Filling the Pews – Part 6: Choosing To Embrace A Place Of Worship

By Brandon HENSLEY

If the great fictional wizard Albus Dumbledore once told Harry Potter that is it our choices that show what we truly are rather than our abilities, Rev. Beverly Craig would have been there to back up that statement.

Craig is the head of the Center for Spiritual Living, located near the top of Dunsmore Avenue in La Crescenta. She is a purveyor of the free will philosophy, and with people’s different abilities, they must choose wisely, for there can be consequences or rewards.

“No goodness goes unrewarded,” she said.

The center opened in 1948. Craig, who was born in Nebraska but is a longtime La Cañada resident, has worked for the center since 1994 and has been the reverend since 2002.

The center may still be a bit of an unknown to many, by either its location or by what Craig and her people believe. Confusingly put, Craig teaches Christian metaphysics. Simply put, “We believe in a God connection. A spiritual connection,” she said.

On the United Centers for Spiritual Living website, a quote from the philosophy’s founder Ernest Holmes, reads, “The Science of Mind is the study of Life and the nature of the laws of thought; the conception that we live in a spiritual Universe; that God is in, through, around and for us.”

Craig said if all of this is going on, it is people’s duty to embrace their talents for the world to see.

“We’re here to give gifts to the world. What are your gifts?” she said. “Some people say to me, ‘Well I don’t have a gift.’ But they’re a great mom, they’re a great grandparent, they’re a great friend … you’re here to express your gifts to give to the world, and we help people look deeper so they understand that.”

“We don’t believe in belittling ourselves,” she said.

Jesus said judge not by appearances, and that is something the center itself has to battle. It’s not the traditional song dance routine of a priest or pastor talking as members read from the Bible. Instead, they read from “The Metaphysical Interpretations of the Bible,” a sort of textbook based on the Bible.

Services start out with a praise song and other musicians will play solos, and Craig will speak for about 20 minutes. There are also practitioners, or professional prayers.

Prayer is something that the center stresses. Craig said she used to believe prayer was only for someone’s health, but now she says it can be used to wish for abundance, for success. If something is going wrong in a person’s life, “Believe that something is happening with it and for it, just by prayer. So I talk about Jesus a lot,” she said.

Craig said she would like a bigger congregation. She said sometimes people will call her and say that never knew about a place like this. Others will come to a service and tell her that was just what they needed to hear.

But going to church is an ongoing problem for people in Southern California and nationwide. Pastors and rabbis alike have said more people increasingly believe that the Church is not relevant in their lives anymore.

Craig believes the Church has to teach practicality, and maybe more folks will start come.

“I think a lot of people protect their weekends. They don’t want to take the time,” she said. “And yet one hour on the weekend can change their lives.”