Last week I was ordained as an Associate Cherag (Minister) in the Sufi Order International
I am already an ordained Conductor in the Sufi Healing Order
, which is the healing ministry of the Sufi Order International. Ordination as Conductor authorizes me to conduct the Sufi Healing Circle, a ritual of healing prayer created by Hazrat Inayat Khan, the teacher who brought Sufism to the west in the early 1900’s. It also authorizes me to offer classes and workshops on healing, which I will be doing next weekend with my dear friend and fellow Conductor, Isa Donnie Ray.
Ordination as an Associate Cherag (the word means “light-bearer” or “lamp”) authorizes me to conduct the Service of Universal Worship
, a beautiful service – also created by Hazrat Inayat Khan – exemplifying the underlying unity of religious ideals. At one altar we read from the Scriptures of each religion represented on the altar. We light a candle for each religion, symbolically representing the wisdom brought to the world by each faith tradition.
The ordination happened last Friday at Rising Tide
, a Sufi center in Sarasota, Florida, where I was attending a 10-day training for Healing Cherags (ministers with a special emphasis on healing ministry). I’ll be continuing this course of study over the next 12 months and will return to Sarasota for two other extended trainings in 2007, one in May and one in October/November. At the end of the training session next November, I’ll advance from Associate Cherag to full ordination as Cherag.
During the next 12 months, I’m encouraged to offer the Universal Worship Service, and I plan to do so in the Atlanta area. I’m also authorized to perform marriages, funerals, house blessings, and other ministerial services.
The Sufi Order International is a universalist Sufi order, so there are mureeds (initiates) in the order who are also active in other faith traditions. In fact, there are even some Episcopal priests who are also ordained as Cherags. I intend to remain an active member of my church, St. James Episcopal
in Marietta. The Eucharist and the weekly healing service offered each Wednesday at St. James are still very meaningful sacraments to me. While I recognize that some conservative Christians would have difficulty with the universalism of the Sufi Order, there is no such conflict between my beliefs as a Sufi and my beliefs as a liberal Episcopalian. Jesus is very much alive in my life, as Healer as well as Divine Beloved.
I’ll also be using my Sufi name more often: Hamza, which means “Lion.” This name was given to me by Jacob Kalb, my guide in the Sufi Order and my mentor in my Cherag studies.
I invite your prayers as I continue this course of study in the healing ministry over the next 12 months.
~ Hamza Darrell Grizzle (Grateful Bear)