Support the Center for Swedenborgian Studies
Your generous contribution helps support students, scholarships, classes, public programs, and special projects. If you would like to make a contribution by mail, please mail your contribution to The Center for Swedenborgian Studies at 1798 Scenic Ave. Berkeley, CA 94709.
Dear Fellow New Church Members,
Along my life’s journey I continually see God’s divine providence at work in everything I do. When the ego was more prominent, I was inclined to take credit for some of the good things that happened. A perfect example was when I went through a period of vastation in the late 1960s. I had severed the cords with my parents, was completely on my own, had wanted to go to college but couldn’t afford it, was working at a job I didn’t care for and I got into some trouble with a bunch of guys who were in the same boat. We were all draft age and the Vietnam war was calling for more young men to fight a war that I was not invested in. I was lost in a lost world and had no sense of direction. My prayers became hopeful pleas for purpose, meaning and direction. The late sixties and early seventies produced a lot of turmoil in our world and in my own personal development. At a crossroads in my life, I prayed for guidance and I opened my heart to God’s divine providence which led me to Urbana College (soon to be University). Then through an unlikely source I was connected to the director of admissions at Urbana College. He paved the way for my acceptance, helped me with financial aid and found a job for me on campus. I began my studies there in the fall of 1969 and my world would forever be changed for the better.
I was introduced to the writings of Emanuel Swedenborg by a professor, Reverend Doctor Dorothea Harvey and I met many young Swedenborgians, several would become ministers in the church. The insights and revelations of Swedenborg’s writings provided answers to the many questions swirling around in my head. I had grown up in the Presbyterian Church, was reading about Native American and New Age Spirituality, had read about Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism, Sufiism and others searching for truth, searching for a sense of meaning and purpose. When I discovered Swedenborg’s writings, I truly found what I was searching for: a way to understand God’s love, the wisdom that guides our love and our calling to be of use in accordance with that love and understanding. Now when I hear truth in other religious contexts, I try to find common ground, and I always relate this to my understanding from a Swedenborgian perspective. Although my understanding and comprehension are limited, I have tried to broaden these through prayer, meditation and reading, through love-in-action and through learning from others.
As the years unfurled and divine providence continued to lighten my path, I would meet my soon to be wife, get married, have children, and find my way on a career path that would unfold in unexplainable ways in the years to come. During this time, I would join the local Swedenborgian Church where Dorothea preached, meet some wonderful people along the way, and eventually join the greater church seminary board, SSR in 1996, where our ministers were educated and formed. I was greatly impressed with our faculty, our church leaders, fellow board members and students I met, but I always felt that our church had so much more to give this often confusing and complex world, although it seemed like we were not shining our light for the greater world to see. Then an amazing thing happened on the board. We were at a crossroads trying to decide what direction to take and how to grow our seminary when providentially, we made contact with PSR (Pacific School of Religion) in Berkeley, CA., Jim Lawrence, Kim Hinrichs, and others. This would lead to many controversial discussions with some people having grave doubts about such a move. As we moved forward, doors opened, obstacles were overcome, and we found our new home at PSR! Now, nearly twenty years later, the formulation of CSS and the collaboration with PSR and GTU (Graduate Theological Union), the hiring of Dr. Devin Zuber and Dr. Rebecca Esterson, the ongoing teaching of Dr. George Dole, the very capable leadership and teaching of Dr. Jim Lawrence and a very competent and caring board, we are shining our light for the whole world to see.
Today, much like the 1960’s and early 70’s, our world is struggling with issues of disease, hunger, prejudice, war, violence, injustice, racial inequality, and fear. The airwaves are filled with misinformation and untruths and many fail to see the deep interconnection that binds us all together as God’s children. In many ways it seems as if evil has been empowered. Now more than ever we need God’s love and understanding to give us strength and guidance. Now more than ever we need a clear message of truth, justice and peaceful coexistence. God’s will for all of us is to love one another as He loves us. This is why I am so committed to the mission and purpose of our seminary, the Center for Swedenborgian Studies, in preparing young people to take on these challenges in creating a more peaceful and loving world. Please join me in supporting the CSS and the hope that it brings for our world.
In Love and Peace,
John Titus June 2021
Acs a special tribute to longtime professor George Dole, scholar extraordinaire, we welcome gifts to the George Dole named chair at the Center for Swedenborgian Studies at css.gtu.edu/support-the-center-for-swedenborgian-studies. Please select the Rev. Dr. George Dole Chair to direct your contribution. If you prefer to donate by mail, our address is 1798 Scenic Ave. Berkeley, CA 94709. Thank You!