The Christmas Cheer is All Right Here!

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by Rev. Rob Banaszak

Pastor, ISD-DC

I do love some good ol’ holiday cheer, don’t you? I have to say that I had become spoiled over the last 20 plus years living away from my hometown of Pittsburgh, PA, because my mom was always the one who “held Christmas” for the family. Not being home for Christmas was NEVER an option. So I really never decorated at my home, because I would go to Mom and Dad’s without exception, and enjoy all of the decorations, and none of the decorating!

Pastors Post banner largeComing to ISD in 2008 helped to re-ignite a Christmas Spirit that I hadn’t even realized I had allowed to fade. We would kick off the season by hauling in a huge tree and standing it up in the fancy tree stand before the start of our Tuesday night class. Then we’d have the famous Decorating Party on the first Sunday of December. We were a flurry of decorating dizziness!  ISD-DC member heroes Tom Landon and Arthur Morton would climb mile-high ladders to precariously staple what seemed liked miles of artificial garland to the beams inside the Sanctuary. Lyriel Claire would spearhead the ever-so-messy task of “flocking” the tree with artificial snow and we’d all pitch in to string lights on the tree and hang hundreds and hundreds of ornaments and bows and doves and wreaths and lights. All of it helped get me into the Season and relieved me of the obligation to decorate my own house.
My mom passed in 2014 and my dad in 2016, so the Christmas Cheer I experience at ISD-DC’s has become more special than I ever imagined it would. And this year, what happened in our community over the last two weeks can definitely be considered, in my humble opinion, a Christmas miracle. In short, a potential disaster with a 12-foot broken artificial tree became inspiration for a brand new Christmas display in the Sanctuary. Thanks to the steady stream of help from several creative “ISDecorators…” everything was hung, strung and twinkling in time for our annual ISD Family Service and Celebration last Sunday.
And oh! The Celebration itself! Our brand new Fellowship Hall, which after the renovation had about 20 more square feet than before, was filled with more than 40 ISD family members, some of whom hadn’t been to the church in awhile, some relatively new folks, and of course, the “long-timers,” all enjoying a delicious meal together (prepared by attendees) and even more delicious discussions. The Spirit of Christmas was unquestionably present over the past weekend. You can check out our entire Family Christmas Service online, and see pictures of the Fellowship Celebration on the ISD-DC Facebook page.
Let’s keep sharing our Joy! We’ll celebrate the seasonal transition of Darkness into Light at our beautiful Winter Solstice Service tomorrow evening at 7:30 p.m. And then we’ll present the story of the Nativity from a metaphysical perspective at our gorgeous and peaceful Christmas Eve Candlelight Service on Sunday, December 24 at 8 P.M.  THERE WILL BE NO SERVICE ON SUNDAY MORNING.
On behalf of ISD-DC’s Ministers and the Trustees, I wish all of our ISD-DC community a season of ever-increasing Magic and Miracles.
Forward in Gratitude and Grace —

Triumphs Just When Ya Need ‘Em

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Well, if there was a week that we needed to score some triumphs, last week was it. And score triumphs we did. First, Rev. Jim offered a FREE class on ISD’s powerful Declaration of Principles, and the discussion was informative and lively. Drumming with RoyOn Wednesday, November 8, special guest communal drummer Roy Brown Eagle led an intimate group of spiritual adventurers through our first-ever drumming circle in our our newly-renovated Sanctuary. Talk about RAISING THE ROOF with amazing tribal percussive energy, and with his special Light Blessing on the space.

Registration Line webThen Saturday, we debuted SpiritFEST, our first-ever “supersized psychic fair,” with rave reviews from just about everyone who walked through the door that day. ISD-DC Board member D’Lynne St. Pierre shared a vision several months ago of our church building abuzz with the energy of many spiritual offerings taking place from a diverse, talented and enthusiastic team of intuitive readers, healers, spiritual artists and volunteers. And boy, did that vision come to LIFE! The picture at the top of this week’s ISDetails is our newly-renovated Fellowship Hall, which was a cozy, warm, inviting, and healing little “getaway” from the chilly weather of the day. Congrats to D’Lynne and to everyone who made that day a truly special and beneficial day for our Spiritual Community. Click here for more photos of SpiritFEST on the ISD-DC Facebook Page.

Rev. Jim’s homily put a hefty exclamation point on the week’s successes, and also posed a challenge for each of us. His message of “What’s Next Now?”  was a message that our Spiritual Community took to heart last week, more determined than ever to BE the Strength, Peace, Healing and Love that we are seeking. And all we need to do to begin that process of BEING that which we seek is to ask ourselves “What’s Next?” Because, as Rev Jim says, the Universe is waiting to answer that question...if we listen.

