A Teaching and Learning Organization

As part of what I’ll loosely call Continuing Education, I attended a CSL ministers’ zoom panel discussion last week on the topic, “Certificated Education Programs That Thrive.” The four panelists represented different sizes of Centers – two were rather large, one was medium-sized and one was on the smaller. One of the big Centers, and the medium-sized one had co-ministers, and the other big Center had several supporting ministers working with the senior minister.

Each of those four Centers have had thriving certificated CSL education programs over the years, and each one said that maintaining their educational programming in a meaningful way in these last few years has been quite the adventure. One minister called it a grand, continuing, experiment. I agree.

From the very beginning of our organization, Ernest Holmes made a point of saying that our focus was to teach, learn and practice those techniques, practices and tools that empower every individual (who engages) to improve the quality of their lives, and the lives of those around them. That focus attracted me to this teaching in my early days as a student of Religious Science. Learning to live a life that I love, and assisting/encouraging others to live lives that they love is a really ‘big’ idea for me.

I was heartened, and a little disheartened, to learn that none of the ministers had programs that were substantially different than what we have at CSL Tucson. Most of them cycle through the 6 primary pre-practitioner courses (core curricula) every 2-3 years, and offer other classes that are not part of the core curricula. The larger centers have enough active students to hold their own 2-year Practitioner Training programs, the smaller centers will send their students to the online practitioner programs to complete their practitioner training, just like we did.

One of the panelists said that they saw their Sunday Experience as an inspirational, but a little bit superficial, and that if students wanted to go deeper in their own spiritual practices, and deepen their relationship with others in their community, they took classes. I guess I never got that memo, though I do understand the reasoning behind it. I don’t believe in wasting any opportunity to encourage and empower learning and growth, on Sundays or otherwise.

We also have created a unique situation in CSL Tucson with our shared Daily Morning Practice. This practice allows for regular, deep and powerful practice, learning and heartfelt sharing among those who choose to participate. The group remains open and welcoming to anyone who would like to engage in regular group practice.

Just like us, most of the Centers are keeping the bulk of their classes and educational offerings online. The few that have offered the option of in-person classes have mixed results with classes filling up. It seems we’ve all learned that we appreciate being home in our comfy pants and fuzzy slippers and not having to get in our cars and drive to town to participate in evening classes.

We’ll be creating a brief education survey in the next couple weeks to find out what certificated classes would be of interest as we begin planning our fall and winter classes, and discovering what days of the week and times of day are best.

Thank you for engaging in your own spiritual development. We all benefit. I appreciate you.

–Rev Janis Farmer