Vernon’s Thé Essence: More Than a Bookstore hosted Phelps and is currently selling some of the art she brought back from Africa. (Photo contributed)

Vernon’s Thé Essence: More Than a Bookstore hosted Phelps and is currently selling some of the art she brought back from Africa. (Photo contributed)

Rev. Connie Phelps visits Okanagan for Kenya charity

Stationed in Nairobi, Kenya, Canadian Rev. Phelps runs the only Centre for Spiritual Living in Africa.

The purpose of charity is often to help those in need, but this reverend had other plans, and she moved to Kenya for the purpose of helping those most in need to help themselves.

Reverend Connie Phelps visited Vernon’s Centre for Spiritual Living Wednesday for a meet-and-greet and an evening presentation about her involvement and work in Kenya.

Phelps’ is a Canadian who now runs the only Centre for Spiritual Living in Africa. Stationed in Nairobi, Kenya, she is also involved with the Briton SoM School, located in one of the largest slums on the continent. She helps foster local African artisans who make original carvings and various authentic crafts. She returns to Canada each year to fundraise through the distribution of this art. This year, that includes Vernon’s Thé Essence: More Than a Bookstore, an outreach for the local Centre.

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Suellen McCumber is a volunteer and active participant in the centre, working towards becoming a licensed practitioner. She said that Phelps visit was a great example of the centre’s philosophy and understanding of spirituality.

The Centre for Spiritual Living is an international organization based in Colorado. Though not registered as a church, the focus of their work revolves around philosophy, the law of attraction and various spiritual modalities.

“It was based on the science of mind and the law of attraction — what you think is what you’re going to attract into your life and that’s basically what our belief is for the Centre for Spiritual Living,” said McCumber. “So we get lots of people in [the store] that have lots of different spiritual modalities that you might or might not agree with, but they’re all spiritual and we accept everybody and we’re diverse in every aspect.”

Using her own story as an example, she explained that spirituality is often subjective.

“I grew up Catholic and it stopped resonating with me in the way it used to and so I drifted for a while until I found this place,” she said. “In this philosophy, we don’t teach you what to think, we teach you how to think and that determines what you’ll attract.”

Last year, Thé Essence relocated to the main street in the hopes to become more visible and attract a more diverse crowd.

“When we expanded, we decided to become more than just a bookstore and start selling more gift items like candles, jewellery, bowls and crystals and a variety of items that will attract a diverse group of people,” she said.

This made Phelps’ visit and the art she brought from Kenya, a perfect pairing for the new store.

”It’s amazing what Reverend Phelps does and it’s so unconventional in relation to what normal NGOs and certain religious groups might typically do,” said McCumber. “It doesn’t help them at all just for them to be given stuff and because our philosophy is about empowering and learning how to do things for yourself, we feel that will help them more than most.”

“If you want to change the world, you have to change yourself first just as Gandhi said “Be the change” and that’s exactly what Reverend Phelps is doing.”

Phelps also plans to visit various centres in Kamloops, Edmonton and Calgary. As a registered charity, all art purchases from Rev. Phelps are also tax deductible.

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Rev. Connie Phelps (left) coaches Kenyan students Benny, Muthoni, and Lameck at their Centre for Spiritual Living (Photo contributed)

Rev. Connie Phelps (left) coaches Kenyan students Benny, Muthoni, and Lameck at their Centre for Spiritual Living (Photo contributed)