This Sunday is ISD-DC’s annual Dedication Sunday. We’ll celebrate it a bit differently this year, by looking deep into our own dedication to Spirit, and to the community we are building to celebrate and express that dedication. I invite you all to join us for our special service, which will include a brand new dedication ritual, as well as a wonderful “Family Gratitude Luncheon, which we will enjoy right in our own home — our newly-renovated Fellowship Hall.

AllCards croppedOh and don’t forget to purchase your ISD-DC Holiday Cards! You can order online, or you can see ME this Sunday to get YOUR pack of 8 cards featuring beautiful images of ISD’s Sanctuary during the holidays, for the low price of just $10. Show off your Spiritual Home and support your community.

You know, we have come so far.  And yet, we have so much more to discover in our Spiritual Community. Will you join me in doing so? Let’s continue to listen —  and then take action — to see, and to create, the beauty everywhere in both our individual AND our collective Spiritual Journeys. And let’s choose to move forward, with truth,  not illusion; with inspiration, not apathy,  with compassion, not contempt; and with LOVE.

Grace begets more Grace, you know.

RevRobBanaszak_InstagramRev. Rob Banaszak

Pastor, Institute for Spiritual Development

Grace on a Rock

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By Rev. Rob Banaszak

Institute for Spiritual Development, Washington, D.C.

RevRobBanaszak_InstagramI grew up with lots of elephants making camp in the room. We moved around them so deftly that I now marvel at how we were able to have any conversation with so many topics being avoided. There is a short-term relief from the discomfort that avoiding those elephants may bring, but it really doesn’t serve the integrity of any relationship in the longterm to make avoidance the norm.

In the last couple of weeks we’ve had to leave that comfort zone behind and “keep it real” for our ISD-DC community by addressing some recent unpleasant bumps in the road we’ve been dealing with. You can listen to my homily from this past Sunday for more intel, but the point of THIS note is to affirm the unique, pivotal opportunity these — or any — bumps can be for us to re-group, reflect, and RE-DEDICATE ourselves to our Spiritual Journey, and our beautiful Community in which that journey can unfold.

In the New Testament, Matthew 7:24-27, we hear hear the famous passage about building a house on a rock foundation or a sand foundation, and which can withstand the elements that it will inevitably face throughout its existence. And now, we get to choose for ourselves…is our Spiritual Community built on a rock or on sand? And will we BE the rock foundation that it needs to withstand the elements, or will we disappear like sand?

When we accept our challenges instead of the denying them, then apply our metaphysical principles of consciousness and intention to them, we not only recover from “bumps along the way” more quickly, but we grow even stronger as a result of them.

Wonderful things are happening for our Community RIGHT NOW. In spite of our challenges AND because of our challenges, we ARE moving forward and becoming a better Community today than we were yesterday. And we will continue becoming better.

The world only moves forward. And so do we.

Let’s consciously choose GRACE as we do.


We don’t break…we MAKE!

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 by Rev. Rob Banaszak
Pastor, Institute for Spiritual Development
It doesn’t seem like we can bear much more, does it? Mother Earth and Her Children are shouldering so many burdens right now. We are confused, we are hurt, we are sad, we are EXHAUSTED.

But — decimated, or drowned, or burned, or worse — notice the healing process beings immediately, even from the worst devastation. Life can’t but help continue, for Life’s true nature is LIVING.

From the rubble, floodwaters, and ashes, we emerge.

We regroup. We restore. We rebuild.

Because it is our NATURE to create. It is in our very BEING to MAKE.

And that is what gives me hope, even when things seem hopeless. It is our nature to use all ingredients, components, materials we have at our disposal to MAKE something that is wholly greater than all of its individual components.

I’m not gonna lie. I’m with ya. I get anxious. I get scared. I despair. I’m human and becoming a minister does not mean I suddenly have bypassed these very human experiences and attained mastery over them. But as a minister it is my responsibility — my calling — to explore and encourage the ways we can most lovingly respond to these experiences with our very best self…our Divine Self.

Each time a circumstance, situation or experience challenges us, is a call to MAKE SOMETHING OF IT. To make something that is greater than any of the pain or despair or fear that it may cause.

And watch. It is happening and will happen. New, life-altering relationships and connections will form as a result of the Las Vegas massacre. Stronger communities will emerge from the collaborative responses to the fires, earthquakes, hurricanes and other natural phenomena that have devastated so many around the world. And new voices will rise as to loudly proclaim our unwavering stand for the human rights and liberties we have fought for.

