Heather Westenhofer CMC Shares Her Reflections

I entered the Community Ministry Certificate program last year after being thrust unexpectedly into a spiritual leadership position. I wasn’t sure what to expect from such an affordable and flexible curriculum but my experience far exceeded expectations. Every piece of the curriculum spoke directly to places where I needed to bulk up my training. And the support I received from my mentor was outstanding.

Through this program, I was able to take a thorough look at how I came to where I am today, and for the first time I made sense of how the various systems I work in — witchcraft, yoga, and Hawaiian Lua — influence and come together in my personal and professional life. Part of my lack of confidence in being “out” as a Pagan stemmed from not having the vocabulary to describe my beliefs. Now I can answer questions about my beliefs and priestessing work confidently.

When I entered the program, I was not even sure if I was really interested in “ministry” work, and though I was thinking about ordination, I really had no idea how that would fit in with my eclectic practice. By being introduced to other forms of Paganism, and through suggestions from both my CHS and Sacred Well Congregation mentors, I realized how beneficial it would be to undertake studies in other Pagan traditions. I now understand my ordination options much more fully and may pursue ordination in more than one tradition.

The terminology and frameworks I learned helped me feel much more confident that I can be of service to others in a methodical and responsible way. I feel better equipped to counsel yoga and Lua students and I have even developed an interest in chaplaincy. One of the main reasons I entered the program was to develop confidence in my counseling abilities and I don’t feel I need to shy away from these responsibilities any more.

Since beginning the program, I have joined the Ritual Planning Committee of Reclaiming Los Angeles and I have already acted as a professional officiant for two different events. I look forward to seeing where else this new adventure will take me!