Page 11 Form 1023 (Rev. 9-98)   11:50 PM 8/8/00 LC draft

 

Schedule A. Churches

 

1 Provide a brief history of the development of the organization, including the reasons for its formation.

 

Lady C, etc. to provide additional info.

 

The effort to form this church began with the Pagan Awareness Coalition (PAC):

 

A History of PAC

 

The Pagan Awareness Coalition was mobilized in the winter of 1990. Our inspiration  came largely from the holiday lighting displays on Cleveland’s Public Square. These displays included such religious images as a traditional Christian creche and a Channukah menorah. No other religious traditions were included, so a handful of Pagan individuals began networking, (or “webworking”, as we like to call it).

 

We organized a meeting, spreading information by word-of-mouth  to covens, solitaries, and others who might be interested. Among the decisions made at that meeting was that we, too,  wanted to celebrate a holiday on the Square. As of June 2000, we have since celebrated 10 Samhains and 4 (?) Beltanes on Public Square, attended by as many as 150 pagans, witches, and Earth religionists.  <Smaller Yule events have occured as well. >

 

The Pagan Awareness coalition is a grass roots, consensus run, networking organization: a web for Pagans, Witches,  Druids, Asatru, and Native spiritual practitioners in the Cleveland area. We sponsor open celebrations on Beltane and on Samhain on the Square, as well as working with a number of organizations to facilitate pagan dialogues and events within the community.

 

We have no leader. We are all leaders.

 

The Pagan Awareness Coalition is not a coven or training group. We can link interested individuals with practicing groups, through our network of referrals. We maintain a mailing list with postings timely to event planning, operate a phone-tree to update members, and we regularly update the PAC website kindly hosted by the Reverend Angelle of Universal Ministry.

For more information, please visit our site at:

 http://www/geocities.com/athens/sparta/4367/pac.html

 

Current updates of PAC scheduling and projects can be found at:

 

http//www.ameritech.net/users/teleri4411/teleriweb1.html

 

or  E-mail:      Teleri at teleri4411@ameritech.net

                    or Angelle at revangelle@geocities.com

 

Conventional mail inquiries may be addressed to:

 

Pagan Awareness Coalition

POB 111292

Cleveland, OH 

 

As PAC evolved, it developed the following mission statement:

 

<<We are a diverse group of  Pagans dedicated to dispelling the popular misconceptions about multi-theistsic, nature oriented or Earth-based religions. We do this by Networking in the Pagan community and organizing public rituals. We also provide support systems and information for individuals and groups.


Our aim is to achieve religious tolerence by educating the general public about our beliefs and religious practices. We seek freedom from harrassment. We wish to build bridges of understanding amoungst ourselves and with the community at large.


We are your Family, Friends, Neighbors and co-workers; please remember this as we explore our diversity>>

 

While many members of PAC are solitary practitioners, some of those most active lead religious groups that meet several times per month for full and new moons, Sabbats (see section 5) and on other occasions to worship and or study.  Many are already ordained through various non-denominational churches.

 

In addition, many  solitary practitioners and Pagan religious group that practice their religion frequently and that attend PACs public rituals do not have the benefits provided under the law to such religious practices.  As a result, in March 2000,  PAC initiated discussions aimed at forming a Church to help extend the benefits available under the law to its activities and those of associated entitites.

 

By March 2000 general theological, organizational and ethical principles for the formation of such a church were agreed to by members of PAC’s board and participants at its meetings.

 

These principles were posted on Pagan e-mail lists and elsewhere.  By  June, 2000 members of other Pagan Congregations, study groups, religious rights organizatons, and churches joined in the Church planning process.  A decision was made by participants to create a Church with a broader scope than PAC alone, that will help to serve the religious needs of many existent  groups, that can be brought under a common Church umbrella as standing committees, along with solitary practitioners. 

 

Among the key reasons for forming a church are

Iincreasing the opportunities for religious practice and sharing of information, training, cooperation, and opportunities toworship among members of our religions,

Providing new mechanisms for pooling, protection and creation of religious resources

Helping to assure that the rights and benefits available under the law to our religious practices, places of worship,. etc. are appropriately extended under mechanisms available under the law.

 

 

2 Does the organization have a written creed or statement of faith? Yes No

 

If “Yes,” attach a copy.

 

We have many. 

 

 

DRAFT ARTICLES OF BELIEF

 

We believe that all spiritual paths leading to the benefit, health and enrichment of all living and natural things are equally valid.  No one person or group has the right or “wisdom” to claim that any particular spiritual path is any more or less valid than any others.  No person, group, religion or personified deity has a monopoly on truth.

 

We do not recognize an authoritarian hierarchy, but we do honor those who teach and share their knowledge, wisdom and experience.  We acknowledge and respect those who generously and courageously give of themselves and their time as leaders.

