Elevation Reception Speech


Rev Antoinette’s Speech
during the Elevation Reception
6th August 1995

Thank you. It is so wonderful that you are all here tonight. Your generosity has been overwhelming to me. If ever I had doubts − and I certainly have − then all of you have helped to wash them away with your incredible response to me and this Elevation service.

I have felt very much like both a bride and a bridegroom during the preparation for this evening. I felt like a bride because I had so many fittings for my new gowns but also because I felt prepared and adorned by the people around me. So many of you have helped to bring me to this moment − from the shoes I wear on my feet, to the glowing skin on my face  Centrites have done my hair, massaged and helped me to relax, thought of a million little and big things that I have needed . So many people have extended themselves to me in love and in this way shown their total acceptance and support of this new adventure we are all embarking on.

But I don’t want to thank individuals tonight − I will do that privately − but I do want each one of you to know that you have helped me to this moment. It may have been something you’ve done or said or written or given; it may have been the hours of music practice or the flowers you arranged; or it may have been giving me space and silence and including me in your prayers. Thank you.

I want you to know that I love The Centre, at times like this. It is like a well-oiled machine, an athlete’s body − everyone plays their part and when we do this, it is sheer magic.

When I was a little girl my father would always say to me, “You will follow in my footsteps.” And I believed him. I always thought that meant becoming a priest and becoming the head of the church. 

Later on when I grew older and The Centre got bigger and many talented people joined us and were ordained, I began to doubt what I had originally thought would happen to me. I began to see that “following in my footsteps” could be interpreted in a much broader way. It could mean simply becoming a priest and following in the “tradition”. Still later I thought that perhaps it didn’t even mean becoming ordained − that it simply meant being part of The Centre’s ministry in some way.

Then I was ordained − an incredible moment for me after so much doubt. I could accept the ordination as the grace of God towards me for I certainly did not feel worthy of that great office. 

Still later, late last year in fact, my father first intimated to me that he wanted me to become the Deputy Meritus, to take up what Rev Colin was no longer able to do, and to be able to take Mario’s place when that was necessary. This, he said, would greatly help him and take the pressure from both of them. 

I was shocked! I couldn’t believe it and didn’t want to believe it. Then it was announced during the Centre Reading to the priests, and so it became a bit more real, and then it was announced to the members during the Agape in April and became very real. So the thought I had when I was very little was quite correct.

And now I am your Deputy Meritus, I am the servant of all you servants. In a way I feel I have always been that. I have always loved The Centre, the spirit of The Centre, what The Centre stands for and I always will and I will always serve it to the best of my ability. The Centre isn’t a place but a spirit, a spirit of joy and of life that exists in people and so The Centre can be anywhere and go anywhere. I am just glad there’s so much of it here tonight.

Tonight is a new era in the life of The Centre, when someone who is not the founder has been made a Meritus. In some ways this is a wonderful thing, that the tradition is being passed on − the living tradition.

I think of the ancient Rosicrucians who lived by only a few rules, but one of the rules was that they must always be on the look out for a successsor, for a disciple, a pupil, whom they could train and make worthy and able to be their successor and carry on the stream of spiritual knowledge. I am very aware that Rev Mario and Rev Colin have always done this. Consciously or unconsciously they have always looked at people and asked within themselves can you carry on the tradition? There is something within both of them that wants to give the fire of spirit, the laying on of hands, the unction from above. And they have been willing to teach and give of themselves so that others could receive and become able. 

We too, must live with this consciousness. What we have − spiritually, morally, intellectually and otherwise − must make its way through us to others. We must all, in a way, become teachers and be willing to give.

I am aware also of the huge responsibility of taking on someone else’s dream and vision and helping it to continue to live and to grow in newness to meet the challenges of the future. There are people who have done this in the past with great success and others with not so much success. My prayer is that the vision which is at the heart of The Centre will always be alive in me and that I can articulate it and help The Centre to continue to be relevant and vital and meet the spiritual needs of people in the 21st century.

This of course is not my responsibility alone, it is the responsibility of all of us, for together we are The Centre, the body of Christ and express the joy of Christ, and the spirit of his life.

There is much more that I can say. I could speak for an hour thanking all the people who have brought me to this moment and have helped this occasion to happen, but I feel that I just want to assure you, members and friends of The Centre, of my absolute commitment to the ministry and spirit of The Centre and to keeping the vision of our Founders alive.

There's also a lot of light-hearted things to say, like where's my reserved car-space, is it okay for a Meritus not to smoke, and I am looking forward to having my own gardening team, and I thought I was going to be given a poodle, but really I just want to say thank you all for being here. 

I love the spiritual family of The Centre, the way we gather together at momentous occasions. This restaurant and our chapel downstairs has seen some pretty amazing sights and services. I think of Rev Dennis’ funeral, I think of the baptisms of our children, of the mystical marriages and covenants, our initiations and ordinations − together we see, know and celebrate the mighty moving of spirit in our lives in such a magnificent way. 

So it is good to have my spiritual family around me at this time. Someone said to me a while back that the fact that my father had chosen me to be the Deputy Meritus was very nepotistic. I thought that person couldn’t look beyond the physical to understand the reality of the soul. All of us here are firstly related by spirit. We may have chosen to incarnate as husbands, wives, mothers, children, in order to be in certain relationships with each other, but first of all we are related as spirits, with very specific missions to accomplish. That is why we are together. 

In some ways I think the fact that we are father and daughter made it more difficult for my father to give me the task of being the next Deputy Meritus, for he knows, as my mother and Colin also know, what it means to be a Meritus. And I don’t think a father would wish that on his daughter.

So I would like to acknowledge what an incredible thing my father has done tonight, and the Rev Colin, to place their faith in me in such a public way. They have both set the example and given the power and the love by which The Centre may continue. They have brought all of us here together in a spirit of love, joy and given us a mission, a purpose. We owe them so much. 

So they are the people I would like to name in my thank you speech. Please, would you join with me now in a tribute to our Founders − a toast to Rev Mario and Rev Colin − Long may your vision live!

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