By: Debbie Feehs
Sunday morning is not a busy time in the Harlow Neighborhood, but everyone is on his or her feet in the Center for Spiritual Living. In a small building behind the Blockbuster on Coburg Rd., about 210 members hold hands while singing songs of peace and love. In a bright red shirt, Reverend Linda Finley stands in the front row singing along with the people she considers her family.
Finley has been the reverend at the Center for Spiritual Living for about four years, joining the Center in November of 2006. Her teachings are not limited to a Sunday sermon. She also is currently teaching classes, supervising classes, counseling, and staying highly involved in events at the Center. Despite the piles of papers on her desk and the obvious busyness of her job, Finley smiles when talking about her work. She stays passionate saying, “This teaching is so important.”
During a Sunday Service, when the audience is quietly seated in the several rows of chairs packed in a crowded room, Finley makes her way to the stage. There is no doubt what holiday is just around the corner, with hearts on the wall behind her, and chocolate being passed out at the door. So it is fitting that Finley speaks a sermon about love. She speaks about love of the earth, love of self, and love of others. For the most part the congregation quietly listens, except for when Finley makes the occasional joke.
Finley did not grow up with these beliefs. She found these beliefs for herself when she was seeking spiritual guidance and an old friend
took her to a center similar to the one she preaches at now. Finley knew that she wanted to become a minister and share these beliefs with the world. “Everybody’s hungry for what we’re teaching.” Finley went through a five-year training program, which included learning the basics of the beliefs, prayer ministry, and overall church management. She completed her ministry education in 1998. Now Finley is using her knowledge to train others who are going through their ministry education.
It was four years ago that Finley ‘s life took a major turn and she moved to Eugene to become a minister at the Center. She left her only family, including her mother and sisterin California, and moved to Oregon. Finley had a rough start in her new city when her mom passed away shortly after her move. On top of her loss, she was going through, “the growing pains of any minister.”
In a belief where you are the one who dictates your life, Finley is not caught up in her rough past. She has moved forward and is working hard at the Center. Finley recently bought a home in Oregon and does not plan to leave the Center anytime soon. The ministers in the past at the Center taught there for 10 and 11 years, so Finley still has many years ahead of her at the Center.
“We have to love ourselves at every stage of our being. We have to love the baby in us. We have to love who we are today. We have to love who we are becoming. We have to love.”
Listen to Rev. Linda Finley’s Sermon on Love.