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Author Topic: What is Clergy?  (Read 15696 times)
Dania
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« Reply #30: April 17, 2007, 03:44:51 pm »

Ah contrare. ULC is not valid in VA, NC and I think Washington state.

True, and there are some other problems with it as well. But if you don't live in one of those states, it's pretty easy. I don't think it's neccesarily the *best* way, but it is a way.
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« Reply #31: April 17, 2007, 06:38:00 pm »

On the other hand, the government does not have to recognize the leaders of unincorporated groups as clergy. This Could apply to prison visits, tax exempt status for a group or military.

But the federal government and most state governments traditional HAVE recognized unincorporated churches just as they recognize and deal with other unincorporated groups. Incorporation for social/religious groups is not the nearly the be-all and end-all many people seem to think it is.  Other forms of organization are just as valid in these cases as they are in business.
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« Reply #32: July 05, 2007, 01:50:44 pm »

Ah contrare. ULC is not valid in VA, NC and I think Washington state.


ULC has no legal standing in Britain either, although I am ULC Accredited.

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« Reply #33: August 25, 2007, 12:56:52 am »

What is clergy to you?  Does your religion have a separation of clergy and laity?  What's the difference?

In my tradition (Asphodel), we have a congregational structure, with no initiation or educational requirement for membership.

We've got a couple of "clergy" type roles, the most official being "Minister". These are folks ordained through Asphodel, after completing a prescribed course of study, lasting 2-4 years, and have specific duties to the church and the congregation. A minister is expected to provide basic pastoral counseling, teach the fundamentals of Asphodelian theology and worship, fulfill basic administrative duties, and officiate rituals and rites of passage. Ministers must demonstrate a sincere calling to ministry, but need not have any magical skills whatsoever. Ministers are not paid. They are the only folks in our group who are required to affirm their belief in our Charter of Faith.

We've got a type of formal "elder" status which is granted for long-term service and commitment to the church. There are no specific church responsibilities associated with it, but they are held to a higher standard of behavior.

We do not recognize a generalized "priest"/"priestess" role, only specific ones. These roles are defined in reference to a specified path, the service of one or more specified deities, or the running of a specified temple or other ritual space. This is seen as primarily a relationship between an individual and their gods, rather than between them and the church/congregation like ministry. While we have a procedure for officially recognizing priests/priestesses, it is rarely used.

Anyone can run ritual - there are no religious functions in our tradition which require church authorization. We have an annual liturgy cycle that can be used, or folks can write their own rituals, or build them out of pieces of past rituals. We train anyone who asks in the basics of running group ritual. We encourage new folks to participate in performing the ritual, if only by calling quarters.

We recognize that there is sometimes a need for a skilled and/or gifted spiritual intermediary of some sort. We have a number of "spirit-workers" in our community - a general term which includes diviners, shamans, horses, and other skilled spiritual technicians. Their training is not part of the formal educational structure in the church, nor do they want it to be.

Our educational program is divided into eight Orders, each focusing on a different area of study. The Heads of the Orders form a council which handles educational policy and administration. Teachers are approved personally by the head of the relevant order, and need not be members of Asphodel. Basic classes are open to the public for a small fee (usually $5/class) and free to members. Advanced classes require application to the Head of the Order, with a demonstration of aptitude and experience. Ministers are trained under this structure.

-- Joshua
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« Reply #34: August 25, 2007, 10:10:29 am »

[snippage]

As for moving the pagan community, that is not to intend to move all the community to only a congregational model.  It is to move the entire community into accepting that a congregational model is not anti-thetical to paganism. I was on a number of lists, in particular one for pagan clergy, where the idea that any model beyond the small indepentent coven was not to be considered.

I have to say that the small independent coven is really only native to the original Wiccan rootstock; the farther one's practice has drifted from that, the less bound to it one should feel...

What I see at local pagan shop events, festivals of various sizes and on-line are thousands (mostly on-line listings) of individuals who are seeking a group to join. What I also see are dozens of small closed covens / groups that will accept maybe one person a year. I think the result is a community that has lots of people who want to be actively religious, define themselves as religous, but do not do much worship. Also look at the SIGs here about the new Hellenic, Celtic and Kemetic groups.

