MOTHER, grandmother and HSE worker Jane Killingbeck recently became ordained as a One Spirit interfaith minister.
Jane was born in Devon and grew up in an evangelical Anglican family. At an early age she became very involved in the Charismatic Movement, which she took very seriously, giving testimony in school and attending regular prayer meetings.
After school, she spent a year in Germany as an au pair. In this more liberal society the Charismatic Movement seemed a very narrow way of seeing things and she gradually slipped away from it.
After Germany, she studied History at Portsmouth University in England and thoroughly enjoyed city and university life. After college, she did a variety of jobs including assistant warden in a probation hostel working with troubled young people.
In the early 1980s, Killingbeck and her partner bought a cottage in Wiltshire, having become very involved with the ecology movement and embracing the ideals of the back to the land, self-sufficient ethos of the time.
They kept chickens and bees and did up the cottage. After seven years, they split up. Jane was devastated having worked her life around her partner only to then find herself at 30 years of age, without a career. Though she had, at this point, left God behind, she sought counsel from the local vicar. He advised her that it was perfectly OK to stand up for herself.
With her portion of the sale of the house, she moved to an old farmhouse and began, for the first time, to see who she was. For five years, she lived an informal happy community life in this farmhouse, where single parents, an opera singer, a mechanic, among others lived. She became aware that people were attracted to some form of community.
During this time, she met her second husband. They both felt for the relationship to thrive that they needed to move away from the community. At the time they couldn’t afford anywhere in England. Their house search brought them to Ireland in December, 1989.
With a two-year-old and another on the way, it was imperative they find somewhere to live. They settled on an old farmhouse at the end of a track in the Kerry mountains. This they made cosy and enjoyed exploring the local scenery.
However, as Killingbeck observes; “When you live at the end of a track in the middle of the mountains, there is no escaping the cracks in a relationship.”
At some juncture, she began attending church in Sneem. Here she discovered like-minded women with an interest in meditation and set up a mediation group.
In the process of this she realised she needed help with relationship and co-dependency issues, and met a woman who introduced her to the 12 step programme.
After serious illness requiring hospitalisation, she consulted her GP about depression and he recommended that she needed to move from her remote living her to an urban conurbation. She secured a house in Sneem village but found it hard to leave behind the dream of rural sustainable livening.
Village living was good for her and the children. Through a UCC outreach programme she did a NOW (New Opportunities for Women) course. This helped build self-confidence of many local women who previously would not have had access to this level of education.
Killingbeck became a leader in the community, quite a scary prospect as it meant ‘putting yourself out there’. As a result of the course, they formed a women’s group in Sneem.
Her marriage broke up and she found it liberating to be able to be herself. She also became manager of Sneem resource centre.
Killingbeck says that there are times when “you look at possibilities and seeds of new ideas gifted you by somebody else”. This is how she came to know of a place for rent in Bandon. She already knew some people there and the move answered her need to live in a larger community.
She immediately felt very welcome in Bandon and was able to realise her dream of running a second-hand bookshop. She lived over the bookshop and held meditation groups there.
From one meditation teacher, who spent a week with her in Bandon, she heard of a six month course on mediation in Mexico. Her ex-husband agreed to come and mind the children for six months and she went to Mexico. In many ways, it was a challenging six months but also very good.
When she returned to Bandon, Killingbeck taught meditation and also ran meditation weekends on Bere Island. Eventually she parted company with the course instructors and also gave up the bookshop. As she needed income, she became a home help. The role she says is far more than physical care. Listening to the people she helps is a far more important yet unacknowledged part of being a home help. Time for chat is not factored into the hours allotted per person. She wanted a to find a route back to education and undertook a part-time master’s degree in Pastoral Care and Leadership at All Hallows College Dublin.
This course nurtured her desire to work in pastoral settings but she discovered there are few opportunities to do this unless as an ordained minister.
Three months before her daughter was due to be married, the Humanist Minister booked for the ceremony let them down. Killingbeck remembered a woman on one of her courses who was a One Spirit Minister. She looked this up and found a One Spirit Minister in West Cork. Her daughter was impressed with the ceremony and encouraged her mother to consider becoming such a minister.
She was accepted on the course which took place at the One Spirit InterFaith seminary in London. She says it was then it dawned on her that her life had been leading to this, through the routes of pastoral care and meditation.
The course helped her express who she really is and realise that she could serve God and others through this ministry. It lasted for two years, one weekend per month and involved exploring spiritual development while acknowledging her own limitations. She explored religions as a response to what was challenging about those religions, so that,’ you could see where challenged and where drawn to different faith traditions.
She learned spiritual counselling practises and deepened her own spiritual practises. There was a group of 40 studying together and intense group work was involved. In the second year of study, they learned how to do a ceremony in a way that took them through their own life cycles.
Throughout the second year, she met with tutors to discern if ordination was the path for her. In July 2017, she became ordained as a One Spirit Interfaith minister. She stresses that she is minister to all faiths and none but does not surrender her own Church of England faith.
Rev Killingbeck, and fellow ministers, seek to find ways of serving community by finding opportunities to gather, give thanks and make connections with each other, and the divine, in a universal way. One Spirit Inter faith ministers offer blessings and ceremonies on birth, marriage, death, naming ceremonies etc.
For more see www.interfaithminitsters.ie or call 0857818137.