 

We acknowledge greater powers, but we also believe that power should be sought and can be found within each individual

 

We recognize that a spiritual force of great power imbues all nature.  It is this field that makes magic and life itself possible.  We undergo rituals and practices to develop our understanding of this force in its multiple manifestations and personifications in order to become wise and prudent navigators of its ways.  We see religion, magick and wisdom-in-living as united in our worldview.

 

We perceive, among the creative powers of the universe, the polarity of and interaction between the principles known as “masculine” and “feminine”, yin and yang, etc. We understand divine pairs (complementary opposites) to be mutually supportive and equally valuable.

 

We believe in an ongoing cycle of birth-death-rebirth which represents the continual renewal-the evolution and developent -- of both consciousness and Spirit.  This ever-repeating cycle provides a meaningful context for the Universe, guiding us towards definition of our individual roles within it.

 

We actively seek to understand and control the forces and powers within ourselves which make it possible to live wisely and well without harm to others and in harmony with all existence.  We do not seek power over or control of other people.

 

Our major thrust and focus is on positive action in the present (despite whatever history and teachings, ancient or modern from which we draw).  Our mutual concern is to provide a healthier, happier and more functional future for ourselves, our Earth, and those who will inhabit it after we are gone.

 

We perceive nature as endlessly and diversely erotic, sensual and spontaneous; and we value and find beauty in all consensual eroticism, sensuality and spontaneity. We see such acts of pleasure as symbols, sacraments and embodiments of sacred life, and as one of the sources of energies used in magical and religious practices.  In general, we believe that life was meant to be filled with joy, beauty, love, pleasure, learning and humor.

 

We seek all that is contributory to health and well-being from nature; and consider food, environment, attitude and ones interactions to be inextricably linked to one’s health.  We practice a variety of traditional and non-traditional healing methods with the understanding that health, like happiness, needs to be fitted to the individual.

 

We affirm and celebrate the diverse nature of all peoples and cultures, and respect the rights of individuals and societies to live their lives according to their own sincerely held beliefs, as long as they do not infringe on the right of others. 

 

We embrace and celebrate the beauty of Nature in all its forms.  No race or sexual orientation is superior or inferior to another.  Each is an expression of Nature’s Beauty and is essential to one another.  Therefore, we welcome, honor and respect the whol

 

3 Does the organization require prospective members to renounce other religious beliefs or their membership in other churches or religious orders to become members? No Yes

 

Conditonal No

 

The church as a whole does not, except when the ethics promoted by such a church are clearly contrary to the ethical code of this Pagan church, presented in the next section of this application.  . 

 

We neither acknowledge nor worship the Christian devil, "Satan" who is not in our Pagan pantheon

 

Its standing committees reserve the right to place additional restrictions on membership

 

 

4 Does the organization have a formal code of doctrine and discipline for its members? Yes No

If “Yes,” describe.

 

The church adopts the following ethical codes as among its doctrine. 

 

The Earth Religion Anti-Abuse Resolution:

 

We, the undersigned, adherents of Pagan and Neo-Pagan Earth Religions, including Wicca, or Neo-Pagan Witchcraft, practice a variety of positive, life affirming faiths that are dedicated to healing, both ourselves and the Earth.  As such, we do not advocate or condone any acts that victimize others, including those proscribed by law.  As one of our most widely accepted percepts is the Wiccan Rede's injunction "to harm none", we absolutely condemn the practices of child abuse, sexual abuse, and other-forms of abuse that harm the body, mind or spirits of individuals.  We offer prayers, therapy, and support for the healing of the victims of such abuses.  We recognize and revere the divinity of nature in our mother the Earth; and we conduct our rites of worship in a manner that is ethical, compassionate and constitutionally protected  (sentence on Statanism  moved to section 2) We will not tolerate slander or libel against our churches, clergy or congregations; and we are prepared to defend our civil rights with such legal action as we deem necessary and appropriate.

 

Enhanced Free Spirit Alliance Code of Honor:

I will consider my word sacred

I will respect all others' rights to freedom in all areas, and their safety, privacy and opinions.

I will respect the life of this planet.

I will take personal responsibility for my actions, and if I err or am wrong, I will be quick to apologize and make restitution.

Honesty is valuable.  I will remember this in thought, word and deed.

 

Our primary focus is on helping practitioners of ethical, non-racist, and non-sexist nature religions that promote understanding and tolerance of other religions and their practitioners

 

"An it harm none, Do what thou Wilt" is the Wiccan Rede, although it may be stated with slightly different wording in some traditions and in various contexts with varying interpretations.

 

To clarify how the church interprets this, we accept the interpretation  in CONCEPTS OF WICCA by Jehana Silverwing:

 

“This is more than an excuse for licence.  It contains several concepts discussed below (ethics, Will, among others). 