I can see that there may be a need for some kind of pagan parallel to what we used to call C&E Christians:  Christians who don't attend church regularly, but usually show up at Christmas and Easter for the major festivities, and are comfortable calling themselves members of that particular denomination.  You can tell that this is a common practice among Christians:  most churches schedule extra services at this time to fit in all these people who never show up any other time.

So are we looking for a way to include those who would, in effect, be Sabbat witches?  In the USA I can see that this would probably work, since the Christian practice is so deeply ingrained in our culture.

I think, that more pagans would be actively worshipping (yes, loaded term) if there were open congregational groups around. Would most of these people find the absolutely perfect form of worship? Probably not, but perfect is the enemy of good enough. Instead of saying they don't know where to start, they'd have someplace to start. Instead of not finding the perfect coven, they'd have access immediately to any of a small number of public membership worship groups.

There are a good number of BTW who see the oathbound covens as clergy; I'm sure you've all heard us respond before to other posts with this unsecret.  Many of us believe that there was a time when the oathbound covens were the priesthood, and the general population around them were the congregation. 

There are some things that every priesthood does that the general congregation does not know; things they do not need to know.  To dedicate oneself to service to the gods can be --and generally is!-- time-consuming to say the least!  It requires a calling, a vocation, an inner need to dedicate oneself to that work. 

To be pastoral clergy is different from serving the gods as priesthood does:  pastoral clergy's dedication is to service to their religious community:  other priests as well as to laity.

I can hear you; BTW always say that we are all priests and we have no laity.  This is truth.  Yet we know that if there *was* a laity today willing to accept us as their priesthood, there are individuals among us who would be willing to so serve.  Yet few of us are willing to go public and solicit the role; the current pagan community would, I think, be generally hostile to BTW offering to lead without offering the entire congregation initiation.  There are those who would misinterpret what participation in the congregational events would mean, and claim that they, too, are BTW.

Maybe when I retire I can re-evaluate this.  If I passed the cauldron before cakes and wine, could I make enough to support the site rental?  It would have to be a relatively public place, since most people won't travel too far to participate.  Obviously not skyclad, these open rituals would be held in public space and open to all.

My coven sponsored such events on an irregular basis for a while about twenty years ago.  Maybe we should start again...

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« Reply #35: August 25, 2007, 12:04:12 pm »


I can see that there may be a need for some kind of pagan parallel to what we used to call C&E Christians:  Christians who don't attend church regularly, but usually show up at Christmas and Easter for the major festivities, and are comfortable calling themselves members of that particular denomination.  You can tell that this is a common practice among Christians:  most churches schedule extra services at this time to fit in all these people who never show up any other time.

So are we looking for a way to include those who would, in effect, be Sabbat witches?  In the USA I can see that this would probably work, since the Christian practice is so deeply ingrained in our culture.

In a very simple answer, yes.



There are a good number of BTW who see the oathbound covens as clergy; I'm sure you've all heard us respond before to other posts with this unsecret.  Many of us believe that there was a time when the oathbound covens were the priesthood, and the general population around them were the congregation. 

There are some things that every priesthood does that the general congregation does not know; things they do not need to know.  To dedicate oneself to service to the gods can be --and generally is!-- time-consuming to say the least!  It requires a calling, a vocation, an inner need to dedicate oneself to that work. 

Agreed, although if I ever encounter traditional type covens making the claim that they Are clergy for the pagan community I should call them on it. It was in the past that they were clergy for the community, Now they are clergy without a laity.

To be pastoral clergy is different from serving the gods as priesthood does:  pastoral clergy's dedication is to service to their religious community:  other priests as well as to laity.

I can hear you; BTW always say that we are all priests and we have no laity.  This is truth.  Yet we know that if there *was* a laity today willing to accept us as their priesthood, there are individuals among us who would be willing to so serve.  Yet few of us are willing to go public and solicit the role; the current pagan community would, I think, be generally hostile to BTW offering to lead without offering the entire congregation initiation.  There are those who would misinterpret what participation in the congregational events would mean, and claim that they, too, are BTW.

Maybe when I retire I can re-evaluate this.  If I passed the cauldron before cakes and wine, could I make enough to support the site rental?  It would have to be a relatively public place, since most people won't travel too far to participate.  Obviously not skyclad, these open rituals would be held in public space and open to all.

