Diverse and conflicting factions within Christianity have often driven the faithful to seek unity through conformist organization and enforced doctrine. At times the imagination of Church leadership would envision and present the faithful with an idea of a golden age at the beginning of Christianity — an era blessed with perfect harmony and truth. But such a condition never existed. The only true unity the Church has ever known is the person of Jesus Christ, himself, and the dedication of those who have taken his message to heart. The core truth of Jesus’ teachings has moved forward in time not by doctrine but by faith…not by organization but by the conveyance of the Holy Spirit from one through another by the power of Love.
The true power of Christian fellowship is through spiritual unity that has expanded beyond all expectation and defied the constraint of all limiting vessels. Even those who walked with Jesus would often disagree about the significance of his life and the nature of the mission he intended for them. Therefore, if we would understand the true character of the Church established by Jesus and the Apostles, we must see it as something more than an ever-widening compass. A better image would be an immense tree with deep roots and countless spreading limbs. The tree sprang up from the seed of Jesus Christ, with its roots in the rich soil of Jewish faith, law, and custom. The trunk would be the spirit and love of Jesus Christ pouring out to succeeding generations through each person that took his message to heart and practiced it in faith and service. The inclusive nature of Christianity has accepted even the limitations of belief and practice, or the human insecurity of placing conformity and agreement over the search for truth. Whenever that would happen a new “branch” of the tree would bud and grow. Each denomination of belief, practice, and custom could be viewed as a new spreading branch. Even the largest denominations are only branches of the Great Tree. Because there is so much diversity within Christian faith and practice, the branches have often competed for dominance. To reinforce such contentions for dominance, the history of a “branch” has often been confused with the history of the Church. Though many have tried, however, never once has a branch successfully captured and redirected through itself the whole growth of The Tree!
With a botanical tree there is a different cellular organization in the trunk than in the branches. So fundamental is this difference that any tree will cease to grow vertically if its center stem is damaged or clipped—regardless of how strong the branches are. This is true also of the Great Tree of Christian faith. The Church of Jesus Christ is not entirely of this world, except that it instructs us to love one another and to convey the Holy Spirit to one another by love, support, charity, and communion. Those who know this understand the mystery and grace of the central trunk of the tree. As Jesus was ever mindful to assert, “I am in the world, but not of the world.” So too is the central trunk of the tree. Through loving grace and fathomless mystery He brought forth a vessel for faith with amazing adaptability. Those who follow it most closely often do so with the least amount of visible structure and remain close to center. Those who have less tolerance and flexibility typically develop specialized branches of faith and service. As with any tree, the branches are often more visible than the trunk until one moves in closely enough to see the true source of the tree’s strength and life. What is unique about the central core, the Sacred Heart of the Church? An eternal truth, abiding in love, with enough simplicity, strength, and adaptability to support all the necessary adaptations for the survival of its branches.
When Jesus began his work with only twelve Apostles, only the power of love could surmount the harsh conditions of conflict and oppression that spread across the earth at that time. “Love your God with all your heart, might, and soul, and your neighbor as yourself,” was a simple unifying message that dissolved resistance to build a new community through the hearts of men and women needing a new life. Soon that number would comprise the majority of the Roman Empire — which is to say also the majority of the world! Not only did the outreach of Christianity spread as a faith and a community, but also the original Apostles taught and consecrated other Apostles as Bishops to care for the growing flocks. So the central trunk of the tree would expand to carry its outer growth. For 2000 years there has been a lineage of stewardship that has protected and passed on the original message of love. Through every generation that central lineage has insured (through strange and diverse methods) the tolerance, acceptance, and application of these messages for the strength and furtherance of the Church corporeal. Often the keepers of the central trunk have served in an inconspicuous missionary fashion. Always the blessings and duties of responsibility have been conveyed person to person, rather than institution to person. Perhaps the greatest difference between the trunk and the branches is the relative unimportance of institutional power that exists near the true center. Those who are close to the center may have served within the various branches, or they may have swum like anonymous fish in channels of love known only to God and those they served. Stewardship of this power has been by dedication to God, service to man, and ordination or consecration by those who came before. Therefore, the members of this sacred fraternal trust have often been less well known than those who led the venerable branches, and more humble than those who had more fixed or prominent agendas. Yet like the spirit of Christianity itself, this central lineage continues to move forward in unbroken succession. It reemerges into public visibility every generation in often surprising ways of new service and inspiration. It has now reappeared as Spiritis Church. To tell the history of Spiritis Church is a bit like telling the history of sunshine. The sun has never changed in its direction or ceased in its warmth and radiance, but due to the revolving cycles of earth it seems to re-emerge each new day in a different position on the horizon. For this reason it is far more important to examine the character of the Original Church and the vital symbiotic relationship existing between all parts of the tree, than merely to retell the sequential dramas of history. Paul wrote in Galatians 3: 28 “You are all Sons of God through faith in Jesus Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
Spiritis Church carries forward into the third millennium the Original Church of The Way and Spiritus Sancti. Spiritis Church accepts and affirms the value of all denominations of Christianity, and does not espouse any doctrinal limitations or exclude the truths of God in any way they may appear.
We find ourselves standing on a foundation of such ancient firmness that our perspective can embrace the heroic past of those who carried the light of Christ and the truth of the Holy Spirit forward through challenge and adversity. We can appreciate the guidance of Spirit when it has surrendered to serve within vessels of human conformity and restriction. We can also see the indomitable courage of those who were chosen by Spirit to expand the envelope of faith and consciousness. And now, in respect of an international community of mankind emerging for the first time, we are humbled and awestruck by the majesty of Spirit unfolding from every nation. Through advances in communication, breakthroughs in technology, and discoveries through objective scholarship, we are finding similarities in the history of Truth, healing modalities, and inspirational fulfillment from every corner of the earth. We are discovering that the same kinds of mis-direction have hurt us all, and the same kinds of dedication to goodness, love, and service has fulfilled us all.
Perhaps it is significant that my own Consecration as a Bishop on the first morning of the third millennium marked a shift of emphasis from the branches back to the trunk of the tree. Strong connotations of controlling structure are often attached to situations of exclusive masculinity, and with the introduction of feminine character there is perhaps a subtle suggestion that priorities will now adjust toward nurturing and support in a more unconditional way.
The foundation of Spiritis Church is Jesus Christ. Its power is the Holy Spirit. And, its future is an uncharted frontier of unlimited possibilities for inclusion, love, and service as never seen before. We honor all faiths and beliefs that truly reside in the heart and are applied with benevolence for the communities of man and nature. As a living legacy of the “trunk of the tree” Spiritis Church stands in acceptance of the many branches that already exist and the many unborn branches that are beyond our capacity to envision. We hold that the Church is of God not man, to be created and recreated by the will of God not man, and to exist by revelations of Truth, not by limitations of structure. Therefore, Spiritis Church is all-denominational and is open to all the possibilities of God. In the words of Paul to the Ephesians (4:4–6) “There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope, when you were called—one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”