Rev. Jesse Garnee believes, for him, religion is more an outer form and spirituality is more an inner path.
“We are each a spark of the divine and sons and daughters of God, each of us brothers and sisters,” Garnee said.
Personally, he’s taken a more esoteric, inner approach, to get in touch with the divine spark.
“We believe that Jesus is the perfect pattern and the achievement of his Christhood is attainable by all of us,” he said.
Jesse Garnee holds services at the Chapel of Christ Sophia, which he established a year and a half ago after returning to Tahlequah from California.
Music and ministry are one and the same for Garnee.
“Music and drama played a huge role in shaping my future,” he said.
As a young person growing up in Los Angeles, Garnee found a need for spiritual understanding.
“I began attending church on my own at a neighborhood church, attending a number of different churches until I was a young adult and learned to meditate. This created a tremendous change and focus in my life,” he said.
A graduate of John Glenn High School, in Norwalk, Calif., Garnee began pursuing music and ministry interests. He studied at the Music Center of Los Angeles Civic Light Opera Musical Theatre Workshop, graduating in 1977 and the Edgar Cayce School of Massage 1980.
His spiritual training continued in Tahlequah, graduating from Sancta Sophia Seminary and he was ordained by Light of Christ Community Church in 1989. He graduated from the Church of the Divine Presence and made a priest with Church of Antioch in 1995. In 2011 he was made a monsignor with Church of Antioch/Ascension Alliance.
“One particular voice teacher I had in Los Angeles in the early ‘70s, Janer Eldridge, had a big impact on me and introduced me to classical music,” he said.
Books on esoteric Christianity and healing kept him grounded as he traveled as a singer and actor around the country with his partner, Isaac Porter.
When he met and began studying with Rev. Carol Parrish in the early ‘80s, they eventually moved from New York City to Tahlequah to further these studies.
“I later studied with Bishop John Rankin, founder of the Golden Pyramid Unity Church in Houston, who since moved his ministry to Church of Antioch,” Garnee said.
Healing arts are an aspect of his ministry.
“I have always felt akin to the healing arts and this was a natural step for me. I do massage, am a Reiki master, and I teach polarity energy balancing,” he said. “When I learned a number of these techniques, they were on the outskirts of the way of thinking about healing. Today, these techniques are taught in every major massage school in the country.”
Our earth and universe are constantly evolving, Garnee said.
“The word New Age was useful 20 to 30 years ago as most of the planet’s inhabitants were reaching for something. Many of these ideas have become mainstream realities today,” he said. “So many ideas that were new all fell into the melting pot called new age.”
Reincarnation makes the most sense Garnee on a personal level.
“The movement sweeping our country 30 and 40 years ago made way for what I believe is a good blend of East and West,” he said. “Christ Jesus is my personal way and I have been enriched with many Eastern beliefs, as well. I can think of no better way to get in touch with your spiritual nature than what meditation provides. In our fast-paced world, that includes Tahlequah, most of us are not ready or willing to invest the time it takes to meditate daily. I hope to have some positive impact in this area, as well as helping people to take charge of not only their spiritual life as well as their physical life. Music is a necessity.”
Sophia, the holy wisdom of God; the divine feminine; meditation; and unconditional love are the themes Garnee most often teaches on.
His favorite scriptures are Luke 17:21: “Neither shall they say, ‘Lo here! or, lo there!’ for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you,” and Psalms Chapter 23: “The Spark of God is within each of us.”
Garnee established the chapel after returning to Tahlequah from California.
“Our Mass has an open communion, open to everyone,” he said.
“I love living in the country with partner Isaac Porter: we have goats, sheep and chickens, cats and dogs. And I love having a garden. I love the people in Tahlequah and in the entire area; they’re friendly, warm and encouraging.”
The Chapel of Christ Sophia at 914 Summit Ridge Court, in Tahlequah, hosts Sunday service at 9 a.m. for High Mass and Communion. A rosary is held Saturday mornings at Chapel Books, 115 E. Delaware.