Reverend Anna Scott found her calling just in time | Western Colorado
JThe thing Anna Scott remembers about meth is that it made her teeth soft.
“I don’t know what it really is, something about what this chemical does, but it makes your teeth soft. A lot of people who use meth don’t have teeth, but I remember my teeth would be soft, like spongy. Interesting, isn’t it?
Scott, now in her 60s and a reverend of the Center for Spiritual Living in Grand Junction, is grateful to have quit the life of drugs while she still had her teeth.
It’s been a long journey for Scott, who was addicted to drugs and alcohol for about 10 years before finding the church in the early 1990s. She was officially ordained a minister on March 25.
“It didn’t start every day, but it ended every day. It started with partying, like maybe a Friday night or something. Then the meds took over,” Scott said.
After that, Scott says, she didn’t really go out and party because she was too busy doing drugs at home.
One night in the early 1990s, Scott was hanging out at a downtown bar. A Wednesday night regular named Dave kept asking him to go to his church, and Scott finally relented, attending a candlelight service on Christmas Eve.
“When I went to this service, I knew I would come back,” she said. “I could just see a peace in these people and just a light, the way the atmosphere, the energy…, I knew I would be back.”
She started coming regularly, but worked hard not to draw attention to herself.
“I had a mode of operation. What I would do is I would wait until the service started, and I would come in, sit in the back, and just as they started to sing the closing song, I would run out.
“I didn’t feel worthy and it was uncomfortable for me to kiss these people I didn’t know. And it’s a group of people hugging each other,” Scott said.
As she continued to attend and became more comfortable, Scott began working on the duplicating machine for Sunday services.
“It was good for me because I felt like I was contributing. So it was really good. It was important, at the time, to me,” she said.
Then she started singing with the choir.
“The way I did it, I have a good ear for pitch, and the lady I sang with had a nice pitch, so I would just lean over to her and get the pitch, so I could do it,” Scott said.
Bonding with the women in the choir was a big step, Scott said.
“Drugs ended up being my main problem, and coming off drugs you don’t really feel good or think about it clearly, so I worked on that,” Scott said. “But it was great to feel useful, it was great to know that I could still read and understand things after trying to fry my brain.”
“So yeah, little by little, I got more and more involved.”
“When I was young and fresh in this field, I was drinking all this interesting stuff and there were courses that the only thing I hadn’t taken was practitioner training, and I thought I probably wouldn’t be a practitioner, but once I got through that, I looked back on my life and…this place saved my life,” Scott said.
“When I first came here, I had just come out of a long addiction to drugs, meth, you know, and alcohol, all that. So, not really having such a great quality of life, I decided because of what this center had done for me, that I wanted to give back. If I could be able to help someone in this situation, I wanted to.
Scott became a practitioner, which is a sort of spiritual advisor, and continued for about 17 years. All the while, people were asking him to become a minister.
“I thought, oh no, people like me don’t become ministers,” Scott said.
During this time, Scott was healing from much of the pain that had led her to drink and take drugs, and as a practitioner she said she wanted to help others.
“Interestingly, once I got into ministerial school, a lot of people who are ministers have had lives, and sometimes not so nice ones,” Scott said.
It took the breakdown of a long-term relationship and a friend asking if there was something on her mind that she had always wanted to do that inspired Scott to enter ministerial school.
The Center for Spiritual Living, temporarily located at Koinonia Church on 25 Road, raised funds so Scott could attend school in Denver. She had considered selling her house to pay for it before that.
“Ooh, I’m glad that didn’t happen. Now that house is worth three times what it was then,” Scott said.
The first time Scott drove to Denver for school, she cried the whole way, then she cried during the first class.
“I couldn’t believe what I was doing,” she said.
Scott worked full-time as the manager of a C&F convenience store and was a churchgoer while attending ministerial school.
The school taught him many practical things, such as how to set up finances, how to work with people, how to counsel people and how to give a speech/sermon, as well as the study of different religions.
“My favorite classes were those on quantum physics and how it relates to our philosophy,” Scott said. “I thought if I was younger I would like to go back to school and become a quantum physicist.”
Scott served as assistant minister for three years, and when the minister left, the Center for Spiritual Living began looking for a new minister, which eventually landed on Scott.
Scott’s ordination had to be postponed several times by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It was more than I could have imagined; it was such a loving experience,” Scott said.
The Center for Spiritual Living practices the science of the spirit, which Scott says is more of a philosophy than a religion.
Science of Mind is part of the religious science movement based on the notion that every human being is an expression of God.
“It’s about realizing that there really is no separation between God and us, between you and me. There is one spirit of God; there is a spirit of life.
One thing Science of Mind teaches is to take personal responsibility for our lives, Scott said.
“You can imagine this was a delightful idea for me as I came off my med break,” Scott said.
Another thing the center practices is inclusion.
“The Center for Spiritual Living Grand Junction is a diverse, radically inclusive, and out-of-the-ordinary church. We provide a great place for “the rest of us” who are looking to connect with God/the higher power/universal presence, but don’t really fit into any particular religion. Although we celebrate centuries-old spiritual traditions from around the world, our message and delivery is modern and down to earth. So relax, have fun and look around – chances are you’ll see people like you,” reads a message on the centre’s website.
“I felt like I was being discriminated against,” said Scott, who is gay. “Especially when I was younger. These days, either I’m with people who don’t care, or it’s not so bad anymore, I don’t know.
“I want everyone to be treated the same, I want everyone to have a chance. That really motivates me.
Scott works with Together Colorado, a group of faith leaders who work on social justice actions.
“I think our philosophy has grown to the point where we see it’s our responsibility to say ‘this isn’t fair,'” Scott said.
Scott grew up in Nucla, but left at age 13 to move to Grand Junction. She attended Central High School and the former Western State College.
Scott returned to Nucla to teach at age 25, but it didn’t last long, in part because she found it a difficult environment for a gay person.
Scott thinks difficulty fitting in because she’s gay is part of what led her to do drugs and drink
“One of the hidden beliefs for me and the drug was wanting to fit in, like I wanted to fit in with these people,” Scott said. “It seems so gross now. I had a good time, I liked the people, it’s this co-dependent stuff. So the false belief for me was that I wasn’t acceptable, that I wasn’t I didn’t belong, that I was gay and addicted to drugs. But I don’t have to stay like that. I mean I’m probably going to have to stay gay, I think. If this is a phase, it lasted 44 years.
Scott never thought about eventually becoming the person to lead the service when she started attending church in the early 90s.
“Most of the time I remember the energy and the feeling in that room and the way people were with each other,” she said. “At the beginning, that was what I was looking for, it was inner peace. I was not at peace with myself.
When Scott first walked into the church, she said, she was drawn to the sense of belonging, the feeling that she had something to offer.
“I needed to fit in somewhere that wasn’t a bar,” Scott said. “It’s really wonderful after feeling like a burden on society.”
“We always have a choice and God is always there to support us. And that we can change for the better,” she said.