Category Archives: Ministerial Miscellany

June 2024 Ministerial Miscellany by Rev. Annie Kopko ~ Many Blessings

Ever since my husband Larry died in 2021, I have been finding and clearing up many papers.  Like me, Larry would write down quotes on small pieces of paper.  I found one this week that I think is worth sharing: 

“To Bless means to wish, unconditionally and from the deepest chamber of our hearts, unrestricted good for others and events; it means to hallow, to hold in reverence, to behold with awe that which is always a gift from the Creator.  To Bless is to invoke divine care upon, to speak or think gratefully for, and to confer happiness upon, although we ourselves are never the bestower, but simply the joyful witnesses of life’s abundance.”  Pierre Praderand from The Gentle Art of Blessing 

You may have noticed that I always end my monthly Ministerial Miscellany with my Blessings to you, but I have never had such a clear statement of the meaning before this. Also, I must not forget to Bless myself, but I surely do. Oh, that’s right, whenever I bless another, I am also blessing myself. You do too!

You will certainly find Blessings by joining the events at Interfaith.  Please check our website for meetings, classes, spiritual study groups, and special events: interfaithspirit.org.  Most information is on the home page, with more information just a click away! 

  • Saturday, June 1, 7:30 PM Drum & Dance Jam with Curtis Glatter. Donation.
  • Saturday, June 8th, 7 PM Cafe 704 with David Mosher, in person or on Zoom. $10.00.
  • Wednesday, June 12th, 7 PM, Community Sing with Matt Watroba. All voices welcome!  Song books provided.  Donation.
  • June 15th, 7 PM, Drummunity with Lori Fithian, Donation.

…..And these Special Solstice Events

  • June 21st, 8 PM, Solstice Meditation with Norma Gentile. Tickets $20.00. 
  • June 22nd, 7 PM, Solstice Sing led by Lori Fithian. Donation.
  • June 29th, 7 PM, Dances of Universal Peace with Susan Slack. $10.00 suggested donation.


Many Blessings,     Annie

April 2024 Ministerial Miscellany by Rev. Annie Kopko

Ministerial Miscellany April 2024   Your Life, Your Story

I am wondering how many of us have written out the  story of our lives. These days our computers make it very easy. While others may like to read it, the process is actually for ourselves. We are not writing for what our lives could have been (although that would be a great exercise) but for what it really has been; how we feel about what we have been, what we have done and how we have touched and changed the lives of all the people we have known, worked with and played with. And as we do this process we get to review our lives for what we liked and what we did not like. We see who we have loved and lost, without really knowing why. We get an opportunity to be in touch with our compassion for ourselves. We decide how personal we want to be, or not. I have a notion that there is some true peace to be found in this process. I did some writing for Larry, my late husband, and for Larry’s Father, Joe Toth, before he died. I imagine his great grandchildren might be interested to know some of their family history that they have never heard. Now it is time to write my own.

I imagine the history that together we have created over 26 years at Interfaith, as part of our personal history, features much of the aspects above. And we will not be stopping anytime soon, so join us in the events we are planning. There is additional important information on our website: https://interfaithspirit.org

  • Sun. April 7, 1-3PM Annual Meeting, Board Elections and more!
  • Wed. April 10, 7-8:15PM, Community sing with Matt Watroba. All voices welcome!!  Song books provided!  Donations welcome.
  • Sat. April 13, 7-9PM,  Cafe 704 Concert, with Marlena Studer and Steve Ragsdale, in person or on Zoom, $10.00.
  • Sat. April 19th,  Drummunity Drum Circle with Lori Fithian.
  • Fri.-Sat. April 26-27, Meditation Retreat at Triple Crane Retreat Center in Chelsea, MI. Fundraiser for Interfaith. $200.00

Many Blessings as you enjoy Spring!   Annie

February 2024 Ministerial Miscellany ~ Rev. Annie Kopko

Ministerial Miscellany February 2024

I decided to go back to read A Course in Miracles. I first read parts of it in 1980 and did the Workbook lessons for a couple of years. It seems unremarkable that I still have similar thoughts about the book as I did 44 years ago. I still think there is too much use of the word God. I have a lot of “baggage” around that word due to my Catholic training. I still personally think it leaves too many people out of the picture who do not believe in God. Too many people will never pick it up and never be able to receive the good lessons it has for us. 

