About Reverend Tracy “Faith” Lavender

Photo courtesy of Vincent DeWitt
Photo courtesy of Vincent DeWitt

Interfaith_symbolsI am often asked why I became an interfaith minister. As a young adult, I became discouraged with organized religions, often feeling they were rigid and limited. For me, spirituality is a very personal expression of identity. It is not a box or “one size fits all.” Since that had been my experience for a number of years, I felt compelled to leave organized religion and strive to cultivate an inner sense of spirituality for myself. I was certain that I could discover a way to find worldly expression of this yearning with both depth and meaning. I then undertook the study of different religions. What I learned was that many religions had a variety of teachings that spoke to me, and that many, in their essence, expressed similar principals, simply using different terminology or symbols. My spiritual restlessness led me to look into the formal study of ministry. Unfortunately, every school I interviewed required that I choose a single denomination as my focus and path of service. Ignoring then conventional avenues of traditional ministry, I learned of an organization called the Universal Brotherhood — a non-denominational organization that ordains individuals who wished to pursue an independent ministry. In 1992, I became ordained through this organization and began my ministry. Soon recognizing the need for more structured study and formalized credentials, I enrolled in a newly created academic program for the preparation of Interfaith Ministers — the first of its kind — at a school known as The New Seminary located in New York City. I graduated with honors and was formally ordained as an Interfaith Minister at New York City’s St. John the Divine.