Convention Attendance Leads to Unexpected Transformation

Published on: September 1, 2014

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The board president and minister of Syracuse, NY share their experiences of attending the Unity People’s Convention.

A note from Leland Jackson, MD

The recent annual convention for Unity Worldwide Ministries (UWM) was a transformational experience for me. As a first-time participant, I went there to support a change in one of our policies. What I found was, as Rev Jack Boland used to put it, “The reason why you came may not be the reason you are here.”

The energy going into the convention was charged. The board of UWM set the stage for a healing experience by focusing on prayer and trusting in the process. I just “knew” that my opinion was the right one—what I experienced was something different. This was because I was willing to open my heart and listen.

As a family physician, I am used to attending educational conventions. This convention/business meeting simply blew me away. Not only was I able to learn new concepts and reinforce previous knowledge, but by being receptive to the possibilities of personal change, the world opened in new ways. The difference was the interaction with other attendees. I have understood the importance for our ministers to attend, and I then learned the value for lay leaders to be present—me being one of them.

During the convention, I was in the process of preparing a Sunday lesson on one of my church’s core values, “We are progressive.” Charles Fillmore in Dynamics for Living stated, “The soul is progressive. It must go forward. It must meet and overcome its limitations.” One of the sessions focused on leading from example and being authentic.

So if I am being authentic, then I am open to “be” and receive. When I heard someone say, “Receive, then give to receive more,” it hit home. I was transformed. The other part of my transformation was a greater understanding of the power of “I” statements. I challenged myself to speak from that place and not use “we” or “you” statements in my lesson. I personally have never been as moved as I was when giving that lesson a few weeks later.

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A note from Rev Edith Washington

During my first Unity People’s Convention, one of the presenters stated, “Put your oxygen mask on first.” I hear that on every plane ride, too. I must take care of myself before I can assist someone else. In seminary, I continued to hear the necessity of self-care. This is one of the reasons I attend our annual convention.

I didn’t realize the importance for board members and lay leaders to attend until my board president Dr Leland Jackson’s transformation at this year’s convention. While there, he discovered in a profound way how to “put his oxygen mask on first.” What resulted is an aliveness and excitement in him and our spiritual community.

When Leland gave his Sunday talk on being progressive, he shared the definition, “making use of or interested in new ideas or moving forward.” This is also the definition of Zeal: “to move forward.” Charles Fillmore said when he was 94, “I fairly sizzle with zeal and enthusiasm and spring forth with a mighty faith to do the things that ought to be done by me.”—Leland is sizzling!

At the convention, Leland heard, “What is the elephant in the room?” In his talk, he stated, “It is the fear of change.” He got it. He needed to change in the following ways.

To be authentic, he needed to make “I” statements and accept responsibility for what he was saying. He also needed to learn how to receive. He discovered that when he is able to receive, he can give more. If he is not willing to receive, he “is blocked up and constipated.”

Leland realized that it’s okay to ask, “How can we support each other?” and not have to do everything himself. This moved him to tears while he spoke. His heart was cracked wide open, and his authentic self emerged in a way it never had before. He let go of his limitations.

As a Unity minister, I realize the necessity of being progressive, of self-care and receiving. Leland affirmed at the end of his talk, “As I am progressive in my life, I am transformed.” Today, I am willing to be changed at depth. Are you? If so, in what ways?

 

Leland Jackson
Leland Jackson, MD is president of the board, Unity of Syracuse, N.Y.
Edith A Washington
Senior Minister at Unity of Syracuse, NY
Rev Edith A Washington is senior minister at Unity of Syracuse, N.Y.

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