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Search for God Within: Lake Harriet Spiritual Community’s Psychic Fair

A look at the members and history of the unorthodox and diverse Lake Harriet Spiritual Community.

There is a certified energy vortex in Linden Hills, at least according to some people.

Located in the hundred-year-old neo-Classical building of the Lake Harriet Spiritual Community, it’s a place where members believe the Earth’s energies converge and amplify one another.

Even the building’s history has a certain air of mystery—a fire, a robbery and a spiritual split have made their marks on it. Crowned with a dome that serves as a Linden Hills landmark, it began life as a Methodist church. After that congregation vacated, the building was taken over by practitioners of Divine Science, which eventually led to the 1996 founding of the Lake Harriet Spiritual Community, an unorthodox blend of church, meeting place and new-age healer.

Each member spoken to for this story said diversity of voices, views and energies is their community’s central concern. It’s this diversity that originally attracted them to the community.

Laura Studer, a core participant since 2001, was raised Catholic. But when she decided to come out as a lesbian, she didn’t find the support she needed within the Catholic Church. She came to the community on the recommendation of an acquaintance. “I was at a point of searching; [there were] a lot of changes in my life, and I didn’t really know what it was I was looking for,” she said. “But somehow I knew when I walked in this building that I had found it or would find it here.”

Nancy Couné, the community’s office administrator, said skepticism is what usually draws people to the community in the first place. People become skeptical of the “truth-claims” made by the religions they were born into, and this spirit of inquiry leads them to become curious about other faiths. Some people, she said, might want to replace one belief system with another. Others are less interested in belief than they are in being.

Belief has to do with the mind, said Couné, where as being is about a deeper kind of awareness—an intuition, something that you sense but find difficult to express in words. “Some are looking for God-within. Some are looking for answers,” Couné said. “But we all find our own paths back to ourselves.”

Couné came to the community for an entirely different reason: work. She describes her spirituality as Eastern. But daily involvement with the community has helped her get in touch with other religious and spiritual views, and the conversations that arise between members enrich her daily life by showing her the benefits of a variety of spiritual practices. “For me, it has to do with living consciously and discovering a place of peace within myself,” she said. “It’s a daily practice, though—it’s a journey, and I haven’t arrived. I’m still evolving.”

Others are drawn to the unique community by hardship.

In the 1990s, Gary Perisian was a recovering alcoholic searching for spiritual transformation. He joined a drum circle shortly after the September 11 attacks. He found there a way to cope with the tragedy that was totally unlike the climate of fear that swept over the rest of the country. There was a sense of peace and calm in this group that kept them balanced in the face of great uncertainty, he said: “It really changed my outlook on life.”

Studer said members see themselves as keepers of the vortex in the building at the top of the hill, protecting it and offering up its power for the benefit of the broader community.

The upcoming Psychic Fair is an opportunity for members of the Lake Harriet Spiritual Community to reach out to Southwest Minneapolis in friendship, Studer said. “I wanted to be of service,” she said. “I never knew how to do that before coming here.”

The Psychic Fair will be held this Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m., at Lake Harriet Spiritual Community, 4401 Upton Avenue S. in Linden Hills.

Laura Studer May 14, 2011 at 03:54 AM
The address of Lake Harriet Spiritual Community is actually 4401 Upton Ave S. (corner of 44th & Upton) in South Minneapolis.

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