Because it is who we are. We live, so we will always MAKE our way back to LIFE!

And we don’t have to go it alone. We can connect, share, inspire and manifest with each other!

No one needs to make it on his or her own. Let’s MAKE OUR LIFE TOGETHER!

“ISD Is My Home”

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By Candace Ford

My name is Candace Ford. I am originally from Pensacola, FL and I am a veteran of the United States Army. I am the single parent of my one son Lanel, who also serves as an usher here at ISD from time to time.

I had my first exposure to psychic abilities when I was a little girl. My great aunt, who raised me until I was nine, had the ability to read playing cards. As I grew up, I went to Baptist and and Pentacostal churches. I always felt like there was something more, though. “Church people” all seemed to be intent on judging others and bashing them behind their back. I am not for bashing anyone for ANYTHING. I love EVERYONE. No matter what, I have always seen the good in, and loved others.

So by the time that I got stationed in Washington, D.C., I had absolutely no plans for joining a church. I began returning to my “psychic roots” and, when searching for places to buy sage, I discovered Sacred Circle bookstore in Old Town Alexandria. The store offered some classes that I was really interested in, and I ended up taking a psychic development class taught by longtime ISD member Lyriel Claire. She told me of several churches in the area, including ISD, that were from same spiritual perspective that I had begun to explore.

So I came to ISD for a Sunday Service, and never left! At ISD I felt the love, acceptance and warmth emanating throughout the building. ISD accepted me right away with twang, and all the “aint’s,” “cants,” ya’lls and everything else that comes with country me. I love you all and there is nothing you can do about it! If I am mad with you I still love you. If you call me I will come if you need me — I am there.

This is my first metaphysical experience and it is what I have been looking for all my life. ISD is my home. ISD is my family — I have my “mother,” “father,” “big brothers,” “aunts” and “cousins. I support ISD because it is my home. Just like when I think about keeping the lights on at my residence, I want make sure that the lights stay on in my spiritual home.

You will not find this knowledge and acceptance anywhere else, and I think that there needs to be an ISD in every city – like the WaWa convenience store on every corner!


The Magician

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Claudia and Dave

David Waite and his lovely wife Claudia at the 2016 Metaphysical Magic retreat

by David Waite

a poetic reflection on the Metaphysical Magic Retreat


Life is filled with

Events – each with a measure of energy.

Some, seem to be more important…

Others, not…

Who determines that???

Who, me? … … … me.


I’m the one always choosing events and their importance in my life…


Events…      have perspective-

They can be past, present, or future

Past events inform the new events

Present events are life unfolding (new)

Future events are the ideas yet to be…

All of this together is life being created.


Created…  Oh…

By my choices I am creating my reality

Each moment of each day.

Who am I…???   By my thoughts,

I am the one creating.

Therefore, I am the magician in this lifetime.


Clearly, this is who I was pretending not to be.



Life then is precious.

Each Life is sacred.

Each one of us is imbued with consciousness and desires

Gifted from God.

Moment to moment.

Our thoughts: a key to being…

Thoughts exist only in the present moment.


Gifted from God…


Other influences? Yes, there seem to be some of those.


Lessons to learn/experience…


Universe; Planets; Ecosystems;

As magicians, we interact daily with these –

Mostly, to understand them,

to learn from them;

to pay attention to them.

Ahh. Pay attention. How do we do that…?

Our thoughts…

are prayers.

Our prayers.

So much love from my Spiritual Family

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RevPatMakin_Instagramby Rev. Patricia Makin, Chair, ISD-DC Board of Directors

As many of you know, recently I spent about three weeks in two different hospitals after my “heart event,” which is what I have chosen to call my situation. I don’t like medical terminology because the words usually are what we have come to know as frightening words.

So after my “event,” my daughter (God bless her!) cut me off from the world, telling everyone I needed to rest. I did need to rest. And I am thankful that she cared for me by making sure I was focusing on ME.

But I had to find a way to connect to my very special ISD family! No where am I loved so deeply and completely as I am here at our Spiritual home. This is where I am accepted, cared for and truly loved unconditionally for who I am. Not for any other reason. I don’t have to do or say anything, just be who I am. It is so amazing and so welcomed. While I was in those hospitals, there was not a day that went by when I ever felt empty or unwanted or not cared for.

