordained, supervised and supported by the One Spirit Interfaith Foundation, a charitable seminary and ministers' association dedicated to embracing the universal truth at the heart of all spiritual traditions, as well as supporting the interests of people who don't follow any particular faith path. The Foundation celebrates the values of respect, reconciliation, forgiveness and fellowship for every human being, irrespective of their beliefs. I am also a registered member of the Foundation's Interfaith Ministers' Association.

My professional background was in management consultancy, training and conflict management. I also trained as a coach and am an occasional writer, publishing books aimed at the business world, and more recently focused on spirituality (my new books, Picturing God, Fairy Stories & Fairy Stories, and Arabian Nights & Arabian Nights, are available from Amazon and elsewhere).

My own faith is what might be called mixed spirituality, taking meaning from a number of different faiths, as well as from inspiring poetry, appreciating the beauty of Nature, and even from some tales from mythology. I am not affiliated to a 'traditional religion', although my upbringing followed a largely Christian path. My focus is on connecting with and nurturing my understanding of spirituality, and I aim to help people connect with their own 'God', whoever or whatever that may be. I would never dream of trying to convert anyone to a particular creed. I believe that we can each find our own way to understanding life's essence and delving into our inner selves, and there may be as many ways for doing this as there are people!

In this video I introduce myself, saying a little about my background and what led me to becoming a minister. Simply click on the play button above to watch.

I love seeing myself as a part of the great flow of the Cosmos that’s governed by the Tao, and find peace and connection with Mother Earth, deep solace in Native American journeying, and spiritual refreshment from kirtan singing and Taizé chanting. Perhaps it shouldn't then be a surprise that I felt a door of new learning and self-discovery opening when I heard about the One Spirit Interfaith Foundation’s training. I felt sure that this was the right course for me, and too have come to see that I can have a ministry role to play in the world. My path into ministry has therefore been one of following a strong and lasting feeling rather than about chasing a particular goal.

I’ve taken part in the ceremonies, practices and social gatherings of different faiths and I try to read widely, as well as having written a couple of books myself. I savour everything I can learn about, from Carl Jung to Rudolf Steiner, as well as taking a keen interest in popular physics and the remarkable connections between many ancient views of the workings of the Cosmos and the discoveries of quantum science. I hope that I never lose a curiosity in the wonders of the life we are given, nor an eagerness to connect with the people I have the privilege of serving.

How I describe my ministry

I’m a traveller by nature and so have an itinerant ministry that doesn't tie me to a particular area. Right now, I have no permanent home, but aim to go where I feel led, currently mainly splitting my time between Brighton and Essex, but not being limited to offering services here, nor just in the UK. In ministry terms, whatever, wherever, and for whoever it seems right for me to do, I aim to do. I also try not to go where it doesn’t feel right for me to venture, even if at times, this might seem like refusing a requested favour.

This is the prayer that I make every day as I end my morning meditation: Lord, what will you have me do today? Where will you have me go? What will you have me say? And to whom? I believe that, if I’m sufficiently open and willing, the Divine can breathe through me.

I like to talk to (my) God as a companion with whom I share my life – to be, as much as I’m able, Her/His eyes, ears, voice, hands and feet in the particular neck of the woods where I’m led. ‘Come on God, let’s enjoy this together!’ is my motto. But of course, I often falter in remembering this, and very easily drop back into my independent silo.

Where creating ceremony is concerned, I will work with whatever my client(s) want – what is personal and right for them. The same is true in spiritual counselling, although this always involves being open to however the conversation feels led, to not following a pre-decided agenda.

Ministry is always changing, just as life is always changing. I’m sure that mine will continue to grow, as I learn and enjoy the privilege of sharing myself with many different people through the important moments in their lives.

In this brief video I talk a little about what I see my ministry is about. Simply click on the play button above to watch.

Where I practice

I am an itinerant, spending much of my time house-sitting, or moving from place to place. My base is Essex, UK, however, provided my travel expenses are covered, I am happy to travel virtually anywhere to perform a ceremony, even if our conversations before the event may need to be by phone or Skype. I am currently frequently travelling in the UK, France, and USA.

Counselling and some other services, such as pre-funeral writing, can usually be offered via telephone, Skype, or VSee (a secure video service, similar to Skype), as well as face-to-face where logistics allow. These services aren't therefore restricted by location in the way that holding a ceremony is.


Code of Ethics and Code of Conduct

Please use the following links to find out about the Code of Ethics and Code of Conduct that I follow (including the complaint procedure of the One Spirit Interfaith Foundation).

