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Author Topic: Your Definition of Clergy  (Read 5014 times)
darashand
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« Topic Start: February 12, 2010, 12:45:27 pm »

A few questions for you all,

What is your definition of Priest/Priestess?
What functions do they serve?
What are the expectations or criteria for a Priest/Priestess according to your faith or beliefs?
If a Priest or Priestess is dedicated to a certian God or Goddess, how would their fuction/expectations differ?

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« Reply #1: February 12, 2010, 12:59:30 pm »

A few questions for you all,

What is your definition of Priest/Priestess?
What functions do they serve?
What are the expectations or criteria for a Priest/Priestess according to your faith or beliefs?
If a Priest or Priestess is dedicated to a certian God or Goddess, how would their fuction/expectations differ?



From the perspective of my particular faith:

A priest or priestess of the craft is any individual who has been "properly" initiated into the craft by a craft elder.

Most are contributing members of a Gardnerian coven, and perform whatever functions are required within that framework.

The expectations are specific for each degree, but at the very leat, a first degree will be able to cast a circle and have a working knowledge of the theology and laws of the craft.

Each priest or priestess in Gardnerian craft is a devotee of the Gardnerian God and Goddess. They may also have individual relationships with other gods of other pantheons, but would be expected to grow that relationship outside of the formal Gardnerian rituals.

Gards do not consider themselves to be clergy in a formal sense, since we are all basically equals in the circle, and each is expected to be able to perform most of the required ritual elements of the craft. I have always considered us to be more like a monastic order (without the celibacy or seclusion). This is my own take on my faith, others may have a different view.
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Ellen M.
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« Reply #2: February 12, 2010, 02:57:47 pm »

What is your definition of Priest/Priestess?
What functions do they serve?
What are the expectations or criteria for a Priest/Priestess according to your faith or beliefs?
If a Priest or Priestess is dedicated to a certian God or Goddess, how would their fuction/expectations differ?

Professionally trained. If a clergyman hasn't either been to seminary or been properly trained by their own tradition (I'm thinking the intensive training program ADF clergyfolk go through), then said clergy better have a lot of experience under their belt before I start thinking of them as "real" clergy.

*SOAPBOX TIME* One of the things that bothers me a lot about many parts of Paganism is the "everyone is a priest" deal. Not that you're your own priest - your own connection to Deity, responsible for your own spiritual wellbeing - but that this somehow gives everyone the skillset and respect afforded to real, trained clergymembers. A priest has to mentor to those under him, which includes in-depth knowledge and experience of their path, good leadership skills, probably good PR skills too, flexibility, the ability to deal with crises, spiritual counseling... the list goes on and on. Someone needs a lot more on their resume than "regularly leads rituals" or "calls self Grand High Whatever Of The Fairies" to be a clergy in my book.

I want to be clergy. I'm planning on going to seminary after school (probably Unitarian Univeralist, but possibly Pagan after that) and work my butt off for an mDiv, then hang out at a church/whatever and pay my dues. Only then, maybe a decade or so down the road, would I consider myself clergy and good enough to properly minister to others, in whichever capacity that may be.
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« Reply #3: February 12, 2010, 03:47:10 pm »

.

That is fine and laudable, for that particular definition of Priest/Priestess, clergy, etc. 

It is fairly common, however (in the pagan world, at any rate) to consider priestly responsibility to be towards the gods rather than towards a laity.  A priest's responsibility is to serve the gods, to keep their altars, take care of their statues, etc.  In a lot of paths there is no 'ministering' to the general public, no pastoral duties at all.  Just the religious duty of serving the gods themselves.

This is the context in which 'everyone is their own priest' makes the most sense.  I would go to others for counseling and advice in worldly matters, but rarely for religious things - for that I would go to the gods directly or to my own conscience or a co-religionist with more experience or knowledge.  I would have no more interest in pagan pastoral professionals than I have in Christian ones, and that is not the image which comes to my mind when I hear about Wiccan priests etc.

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« Reply #4: February 12, 2010, 04:43:21 pm »


I want to be clergy. I'm planning on going to seminary after school (probably Unitarian Univeralist, but possibly Pagan after that) and work my butt off for an mDiv, then hang out at a church/whatever and pay my dues. Only then, maybe a decade or so down the road, would I consider myself clergy and good enough to properly minister to others, in whichever capacity that may be.

Just curious......who will you minister to? Who is your laity?

I am not currently aware of a pagan seminary school, nor a largely organized pagan church.....

I know a lot of pagans that want to be clergy..... the problem is those darned pagans don't seem to want a minster..........

just saying....
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« Reply #5: February 12, 2010, 05:05:53 pm »

What is your definition of Priest/Priestess?
What functions do they serve?
What are the expectations or criteria for a Priest/Priestess according to your faith or beliefs?
If a Priest or Priestess is dedicated to a certian God or Goddess, how would their fuction/expectations differ?

A priest is a servant in the house of the god.  They attend to the god's material and ritual needs, and have responsibility to maintain the house in good order.

