Written by Ardyce Curl
Mary Montgomery Clifford
Mary Montgomery Clifford has been attending People’s since the summer of 2016. She was raised a Catholic, and three of her father’s sisters were nuns.
These women were and continue to be strong role models for her; however, experiences in junior high and high school led her to leave the Catholic church.
“In 7th grade I suddenly felt from the depth of my being that God did not care what religion we were nor whether we believed in god or not,” Mary said. “All that matters is our love for one another.
“When I was a sophomore in high school I questioned the doctrine that says a non-baptized child goes to Limbo,” Mary said. “I was branded as a heretic by our religious teacher.”
“I left the church but continued to be spiritual but not religious,” Mary said. ”It was several years before I joined another community of faith.
“A soul sister and her husband had joined the Unitarian Church in Oak Park, Il. I had gone there occasionally but was involved with another community of faith, one that doesn’t have a branch near the South Haven area where I live.” (Mary recently moved to South Haven from Chicago.)
Mary searched on line and found the People’s Church website and started attending some of the summer services.
“I was already an admirer of the Unitarian principles and philosophy,” Mary said. “I was looking for a community of faith that is liberal, accepting of other traditions and dedicated to the principles of justice and fairness. I was impressed by the programs offered at People’s.”
Mary says she cherry picks her spiritual wisdom from many sources and traditions and finds it in meditation and mantras, for example; and she has started a blog – (SpiritualTravelerGuides.com)
Mary said, “By launching Spiritual Traveler Guides, I am inviting fellow travelers to not only come along on my spiritual journeys, but also to be inspired to embark on spiritual journeys of their own. My goal is not only to provide that inspiration, but also to provide like-minded souls with the practical guidance and resources that will help them incorporate the spiritual and transformative into every journey that they take.
“My spiritual philosophy can be summarized in this quote from Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Eat, Pray, Love: ‘I think you have every right to cherry-pick when it comes to moving your spirit and finding peace in God. I think you are free to search for any metaphor whatsoever which will take you across the worldly divide whenever you need to be transported or comforted.’”
Mary has been a volunteer for the Holiday Bazaar and makes healthy donations to People’s and to the variety of causes featured here.
Asked what she would like to see happen at People’s, Mary said, “I know we are encouraged to stay to mix and mingle after church, but it isn’t very inviting the way it is set up.” She suggested having food contributions and tables where folks can sit and chat after church. And she says the monthly potlucks are great, but she would like to see folks make more of an effort to make sure visitors and newer members like her feel included during such events.
Mary, 69, is a semi-retired journalist, columnist and PR consultant, who combines her writing and travels with spiritual adventures. She has a stepson, two grandchildren and many loving friends and extended family.