My coven sponsored such events on an irregular basis for a while about twenty years ago.  Maybe we should start again...



You have a number of points.

Fairly obviously I wouldn't expect all, or even most groups to go public.

Nor would the public groups have to start off offering pastoral counseling, etc. I somehow don't see our partial summer temporary 17-year old Rabbi offering counseling, etc. It was enough that she organized and lead the services and did the sermon on the Torah portion.

I don't know. The local community might be very accepting of having a group that leads regular open worship that is consistent in format.  So long as it was explained that participation as congregation doens't mean eventual initiation you could do quite well for a few years.

After that few years though you would likely have people wanting more than just congregation. I suspect that spinning off the public group from the coven would work.

The coven starts the public group as core leadership. Then starts accepting regular attendees as public group leaders (not coven members). The coven would have to also have the mindset that the two groups are different entities. Coven membership doesn't mean public group leadership.

Site location is going to be a problem. I suspect that a consistent site would make the differnence in reqular attendees.
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« Reply #36: August 25, 2007, 05:47:27 pm »

I can hear you; BTW always say that we are all priests and we have no laity.  This is truth.  Yet we know that if there *was* a laity today willing to accept us as their priesthood, there are individuals among us who would be willing to so serve.  Yet few of us are willing to go public and solicit the role; the current pagan community would, I think, be generally hostile to BTW offering to lead without offering the entire congregation initiation.

I'm not so sure this would be the problem it would have been years ago -- provided, of course that it was done in the proper spirit and organized/explained well.  After all, BTWs are no longer claiming that the only way one can be a witch is to have a BTW initiation -- which was the start of the problem.

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There are those who would misinterpret what participation in the congregational events would mean, and claim that they, too, are BTW.

This would be a battle you'd lose (just as the original battles over the term "witch" and later the term "wicca" have been lost). You'd be better off simply accepting that if BTW covens start sponsoring congregations the members of those congregations are going to start thinking of themselves as members of the BTW religion. Given the way almost every other religion with lay members works, the chances of avoiding this are darn close to nil.  You'd be better off just accepting it and working with it to make distinctions between lay members and the initiated priesthood obvious. For example: Lay members would have to go through some type of training and a dedication ritual before they could be considered full members of a coven's lay congregation (and call themselves lay BTWs). Initiation into the coven sponsoring the congregation would be required for priesthood.  This is close enough to how most religions in America work that many people would no problem accepting it.

As far as I can tell, the high demand for initiation comes not from the fact that all these people want to be priests, but that initiation is currently required to worship at all. Eliminate this requirement by have lay congregations and soon the demand for initiation from those without a real calling to the Gods would go way down.  Especially as people see how much work the coven members end up doing.

While I hate to recommend anything by the Frosts, I was always impressed by their basic ideas for and "outer court" Wiccan church associated with a coven that they talked about in their first book (The Witch's Bible) all those years ago. The services were some weird spiritualist type thing, but the basic ideas for organization seemed sound. It is a place to start, at least.
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« Reply #37: September 19, 2007, 06:01:51 am »

What is clergy to you?  Does your religion have a separation of clergy and laity?  What's the difference?

Is clergy a life calling, or a hat you wear at appointed times?

Personally I view "clergy" to be less a role of intercessor, than officiator.

The guy who signs the marriage and baptism certificates doesn't necessarily have to talk to God/dess for you.

To me, this is a major reason I gave up on mainstream christianity. I spent too much time watching my parents, and many other members of the various churches and denominations I attended, give up their right to their own view of God as a sacrifice to a very human minister. Point in case: My mother loved the Harry Potter series when it came out, that is until a pastor of her denomination wrote a book "Harry Potter: Witchcraft Repackaged" and then it was Satanic to her. Nevermind the fact that she still becomes antsy to see the character's progression each time a new title is released. She simply won't read it because a member of her clergy said not to. But it drives her bonkers.

I solved this problem for myself by ceasing the human input on my relationship with Y'shua and let Him do the ministering. that's when Ifelt the call to return to my Wiccan roots. And now I am my own clergy.

