Pastor compares church to film 'The Secret'

Mary Lou Houllis says New Beginning Ministries is "a multicultural, diverse gathering of people on a journey of higher consciousness.''

Published July 14, 2007

HOLIDAY - For Mary Lou Houllis, pastor of New Beginning Ministries in Holiday, her church and its philosophy are akin to the movie The Secret.

"If you liked the movie, you'll love New Beginning Ministries," Houllis said. "Our church is a multicultural, diverse gathering of people on a journey of higher consciousness that is constantly in transition."

The movie is based on the "law of attraction," which states that our lives are created by focusing on what attracts us and being grateful for what we have. The movie also has lessons and teachings from world leaders and philosophers.

Houllis says that science and religion are brought together in a new way that proves people are participants and not just observers in the universe.

"New Beginning serves as a bridge for people breaking out of the mold of institutional beliefs and looking for a deeper understanding of God, life and the world they live in," she said.

Houllis spent time in the World Wide Church of God, where she learned "the letter of the word, not the Spirit of the word," before leaving it to embrace God's unconditional love without judgment.

"We believe the Bible is to be interpreted spiritually and not literally, which brings in a new and positive understanding of Scripture," she said.

Her church, which meets at 10:30 a.m. Sundays at 4004 Bonita Road, starts each service with drumming.

"This brings us into oneness with God," she said.

Andre Chapman of Spring Hill does the drumming. During the service she talks about energy and how science backs up what the Bible says. "I talk a lot about the radical love of God," she said.

People come from all over the state, including Cross City in Dixie County.

Matt Cravey, 49, says he and his wife, Maureen, drive 2 1/2 hours once a month to experience the warmth and fellowship of the congregation.

"Mary Lou is a compassionate and welcoming pastor," he said. "And, we have the freedom to express ourselves and ask questions."

Houllis, who has been married to attorney Michael Houllis for 38 years, also believes in the significance of numbers in the Bible.

"Numbers reveal that we have entered the greatest time in the history of all humanity," she said. "The world might physically look like it is getting darker and darker but spiritually the numbers reveal an entirely different picture for our day."

All the music played and sung at the church is written by Pam Hadesty.

"I played on the road with my husband, top 40 and disco in the '70s," she said. "But I never wrote a song and only played by ear."

Hadesty said she just started hearing music complete with melody and words and she has written 85 songs during the past four years. "I have no clue how this happens but it is very exciting," she said.

At New Beginning, Houllis says she hopes people will break out of the boxes of fear, judgment and condemnation, and awaken to know that the change the world has been looking for lies within themselves.

Fast Facts:

New Beginning Ministries

For information on the church, call (727) 934-8617.