Newsletter Vol. 3 No. 2





Parishioner Lee Canipe wrote:

> Since graduating from the HRC course and moving back to my
> small hometown, I've felt a strong desire to practice the old
> rootworking  traditions indigenous to this area.  Preserving
> the old  traditional ways has become a passion of mine. People
> have started calling me the "Reporter" because I carry a
> notebook and pen with me  everywhere I go and jot down
> people's stories and recollections and  practices.
> These practices are of course Protestant (as are my parents
> and all my relatives and 99% of everyone around here).  I have
> been attending my family's church and immersing myself in
> Southern, rural Protestant culture.  I like the gospel-singing
> and emotion-led services.  I dislike the tendency towards
> fundamentalism and exclusion.
> My personal style and taste is for beauty and aesthetic
> appeal. As a 12-year-old I was baptized (and later confirmed)
> an Anglo-Catholic  (Episcopalian). Primarily because as a
> 12-year-old gay boy I found the  liturgy, the decor, and the
> fine silken vestments F-A-B-U-L-O-U-S :-)
> I spent most of my life in the nation's capital and was
> exposed to  many different religions and traditions.  And
> fortunately, my mother--  a child of the '60's -- raised me to
> respect diversity and taught me that there is One God but many
> different names and ways to know God. Another thing she use to
> always say is, "God is a Spirit and you are to  worship him in
> Spirit and Truth", which a lot of Spiritual Churches  say. 
> Additionally, I've been involved with Cuban & Puerto Rican
> Spiritism since I was a teenager.
> Now I am feeling very conflicted between traditional
> Protestant hoodoo as practiced in the Carolinas and the New
> Orleans sort of Catholic hoodoo/Spiritual Church/wonderfully
> inclusive pantheistic M.I.S.C.  way.  I feel a real affinity
> towards the inclusive nature of M.I.S.C.  and don't feel the
> least bit heretical for working with "Lucky Gods".  I have a
> great talent for creating elaborate altars  and ritual
> settings.  I think I'd fit in perfectly with one of the
> old-timey NOLA Spiritual Churches.
> My dilemma is one of "authenticity".  Should I adhere strictly
> to the old-fashion magico-religious traditions of my culture
> (which sadly is  changing and dying out), or go with my own
> personal inspiration and feeling (being more eclectic and
> drawing on diverse sources)?  I  suppose my background in
> Anglo-Catholicism and Espiritismo would lend  credence to
> incorporating Saints, Guides, and other entities into my
> practice.  We are after all the products of our own individual
> journeys.
> Any thoughts about incorporating M.I.S.C. practices into one's
> spirituality?
> Lee Canipe

Lee, i can certainly relate to your situation, although mine is fairly different in origin, the end-result is similar. I was raised by an Agnostic / Atheist (depending on her level of depression, social politeness, and / or degree of political outrage at the time) Jew who had been baptized Lutheran as a teenager, as part of her family's failed attempt to appease Hitler's legal system. Her sister was baptized Catholic. My grandmother and grandfather were hoping that "conversions" would satisfy the Nazi death-machine as they had settled the Inquisition. Eventually, seeing that he conversions made no difference, the whole family picked up and fled Germany.

My mother's chief visual interest in life was Renaissance Italian art -- namely, Catholic church art. As a child, i was taken from cathedral to cathedral in Italy to view altar pieces and frescoes. I formed a taste for this art style as well, and simultaneously came to dislike the then-contemporary 1950s Israeli-made "modern art" Jewish religious accoutremonts -- and i positively recoiled from the giant black and white posters in the local Jewish Community Center that depicted starving, sick, dying prisoners in Nazi concentration camps, with the slogan "Never Forget the Six Million."

Then i found the vein of Southern Protestant Christianity that had made its way to the Bay Area. It came in several variations -- Baptist, Pentecostal, Holiness, Spiritual Church -- and among those variations were further sub-divisions, some of which i could grasp fairly easily -- Emmanuel; Beth-El; First, Second, and Third Baptist -- and others i could scarely comprehend: Two-Seed-In-The-Spirit, True-Vine, Consecrated Divine. I liked the prettiness of the gilded Catholic churches, the lovely Victorian and Mission-style architecture of the Methodists and Episcopalians, and the music in the Southern chuches. In the end, it was the music that won my heart, and i gravitated to the Southern churches -- at least to those which were welcoming, open, and friendly, and did not preach a lot of hellfire, or feature mad-eyed ministers staring at me from under their bushy, scary eyebrows while yelling, "Yer goin ta Hay-El! Yer goin ta Hay-El!"

