Napa Valley Marketplace Magazine Business Review January 2009.
Napa Valley Center For Spiritual Living
By Craig Smith
On her way to chemotherapy treatments, Trudie Teague would stop by The Napa Valley Center for Spiritual Living, located at 1249 Coombs Street. She’d straighten up where needed and lend a hand when appropriate. No one asked her to do so; she just did. In her memory, Kristina Heim and Tom Van Senus, both members of the church, collaborated to establish the Trudie’s Garden, located on site. Today, the beautifully transformed space is maintained by church members and is open to the public.
It might seem like a small thing to some, but Trudie’s Garden is just one of the ways the Center gives to the community. Committed to being green, the Center has several programs. Kirk Reid oversees the environmental commitments. While giving and tithing is a practice of the members, the Center itself also tithes, committing almost 11% of all its income to support local, community non-profit groups, teachers who are church members, and the parent organization.
Having been in Napa for almost fifty years, the Church returned to downtown several years ago. The new site was remodeled and the grounds landscaped, resulting in an aesthetically pleasing and calming environment. According to Reverend Janet Garvey-Stangvik, the new location feels like home.
The Napa church was founded in 1961 as the Science of Mind Center, led by local practitioner Ruth Wright. Four years later, membership was large enough to incorporate as a Church which was first located in a rented building on Brown Street where Mervyn’s is now located. Ruth Wright became the permanent minister, and served until 1970.
Essentially a volunteer organization in the early days, the Church grew over the years. A financial planner was brought in to help the fledgling group plan for the future. The office secretary began to receive a salary. Funds grew, and with the help of loans for the down payment made by some of the members, a small lot with a church was purchased on Menlo Avenue in 1971.
Four other ministers followed Ruth Wright. Reverend Dr. Barbara Smith took over in 1978, serving the Church in that capacity until 1995. During her tenure, the church sold the property at Menlo Avenue and bought several acres on Big Ranch Road, which were later sold. Today, the Church owns the property on which it is located.
‘Reverend Janet,’ as she is called, came to the Church ten years ago from Seattle. She loves living in Napa. “It’s been wonderful. Napa is a very community-minded place. The wine industry itself is very community oriented.” Far from viewing other Churches as ‘competition’, the NV Center for Spiritual Living embraces other Churches and religions. “If there isn’t peace among religions, there will never be peace among nations,” said Reverend Janet. The Center has been studying different religions this year. Reverend Janet picks a different one each month and talks about it during a Church service. “We are respectful of all faith traditions and beliefs and in our willingness to know and understand others we have representatives of different faiths as guest speakers. We believe that all paths lead to God,” said Reverend Janet.
If the church has a single focus, it is “Peace”. “We were involved with the Peace Table, Drumming for Peace (which featured 300 people drumming) and have been doing a World Peace Meditation since 1986.” Rev. Janet is leaving for the Middle East for a Walk of Peace, as part of a Harvard University project. “At heart, we are peacemakers.”
Napa Valley Center for Spiritual Life is at 1249 Coombs, north of Pearl Street, phone 252-4847. Services are held at 10:30 on Sunday mornings.