Kamori Cattadoris is a skeptic.
“The healthy kind,” explained the founder of Ancient Traditions Community Church, a new congregation in Hillyard. “The kind that wants to know truth. Not the cynic who rejects everything.”
Although she spent years questioning religious doctrine, Cattadoris was still open to finding a path to God.
Spirituality eventually became possible for her, she said, through ancient teachings found in Eastern Orthodox Christianity, Sufism, Tibetan Buddhism and other traditions.
After starting a study group four years ago for “healthy skeptics” in search of faith, Cattadoris and her husband, Bob, bought an old church building in north Spokane and established Ancient Traditions. On Saturday, the new church will open its doors to the community by offering several activities that emphasize traditional ethnic music and dance, as well as Middle Eastern foods that members have spent the past few days preparing.
Ancient Traditions is not a new religion, members say. While its teachings are based on early Christian principles, it is an interfaith congregation that doesn’t force anyone to believe in anything, Cattadoris said. Their goal is to work together in pursuit of personal transformation – to “drop our inflated self-importance,” she said, and to “seek God within the human heart.”
At the altar of the church sanctuary is a large wooden cross, left behind by the previous congregation. “We’ve made it our own,” said Cattadoris, emphasizing that the group is not exclusively Christian.
To the right of the altar is a Tibetan gong; to the left in another corner hang half a dozen handmade bells from India. The white walls will eventually be decorated with Egyptian papyrus and Tibetan art painted on rice paper. The church’s library includes books like the Quran, the Dalai Lama’s “Training the Mind” and Jon Kabat-Zinn’s “Wherever You Go, There You Are.”
Many who joined this group have been influenced by the teachings of George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff, an Armenian mystic, author and composer who established a religious movement in the 1920s through the Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man.
Born in 1872 in Alexandropol near the Russo-Turkish frontier, Gurdjieff spent years in Central Asia, North Africa and other areas, where he came into contact with esoteric teachings. As a result, he developed his own teaching: that ordinary people could attain a higher state of awareness. After his death in 1949, Gurdjieff’s followers started spiritual centers all over the world.
While Gurdjieff study groups exist throughout the United States, the Spokane crowd is one of only two in the country that has evolved into a church, Cattadoris said.
“We are an experiential group,” said Lyn Lamb, who joined Ancient Traditions last year when it was still a study group. Through her interaction with other members, she has focused on certain tasks each week that include refraining from negative thinking and an emphasis on self-observation – actions, she said, that have given her more awareness.
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