Actually, i kinda liked the Southern White Assemblies of God "Yer goin ta Hay-El!" guy, because after working everyone up with that chant, he got them to do a responsive reading of Romans Ten and Nine, confess the Lord Jesus as their personal saviour, and march around the little church in single file, chanting "Ah'm a-goin ta Hey-Van! Ah'm a-goin ta Hey-Van!" -- but it was still unnerving to visit that church; i just didn't look like the other parishioners, all of whom pretty much looked like my now-husband nagasiva -- tall, gaunt Dust Bowl refugees from the hills of Tennessee and Kentucky -- a congregation of John Carradines.

I didn't look like the other parishioners in the little storefront Holiness church down on San Pablo near Dwight Way, either -- all of whom were pretty much Mississippi or Louisiana born Black shipyard workers and their families -- but as i entered, the little boy usher always handed me a tambourine, which was a lot nicer than being told i was going to burn in a lake of eternal fire.

I am a sucker for gilding -- so eventually all of the Asian religions drew me in. Upon reaching young adulthood, i discovered the effulgence of Hindu religious art. Wow! I also fell hard tor Chinese Taoism. Great stuff! But i could not abide the repressiveness of the Hindu caste system and Hindu sexism, and i had no patience for the Chinese treatment of women, institutionalized as it was in social and religious mores.

And so it has gone for me ever since: i love all religions, insofar as they lead us to aspire to the highest values, and present us with the most artfully and musically inspiring reminders of the immanence of the divine -- but when they fail to deliver on their promises -- when they promote exclusivism in the Great beyond or, worse still, plot the extermination or domination on Earth of those outside their folds, i turn away from them.

Mine is a religion of nature, beauty, truth, and spirit -- and not a religion of political intrigue, institutionalized violence, racism, sexism, or narrow-minded scripturalism.

I am not spiritually eclectic for the sake of eclectism per se nor because i seek in religion a satisfaction of the urge to engage in socio-cultural novelty. Rather, my eclecticism is the natural extension of my seacrh for truth and my love of collections.

For me, the best way to appreciate the beauty and truth in any given religion, sect, or denomination -- even one that has historically embraced (or may still embrace) political intrigue, institutionalized violence, racism, sexism, or narrow-minded scripturalism -- is to simply be there, attend the services, and gratefully receive the blessings offered, whatever they may be.

Missionary Independent Spiritual Church was born of my own aesthetic and spiritual impulses -- to celebrate divinity, to surround myself with beautiful ecclesiastical art and architecture, to rejoice in church music -- and to make a conscious choice to eliminate from each religion upon which i draw for inspiration any hateful, prideful, or arrogant assumptions of exclusivism.

Your mileage may vary.

Sister cat


My conversations with Brothers Lee Canipe and Fred Burke, and with Sister Nadezda Karuna Potter about the "Missionary" aspect of this church has inspired me to list some of the physical plant requirements of a church or chapel operation under the jurisdction of Missionery Independent Spiritual Church.

Here are the MINIMUM requirements:

Preliminary Resources:

Ordained Missionary Independent minister Warrant from Missionary Independent Spiritual Church Church: Free-standing building painted in the "Church Colours" Chapel: Dedicated room or area painted in the "Church Colours"


One or more Deity Altars
One or more Candle Altars
Candle holders
Table for divination
Pews/chairs (min. 2 chairs [practitoner/petitioner])
Altar statuary
Wall Decor (Prints, paintings, murals, plaques)
Lectern (optional)
Incense burner
Candle Dressing Station
Prayer Request Book
Scripture Book(s)
Music System (recordings, instruments, etc.)
Holder(s) for Pew Cards / Donation Envelopes
Ashtray for spent matches, tapers, etc.
Coffee maker / Tea pot
Donation Box
Fire Extinguisher
Storage for Tools and Supplies

Divination Tools (selected by the practitioner[s]):

Playing cards
Oracle Cards
Tarot Cards
Crystal Ball
Scrying Stone
Tea Cups

Candle Service Tools:

Candle-dressing tool (screwdriver, nail, awl, etc.)
Writing tools (pens, pencils)
Paper for petitions
Splint-wick holder
Prayer cloth
Lighter (optional)

General Supplies:

Candle Dressing supplies (herbs, oils, glitter, etc.)
Anointing Oils
Sand (to line Incense Burner(s) and Ashtray)
Pew Cards
Donation envelopes
Coffee / Tea
Lighter Fluid (optional)
Altar cloth(s) (optional)
Lectern cloth (optional)

I hope this is of interest to those who are considering ordination and pastorship.