It was so powerful, and this it is why I am here at this computer today writing this note of unceasing gratitude. Even on days when I may feel a little scared, or wonder if something else might happen, I just stop and think about all that I have learned over these many years. I know that I am the creator of my own reality. I am so grateful for my many teachers who have taught me so much about my Divinity and the power that I have within me. I am so blessed to have walked into this magnificent place over 22 years ago and have never looked back.

After “the ban” was lifted  on contact with me, not only did I receive cards with “only words of love” and flowers, but so many loving phone calls from those whose love for me is unconditional. I wish everyone had this love in their own lives. It is beyond description, but when you get it, you cherish it because you know it is so special and genuine. It is “the real deal!”

Thank you to each and every one of you who loved me and healed me through this. I am so grateful.

“Why I’m Dedicated to ISD”

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As we approach Dedication Sunday 2015, both longtime and recent ISD members reflect on how ISD has impacted their lives.

Tom Landon

I believe that I am one of the longest termed members of ISD. I began attending ISD services at the request of my wife (ISD minister and former pastor Rev. Sue Landon) after she had a reading with Reverend Jim, and was seeking to expand her intuitive development. I was merely attempting to be a good husband, supportive of her favorite activities. But that shifted, and I began enjoying attending ISD services, message circles, and psychic fairs. The people here at ISD really made the difference for me, with abundant love, acceptance, and joy at every activity (even weeding the gardens!).

My life is grounded in service, so I naturally was inclined to take ownership of my membership in ISD. I participate as an usher, a service coordinator, I have been chair of the building and grounds committee and served on the board of directors for a number of years. I feel it is important to fully participate in all organizations that I care about. I love ISD and all the people who call it their spiritual home. With many new people attending activities and joining as new members over the last few years, I feel confident that ISD has a bright future.

Rod Hill

When thinking about my experiences at ISD, three questions came to mind. I’d like to share my thoughts with you on each, as they really sum up why Lydia and I became members of ISD.
1. What Brought Us To The Institute?
Lydia and I were attending mindfulness classes at a local church, which we enjoyed very much. What was missing for us, however, was a true community experience. After the classes, everyone went their separate ways until the same time the following week. We tried starting a Mindfulness Meetup in southwest DC, but that never took off. So we spent several months looking for a community of spiritually-focused, like-minded people that share their experiences in spirituality. Lydia found ISD on a Google search. It sounded interesting, so we decided to give it a try. That was last April, and we’ve been here ever since. And ISD came with a real bonus – the members of this community are also committed to supporting and nurturing each other in spiritual growth. And so are we!
2. What Do I see As My Place In ISD’s Growth?
This one is pretty simple for me. ISD has been my spiritual home, ever since the first day when I was welcomed that way (thank you, Rev. Rob!). Well, if this is my spiritual home, that means I accept my role in this place and it’s wonderful people as family, not merely as a guest. In families, I believe each member should make a commitment to to keep the family living, working and growing together, and that’s my commitment to ISD.
3. If I Could Design An ISD, What Would It Look Like?
When thinking about this, an image came to mind of the people of the world coming together as one human body. Each of us is similar to the individual blood cells that are so important for the body to thrive and grow. The heart would be ISD, our spiritual home, the place that draws in it the body’s life-sustaining blood, and then sends it forth to nourish the body. The oxygen from the lungs represents all of the ISD ministries and programs through which we receive the Divine gifts that energize and nourish us as we go out into the rest of the body, spreading that life-sustaining energy throughout the world body. Unlike a human body, where all of the blood cells are forced into the heart, lungs and other organs, the world body blood cells have FREE WILL. Only those who accept the heart’s invitation take the journey. In the world body, those who take the journey in turn share the message of Divine energy with others, inviting them to experience the joy and peace that come from accepting the heart’s invitation. Metaphysical teachings are not new; they have been with mankind for millennia. The ideal ISD is one that brings MANY into the joyous experience of Divine Light.


Reflections on the Re-Launch of the ISD Wellness Expo and Certification Program

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By Rose Stafiej, Co-Chair ISD Wellness Program


Rose Stafiej

Wow! What a fantastic re-launch of our Wellness Expo on Sunday. As always, the ISD community came together to create an amazing event. As co-chairs of the Institute’s Healing Committee, Rev. Kathy Gregg and I want to thank everyone who participated in our first Wellness Expo since 2012. With the help of our wonderful healers, we offered a number of services, including John of God Crystal Bed Therapy, Spiritual Response Therapy (SRT), Reiki, chakra balancing and aura clearing. With all of the healers working in the same room, the energy was palpable! What a great way to start the summer. You can see all of the photographs on ISD’s Facebook Page.