Ethics: Not seen as being imposed from "outside", from external dogma. They are integral, however, because they are based on common sense and respect for others (see microcosm = macrocosm), including the environment around us.

 

Ethics respects the need for others to make their own choices in life, though we may provide guidance. Ethics means not hurting others unnecessarily, or for what we percieve as "their own good". The Golden Rule applies.  Manipulative, cohersive magic has no part to play in a responsible, respectful approach to the Craft. 

 

Will: The concept of doing YOUR magical "Will" involves finding out exactly what it is ?? one of the things Wiccan exercises help for. Just any passing fancy is not necessarily your "Will". Needing to dominate or decide for others is also not, in this sense, an expression of Will.  Many times, what may be mistaken for Will turns out to be in actuality a knee?jerk counterreaction to something (for instance, a vengeful counterreaction).  In one important sense, however, Will is finding that thing (or things); that mode of being, which "centers" you ?? and living it.

>>

In addition, many of our members believe that what you put out comes back three times, although some do not take the  take the three times part literally, while recognizing that people get back what they put out, often amplified.

Our standing committees reserve the right to adopt additional ethical codes and to discipline their members as necessary and appropriate

 

 

5 Describe the form of worship and attach a schedule of worship services.

 

Our members include, but ar not limited to, Witches, Druids, Shamans, Mystics, and other Earth Religionists. Definitions of these terms include but are not limited to:

 

Pagan is a member of an eclectic, mostly modern, religious movement encompassing a broad array of religions that revere the Divine in nature and/or draw upon the myths and symbols of ancient faiths.

 

Neo-Paganism:  Collection of diverse contemporary religions rooted in indigenous traditions or deriving inspiration therefrom, characterized by a belief in the interconnection of all life, personal autonomy, and immanent divinities. Often nature-centered and supportive of gender equity.

 

Witch is a practitioner of a religion that honors the Divine in nature and uses magic as a tool for personal and global transformation.  A Witch typically worships Deity in both female and male forms (although most Dianics worship/work with only Goddesses), and celebrates creation at the changing seasons.

 

Druid is typically a member of one or more of several Pagan groups that started in the 1960s through 1980s, who place an emphasis on excellence in research, art and liturgy, and who provide open public rituals, education and service to their local communities.

 

Shamanism is a solitary spiritual practice honored in cultures around the worked and throughout history.  Shamans journey into the world of spirit to find wisdom & healing for themselves and their community.

 

Mystic is one who believes or works with the principle that any being can have direct personal knowledge of the Divine without intervention of an outside authority. . While the Divine is commonly thought of as godlike or spiritual, we include in the definition of mystic those whose beliefs, ethics, and practices include sophisticated forms of transcendental secularism involving consciousness at a non localized level unifying with individual's surroundings and that which is.

 

Earth Religions include include Pagan religions (Wicca, Druidism, Shamanism, etc.), traditional religions of indigenous peoples,  those variations on indigenous religions (Voodoo, Ifa, Santeria, eclectic Native American Inspired medicine societies, etc.)  and on variations of widespread religions (Christian, Moslem, Sufi, Jewish, Buddhist,Hindu, Taoist, Shinto, Unitarian Universalist, etc.) that honor nature and the Earth and our  place in it, along with similar mystic beliefs and practices.

 

MAGICAL RITUAL FORMS

 

Witches typically work magic in circles between the worlds to influence the world.  Rituals usually involve purification, centering, casting a circle, calling the four elements, calling Goddess and a God, Raising energy in the circle that is released to the objective, grounding, cakes and wine, and thanking powers invoked and closing.  Witches typically do rituals at Full and New Moons, Solstices, Equinoxes, and cross quarter points of the year (Samhain, Imbolc, Beltane, Lammas).

 

ADF Druids typically work magic in a space that they define as the center, and call into the center  what they are looking for. ADF Druid rituals generally involve a procession, invoking a Gatekeeper to open the doors between the worlds, centering, invoking triads (ancestors, nature spirits and the gods, and/or other triads), raising energy through creative offerings to the Goddess/Gods invoked, release to the deities, who return it, often to a purpose, reading an omen, passing a cup, thanks and formal closing

 

Shamans often use drumming or other methods to access the other worlds, find spirit allies (power animals, etc.) and return with the ally, who then does tasks, healing. etc. when sent.

 

Some Witches use Shamanic technique and work with their spirit allies in their magic.  Others use ceremonial magickal forms in which entities are invoked or created and sent to do work..

 

Traditional indigenous peoples and other Earth Religionists use a variety of techniques which may include some of the above as well as techniques that may be unique to their religions.

 

 

GENERAL UNDERLYING VARIATIONS IN PRACTICES AND GROUPS

 

Traditional, which follows very closely specific forms of practice and belief that are handed down by clergy and/or teachers and usually have strict hierarchy and may have lots of restrictions to preserve the purity of the tradition.