Clergy is a broader term; I think to get there one has to step out of a reconstructionist mindset, because the whole 'ministering to the populace' thing doesn't have a lot attested in ancient references.
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« Reply #6: February 12, 2010, 05:13:52 pm »



There aren't any clergy in the modern sense in Hellenic Paganism. Priests and Priestesses serve their deity or deities, not the general population.
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« Reply #7: February 12, 2010, 05:46:59 pm »

Just curious......who will you minister to? Who is your laity?

I am not currently aware of a pagan seminary school, nor a largely organized pagan church.....

There are several Pagan seminaries - the difficulty is finding one that's accredited, where your degree means something. I'm looking at Cherry Hill Seminary (http://www.cherryhillseminary.org/) in NJ, or probably a Unitarian Universalist seminary. My (fuzzy) plans right now are to get an mDiv with the UUs and work in a Unitarian church for a bit with a focus on Pagans within the congregation/doing interfaith outreach to local Pagan groups in the area. Wherever I end up (some big city - maybe I'll stay by Philly, maybe Chicago) I want to be a part of the Pagan community and offer myself as professional help. Coordinating efforts within and between groups, offering Pagan-friendly counseling, and doing PR. A lot of PR. I feel that I'll be a lot more capable of making a lasting impact if I have real seminary training in addition to working "in the real world" than if I just left myself to the real world experience and no schooling at all.

At any rate, there are certain skills that leaders of all religious groups need, whatever the faith, and whoever the practitioners are. I'm keenly aware of the differences between Pagan laity and those of other faiths. I'm also aware of the similarities.
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« Reply #8: February 12, 2010, 06:29:13 pm »

There are several Pagan seminaries - the difficulty is finding one that's accredited, where your degree means something. I'm looking at Cherry Hill Seminary (http://www.cherryhillseminary.org/) in NJ, or probably a Unitarian Universalist seminary. My (fuzzy) plans right now are to get an mDiv with the UUs and work in a Unitarian church for a bit with a focus on Pagans within the congregation/doing interfaith outreach to local Pagan groups in the area. Wherever I end up (some big city - maybe I'll stay by Philly, maybe Chicago) I want to be a part of the Pagan community and offer myself as professional help. Coordinating efforts within and between groups, offering Pagan-friendly counseling, and doing PR. A lot of PR. I feel that I'll be a lot more capable of making a lasting impact if I have real seminary training in addition to working "in the real world" than if I just left myself to the real world experience and no schooling at all.

At any rate, there are certain skills that leaders of all religious groups need, whatever the faith, and whoever the practitioners are. I'm keenly aware of the differences between Pagan laity and those of other faiths. I'm also aware of the similarities.

I hope you're planning on having a day job on top of that.  Or a well-off spouse.

There's NO money in that life - it might be something that needs doing, but needs doing doesn't always equate to food on the table. Sad
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« Reply #9: February 12, 2010, 06:36:31 pm »

I hope you're planning on having a day job on top of that.  Or a well-off spouse.

There's NO money in that life - it might be something that needs doing, but needs doing doesn't always equate to food on the table. Sad

*nods*

Even the clergy of mainstream religions often need something else to suppliment their income.
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« Reply #10: February 12, 2010, 06:52:41 pm »

I hope you're planning on having a day job on top of that.  Or a well-off spouse.

There's NO money in that life - it might be something that needs doing, but needs doing doesn't always equate to food on the table. Sad

Believe me, I definitely understand that I'm not going to be striking it rich in this line of work. I'm prepared to live ridiculously below my means, if I have to. It's just something that I really, really want to do. I feel incredibly cheesy for saying it, but if I had a calling in life, this would be it. I'll figure something out.
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« Reply #11: February 12, 2010, 06:57:28 pm »

Believe me, I definitely understand that I'm not going to be striking it rich in this line of work. I'm prepared to live ridiculously below my means, if I have to. It's just something that I really, really want to do. I feel incredibly cheesy for saying it, but if I had a calling in life, this would be it. I'll figure something out.

hey, as long as you know, more power to you. Cheesy  I just wanted to point that out.

It was the debt load I would have accrued that kept me from going for a UU Div degree - I still wish I could have found a way, but y'know .. not really in the budget.  STILL not in the budget!

(lemme know what your textbooks are? Wink )
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« Reply #12: February 13, 2010, 09:39:03 am »


Ellen--I wish you well in your goals.  I hope that the religious life is everything you want it to be. Smiley

To those that responded about priest/esses being in charge of serving their Gods, how would simply serving their Gods differ than say serving a laity?

I'm loving these answers! Keep 'em coming. Smiley
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« Reply #13: February 13, 2010, 09:43:08 am »

To those that responded about priest/esses being in charge of serving their Gods, how would simply serving their Gods differ than say serving a laity?

One takes care of the GOD's needs, not the needs of the followers of the God. Modern clergy really serve their God(s) by caring for the followers of their God. Priests in many ancient religions did not have duties to followers, just to their Gods (i.e. maintaining a temple, making sacrifices, etc.).
« Last Edit: February 13, 2010, 05:13:14 pm by RandallS, Reason: Typo Template for TEMPLE fixed. Thanks Star! » Logged

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« Reply #14: February 13, 2010, 10:04:33 am »

(i.e. maintaining a template, making sacrifices, etc.).

(Bolding mine.)  I think you mean "temple"? Wink
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