Easter Sunday with the Spiritualists

Hubby and I attended church twice on Easter Sunday: in the morning with the pleasantly-Protestant Presbyterians and in the afternoon with the Church of Two Worlds (no website), a Spiritualist church in Georgetown.

Why the Spiritualists? Well, the church, though nearby, is an almost-unknown curiosity. Second, at one point, about half of the Universalist ministerial college believed in Spiritualism, so it would probably have some resonance. Third, we enjoyed our off-beat excursion to the Christian Scientists last Easter. Fourth, it’s been our experience, when seen honestly and fairly, that “oddball” churches usually don’t make wilder claims than mainline churches, just less familiar ones. After all, it’s not like I’m a Presbyerian either (though one of the ministers did wear bands.)

The congregation was about twenty, predominately African-American, but even at that size genuinely mixed and multi-national. This is how the service went:

  • Read in unison the nine Spiritualist principles (seen here, but Unitarian historians: note the principles for the UK Spiritualists’ National Union on the same page; look familar?) I abstained as a non-Spiritualist, but participated in all the rest of the service.
  • A guided meditation through the shakras, with deep breathing, for self-healing and the projection of healing energy to friends, family and enemies.
  • A lengthy lecture on a practical subject. Though it had many tangents, the sum was “to prepare for contact with the spirit world, you need to have a healthy physical body.” It was punctuated with four selections of popular, inspiring music, including Louis Armstong’s rendition of “What a Wonderful World”
  • We stretched, and an offering was collected
  • The two mediums received and shared messages. I got two.
    1. From St. Luke, offering support for “a medical issue”, counsel to heal myself, and advice to journal with plans to review my journal in a year’s time.
    2. From an unknown entity, who enjoined that I might find spiritual resources from the Hadisim, but perhaps not for many years.
  • After the messages, there was a simple, casual farewell.

I listened attentively and thanked them for their readings. And later realized these were among the most useful and memorable — certainly personal — take-aways I’ve gotten from any church in I can’t tell you how long. By contrast, I can’t tell you a single thing about the morning sermon.

There was a hymnal — more about that in a moment — but we didn’t sing from it. We did use it to find the affirmations and a concluding prayer after the chakra meditation, pasted in the inside covers. Each part of the service was well-described and directed. Though there was no printed order of service — I’m glad there wasn’t, or I might have left after the first hour — I was never lost and never unsure of how I was supposed to participate.

The small hymnal, had I not seen the cover, might have easily been either a Unitarian or Universalist hymnal from about a hundred years ago; certainly there were many of the same hymns, but also something of the same pluck and optimism. It makes me wonder if our real kin are in this direction, and not in the mainline, like the UCC. Or, perhaps had the Unitarians and Universalist not consolidated, one or both might have dwindled to a small (smaller? tiny?) denomination with an equally oddball reputation. (Did I say that out loud?) And while Spiritualist are pretty clear that they’re not Christians, they don’t suffer the same angst Unitarian Universalists do, which made it far more comfortable and welcoming then when UUs “do” Christianity on rotation.

In any case, I’m happy we went. Happy souls surrounded by happy souls, visible and invisible.

Author: Scott Wells

Scott Wells, 46, is a Universalist Christian minister doing Universalist theology and church administration hacks in Washington, D.C.

5 thoughts on “Easter Sunday with the Spiritualists”

  1. Thanks for this interesting account. Up here at First UU in Burlington, Gary Kowalski’s Easter service was a taoist meditation interpreted on the chancel by a Tai Ch’i master. Powerful and peaceful. Since this UU region has a strong past connection with Spiritualists, how interesting to see the same framework for blending physical and spiritual.

  2. So which brand of Presbyterianism was it? I speak as someone who lived most of my life in one of the biggest concentrations of Presbyterians in the USA….
    So St. Luke gave you message, I would have been more impressed if it was Dr LWF Andrews! I have done mild research in the spirtualists, so my question is
    “how old were the congregants?”

  3. Great to hear about your visit to a spiritualist church there. When I moved here (Mpls-St. Paul) 32 years ago, there were quite a few small but thriving spiritualist congregations which I visited and also went to some of their semi-annual “mass meetings”. All of that is gone now.

    I was dragged to a pre-Easter Roman Catholic vigil Sat. night by a friend–she had assured me that it would only last about an hour. It lasted 3 1/4 hours and and I think we were both deadened by it.

    John

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