For myself, I am still having a hard time, since it seems to speak of an entity called God outside of ourselves who seems to be like a human being, which of course it is not. And the language is complex as well, but I have decided that I can benefit from forging ahead with my reading, and my spirituality has expanded over the years. There is enough that intrigues me and enough that feels important and positive to me that keeps me going…even when I am confused. I trust I will eventually get it. 

With so many lines to quote from over a thousand pages, I choose these to share from lesson 20 of the Workbook: 

“You want to be happy. You want peace.  You do not have them now, because you cannot distinguish between joy and sorrow, pleasure and pain, love and fear. You are now learning to tell them apart.  And great will be your reward.” 

Join us this month: Saturday, Feb. 24th for Full Moon Kirtan with Trevor Eller and Friends, 6:30 to 8:30 pm.

Think about running for the Board of Trustees for Interfaith. There are 3 two-year openings. Speak to any of the Nominating Committee members: Annie, Delyth, Marice or Heide to find out the details. You may also choose to attend one or both of the next two board meetings to learn more on Tuesday Feb. 27th 10:30 am-12:30 pm and Sunday March 17th 1:30-3:30 pm. You can join via the zoom link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82314587072

Sending Blessings of joy and happiness to All,      Annie

January 2024 – Ministerial Miscellany by Rev. Annie Kopko

Ministerial Miscellany Jan. 2024  Happy peaceful New Year

Are you looking for change in the new year? Look for peace.  Write as many new resolutions as you want to, and make sure you write something about Peace for yourself and for the world. Where there is war in the world, I want to know about it. But I also want to know where there is Peace in the world. I suggest that we will not find peace without conflict, but we can solve our conflicts by peaceful means. We can do this in many parts of our lives and in the world every day. We can do this with respect, with compassion and with understanding.

Truly, the only place where we can be sure there is peace is in our own hearts. As we seek to find peace in our hearts, every day can be one of peace. And while we are at it, may we also be conscious of the need for forgiveness in our world. As we imagine a world of forgiveness, peace is not far behind. I do think forgiveness comes first, and it requires some deep personal awareness. Peace may be achieved by an agreement to avoid conflict. Lasting peace may require a deep desire for true forgive- ness and compassion. May this blessing allow us to live our best lives. 

Finding your best life at Interfaith?  Here are some opportunities! As always, check our website at interfaithspirit.org for more special weekly events and classes. Here are a few coming up soon:

  • Wednesday, Jan.10th, Matt Watroba is here for our monthly Community Sing. 7-8:15 PM.  Your chance to sing!  Donations are welcome.
  • Saturday, Jan. 13th, Emily Slomovitz and Billy King will be here for Cafe 704. In person or on Zoom. 7-9 PM. Tickets: $10.00. 
  • Saturday, Jan. 20th, Drummunity – A drum circle led by Lori Fithian, 7-9 PM. Donations are welcome.

Have a great January and a Blessed New Year!

Annie

December 2023 Ministerial Miscellany by Rev. Annie Kopko

Ministerial Miscellany Dec. 2023  

Love your life, every little bit.

Ever since the onset of the pandemic, when my few in-person contacts with people included the necessity of going to the grocery store.  I have been considering the opportunity to go grocery shopping as a “therapeutic” event, one that I will consciously use to give myself a sense of joy and wonder. You know what? That’s what usually happens!  I continue to make each mundane task a special event for awareness. 

Last week at the grocery store, I walked in with 6 bottles to recycle. I noticed a line of trash bins, one of which had a large white bag with red Coke cans in it. I thought, “Surely this store takes Coke cans”.  I started having trouble feeding the cans into the machine, evidently I was not the only one, considering I had just found them all in the trash. Another woman was also having trouble and I was able to help her. Eventually all the cans went in, mine and hers.  I made a surprise $5 on that trip. It just takes an uplifting attitude, a desire to have fun wherever we are, whomever we are with, and to remember that Life is truly a gift in so many ways!