I submit myself regularly for supervision, am properly insured to practice as a minister, and in the UK, have been DBS/CRB checked (against having a criminal record or other barring from working with vulnerable people).

My vow

My vow explains what I commit to do in following my ministry. This was carefully considered over several months during my seminary training and formed an important part of my promise made on ordination.

I will go Lord, if You lead me.

What this means: I vow to mindfully serve the spiritual needs of anyone where it is clear that I am meant to and to graciously consider all requests for spiritual support from people who are led to me. I deplore all forms of discrimination and embrace diversity. I vow to treat my role as a minister with full seriousness and, as best I’m able, to allow myself to be open to be used by the God of my understanding for whatever purpose and in whatever place He/She will have me be. I promise to be diligent in my spiritual practice, to receive feedback graciously and to present myself regularly for supervision. I will not undertake work that I don’t feel is right, even if at times this might appear as though I am turning away from fair requests, neither will I act beyond the boundaries of my knowledge, training and calling; for example in giving advice that I’m not qualified to provide. I will do my best to set my ego aside when ministering, and will remember that the gifts that I have are given by God, and that I am just a man. I will approach my ministry prayerfully, and will dedicate myself with full professionalism and loyalty for the services that I’m asked to perform. I put my full trust in God to guide me and to help me in what I am called to do.

How I suggest working with clients

There are two main aspects to my ministry: creating, hosting and supporting ceremonies, and spiritual counselling.

In either case, I will first aim to understand a little about what you feel you are looking for, as well as to spend a little time for both of us to test whether I am the right person for the job. If you feel it's right, I'll then ask if you can take a look at my terms for working together and agree our fees, as a basis for a working together. These are designed to protect your interests as much as mine and are obviously important in any professional work.

An initial meeting may be face-to-face or, very often, held by phone or Skype if preferred. For simple blessings, only a brief consultation may usually be necessary before arranging the ceremony, and sometimes this can be done spontaneously. Simple ceremonies might also involve no more than another brief conversation.

In the case of counselling, I will usually then suggest a trial call and we can set a time for this. This. This will give you a sense of what counselling is about and so whether it may be appropriate to arrange further calls (in some cases, just one call may at any rate be sufficient).

Otherwise, where a ceremony is concerned, I will set about drafting a suggested ceremony for you to review. This will very likely involve writing something specifically for you, such as a prayer, poem or brief message. Sometimes, you may wish to be involved in putting together content for the ceremony as well, and of course I will do my best to accommodate whatever you wish. I will put something in writing for you to read through and make your comments on, and in some cases, will arrange to talk through anything that may need explaining. The parts that you and others play in the ceremony will be very clear, with any words to be spoken written down for you and prompted by me on the day.

In the case of weddings and more substantial ceremonies, I will typically arrange more than one time when we can have a full opportunity to discuss your needs, usually after proposing some questions and other matters that you might want to consider, if you have particular thoughts about these (for example, in the case of a wedding blessing, what vows you wish to take, what readings might be appropriate). The aim of this preparation is to understand what's right and meaningful for you and to ensure that I can propose a ceremony that will be pefectly matched for you. It also gives you a chance to consider options that I can propose, and to properly become clear about how you would like the ceremony to be formed.

Click here to read about the purpose of ceremony, including a description of what you might expect to see included in a ceremony. Click here to find out more about the purpose of spiritual counselling, its purpose and how it differs from other types of counselling or therapy.

What I may not be able to help with

I don't guarantee to be able to help with every request that's put to me. Sometimes this may be for a very practical reason, such as my not being available at the time a ceremony is planned or when I believe that a colleague may be much better suited to helping than myself. However, on other occasions, this will be due to a feeling (or leading) that I have that I'm not the right person to help, and won't necessarily be something that can be rationalised. I try to be led by my heart as much as possible.

Nonetheless, I will always reflect very carefully on any request that is made to me, and like to say that it's normally the case that I do feel that it's right to offer my assistance. On the odd occasion when I don't feel led this way, I should usually be able to point you in the direction of someone who I believe might be able to help.

Fees

My fees are as below. I usually suggest that a deposit of 35% is paid ahead of a ceremony being held, where possible, and will also pre-agree any travel expenses before committing to them. Where I can, I'm happy to offer brief time by telephone at no charge in association with any service that I'm engaged for.

My standard base fees are as follows:

  Service  Fee (£)
  Weddings  400
  Vow renewals  175
  Baby blessings  175
  Conference and gathering ceremonies  225
  Counselling (per hour)    65
  Other services  Please contact me to discuss.

