On June 21st, 2018, Rev Diane Berke, Founder and Spiritual Director, Rev Brad Learmonth, President of the Board and Ilene Sameth, CEO shared the following video with the One Spirit community.
The Town Hall Meeting
On June 21st, 2018 at 7PM EDT, we held a Town Hall meeting to answer questions and share more about the process that has led us to this remarkable moment in the history of this organization. (Video Below)
Meet DeShannon and Eileen
The two members of our Educational Staff that have been asked to move into an apprenticeship with Rev Diane Berke in order to facilitate their leadership in our Seminary program are:
Iyanifa Rev. DeShannon Bowens, who will step into the role of Assistant Director Of Seminary, is the founder of ILERA Counseling and Education Services, and works as a psychotherapist, professional development trainer, and spiritual counselor. Through ILERA, DeShannon offers workshops and programs focusing on: sexuality and spirituality, sexual abuse, vicarious trauma and wellness. She received a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Missouri - St. Louis, and a Master’s degree in Counseling from Pace University. DeShannon is an initiated priestess in the Yoruba-Ifa spiritual tradition as well as an ordained Interfaith-Interspiritual Minister through One Spirit Learning Alliance. She currently teaches and serves as a Dean to first year students in One Spirit’s seminary program.
DeShannon is the author of Hush Hush: An African American Family Breaks their Silence on Sexuality and Sexual Abuse (2007, 2015). The second edition of her book inspired a full length play of the same title, as well as an arts education program called Hush Hush the Healing Project. She is the first recipient of the Bill T. Jones Award from the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists, an Emeritus Scholar for State of Formation and was recently published in the Journal of Interreligious Studies. Some presentations of DeShannon’s work has taken place at the American Academy of Religion, Harvard University, The Children’s Aid Society, Washington University, New York Theological Seminary, University of Connecticut, and the Values Caucus of the United Nations. For more about DeShannon and her work see www.ilera.com.
Rev. Eileen Fisher, who will step into the role of Co-Leader of the First Year of Seminary, has been teaching in NJ public schools for over 20 years. She holds a Master’s degree in Education and has experience developing educational programs while working with young children, families and adult learners. She is currently a Mindful Education teacher in a middle school. Eileen was ordained in 2010 as an Interfaith/Interspiritual minister through One Spirit Interfaith Seminary, and has supported One Spirit as a classroom assistant and coordinator of the Mentoring Ministry Program. She has served through her local hospice and a women’s prison in New Jersey. A Sufi dervish in the Nur Ashki Jerrahi Order, Eileen strives to walk the path of Remembrance and expresses her ministry by supporting the spiritual growth of others through spiritual counseling, Pranic healing. officiating life cycle ceremonies and protecting and caring for the Earth. Eileen believes we are all connected and called to demonstrate the transformative power of Love through expression of our own Divine Wisdom in ways that will bless and heal the world.
The timeline for transition is the following:
- Summer of 2018: Rev Deshannon steps into the role of Assistant Director Of Seminary and begins apprenticing with Rev Diane Berke. She is joined, in the fall, by Rev Eileen Fisher who will also be trained to co-lead seminary over the next year.
- Spring of 2019: A discernment process will be done by Rev Diane, the Succession Committee and Rev DeShannon and Rev Eileen to determine the person who will step into co-leadership of the second year of seminary with DeShannon.
- Fall of 2019: Rev DeShannon and Rev Eileen co-lead the first year of Seminary of the class of 2021 and Rev Diane leads the 2nd year training of the class of 2020. Additionally, she will be training Rev Deshannon and her co-leader for 2nd year in that process.
- Fall of 2020: Rev DeShannon and Rev Eileen, as well as the co-leader for 2nd year of Seminary move into full Directorship of the One Spirit Interfaith Seminary.
- Fall of 2020: Rev Diane Berke moves into her supporting position of One Spirit Learning Alliance.