After a chance encounter with the Spiritualist Church of the Comforter one Sunday morning, Judy Campbell-Clark left her profession as a craftsperson and decided to devote her life to the church. On Saturday, November 19, she will be officially ordained as a minister and will celebrate with a reception.
Last week, she took some time to speak with The Independent about her faith.
What was your life like before the Spiritualist Church became a part of it? How did your life up to then shape your religious convictions?
I am a fourth-generation Santa Barbaran, so I have lived in this community my whole life. I lead a fairly simple existence. I was a self-employed craftsman for many, many years.
My mother and grandmother were the most influential figures in my spiritual life. They didn’t attend any formal churches, but they did hold very strong spiritual beliefs, especially pertaining to the afterlife and the belief that our souls cycle through numerous lives. They would also consult mediums on occasion.
Exposure to these doctrines was essential to my spiritual molding. When I finally came across the Church of the Comforter and saw how it very much complemented my already-existing convictions, welcoming the church into my life seemed so natural.
How did you become involved with the Spiritualist Church?
I quite literally stumbled upon the church one Sunday when I was walking my dog. I had passed the building countless times through the years, but on this particular morning I felt strangely curious. When I asked someone walking in what the building was used for, I was invited inside with my dog. During the service, the reverend delivered a message to my dog that was so spot on. I’ve come back every Sunday since then.
What made you want to become a minister and what the process of your ordination like?
The church came to me at a time in my life when I was looking for a way to really connect with my spirituality and to serve my community somehow. After my first service at the church, I learned about the Unfoldment classes, through which one can learn to unfold their mediumship. After four years of studying, testing, and exploring my spiritual connection to the dead, I finally became licensed.
What would you say is the key difference between your church and other places of worship?
We are a community free of dogma. We do not have any saviors, though we do respect the teaching of wise men like Jesus Christ, for we do not need saviors for our growth. We believe in personal responsibility, that we create our own happiness and unhappiness.
We also believe in the continuity of life and that our loved ones stay connected with our lives after they’ve passed through the spiritual side. We aim to prove this through our mediums and the healing services they offer. In fact, we demand that proof.
What types of services do you offer at your church?
We offer hands-on healing services every Sunday morning before the main service. Our main service consists of hymn singing, lectures, and then spirit greetings during which members of the congregations may receive messages from deceased loved ones through one of our messengers. We also offer message services on Wednesday afternoons open to anyone from the public who wishes to communicate with a spirit.
What do you feel is your most significant contribution as a minister?
I hope that I am helping create a community that inspires people for their own spiritual value and that promotes the expression of that spirituality in any way they see fit. We as a church are extremely open to new ideas and outside philosophies that can contribute to our growth in this life. I had to make the tough decision to end my career as a craftsperson, but as difficult as it was, I know I am now working toward something more meaningful than I ever could have imagined.
Judy Campbell-Clark will be ordained as a minister on Saturday, November 19, at the Spiritualist Church of the Comforter, 1028 Garden Street, in downtown Santa Barbara. Call (805) 965-4474 or see churchofthecomforter.nsac-churches.org for more info.