Showing up for events at Interfaith offers everyone a gift. Check out these many wonderful opportunities in December. More information at: https://interfaithspirit.org.

  • Saturday, Dec. 9th, 7 PM Cafe 704 with Peter Madcat Ruth, Emmy winning harmonica player, John Churchville, Tabla percussionist & special guest Ki5, vocalist, writer and producer. Tickets (In Person & on Zoom): $10.  
  • ALSO: Artisan 704 presents a special Holiday Gift Sale of crafts, jewelry, chocolate truffles and more. The sale will begin at 6 PM prior to the Cafe 704 and continue on Sunday Dec. 10th following the Sunday Celebration Service at 12:15 PM.
  • Wednesday, Dec. 13th, 7 PM, Community Sing with Matt Watroba.  We circle up and sing  all our favorite old songs together! Donations most welcome!
  • Saturday, Dec. 16th, 7 PM, Drummunity! Drum circle with Lori Fithian. Donations welcome!
  • Thursday, Dec. 21st, 7 PM, Solstice Sing Along led by Jean Chorazyczewski, Lori Fithian, Eric & Mary Fithian, Linda Teaman, Tom Voiles & Friends. FREE 
  • Sunday, Dec. 24th, 5:30 PM Finger Foods Potluck followed by 7 PM Christmas Eve Candle Lighting service led by Rev. David Bell. 
  • Sunday, Dec. 31, 7 AM World Peace Meditation led by Janet Somalinog & Craig Harvey, followed by Breakfast at Mark’s Midtown Coney Island, then back to the Center for our Annual Burning Bowl Ceremony led by Rev. Lyriel Claire.

                     Many Blessings and Merry Christmas,      Annie

October 2023 Ministerial Miscellany by Rev. Annie Kopko

Ministerial Miscellany Oct. 2023

       Last month, on September 10th, I was very gratified to be host to Marianne Williamson at our Interfaith center. It was an opportunity to welcome many people who otherwise may never have known about our community. To those of you who were not there, we had 178 attending in person and 54 on Zoom, our largest ever crowd for a Sunday morning service. It was indeed a wonder how we pulled it off, and I want to thank everyone who worked so hard to do the cleanup and painting, bring delicious treats, and help in every way possible. I am especially grateful to Delyth Balmer who coordinated us all for 2 weeks.

       I was fairly nervous that day in the role of Service Leader, but I do believe in taking on challenges, because by pushing ourselves a little extra we gain strength and resilience. When it was all over, I felt that I had gained a boost in my self-confidence. I am also very grateful to Marianne Williamson, who, as an extraordinary Spiritual teacher, is calling us forth to put our spiritual beliefs into action and serve humanity in whatever way we may be inspired to do. 

      Have a great month, and join us at Interfaith for our classes, discussion groups, and these special events:  (see our website at https//:interfaithspirit.org for more details)

  • Saturday, Oct. 7th, 12-6 PM for a “Spectacular 25th Anniversary Picnic-Potluck “ at Montibeller Park Pavilion, on Ellsworth near Carpenter, Ypsilanti, MI 48197.  (the Pavilion has heat if we need it) Sign up at the center for food and volunteer tasks. 
  • Saturday, Oct. 14th, 7-9 PM Cafe 704 – Paul Vornhagen and Aron Kaufman, in person and on Zoom. tickets $10.00
  • Sunday, Oct. 15th, 1-3 PM Quarterly Conversation in Community (QCC) Lunch at 12:30, by donation. At this meeting, we share our ideas, concerns, and desires for the future of our community.
  • Saturday, Oct. 28th, 7-9 PM Full Moon Kirtan with Chaitanya Trevor Eller by donation.


