The Tree of Life Interfaith Temple, Inc., is a non-denominational church, formed as a nonprofit corporation in the State of New Hampshire in September of 2009 and received 501(c)(3) status under the Internal Revenue Code in June of 2010. The three-fold purpose for the formation of the church is to provide a place of worship, to engage in community charitable activities and to ordain and oversee interfaith ministers as graduated from The Tree of Life Interfaith Seminary. We are a community of ordinary people forging the extra-ordinary mission to create a place where we may practice truly seeing the Divine within all peoples of all religions.
The Board of Directors are:
John Silva, Chair
Bob Chapin, Treasurer
Rev. Ilona Kwiecien
Rev. Laurie Biggers
Rev. Peggy Marcellino
Presiding Minister, Rev. Stephanie Rutt, Spiritual Advisor
We believe that God is expressed as the body of all creation, the heart of each faith tradition and the infinite Soul of each person.
When this is recognized, we begin to see ourselves in all beings and all beings in our self. We can begin the practice of loving saint and sinner the same as we look beyond the external conditions to the internal, infinite, truth of each being. No one need be outside the bounds of our love. No one. We can now begin to truly love our neighbor as our self.
We believe that it is through the practice of meditative prayer that we awaken to our Divinity and come to know God.
Mother Teresa said that when we pray we talk to God and when we meditate we listen to God. Meditative prayer is not an intellectual experience but rather a quieting of the mind which allows for a humble opening of the heart. In such moments of quiet opening, we experience our deepest desire to be one with our Creator and to become instruments for a greater good.
We believe that each person, being a spark of the Divine flame, has a unique part to play in the Divine Plan.
Though it may appear that some play a more visible or far reaching role, in truth, no one's role is more valuable to the whole than another's. Each of us was created to be holy and to offer our unique gifts in service to our fellow brothers and sisters.
We believe that we are here to serve those in need with joy and thanksgiving.
Because we strive to see ourselves in all beings and all beings in our self, we naturally feel the suffering of our sisters and brothers as our own regardless of religion, race, creed or nationality. And, we naturally rejoice in the Divinity of others as our own. So, as we serve our neighbor, we serve God.
We believe that the role of suffering in human experience is to awaken our humanity, bring us to a deeper threshold of compassion for our self and others and to bring us closer to our Divine creator.
While we may not always be able to control what happens to us or around us, we do have control over how we respond. In turning away from victimhood, we open to receive the gifts inherent in all experience. We embrace the lotus flower as a universal symbol of spirituality as it teaches us that we grow, as the lotus, out of the muck. We, in fact, blossom, not in spite of, but rather, because of.
The Rev. Dr. Rutt serves as the Presiding Minister of the Tree of Life Interfaith Temple, a non-denominational church she founded in 2009. She is the director of the Tree of Life School for Sacred Living and creator of the Tree of Life Interfaith Seminary, a two-year program, focused on the integration of prayer, meditation and spiritual practices from the world’s major faith traditions. The twenty-six module core curriculum, The Path of Crow: Journey to Your Inner Treasure, invites seminarians on the ultimate treasure hunt to discover their divine purpose and to offer their unique gifts in service to the greater good. An optional third year offers the Spiritual Mentoring Certificate Program which trains seminarians, as well as health care professionals, in cultivating pastoral mentoring skills.
She earned the Doctor of Ministry degree in 2017 from Andover Newton Theological School (now a part of Yale Divinity School) where she graduated with honors and was inducted into the Jonathan Edwards Society. Her dissertation, “The Call of the Mourning Dove: How Sacred Sound Awakens Mystical Unity,” was awarded the Frederick Buechner Prize for Excellence in Writing. In 2005, she graduated from the New Seminary in New York City and was ordained an interfaith minister. In the 1980s and 90s, she worked as a mental health counselor and taught for many years on the college level in the behavioral sciences including eight years with the University of New Hampshire. During that time period, she also earned certifications in various yoga and meditation disciplines and in the late 90s opened the Tree of Life Yoga Studio which later became the Tree of Life School for Sacred Living.
Rev. Dr. Rutt is the author of four books: An Ordinary Life Transformed: Lessons for Everyone from the Bhagavad Gita (Hobblebush Books, 2006); The Interfaith Worship Manual: The Resource for Creating Interfaith Worship Services (Tree of Life Publishing, 2012); Living the Prayer of Jesus: A Study of the Lord’s Prayer in Aramaic (Tree of Life Publishing, 2012); and, Doorway to the Sacred: Transform Your Life with Mantra Prayer (Tree of Life Publishing, 2014). In 2017, her essay, “The Shaykh and the Preacher,” was chosen for inclusion in the anthology, Conversations from the Pulpit: Engaging Islam and Countering Anti-Muslim Bias, edited by Celene Ibrahim, Muslim Chaplain at Tufts University and Scholar-in-Residence at Andover Newton Theological School.
In addition to posting on her blog, “Become a Force for Good: Rev. Stephanie’s blog,” WordPress.com, and publishing Guest Commentaries in local newsprint, she has created numerous sacred studies programs for her community through the Tree of Life School for Sacred Living. Just a sampling of these includes: Rise Up! The Bhagavad Gita: Job Description for a Spiritual Warrior; Living Our Purpose: The Heart of Spiritual Practice; A Study of the Lord’s Prayer in Aramaic; A Study of the 23rd Psalm in Hebrew; The Sanskrit Mantra Course; Mantra Prayer: Doorway to the Sacred; The Interior Castle of Saint Teresa; and, the Lovers in the Wilderness series including studies of Walter Russell, the Blessed Mother Mary and Dr. George Washington Carver.
