By Carolyn Warnemuende
If there were only one word to describe Cylvia Hayes, it would be passionate. As a third-year student at Unity Urban Ministerial School, she serves as a Spiritual Leader at Unity Community Center of Central Oregon. She is an activist, business owner, speaker, author, teacher, and strategist for personal and spiritual development and “economic evolution”.
Cylvia exemplifies flexibility in her diverse career history. When her partner John Kitzhaber was governor of the state, she assumed the role of first lady and served as an advisor to the administration on clean energy and economic development. “On every platform I have been related with,” she says, “my mission has been helping humanity to come into balance with the rest of creation on our planet.” She shared that this requires a shift in consciousness in all human beings. A primary blessing from her career opportunities is that she can relate to different kinds of people in varied circumstances.
In 1998, in Bend, Oregon, Cylvia founded 3EStrategies, a clean economy consulting firm where she serves as chief executive officer. More recently, in response to the onset of COVID-19, she launched The ReThink, a non-profit with a mission of seizing these difficult times to create new and better norms for ourselves, our society, our economy, and our living world.
Following a life trauma that lasted several years and resulted in public shaming, Cylvia wrote When Life Blows Up: A Guide to Peace, Power, and Reinvention, published in 2020. She says that the book is not about her story but about what broke open in her and how that can help others. “When Life Blows Up is a living testimony to the power of forgiveness and the healing available when we allow Wholly Spirit to guide our lives. … I think many readers will be in turn relating, wondering, and hopeful,” says Rev. Jane Hiatt, senior minister at Unity Community Center of Central Oregon.
Raised as a fundamental Christian, Cylvia rebelled in her late teens and began a quest of spiritual study rather than religious dogma. When she found Unity in central Oregon 20 years ago, she felt she had found a spiritual home. Although she hadn’t attended a Unity service for a decade, in 2014, following her traumatic life experience, she was led to therapy and back to Unity.
Her road to ministry began with a chance meeting on the River Trail in Bend Oregon, her home, when she ran into Rev. Jane Hiatt, whom she hadn’t see in over ten years. “Jane was utterly present with me and showed compassion and caring,” says Cylvia. “That was the sign I needed to return to Unity.” She began SEE classes for her own healing and not to become a minister. But as one who had myriad life opportunities, Cylvia knew that desires change. She committed to the ministerial path, but without a particular calling. Through discovering how she could combine ministry and her passion and experience with environmental causes, her dedication grew. As a Spiritual Leader at UCCO, she will develop their ACT Ministry (Action, Compassion, Transformation) to put Unity principles into action on environmental, social, and economic justice issues in their region.
Although Cylvia will finish her courses at UUMS at the end of the fall term and soon begin her internship, as the result of some administrative challenges, she will not be ordained until Spring 2023. One of her quests is to work with UUMS and UWM to make sure the ordination process goes smoothly for all students. “I would like to be ordained when I finish my work,” she says, “but I am doing now what I want to do, and that is what’s important.”
To learn more about Cylvia, she can be seen on her YouTube TEDx talk, “Who Do You Think You Are Really?” or at www.CylviaHayes.com. Her positivity, assurance, and confidence that all is in Divine Order, reflect the hallmarks of a powerful Unity minister. She is a blessing to the movement.