I met Reverend
Wayne Irwin (Hamilton, Ontario) at a conference about 'Expert Healers.'
I told him I had a physics, philosophy and religion deficiency.
He laughed and said he could help with that. He also said he could
help with psychic attack.
He started a group at his church where we could talk about things
we typically don’t talk about at church. When we arrived for
our first meeting, the notice board outside the church read 'OBEs
Rev. Irwin explained the planes of existence and told me that psychics
work on the astral plane and prayer works on the causal. Beyond
the causal was the Divine Mystery which we call God. The astral
was subordinate to the causal. And so, I was to pray. There was
another little matter. Did I know how to pray? Had I ever prayed
before? How would I like to address God? Reverend Irwin has seen
me through many crises and has always encouraged me to ‘pray
In his book Healing from the Heart (co-authored with Rochelle
Graham and Flora Litt) he documents the evidence for the efficacy
of prayer and healing. He writes: "Science has generally been
skeptical, if not downright hostile, toward anything to do with
prayer and healing. Much of that reaction has to do with the unwillingness
of scientists to consider new concepts which are upsetting."
One chapter is called: Pushing Back the Boggle Threshold.
He once told me that there would be something that I was uniquely
suited for - and at this time, I am uniquely qualified to compile
Wayne Irwin retired from his ministry in June 2009. He made it
very clear he was not retiring from the Church.
Here’s a great article from the Hamilton Spectator:
Padre to the people
THE HAMILTON SPECTATOR
(Jun 29, 2009)
After 41 years as a preacher, Rev. Wayne Irwin has left the church.
Not the faith ... just the church.
Yesterday morning, the mutton-chopped minister delivered his last sermon at Hamilton's Centenary United and hung up his rainbow-hued stole for good.
For the past 13 years, Irwin has been managing "God's enterprise" at the downtown parish, where the faithful sometimes worship in drag or stretch out in the pews and sleep.
"It's an adventure every day," says Irwin. "It's fun. I'm going to miss it."
It was about halfway through Irwin's tenure that staid old Centenary, built in 1868 by the city's moneyed classes, painted its doors a vibrant purple and started flying the rainbow flag of the Pride community.
"We did a complete revisiting of what our mission was," says Irwin, 65. "We discovered what mattered and what didn't."
After two years of discussion and debate, the parish voted 87 per cent in favour of becoming an "affirming" church -- the United Church term for a supportive and inclusive church.
Irwin got only one call telling him he was going straight to hell.
Centenary was declared a "safe, diverse-faith community offering acceptance and hope."
Members of the congregation happily slid over to make room in the old varnished pews for the mentally ill, the homeless, the sexually different.
When the word got out, people who hadn't been to church in 40 years, even people who didn't believe in God, started showing up for services. There were Muslims hearing about Jesus and Jews singing in the choir.
"We are all really dealing with something beyond human conceptualization. We're all dealing with the same mystery."
Irwin gives credit to the congregation.
"They're the evangelists," he says. "I'm not the shepherd. I'm just the sheepdog."
The Dundas-raised Irwin, who graduated from McMaster University with a degree in math, physics and chemistry, has presided over only three churches in the four decades since his ordination.
First came small-town Saskatchewan, then 26 years in Lowville, where traditional families and Burlington suburbanites were the meat and potatoes of the church. Not a cross-dresser among them ... not in church, at any rate.
"When I came here, I wasn't sure this was the place for me," Irwin recalls. "But I started to fall in love with the people on the street.
"It was a steep learning curve. I couldn't assume they knew anything about communion or that they knew who Jeremiah was."
With retirement, Irwin leaves his successor, Ian Sloan, a congregation that is much like Centenary itself -- an eclectic mix of odds and ends that somehow all go together.
There's the traditional -- the 7,000-pipe Casavant organ, the bishop's throne upholstered in red velvet, the stained glass windows and all that rich woodwork.
And the unexpected -- comfy Victorian settees, computers loaded with Bible games, a refreshment table where congregants can grab a cup of joe mid-service.
"I tell them 'I'm talking, you're listening and if you're finished before I am, come on up and have a coffee,'" says Irwin, who was hosted at a tea with his wife, Flora, after yesterday's farewell service.
"The issue isn't doctrines," Irwin says.
"The issue is love. The bottom line is caring for one another. And everybody knows how to do that."
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