NORTHEAST COBB — Happiness is on the minds of members of a new interfaith, New Thought church called One World Spiritual Center located at 3535 Shallowford Road just off Sandy Plains Road in northeast Cobb County.
The church’s senior minister, the Rev. Stephanie Seigh, is leading her congregation on a yearlong exploration of happiness and answering such questions as: What does it mean to be truly happy? And how can happiness positively affect those in our lives?
The project is rooted in a book titled, “The Happiness Project,” by author and attorney Gretchen Rubin, which serves as a guideline for the series, which began in January and ends in December.
Seigh said she came upon the book in an airport during her travels last year, while working for an organization that helped churches in transition. She said the book “jumped off the shelf” at her.
“As I was reading I thought, ‘This is so aligned with our belief system and so practical,’” recalled Seigh. “So many people right now are under stress because of the economy — relationship stress and money stress — half of the country is in foreclosure right now.”
“The Happiness Project” book, published in 2009, is the account of the year Rubin spent putting studies, theories and popular beliefs about how to be happier into practice in her own life, which despite having a husband, two children and writing career in New York City, wasn’t as happy as she thought it should be.
In the book, Rubin shares her insights to help people create their own happiness projects. The 12 chapters are devoted to spending each month in exploration of a particular way to find happiness, such as making time for friends and pursuing a passion.
Among other things, Rubin found that even the smallest of changes can make a big difference in peoples’ lives. Every month this year, One World Spiritual Center will have a Sunday message with practical tips in alignment with a chapter from the book, in addition to a workshop exploring that month’s theme, and a film whose message will be interpreted by Seigh after its viewing.
In January, an indoor yard sale was conducted as a way to compliment that month’s theme of clearing out clutter in our lives.
The church’s happiness project continues this month with its February theme: “Remember Love.” This Sunday, it will look at the energy associated with “nagging.” This month’s film is “Beauty and the Beast.” A forgiveness workshop by inspirational speaker Colin Tipping will be on Feb. 26.
“My personal belief is that happiness is a choice,” said Seigh, who previously served as director of peacemaking at Unity Worldwide Ministries, part of the Unity movement. “Despite what’s going on in our lives, we can still choose to be happy. Yes, all this stuff is happening, nevertheless we can choose to be happy. We can choose to be grateful for what we have.”
One thing that Seigh, and her husband, Ken, have is a relationship with a small community of people who decided to form One World Spiritual Center last August as a way to experience their shared goals, values and principles.
The church is independent and non-denominational, located in newly renovated facilities that include a sanctuary, classrooms, offices and an activity center.
“One of the things about our church is that we wanted it to be a community center, a place for people to come all during the week and not just on Sunday,” said Cathy Spiegel of Atlanta, one of the church’s founding members and secretary of its board. “It has just been a very exciting adventure.”
Seigh said church members come from different faith backgrounds, including Christianity, Judaism and Buddhism. On one recent Sunday, about 100 people attended service, she said.
What truly distinguishes One World Spiritual Center is that it honors a belief that there are many paths to God, said Seigh. “In addition to honoring all paths to God, I would also say that what’s most important to us is seeing the divine in everyone, and knowing that we are spiritual beings having a very human experience,” she said.
One World Spiritual Center meets at 11 a.m. Sunday. Visit www.oneworldspiritualcenter.net for more.