Nancy Thurston, Board Chair
My doorway into this work started the year I turned 30, when I went to a Ministry of Money workshop in 1984. The words “ministry of money” meant nothing to me. But I spent the whole time in tears because for the first time I understood that Jesus had something to say about money, which is connected to the world and it had everything to do with how I lived. My family was the global family and Jesus had a lot to say about that. Rarely has anyone in the church been interested in the work that I do around money and Jesus. I am still a part of the church. I still love the church and it drives me crazy. There is a deep alternative that comes from the spirit that for me flows through Jesus that needs to be held up. There is something about that is really important to me.
When I started, I knew that there was some money in the family coming, but that was way down the road. What drew me in was this awareness that there is the world, there is this faith, and how I live, and how I spend my money makes a difference. Focusing on wealth is important partly because it’s edgy and can open conversation. For me, working on economic justice is a spectrum and wealth is an important piece. Most people do not do anything except say you are wealthy and you are wrong. How do we shift wealth in the world? I am very interested in that.
When I talk to someone and you can see so much opening in them, the clarity and the movement, and then they walk away, it breaks my heart. I want to pull them back. I am learning to let that soften and see what comes when we walk our own journeys. I have deep respect for the words “spiritual transformation.” I feel that there is a refining fire that can bring spirit, flesh, and the oneness of what it means to live this in the world today. I can feel it in my bones. I know it’s happening.
gina Breedlove, Board Treasurer
The first time that I came to Wisdom & Money, I immediately felt kinship with the language and Lectio Divina. I picked up Steve’s copy of The Wisdom Jesus. It was vibrating, so Rose gifted me with a copy. It was revelatory. This organization gifted me with a new language – a deeper understanding of things that have already been part of my life.
I inherited this ‘never enough’ from my family and carried deep shame about it. When we shared our financial numbers, I wrote them down and I looked at them. It brought up shame and so much grief. And I felt held and sometimes defensive and sometimes entitled. But it was such an opportunity to hold it all in my hands – hold it in my hands – even though I’m terrified and embarrassed and some baby girl inside me is screaming, “Get out of the room!” But I gained something – some medicine. I can sit with folk and talk about this organization. I can speak about Wisdom & Money because I feel less and less division.
I’m not mad at wealth. I love resources. I love reveling in the finest and grace. I love beauty. I don’t want anyone to apologize for living lavishly. But I also know how to share and how people share with me. I have also been hungry. This misconception about wealth – about who gets to have – is something I can really help eradicate. That is a big feeling in my body. It feels like I need other people to help me hold the energy.
I didn’t join Wisdom & Money. I was compelled. I knew this was my place. It has remade me in ways that make me have this language now. I love what I understand about the Wisdom tradition. I love what I understand about Jesus and all the practices. In terms of money as a doorway to spiritual transformation, that I understand. I can see how it can be when we are healing. We can create a balanced world. I don’t believe in hopelessness. I see this is our opportunity. That’s why I’m here – because I know I can be of service and it’s been of service to me.
Bernard Murphy, Board Secretary
For me, it’s very simple: I joined the Board of Directors because Rose asked me. I was intrigued as I could see that something was emerging that I wanted to not only support, but also ‘to be a part of’.
My interest in seeking to understand what ‘money’ is and how it works in the world has been growing and developing for many years. Every individual regardless of material wealth, social class and/or position, gender, race, ethnicity, or national origin (to name but a few differentiators), has to work with money in some way on a day-to-day basis. It has always been a common denominator linking all of humanity. The age of materialistic consciousness that appears to be entering the exponential curve has placed money more centrally into the spotlight as a determinant in our lives.
What we say about money and how we work with money in our lives is an expression of who we are as indivi-duals. I am always curious to explore how my own relationship and daily dealings with money are doorways to uncovering my own masks. How I am working with money — how I think about it, how I process my giving/receiving/irreverence to money — is an opportunity to reflect on what may lie behind those masks. Embodied within the mission of Wisdom and Money is the invitation “…to invite people of wealth (self identified) to engage with money as a doorway to spiritual transformation…”. Rose invited me into this process and it was truly an invitation I could not refuse.
