First Center for Spiritual Living in Kansas meeting in Shawnee
Jrie Newsome followed a long road from the Baptist church she was brought up in to the first Center for Spiritual Living in Kansas.
Newsome is the senior pastor of that new church, the Center for Spiritual Living Crossroads, which was launched in a member’s basement last June and moved later in the year to 6424 Vista Drive in Shawnee’s Attic Business Park.
The church, one of more than 400 Centers for Spiritual Living across the United States, adheres to the teachings of Ernest Holmes, an American spiritual leader and writer whose 1927 book, “The Science of Mind,” serves as the movement’s sacred text.
“If we had a bible, ‘The Science of Mind’ would be our bible,” Newsome said.
It took Newsome a while to discover it, however. Instead, she was raised on the Christian Bible at a Baptist church in Kansas City, Mo., where as a young woman she became troubled by questions about doctrine and the fact that raising those questions was discouraged.
So she began studying other faiths and spiritual traditions and, in the process, happened onto a book that more closely matched her personal beliefs: “The Power of Decision” by Raymond Charles Barker.
Upon reading that book about 20 years ago, Newsome decided she wanted to go to whatever church Barker was associated with. But that church, which Barker opened in 1946, was hundreds of miles away. It was the First Church of Religious Science in New York City. And Newsome wouldn’t learn for a few more years that it was part of the church movement launched by Ernest Holmes that would eventually become known as the Centers for Spiritual Living.
Newsome finally made that connection after a co-worker at Sprint, where she previously worked for 12 years, asked her if she would like to visit his church. There, at a Center for Spiritual Living in Kansas City, Mo., Newsome said, “I heard the message and said, ‘That’s exactly what I believe.’”
She later became an assistant minister at the church and had served in the ministry for more than seven years when the spirit moved her to spread the faith.
One of the central tenets of the Centers for Spiritual Practice is the idea that God created all “but also infused each of us with himself, with divine perfection,” Newsome said.
“There’s no problem that can’t be solved by the God within you,” Newsome said. “We truly believe that each of us should follow that spiritual guide within us that wakes us each day and beats our heart.”
Linda Zamora, a Shawnee resident, was one of the roughly 35 members who helped Newsome co-create the new church, which is only the second Center for Spiritual Practice in the Kansas City area. The search for a location, Zamora said, originally focused on downtown Kansas City’s Crossroads Arts District.
Inspired by the term “crossroads” and its definition as a place from which one attempts to find the right path, members of the new congregation scoured the arts district in search of a suitable church site. But following the exhaustive search, they had not found a structure that was conducive to church use or their budget.
“So we decided, ‘We’re not supposed to be there after all,’” Newsome said. “And once we let it go, we found this location (in Shawnee) the very next day.”
According to Zamora, members have been thrilled with the 3,000-square-foot space, which despite being located in a business park was designed and built for use by another church, which had vacated the space.
The church’s services are held at 11 a.m. on Saturdays, which has proven a more convenient day for many members to attend church, Zamora said. And the small but growing congregation also enjoys the “pretty laid back” environment, where those in shorts and other casual attire are welcome.
Services include weekly messages from Newsome, who quotes from sources ranging from “The Science of Mind” and the Tao Te Ching to the Talmud and Bible.
“We wouldn’t say we are Christian,” Newsome said. “But do we believe in the works of Jesus? Yes we do. We believe in that golden strand of truth that runs through all religions and spiritual traditions. Take what they all have in common, and that’s what we believe. Where they all cross paths is where we are.”
In addition to Newsome’s spiritual messages, the weekly services also include spiritual and popular music, meditation and prayer.
“But we believe prayer does something to the mind of the one who is praying,” Newsome said. “It doesn’t do anything to God.”
In short, she added, the Center for Spiritual Practice Crossroads “is for people wanting to tap into their own divinity and be reminded of it again and again.”
The church is currently served by only two paid staff members, Newsome and music director Rick Bacus, and some of its space is yet to be furnished.
But thanks to several generous donations, Newsome said, the church has new chairs and a baby grand piano in its sanctuary and a fully furnished nursery. Still, it may not be for everybody, Newsome said.
“But I know there will be people who will find the time we meet and what we teach and who we are just perfect for them,” she said.