Prior to my arrival at ISD, I had some experience with spiritual healing. However, it is through ISD that my practice has blossomed. After attending the ISD Retreat in Spring 2009, I knew that I wanted to become an “ISD Healer” and took the intensive, multi-week Healing Certification course that summer. I made some major breakthroughs through the course, with help and loving guidance from our teachers, Revs. Sherry and Ken Foor. That growth has continued – sometimes in spurts and starts – as my involvement in the ISD community has deepened. As a community, we truly are greater than the sum of our parts.


Rev. Kathy Gregg

As Rev. Kathy and I continue to develop and nurture the Healing Program at ISD, I hope that others may have the opportunity to have similar experiences. One opportunity is coming up soon, as the ISD Healing Certification Course begins on July 7, 2015. This is a great course for individuals to explore and experience their own healing abilities. Rev. Kathy and I are so excited bring it back this summer.

Our next Wellness Expo will take place on Sunday, August 30, when we will welcome all of those who completed the Healing Certification Course to become healers at ISD. And keep an eye on the calendar for more opportunities to learn and receive healing.

If you were a healer or a participant at the Wellness Expo on June 7, we invite you to leave a comment below.

Love to all. Light to all. Peace to all.

My Journey to ISD: Arranged by the Universe!

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PRACTICAL REKI-ALICE LANGHOLTBy Alice Langholt, Reiki Master/Teacher

I’m thrilled to share the story of how I came to ISD, because it’s one of those obviously-arranged-by-the-Universe kinds of stories!

And it all started with a T-shirt.

In October of 2013, my family and I moved to Gaithersburg from Cleveland, Ohio. We knew no one except my sister, who lives in lives in DC. Two weeks later, my oldest daughter, Rayna, was wearing her Camp Wise tee-shirt to middle school gym class. Camp Wise is an overnight camp in the Cleveland area, where lots of kids go in the summer.

A classmate named Hannah noticed Rayna’s shirt, and asked her if she was from Cleveland. Turns out that Hannah moved to the area from Cleveland 10 years before!  Soon they were chatting up a storm about Cleveland, and Rayna was excited to come home and share her “coincidence” with me about her new friend.

Later that day after Rayna had gotten home from school, we got a call from the school saying that she had left her math binder in the Guidance Office. Since she needed it for her evening homework, Rayna dashed back on her bike and cajoled her sister Sari into coming with her.

It just so happens (here comes the flood)…that Hannah and her sisters and mom were at school when Rayna and Sari got there. They were all talking excitedly about Cleveland. When Hannah’s mom, Kelly, heard Rayna’s last name, she said she remembered my name from the same temple where I had worked in Cleveland, where she belonged before they moved here! Kelly gave Rayna and Sari a ride home with their bikes so she could say hi to me.

We all talked in my driveway, and Kelly invited my family to dinner the next Friday night. We happily accepted, of course! During the course of conversation that night at dinner, Kelly said that she loves and has been to the Spiritualist haven of Lily Dale, NY three times. I had taught in Lily Dale for the previous two summers. The odds that the first person I “randomly” meet from Maryland is into holistic/metaphysical stuff, and has been to Lily Dale, are rare enough, let alone that I was sitting having dinner with this same person, and she knows me from living in Cleveland, and we went to the same temple…I mean, these are lottery winner odds!

Here’s where ISD comes in.

Kelly also told me about a metaphysical church around here that’s having a healing service this Sunday, and I suggested that we go together. That Sunday, Kelly picked me up, and we went together. This was my first introduction to ISD, and I loved it right away.

After the service, I met Reverend Patricia Makin and told her that I’m looking for a place to be my “teaching home” in the DC/Maryland/Virginia area. After some emails and conversations, I was teaching my first ISD class, Manifesting Made Simple.

I had  10 wonderful students in this class, and during one of our class discussions, I realized that one of the students, Laraine Lomberg, is also my neighbor from right down the street! She became one of my favorite people in the area, and here was just another way for Universe to give me a big, huge grin to remind me that I’m always in the right place, and I’ve found my home again.

Putting down roots in the “DMV, “ and joining the ISD community has been a wonderful blessing for me. I’m so thrilled to make ISD my teaching home. I love everyone I’ve met here, the energy, and I am so very aligned with the spirituality of ISD as well.

Thank you, ISD, for welcoming me home.

Alice will be teaching Practical Reiki Workshop Level Three Certification Class on Saturday, June 13. Click here for more information.