Bishop cat


On June 22, 2008 we established a Church Fan Committee at Missionary Independent.

The job of this committee is

(1) To acquire funds for the printing and distribution of Church Fans, both by a direct request to the membership and by the placement in the church of a "Fan Fund" collection box.

(2) To select four-colour illustrative artwork -- whether original, vintage illustrations, or stock art -- for the Church Fans, based upon our available finances, time constraints on volunteers, and, most of all, on our ability to recruit a volunteer with professional-level Photoshop skills.

(3) To typeset the message on the backs of the fans (This job has been assigned to Sister cat)

(4) To transmit the artwork and tyesetting to the fan-making company.

(5) To distribute by mail one fan to each person who has donated money to the Fan Fund, and to distribute the rest of the fans as needed, to church visitors and members.

(6) To publish, with gratitude, the names of all those who contribute to the Church Fan Fund. (To date, we have received $80.00 from three donors.)

The work of the Church Fan Fund Committee is recorded on its own web page:

Missionary Independent Spiritual Church Hand Fan Fund Report, 2008


On June 22nd, 2008, we established a committee whose job it shall be to collect and render usable to church vistors and supporters a cyber-hymnal. This is a call for volunteers who are familiar with old-style church hymns and gospel music, and/or who are experienced with handling digital audio files and typesetting for pdf files.

If you would like to join this committee, please call the Church at 707-887-7808 and ask for Sister cat.

The work of the Church CyberHymnal Committee is recorded on its own web page:

Missionary Independent Spiritual Church Cyber-Hymnal Report, 2008


On June 22nd, 2008, we established a committee whose job it shall be to collect and render usable to church visitors and supporters a digital Gospel Music Playlist, particularly one that is available through itunes.

Sister Michaele Maurer is the lead vocalist on this committee, and is responible for producing a soreadsheet version of the playlist that can be used by both members and visitors as a guideline of good gospel music to puschase for home use.

If you would like to join this committee, please call the Church at 707-887-7808 and ask for Sister cat.

The work of the Church Gospel Playlist Committee is recorded on its own web page:

Missionary Independent Spiritual Church Gospel Playlist Report, 2008


On June 22nd, 2008, we established a committee whose job it shall be to collect and place into an online calendar, a representative sampling of the holidays of as many cultures and religious as possible.

On July 1st, 2008, Laura Kate Barrett volunteered and was appointed the head of the Calendar Committee for a period of one year.

If you would like to join this committee, please call the Church at 707-887-7808 and ask for Sister cat.

The work of the Church Calendar Committee is recorded on its own web page:

Missionary Independent Spiritual Church Calendar Committee Report, 2008


If or church were located in a bigger guilding, a physical book store would be feasible, but we know that's not do-able, so we are leaving the books "virtual" and concentrating on small gift items for on-site sales at the church.

The first item offered for sale in the Gift Shop will be our darling 2008 Anniversary Hand Fan.

After that, Sindy Todo and i will be talking about a small line of church goods to offer that will not take up a lot of space and can be mailed easily.

In order to store these goods, the church will sub-lease a space in the barn that is currently being rented by the occult shop next door (Lucky Mojo Curio Co.). Payments will be taken through Paypal only, and a Paypal shopping cart will be set up.

Because the church's virtual Book Shop will carry extensive lists of titles on methods of divination, the church gift shop will feature the sales of the divinatory items themselves -- card sets, rune sets, crystal balls, pendulums, and so forth.

In order to maximize fund-raising potential, divination tool sales will be handled by the chuch's gift shop itself, not by an Amazon virtual store.

We already have a wholesale buying account with the Lucky Mojo Curio Co. If the church buys divination tools at wholesale from the Lucky Mojo and resells them at retail prices through our own gift shop, the church will reap a larger commission than it could through Amazon virtual sales -- even after paying sub-lease rent space -- and Lucky Mojo's wholesale sales to the church will benefit the occult shop, which is a fair return to them, considering how extremely generous they have been in donating statuary, supplies, and labour to the church during its initial building phase.

You can find the Church Gift Store on its own web page:

Missionary Independent Spiritual Church Gift Shop

The Church Bookstores each have their own web pages, sorted by topic:


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