‘Cultural creatives’ center closing; lacks people, money

The Rev. Heidi Peck, pastor of the Center For Spiritual Living, in North Naples, conducts a Sunday guided mediation service as well as a Sunday Celebration starting at 10 a.m.

Photo by JEAN AMODEA // Buy this photo

The Rev. Heidi Peck, pastor of the Center For Spiritual Living, in North Naples, conducts a Sunday guided mediation service as well as a Sunday Celebration starting at 10 a.m.

The Rev. Heidi Peck, pastor of the Center For Spiritual Living, in North Naples, conducts a Sunday guided mediation service as well as a Sunday Celebration starting at 10 a.m.

Photo by JEAN AMODEA // Buy this photo

The Rev. Heidi Peck, pastor of the Center For Spiritual Living, in North Naples, conducts a Sunday guided mediation service as well as a Sunday Celebration starting at 10 a.m.

The Center for Spiritual Living Naples is selling its equipment for any “reasonable donation” from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at 2950 Immokalee Road, Naples.

Because she believes in miracles, the Rev. Heidi Peck hopes what’s billed as Sunday’s final service at the Center for Spiritual Living Naples won’t be a swan song, but the rebirth of a phoenix, the bird fabled for rising from its ashes.

The center has operated in Naples for the past 12 years, Peck said, “but now we are facing the same economic issues as many small businesses in today’s economic downturn.”

Peck doesn’t have any particular miracle in mind. Any miracle will do.

Another factor in the planned closing is that the center, a registered 501c3 non-profit organization, now has a core group of only 15 members, far short of the 50 required by the center’s international authority. As recently as early 2010, its core number was 45, Peck said.

“We appeal to people who are termed the ‘cultural creatives,’ who are interested in making the world a better place but are turned off by the word ‘church.’ They are looking for a community of like-minded people, and everyone is welcome,” said the 55-year-old Peck, a former member of Lutheran and Episcopalian parishes who now practices what’s called the Science of Mind.

The center attracts individuals from a wide variety of established religions, using many different names for the higher power Christians call God.

The Science of Mind was recognized for the first time as a new religion by the the World Parliament of Religion in Sydney, Australia, in 2004. Its fundamental principle is that you can change your life by changing your thinking.

“Rather than bargaining with a God you see as outside yourself, we believe that God, or your higher power, lives within you, and we teach you how to access that power,” Peck said.

“Reverend Heidi,” as she’s known, spent seven years training to be a minister at the Center for Spiritual Living Fort Lauderdale before arriving in Naples in the summer of 2009 to serve the Collier County community. Without a Sunday miracle, Peck will return to her log cabin in Lake Lure, N.C., Oct. 15 “to rekindle the flame in the mountains of western North Carolina.”

In preparation for that probability, the center is selling its equipment for any “reasonable donation” from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at 2950 Immokalee Road, Naples.

The Center for Spiritual Living philosophy allows her to accept either outcome as the path her higher power has planned for her highest good, Peck said. If the center closes, Naples members will have a new study group facilitated by Joyce Heist, a licensed practitioner of the Science of Mind teachings who will travel from New York to Naples to run the support group, scheduled to begin meeting in late November.

One of the center’s core group members, 80-year-old Anne Shorr of Naples studied metaphysics for 35 years before coming to the local Center for Spiritual Living, eventually completing the Science of Mind 100-hour study course.

“I had to leave high school early, because my father had a heart attack,” she recalls. “I went to work for the phone company and didn’t get to graduate. When Reverend Heidi found out, she surprised me with a royal blue cap and gown to wear during a beautiful ceremony she organized. She even moved my tassel to the other side after handing me my diploma! It was such a beautiful and emotional time for me. I felt like I was somebody.”

Another core member, 58-year-old Vicki Hall, a Naples saleswoman, resolved to work on healing through the mind-body connection when she was diagnosed last December with advanced stage 3c ovarian cancer.

“I think any illness occurs, not only on the physical level, but also on the spiritual level,” Hall says. “I started going to the Sunday services and also took classes. I learned to give my thoughts and energy to positive healthy thinking instead of the negative of having cancer.”

Hall says she trained herself to stop thinking and talking about her cancer. She took frequent nature walks while silently singing “I am healed, whole and healthy” and other positive affirmations.

“I surprised my doctor by how quickly I got well,” she said. “I was supposed to have six chemo treatments, but my numbers were reading normal after only three rounds.”

While she feels sad that the Center for Spiritual Living Naples likely will close, Hall plans to continue learning about the Science of Mind by joining the Heist support group.

Is her cancer in remission?

“I hate that word,” she said. “To me, remission means it’s gone for now, but it’s coming back. Mine is gone for good.”

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