When my dad died, I had this trust fund arrive in my life. I felt spiritually and morally bankrupt to have this resource. I’m still working it. It’s still not a comfortable place to be but this organization has saved my life because there are people here to talk to about what feels like a dissonance. I have ideals of practicing generosity and sharing material resources. And then I also have the part of me that grasps and holds on. I want to put that part of me out so it can be seen and heard, so the shame loses its power over me, and how I move through the world. I recognize that this is an area of tremendous pain in my life, but it also has potential for tremendous growth. That’s why I’m here.
I was excited because of what had already gone on inside the work of Harvest Time. The journey with the Mississippi Land was spiritual and holy. Three groups stepped forward to accept 54.4 acres of land in Mississippi as a gift. Initially, each group was applying to have the land. Then, these amazing people (Harvest Time) asked if we would all come together and accept this land as one. I knew that togetherness is wonderful but given who was giving the land – white, wealthy, Christian people – and who was receiving that land – rural, urban, black people, I knew we were getting ready to be in a long journey. I have lived enough on this earth and listened in rooms with everyone. I was not listening for what I already know can be a problem. I was listening for something different.
What I saw happen is what does happen – all the issues started to come up about Harvest Time as white people of wealth. One of the groups predicted that Harvest Time would take that land back. And that happened. That was not my focus. My focus was on what I was seeking – partners understanding what it was that they believed in and how to hold that belief in horrible times. I saw my partners having to stand in the belief of the Holy Spirit while they also had to discern some of the things that emerged. What I witnessed was watching them walk that and walk that through. I saw that it is possible to have that level of engagement inside of a critical place of separation that has divided this country. To have those factors present around something so loaded – Mississippi land – and then to watch the truth of the Spirit by which it was given manifest –– no matter how hard it was to be called something – it was glory. That’s what I joined. Truthfully. I could not think of a better place.
We are responsible for engaging Christians of financial wealth. I’m holding the spirit of how we are engaging Christians of wealth. I am to see nothing but the spirit of being, not the distress that money has created. I take that very seriously. Nothing should be in the way of my being able to hold that – while we are also uncovering those places that impact individuals who identify themselves as financially wealthy. We are to keep seeing the light while they are opening up their light in order to be able to be inside their spirit. I feel like it is such a critical place given where we are in the world right now. To have an organized group of people who say that wisdom and money is a place by which we are looking for spiritual transformation – yes, I am here.
During a Be Present 18-month training on race, gender, power and class, I sat on two committees with Rose. What was clear to me after working on these committees was that this was an amazing person to work with in terms of creativity, playfulness, integrity and heart. Toward the end of that training, I needed work. In one of the check in’s I said that and Rose in her check in said she needed to hire someone. That’s how the match began.
My friends in my Jewish support group said, “You’re going to work with a Christian organization that works with people of wealth?” Then I had the experience of sitting with Rose and going through my budget and she encouraged me to include what I did to take care of myself; what I spent supporting things I believed in in the world. That was used to help figure out my salary. When I told my friends, they wanted to know if there were any more job openings.
I was hired in part for what I had learned within the context of Be Present. It was actually part of the expectation of being here. So when those moments came up for me – and they did a lot in the beginning about working in an organization that was specifically by and for Christians of wealth – I was able to talk about those moments and feel held and not dismissed. The reason I stayed was because of the people. I’ve always felt really good about the practices, like transparency and telling the truth, paying attention to your body/being in nature, chanting. There were a lot of practices that from the beginning felt good to me.
Wisdom & Money is focused on people who identify themselves as being of wealth. I appreciated the fact that that wealth was never defined. There are some organizations where you have to have x million of dollars or you have to contribute x thousands of dollars to participate. What I appreciated about this organization was that the definition was that you understood yourself to have more than enough money. I definitely see myself as having more than enough. Even when the bills were hard to figure out at the end of the month, when I saw what was happening with people around me, I understood myself to have a lot. So there was a way I could include myself in that definition.
The gift of being here is to see all the ways that money can create havoc in relationship and on the flip side to see how healing and transformation can begin to happen by breaking the silence and by going for what we would love and what our hearts call for. I have been able to see the evidence of that within the circles and the individuals that I met. That is a great thing for me to step into. I can see the pain that money brings. There is very little benefit in that for myself or for the world. I am asking how do I work with money as an energetic resource for what I really want? I am at the very beginning of that. I am so grateful that I am here.