These fees allow for up to two 1–2 hour preparation meetings ahead of a ceremony (up to three discussions and a walkthrough for weddings), along with my time for writing and conducting the ceremony. The fees do not include venue hire, although I can assist with this if required. My travel expenses are also excluded from these fees (I will always consider econiomical and reasonable options for travel). Excepting expenses, I do not charge for services performed outside the UK or EU. In such case, I request that you consider making a donation toward my ministry and pay the appropriate fee for any part of the service performed from the UK / EU (typically, preparatory conversations that we may have via phone or Skype, charged at 50% of the fee rates shown above). Please contact me if you have any queries. In any event, following an initial enquiry and understanding your needs, I will always propose a quote for my service for you.

My network

I realise that I'm not always best qualified to help with every need and both my possible clients or I might feel that another person might be better suited for their needs. We are all different and it's important that we can feel comfortable saying when we feel that we might be better matched with someone else, especially for what will be a special occasion.

I'm therefore very happy to recommend one of my many wonderful friends and colleagues who have qualified as ministers when this seems to be most appropriate. Please don't be shy about telling me if you would like me to suggest others.

Please click here to find out more about my minister friends:
my network
.

What is interfaith?

Interfaith recognises that we are all of "one spirit", whether we have a particular faith or not. It's about having an awareness of our sacredness, or being "spiritual" beings, rather than being religious or having any particular belief.

Interfaith means different things to different people. Whilst it's developed its purpose well beyond this now, the seminary that offered my ministry training, the One Spirit Interfaith Foundation, began as a group of leaders from different faith traditions (Judaism, Christian, Hindu and others), who wanted to start exploring the boundaries of their own faiths by learning about the beliefs of others. The common purpose of each faith, as well as the typically shared principal teachings quickly became apparent to them (even if expressed in different ways and using different stories and metaphors). Hence, rabbis, ministers, imams and others were soon working together in the interests of bringing compassion, healing and spiritual meaning into the world, rather than acting in some sort of competition.

What is my "interfaith"? In this brief video I attempt to answer this common question. Simply click on the play button above to watch.

Interfaith could just stop at this idea of inter-working, comparing, sharing prayer and works of compassion, and learning from each others’ faiths. Certainly, interfaith respects the views and peaceful practices of people of all faiths and none. However, for individuals who come together from different faiths, (e.g. wanting a meaningful blessing for their marriage) or perhaps where one person in a couple has a faith whilst their partner tends toward agnosticism, interfaith provides a way for both persons’ backgrounds to be honoured. So too, is it a welcome sacred space for people who often feel alienated by traditional religion to be received fully equally, e.g. because of their sexuality, ex-marital status or gender.

For me, interfaith goes even further, taking in non-religious beliefs such as spiritualism, love for Mother Earth and Carl Jung’s theories about the Collective Unconscious. It is about ‘mixed spirituality’ (those of us who pick and choose how we view and connect with the Divine, perhaps from mixing from different faiths, but without being tied to particular images of God, rituals, orders of service or practices). It can apply to mystics of any persuasion, and to those who look into their hearts to find meaning and purpose for their lives. In short, it’s about the infinite number of ways of finding our true selves and our place and connection in the Cosmos in whatever way is most meaningful and, typically, unique for us.

What is ceremony and when and why may a ceremony be important?

Ceremony has been an important part of human life throughout recorded history. A ceremony usually marks an important point in someone’s life, perhaps a transition into a new phase of life (a rite of passage), a celebration of a commitment to a new or an old relationship (as in a relationship blessing or wedding), or to help a person to process the change that they are passing through, often involving to remember, commit or let go.

A ceremony causes those who take part in it to stop for a short while and reflect on what they are marking and, when relevant, to commit themselves to and better prepare themselves for the steps they will take for the life they will lead after. This change can happen at a deep subconscious level, as well as with what’s being brought to mind and what emotions are being raised on the surface. In this sense, there is often something primordial about ceremony, tapping into a deep instinct and connecting all the people who take part in it in a very natural way.

Ceremonies may be secular, but usually involve acknowledging that a higher power gives guidance and blessing (asking for favour and protection). Interfaith ceremonies do make such an acknowledgement. An interfaith ceremony allows people of many different faiths, those having differing notions ways of expressing their spirituality, and those who are agnostic to share in a way that is meaningful for all.