She has served her local interfaith council through visioning such programs as the “To Hear How Others Pray” series which invited lay people and faith leaders of different faiths to share personal experiences of prayer as a way of highlighting all peoples’ common humanity while respecting religious difference. Today, she is leading interested communities in right action through the “The Interfaith Peace Walk” which offers a visual demonstration of how people from across faith traditions can stand and walk together in unity and solidarity while, simultaneously, forging a common goal for peace.
Rev. Dr. Rutt is a member of the World Alliance of Interfaith Clergy where she serves as a member of the Board of Directors and presented at their 2016 national conference offering, “Under One Sky: How to Organize an Interfaith Peace Walk.” She is also a member of the Interfaith Alliance and the North American Interfaith Network (NAIN).
I became an interfaith minister because, though I knew to Whom I belonged, I simply could not choose one faith tradition over another. I had found God’s amazing grace, I once was lost but now I’m found, in my hometown Methodist church and had come to know him intimately as my treasure exulted in Be Thou My Vision. And, I had come to know his hallowed name, unrefined, in the depths of the Lord’s Prayer in Aramaic. I had sensed him in the sweet silence of contemplative prayer and had discovered him walking with me through the valley of the shadow of death as the Hebrew Alpha-Beis became a lamp onto my feet. I had felt him dancing inside my soul as I chanted the beautiful Sikh practice Kal Akal and he had brought me to stillness while turning, turning, turning with the Sufis leaving no doubt of my unity with all from my moving breathing practice of la ilaha illa allah. He had held me fast as I endure the fires of purification in the Native American sweat lodges as he had guided me to new vistas on the Shaman’s drum. In Vipassana meditation, he had shown me definitively the difference between my thinking about him and knowing him. And from my long study of Sanskrit mantra and the Bhagavad Gita, he had tirelessly guided me to stand up and do my duty on my own battlefield of life. Choose? Impossible!
And, just as I have discovered God across faith traditions, I am convinced that, with new eyes, we are able to see the face of God everywhere. As I am fond of saying, “If I can’t recognize God in Walmart, what’s the point?” This is a common theme in many of my blog postings, most notably “A Bowl and A Prayer,” (5/8/13), “America Runs on Delight,” (7/10/13) and “Guru One Sock.” (6/14/17).
Yet, to see God everywhere also means that we must extract God’s gift of Grace from the noxious bowels of our deepest hardships and despair. From my long healing journey, I have discovered the greatest of gifts within those very caves I was most afraid to enter finally realizing, wondrously, I truly do blossom not in spite of but, rather, because of. From the inner journey, we are able to reach out with authenticity, clarity and compassion and offer a balm to our suffering world. Again, this is a theme from my blog postings: “In Response to Tragedy: An Open Letter to Adam [Lanza],” (12/18/2012), “Open Letter to Pope Francis,” (3/20/13), and “Would U Still Love Me?” (8/22/16) addressing the Black Lives Matter movement.
And, so, I love God most. For here is my true sanctuary, holding all of my experience, and, blessedly, graciously, endlessly, leaving me not where I began.
I look forward to sharing the journey with you.
With Abounding Joy,
Rev. Dr. Stephanie Rutt
Presiding Minister, Rev. Stephanie Rutt, will officiate on the first Sunday of each month from September 2015 through June of 2016 except where indicated below. Services are held from 11 - 12 noon. We welcome you!
January 15, 2017 - Rev. Peggy Petahtegoose, Seminarian Class of 2014
February 5, 2017 - Rev. Julie Beauchemin, Seminarian Class of 2012
February 19, 2017 - Rev. Pam Nowell, Seminarian Class of 2011
March 5, 2017 - Rev. Peggy Petahtegoose, Seminarian Class of 2014
March 19, 2017 - Linda Goodman, Current Seminary Student
April 2, 2017 - Rev. Christy Sperrazza, Seminarian Class of 2011
April 16, 2017 - Rev. Stephanie Rutt, Presiding Minister, Tree of Life Interfaith Temple - Special Easter Service
May 7, 2017 - Rev. Peggy Petahtegoose, Seminarian Class of 2014
May 21, 2017 - Rev. Ilona Kwiecien, Seminarian Class of 2013
June 4, 2017 - Rev. Julie Beauchemin, Seminarian Class of 2012
June 18, 2017 - Rev. Christy Sperrazza, Seminarian Class of 2011
Please check back for additional worship services
Community service is a priority for the Temple. We are establishing 'A Gift from the Light" program to support local areas in need in our community. If you are in need, or would like to offer volunteerism or contributions, please contact Rev. Stephanie Rutt.
LET THE HEALING BEGIN!... HEALING THROUGH DANCE AND MEDITATION!
Sunday, October 30, 1-4pm, Milford Town Hall, sponsored by Tree of Life Interfaith Temple.
Come join us for three inspiring hours of dance and meditation. Rev. Stephanie Rutt will lead us in Dances of Universal Peace from around the globe, interspersed with John Silva guiding us in meditation, giving our feet a break! A beautiful, healing combination of motion and stillness. No prior experience required. A free will donation of $10 is requested.
Please RSVP by Thursday October 27th to Rev. Stephanie Rutt at firstname.lastname@example.org. Refreshments will be offered.