“Better to illuminate than merely to shine to deliver to others contemplated truths than merely to contemplate.” – Thomas Aquinas
Soon after sunset, on Manhattan Island, an unmarked white van slowly approaches the Library at Columbia University. Inside the van are cases of heavy equipment and a portable stage. The van parks in front of the Library and almost immediately, volunteers arrive to unload it. Then they begin setting up the stage and a powerful outdoor projector that is connected and focused. Before long, an image is projected on the facade of the Library with this message: BLACK SURVIVORS MATTER. The volunteers are members of “The Illuminator,” a small New York City group of social justice activists who project progressive messages on buildings and iconic landmarks around the City. Their website clearly states that their purpose is to “Amplify the voices of the unheard.” Convergent Streams and Universal Spirit Broadcasting Network share the same purpose as “The Illuminator” by magnifying the best ideals and brightest attributes of the Independent Sacramental Movement (ISM).
A JOURNEY OF 10,000 MILES
Oprah Winfrey offers this perspective, “You have to find what sparks a light in you so that you in your own way can illuminate the world.” During the summer of 2013, I became intrigued with the idea of traveling coast to coast seeking the sparks of the ISM jurisdictions and clergy. In the late fall, my wife and I departed Phoenix, Arizona on a journey of 10,000 miles to come upon the bright lights of the ISM. Living on the road towing our seventeen-foot pop-up trailer, we started the adventure on the west coast of California where I first met and interviewed Father John Trubina in a suburb of San Francisco. Over the next nine months, we well exceeded touring 10,000 miles of the United States before landing in Pueblo West, Colorado for a much-appreciated time-out. Traveling coast to coast, I was introduced to many ISM jurisdictions, bishops, and priests. I videotaped 24 interviews and was honored by everyone being open and sharing their answers to my three questions: First, “How did you find the ISM?” Second, “What is your ISM ministry?” Third, “What do you see as the future of the ISM?”
Every single interview offered different views and answers to my questions; however, with one exception, all of the jurisdictions that I encountered shared one common characteristic: Absence of an outreach ministry to the ISM community via publication/broadcast media. After traveling coast to coast, I concluded that the Old Catholic Churches International (OCCI) was the only ISM jurisdiction that produced a quarterly publication that was dedicated and focused on reporting the beliefs and activities of ISM clergy and community. My journey of 10,000 miles confirmed a personal resolve of becoming stronger with my ministry’s alliance with the OCCI and Convergent Streams.
BRING TO LIGHT THE BEST
Beginning its seventh year of publications, Convergent Streams started as a vision of Bishop Gregory Godsey who asserts, “My vision for Convergent Streams was to highlight the best of the ISM. Far too often, the loudest voices of the ISM are those who are not the best or brightest. I wanted to do something that would show our better side. I wanted to help bring out our better selves.” Bishop Godsey emphasizes that the name was chosen because, “We all converge into one thing, the sacraments.” It is my opinion that Convergent Streams is the light that shines the great breadth of expression in the ISM with informative and thought-provoking articles. In April 2013, I began advertising my ministry (Universal Spirit Broadcasting Network) in the second edition of Convergent Streams, because I saw it was the spark that was illuminating the ISM community.
Even though Convergent Stream’s webpage receives over 6,000 views per year, only 22 paperback editions were sold this calendar year. Typically, this would discourage any publisher and might even challenge carrying the vision for the journal. However, Bishop Godsey remains committed to the mission of the journal; and he states, “I would like to see us grow and expand in 2019. I would like to see us get back to the days when it was 40-50 pages long and full of great articles about our movement. I would like to see more people submit information about the things they are doing in their parishes.” Here is where I propose a $64,000 question to my Sisters and Brothers of the ISM and OCCI: “Are you offering your full support for Bishop Godsey’s vision of Convergent Streams by promoting and/or encouraging family or friends you know to buy and read each issue?” Another question might be what would happen if more ISM jurisdictions and clergy would engage with articles and purchases of paperback editions for circulation in communities that wish to strengthen their public ministries?
TELEVISING THE LIGHT
Computer titan, Bill Gates, proclaims this obvious fact, “Internet TV and the move to the digital approach is quite revolutionary.” I started my ministry, Universal Spirit Broadcasting Network (USBN) in 2011 with the idea of recording and airing Liturgies from weekly Masses that were celebrated by ISM clergies in Phoenix, Arizona. A production studio was organized and assembled in an office space in the financial district of Phoenix. USBN network was dedicated to ecumenical ministries that celebrate all faiths based on the Universal Spirit of peace and love. In the fall of 2013, I closed the studio and went on the road with my quest to find the sparks of the ISM across the United States.
In 2015 the outreach of USBN started with the production of television broadcasts that featured liturgy, fine arts, and educational presentations regarding social justice issues. It is my understanding that outside of USBN there aren’t any other dedicated broadcast ministries in the ISM. Last year USBN’s videos had over a thousand views in over a dozen countries around the world. Plans are underway for an expansive list of diverse programs for the upcoming New Year. Incardinating in the OCCI has been a positive development for the network, and I am blessed and grateful for all of the support Bishop Godsey abundantly gives us. However, it is my sincere feeling that USBN could be more effective if more ISM and OCCI clergy were to assist our ministry with more promotion of our videos by “sharing” and “liking” more often on social media. Just like any commercial TV network, we survive and grow as much as our “ratings” are climbing and not declining or remaining static. Also, it would be very beneficial to receive feedback about our programs—both critical reviews and suggestions on how to improve our productions. Please tell us how USBN can serve your community!
ILLUMINATING THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD
Learning about “The Illuminator” group and seeing their compelling messages that are projected with a powerful light on public surroundings imparted a fresh revelation of this familiar passage from the Gospel: “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Sisters and Brothers, the ISM requires vision to grow and evolve. Most famous for his wisdom, King Solomon gave us this proverb, “Without a vision, the people lose restraint; but happy is the one who follows instruction.” In other words, people are demoralized without credible leadership, whereas leadership with foresight unites and enables us to surmount the turbulent days of the conflict. Bishop Godsey and I invite you to participate by supporting Convergent Streams, sending your articles for publication, and by increasing circulation with sales of paperback editions. We invite you to help us stimulate more interest and views of USBN videos and programs on social media. Feel free to “like” and “share” our video productions whenever you can do so. Finally, please continue to keep our ministries in your prayers, as we are praying for yours.
Despite her youthful age and hopeless situation, Anne Frank gave us this profound perspective, “Look at how a single candle can both defy and define the darkness.” Convergent Streams and USBN are those single candles, which are brightly illuminating the depth and breadth of expression found within the ISM. To God alone, is the glory!
Fr. Rick Romero is priest in the Old Catholic Churches International. He is a friar in the Order of Saint Francis, Old Catholic. He is the founder of Universal Spirit Broadcasting Network and is a tireless advocate for social justice.