Some or all of the elements described below will normally be present in a ceremony, although these don't have to be orchestrated in a formal or very structured way (some of the most meaningful ceremonies are quite informal and unconventional in nature). Which are relevant and most meaningful for you will be discussed with you. Every ceremony is unique – the right ceremony for you will be created especially for you. It is this uniqueness that marks out a "ceremony" from a regularly repeated "service".


What is a ceremony? I offer my thoughts on the purpose and value of ceremony in this brief video. Simply click on the play button above to watch.


What to expect at a ceremony

Key people in a ceremony

Apart from the person (people) to be blessed, several other family members or friends might have previously been asked to play a part in the service, either as supporters or in actually taking part in the ceremony by offering a reading, reflection, commitment or other contribution. That said, many ceremonies just involve the minister and person or people that they are intended for. There's no need foranyone else to be present. Any words that are to be spoken will normally be written down and the minister will prompt when these should appear during the ceremony.

Role of the minister

The minister has been trained in how to prepare and conduct ceremonies, and their ordination marks their commitment to serving the people they are invited to minister for to the best of their ability and according to a strict ethical code. It is essential that the minister talks with the key persons involved in the ceremony ahead of the time of the event, to understand what they want from the ceremony, any specific ideas that they have about the content (e.g. readings and music that they would like to include), and to discuss the roles that they might play. During the ceremony, the minister is the person who orchestrates the order of prayers, readings, actions and so on. They introduce and close the ceremony, offer one or more blessings, and may also make a brief address to help inspire reflection on the purpose of the day. The minister will have a faith of their own (not brought into the ceremony), and will lead prayers, blessings and the invitation for the Divine to be present throughout the ceremony. They will also facilitate the timings of the ceremony.

Gathered observers / congregation

Everyone attending the ceremony might be provided with an Order of Ceremony sheet, so that they know what is happening at any point and what they might be expected to do (e.g. when to stand). The minister will also offer relevant prompts. The wider gathering act both as observers and participants in the service, and may be asked to join in any songs or prayers, if they feel able to.

Arranging space for a ceremony

The space in which the ceremony takes place will usually be arranged to allow everyone to be able to see what is happening and to feel connected to each other. In smaller groups, a circle of chairs or horseshoe arrangement is usually better than having several rows. The minister, those for whom the ceremony is for and their immediate supporters might sit within the circle (the minister will normally stand throughout the ceremony). A small altar may also be placed at the centre.

Venue

There are no special requirements for a venue, other than the ability to comfortably hold the people who are taking part in or who are otherwise invited to the ceremony. Public buildings or open spaces, family homes, hospices, cruise ships, beaches, hotels and gardens are all possibilities. The minister will (usually privately) bless the chosen place to be a positive place and a sacred space before the start of the ceremony.

Altar

An altar is a centrepiece, usually laid out on a small table, serving to remind everyone gathered that we have come ‘to the table’ of the Divine. In reverence of its special meaning, an altar is usually covered by a clean cloth, sometimes of a colour chosen to be in keeping with the ceremony (e.g. a golden cloth might be used for blessing the receipt of a harvest). Similarly, one or more items might be placed on the altar to signify meaning or bring attention to what is being commemorated or celebrated. If they wish, the individuals who have asked for the ceremony might choose items that are personal and meaningful to them to include on the altar. One or more candles are also usually also placed on the altar, as a reminder of the Divine’s light and warmth at the heart of the gathering.

The minister’s dress

The minister will normally be smartly dressed in respect for the importance of the occasion. They will usually wear a stole, a shawl worn around their shoulders that was given to them at the time of their ordination and that may be adorned with decoration that is particularly liked by or has meaning for them. This essentially marks them out as the appointed minister in the gathering, in much the same way that a dog collar might do for an Anglican or Roman Catholic priest. Stoles are often worn by ministers of many different faiths. The decoration on my stole represents the sound wave pattern for several key words in my minister's vow.

Others’ dress

Normally, no particular dress code is suggested for a ceremony, unless the person (people) organising it request this. Most people feel most comfortable dressing smartly, but this is usually just a personal choice. Even though a ceremony is intended to be taken seriously, it doesn’t have to be a ‘stuffy', formal affair; informal gatherings are equally valid. What matters most is that the intention of the hearts of those coming to be blessed or offer promises is genuine.

Example ceremonies

Please click below to view, download or print examples of ceremonies that I've written.

Example wedding ceremony
Example vow renewal ceremony
Example anniversary celebration ceremony
Example animal funeral ceremony


How to contact me

I can be easily reached by one of the following means:

Clive Johnson
Email:   clive.johnson@interfaithministry.co.uk
Phone:  +44 (0)20 8816 7907
Skype:  cliverj2



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