Blessings,   Annie

September 2023 ~ Ministerial Miscellany Rev. Annie Kopko

When I was in Chicago 2 weeks ago for the Parliament of World Religions, one thing that surprised me was the huge number of spiritual groups and communities, including many seminaries, that almost seemed like separate Religions on their own, and yet were obviously part of larger groups as well. Some examples of these which I would like to find out more about are ProSocial Spirituality (with Wayne Teasdale’s work), Greenfaith, a movement for climate justice, and Passageways to Elderhood Alliance.  To me there was an acknowledgement that we are all part of one human family expressing our spirituality in different ways, getting together to share ideas that may not ever be shared as directly-face to face- at any other time. People were very welcoming to one another, openly sharing what beliefs and expressions were working for their spiritual and physical lives. It was especially interesting to meet people from all over the world.

I was glad that the sharing was in the spirit of Interfaith, and that this word was used widely, along with Interspiritual. The program book states that the “Parliament seeks to promote interreligious harmony, rather than unity”.  This approach respects each tradition as it is. I felt this was very much in line with our belief here at the Interfaith Center for Spiritual Growth.

The first Parliament in 1893 in Chicago is considered to be the founding event of the movement toward Interfaith, gathering people of Eastern and Western spiritual traditions.  It took another 100 years for the second Parliament to convene in 1993. This 9th Parliament of the World’s Religions held in Chicago welcomed 7000+ attendees from 95 countries, representing 210 traditions.

The theme of this meeting was “A Call to Conscience, A Call to Action”. The vision of the Parliament of the World’s Religions is a just, peaceful, and sustainable world. I will share much more about the parliament later.

There are some really great events coming up for our spiritual community. You will find more details on our website: https://interfaithspirit.org.  

September 9th, 7-9 pm, Cafe 704 features the Celtic group Nutshell, featuring 6 voices with many instruments including Linda Teaman, Tom Voiles, Glenn Simon, Susie Lorand, Josh Burdick and John Lloyd.  

September 10th, Marianne Williamson will deliver a message entitled “The Spirit of America” at our Sunday Service. Come early for a good seat. 

Sending Blessings for a great month,   Annie

August 2023 ~ Ministerial Miscellany ~ Rev. Annie Kopko

Be willing to be Foolish

I ran across a wonderful quote from the Greek Philosopher Epictetus “If you want to improve, be content to be thought foolish with regard to external things“. Or as Swami Beyondananda puts it: “attain Fool Realization”.        Remember, no one is thinking about us after their initial reaction. They are thinking of the next best thing about themselves. We might as well surrender, it can happen again and again as our spiritual being explores being human. When we are willing to seem foolish, we don’t have to pretend to be perfect any more. What a relief!  Nor are we so concerned about what other people might think about us.  It is interesting, like I said, they are not thinking about us.

When we are not concerned or afraid to be laughed at we will experience more trust and peace in just being ourselves. Laughter is our own best remedy for all kinds of embarrassment. Comedians make a living at this! Part of me has always wanted to be a stand up comedian,  and sometimes I already am. The older I get, the more mistakes I make, so the easier it is to make people laugh. And it makes life a whole lot more fun for me too!  

Each of us is  the light of the world, no matter what we  think.  We  each have our own angel of Love who knows for us, nothing else matters.

Our angels will be gathering with us for events at Interfaith. More information is always on our website: interfaithspirit.org. 

One last Drum and Dance Jam for the year with Curtis Glatter, drummer extraordinaire is happening on Saturday, August 5, 7:30 – 9:00 p.m.  Donations gratefully accepted. Drums available at the Center or bring your own.

Cafe 704 on Saturday, August 12, 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. features the Kozora Quartet: “Global Fusion music” Ken Kozora: Composer, Bass Guitar, Synth, Percussion, Dulcimer, Paul Vornhagen: Sax, Flute, Clarinet, Robert Spalding Newcomb: Guitar, Sitar composition and Enrique “Kito” Pardo: Drum Set. Tickets $10.00 in person at the door or via livestream on Zoom. Go to https://interfaithspirit.org/cafe-704-coffeehouse/ for more info or to purchase tickets for Zoom.

