Frequently Asked Questions
How is this different from church?
The Spiritual Forum is a ministry led by Rev. Carol Saunders, but we are not a church. We have no membership and no teams, committees or groups to organize and uphold. Community activities happen organically by those who have interest. When we gather we don’t come to experience a service where elements, like the sermon, are broadcast to you. We know that Spirit is active in all people and we learn from each other. The experience you have here happens through the people who are present. Because of all these things The Spiritual Forum is place where you can grow spiritually, connect with other interesting people who are on the spiritual path, and not experience the pressure of membership or the presence of politics and power structures that are sometimes present in a church setting.
What do you mean by dialogue?
Dialogue is the exploration of a topic between two or more people. Prior to our gathering, Rev. Carol communicates a spiritual topic via a weekly newsletter with specific inquiry questions, and she asks us to be in consideration of them. When we come together for The Spiritual Forum, some people choose to share their personal experiences in reference to the topic. Rev. Carol may engage the person who is sharing with observations and she may ask clarifying questions. She may also ask the person sharing to dig deeper or consider another idea. We ask everyone present to actively listen and not engage the person speaking. That way we all stay focused on listening. If someone is moved to have a conversation with another person, there is time for that afterwards. We invite everyone to stay for coffee at the Connection Café.
What is expected of me if I come?
We ask that you come with an open mind and heart and generously listen. If you choose to speak during The Spiritual Forum, you will need to sign a podcast release form granting us permission to use your voice on the podcast. After you have attended for awhile and feel more comfortable, you may choose to be in SEVA (sacred service) and help with the activities of putting on our gathering.
Do I have to believe what you believe?
All belief systems are welcome. We will never tell people what to believe. Rev. Carol is an ordained Unity minister and her teachings are rooted in Unity. She is also an ordained Interfaith minister and is familiar with multiple faiths. Our dialogues are centered on some basic tenets and you will find that most participants identify with them. But you can keep whatever beliefs you came in the door with. We have regular forum attendees with Jewish, Hindu, Catholic, Protestant, New Thought and agnostic roots. We also have people of varying political affiliations. We welcome everyone.
Do you quote or reference scripture?
Rev. Carol will often use a Bible quote or story to illustrate a topic. We look at the Bible allegorically, in historical and cultural context, and as a story about the evolution of our own spiritual lives.
Does everyone have to talk?
No. After Rev. Carol introduces our topic she invites people to share their experiences. There is an allotted amount of time so not everyone who wants to speak is able to. Most people just listen. Anyone who chooses to speak is asked to complete a podcast release form.
Do you do service in the greater community?
All activities, including service projects, are organized organically by Spiritual Forum participants. There is no person, team or governing body overseeing these. Anyone who has an idea for a service project, group or social activity is free to make it happen during community time after The Spiritual Forum or engage with others about it on the The Spiritual Forum Community Facebook page.
What is the role of the minister?
The minister organizes our Sunday gatherings. She opens with a guided meditation and facilitates the forum discussion. She is a spiritual teacher at heart and provides insights and considerations while challenging us to expand our awareness and apply what we learn in our everyday lives. She also writes a weekly newsletter, leads weekly prayer calls, oversees the administration of the organization, and makes herself available for spiritual counseling and personal prayer calls.
Do you charge for this?
The Spiritual Forum, Inc. is a non-profit corporation registered in the state of Illinois. We have expenses associated with rent, website, custodian, minister, sound support/engineering, materials, etc. We do not charge but we accept donations. There is time allotted during our gathering for people to give as they feel moved. All donations are tax deductible.