I recieved ordination through the ULC for two reasons. 1 because as a Christian, I believe in the priesthood of the believer, and 2 it was the only way I could recieve legal recognition without being ordained by a Christian denomination (which usually requires a specific "calling" that originates withing that organization, or attendance of seminary which your denomination in turn expects generally high tuition for). So the ULC simply worked for me.

I disagree with the concept of clergy as a "pay for performance" type deal. Especially in the Sunday offering flavor. Y'hova asks for a tithe, not to let the ministers grow fat off the offering plates. I'm not saying all do, far from it, I've known mainstream clergy members who gave up their pay to ensure that all the low income members of their congregation got a thanksgiving meal. But the fact is that the early leaders of the Christian church, even the ones who traveled all over, held secular jobs. They supported themselves and let the offerings work their part in supporting their cause. Today, too many preachers drive bmw's and therefore, not enough of them know humility.

That's all I got.
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« Reply #38: September 19, 2007, 08:04:32 am »


I can see that there may be a need for some kind of pagan parallel to what we used to call C&E Christians:  Christians who don't attend church regularly, but usually show up at Christmas and Easter for the major festivities, and are comfortable calling themselves members of that particular denomination.  You can tell that this is a common practice among Christians:  most churches schedule extra services at this time to fit in all these people who never show up any other time.

So are we looking for a way to include those who would, in effect, be Sabbat witches?  In the USA I can see that this would probably work, since the Christian practice is so deeply ingrained in our culture.

Some of us call them Beltane-and-Samhain pagans. How to include them? Well, in my experience, many of them have no problem finding public gatherings for those days, that's one start. As far as i'm concerned though, if one is to be so casual about it but wants to be included on a more involved level than just the local public rituals, then a bit more effort needs to be made on their part. So if you are a group that holds open rituals and doesn't mind people showing up just for a couple of the big festivals, that's cool (I belong to such a group) but it doesn't obligate you to accomodate them any further, or to start doing so if you don't already. (As it happens, we're required to have open rituals for each of the days as a grove of ADF- we call them high days, not sabbats, but that's neither here nor there.)
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« Reply #39: September 19, 2007, 02:29:37 pm »


that's pretty much how I see it. When I was involved with the church, the guilt I felt about certain things came from the priest, not from God himself (God seemed to be ignoring me lol). I ended up giving up a lot of things I liked...like the music I liked to listen to, for instance.

I personally think it's hubris to think that you're the only one who can talk to god/s and that everyone else has to go through you.
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« Reply #40: March 10, 2010, 12:31:32 pm »



You'd be better off just accepting it and working with it to make distinctions between lay members and the initiated priesthood obvious. For example: Lay members would have to go through some type of training and a dedication ritual before they could be considered full members of a coven's lay congregation (and call themselves lay BTWs). Initiation into the coven sponsoring the congregation would be required for priesthood.  This is close enough to how most religions in America work that many people would no problem accepting it.

True enough.  In the congregations I've been in, there are levels of membership.  Some folks are the holiday visitors and some are just 'Sunday religious' and don't really think about their faith the rest of the week.  The next step is becoming a member of the congregation, which usually requires some sort of class, a public commitment, a promise to support the church in time, tithes and talents, and a return commitment from the congregation to support the new member. 

Then there are the active members who become lay clergy--sort of peer counseling.  They reach out to the housebound, greet newcomers, organize events.  Some churches (like the one I attended) have deacons.  I went through a year of training in bible study, hospital/hospice visiting, religious observances, assisting in funerals, weddings and consecrations.  Being a deacon gave some extra weight outside of the church (collars impress people), but also made a distinct separation between the deacon and the regular churchgoer.  In many cases, people who needed help felt uncomfortable speaking with another member, preferring a deacon or minister, even though that person might not be a good choice for the problem at hand.

I can't speak much to non-Christian congregations, as I do not yet have much experience with them.  But just for me, I see clergy as someone who has taken some formal training and is willing to commit time above and beyond their own personal devotions to their deity, church or group.  Formal training doesn't mean just college, though a degree such as a master of Divinity certainly carries a legal weight and standing in the greater community. It is a calling and they want to make it the focus of their life.

 Laity and lay clergy commit their time and talents more than regular members, but don't see it as their life calling, rather a part of their life.

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