Enjoy the beautiful weather.  Enjoy being everything you are.

Blessings,

Annie

July 2023-Rev. Annie Kopko

“As Good as it Gets”

The other morning I was standing in my kitchen making tea for myself as I do every morning and a really good feeling came over me. I said to myself, “This is as good as it gets”. This is hardly a feeling I would expect on an ordinary morning when the dirty dishes are sitting in the sink, the floor beneath my bare feet is scattered with bits of dirt from the garden outside and the cats are demanding to be fed.  

It is helpful to me to think that if the small stuff, like making tea in the morning is for you not as good as it gets, then the big things, like a vacation in Northern Michigan, a visit to the Tulip Festival, or a great deal on a new car are not going to be as good as it gets either. Several things are happening when a feeling like this occurs. I like to think that if we are able to just be in the present moment, then all events and all experiences can be as good as it gets. Of course, in our time and space, they may not appear to be.

On those rare occasions, when we are in the present moment, all else has to fall away. All judgment has to fall away and all of our fears fall away. I think that all of our dreams and desires also fall away.  It is rare for us to allow that to happen, but this is where true freedom lies. We crave freedom, but usually not enough to let go of all that we hold dear, even for a few moments.

There are events coming up at Interfaith where you will have the opportunity to find that this is as good as it gets. Our Sunday services oftentimes guide us to make that shift in consciousness with a variety of musicians and speakers.  Check our website interfaithspirit.org for more information on all of our classes and events.

Saturday, July 8th at 7PM is Cafe 704, featuring PATH (Scott McWhinney, Chris Hedly and Tim Prosser) and Folk Song Jam Along (Lori Fithian, Jean Chorazyczewski and Eric & Mary Fithian. Bring your voices, drums and folky instruments to join in the fun! The musicians are offering their talents as a special fund-raising event with all proceeds benefiting the Interfaith Center for Spiritual Growth. Tickets are $10.00, join us in person at Interfaith or on Zoom.

Many Blessings,  Annie

June 2023 Ministerial Miscellany Rev. Annie Kopko

Ministerial Miscellany June 2023 

I am writing this month about freedom, well ahead of the 4th of July holiday, so that we have a chance to really think about this idea. How much do we want freedom?  What is it that we are willing to give up in order to feel free?   The truth is, we are naturally free, but we daily heap onto ourselves all the expectations that the ego part of ourselves thinks we ought to be and do in order to be “successful” and we make ourselves into the “prisoners of production”.  Let’s give up some of our attachments to this world and remember that our true expressions of our Spiritual Self is our choice to freely be our joy and our LOVE. We really are free to be happy or not.

What I notice with the recent deaths among the members of our community: (Esther in April, Ray in May, and Rose in June) is that I miss their smiles, and their energy, and their enthusiasm in just being alive. Just to know that we are going to die forces us to make more careful choices about our lives, choices about the thoughts that go through our minds and words that come out of our mouths.  Let’s remember to be grateful for all of our freedoms.

At Interfaith we have many weekly and monthly classes and study groups. Check out our events and lots of useful information on our website at interfaithspirit.org.

Join the last of this series of the Community Sing with Matt Watroba on Wednesday, June 28th at 7:00-8:15 p.m. There will be joyful folk singing (always your old favorites) led by Matt, who is an extraordinary musician from Detroit. Donations are welcomed and encouraged!

Our next Cafe 704 is Saturday, July 8th. Scott McWhinney has announced this will be a fundraiser for the Interfaith Center. He and his band “PATH” and also Lori Fithian and Jean Chorazyczewski leading a “Folk Song Sing Along” will perform from 7:00-9:30 p.m. All funds raised will go to Interfaith. Tickets are $10.00 per person.

The next Drum and Dance Jam with Curtis Glatter is Saturday, August 5th at 7:30-9:00 p.m.  Bring your drum or use one of ours. We appreciate a $5.00 donation for this event.

Sending blessings of freedom to All,     Annie