 

Eclectic, in which people explore a variety of paths and find out what works for them.  The origins of many eclectic paths may include such influences as  the Women’s movement, the Counterculture of the 60s, New Age practices, traditional Wiccan practices, practices of indigenous peoples and the needs and tastes of the individuals involved.  Groups tend to be egalitarian and consensus oriented.  Eclectic groups may evolve into traditions, as people find a body of practice that works well for them, and they adopt these as standard operating procedures.

 

Most Pagans are Pantheistic and Polytheistic, with some exceptions--such as Asatru, which prefers the term Heathen to describe themselves over the term Pagan.  Asatru is a family of religions honoring the Norse/Teutonic Gods (Aesir) and nature spirits (Vanir),. 

 

EXAMPLE RITUALS

 

Examples of our rituals include our Beltane and Samhain ceremonies 

 

 

 

(someone in PAC to provide)

 

 

 

Further information on the correspondences used in seasonal rituals and an example of Wiccan ritual format are included below:

 

 

 

EXAMPLE GENERAL WICCAN RITUAL FORMAT

Prepare space

 

Welcome & explanation

 

Quiet time

 

Procession & chant

 

Purify & Establish Space

 

Personal Purification

 

Tree meditation

 

Name chant (everyone intones name, and people intone it back, sending good energy)

 

Call Quarters (Candles and Pentagrams inside, rattle, invoke, whistle outdoors)  <casting circle in the process>

 

Invocation/praise of the God & Goddesses

 

Presentation of Focus

 

Main Work (Connect with target, raise energy, send to target while visualizing objective achieved; or Shamanic journey;  or Drawing Down the Moon;  etc.)

 

Cakes & Wine

 

Grounding

 

Thank Goddess & God

 

Close Quarters

 

 Group Hug & Formal Closing


 


CYCLE OF THE EIGHT SABBATS

Selected Correspondences

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

                     Solar               Vegetative        Goddess               God                 Year's                           Selected Ritual

Sabbat          Force                Force                Force                   Force                Symbol       Lifecycle         Themes    

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Imbolc            Baby Sun,           Life spark,            Inspiration,            Bring skill,           Bridgid's        Birth             Initiation, Naming

                        Increasing light  Germination         Bridgit                    Lugh                     Bed,                                      Start a purpose growing,

                        Peak cold             begins                                                                                Lamb,                                   Gaelic fire festival-feast

                                                                                                                                                  Candle                                  of flame and waxing light

 

Vernal             Balance of           Sprouting            Maiden comes      Return of             Seeds,            Child             Welcome nature spirits,

Equinox          Light & Dark       Budding               from underworld/ Green Man          Narcissus,                           Charge seeds, decorate/charge

                                                                                    awakes to meet                                   Crocus                                 eggs, Celebrate Spring,

                                                                                    young lover                                                                                      Symbolic Breaking of Bonds

 

Beltane           Strongly              Flowering            Fertility,                 Return of             Maypole,       Sexual           Maypole dance, Nature

                        increasing                                         Maiden comes of Summer Gods,     Penis              Maturity      spirit work, Aid in

                        light,                                                   Age,                       Fertility,                                                             regeneration of Earth,

                        Balanced heat                                   Sexual,                    Sexual                                                                 Love & caring, Feed each other

                                                                                    Marriage                Marriage                                                            Handfastings, Choose May Queen

                                                                                                                                                                                                & King

 

Summer          Peak light            Growth                 Full adult               Sun King             Sun,                Parent           Nurture crops, Appreciate

Solstice          Darkness to come                            Mother aspect      embraces           Fairies                                     Nature, Celebrate nature's

                                                                                                                    Goddess of                                                        sacrifice & renewal, Make

                                                                                                                    Summer so                                                         changes and adjustments

                                                                                                                                                                          strongly that he

                                                                                                                                                                          is reborn as God

                                                                                                                                                                          of Waning Year

 

Lammas          Declining light    First Harvest       Leadership,           Teaching,            Make corn     Children up Bless first fruits, Weeding prior

                        Peak heat             Prep for rest of    Goddess becomes                              Green Man in                      dolly                                                                       and about,                                                                       to next harvest, Bless tools,

                                                      Harvest                reaper                     Full Adulthood                           Attain           Invoke skill, knowledge &

                                                                                                                                                                          Maturity      healing, Initiations. Brewing,

                                                                                                                                                                                                Sacred cooking fires, Competitive

                                                                                                                                                                                                games

 

Autumn          Balance of           Primary Harvest  Goddess mature,  Underworld         Sickle              Middle Age Going away party for Green Man

Equinox          light & dark                                       Underworld           Gods return                                 Children       Celebrate harvest, Earth healing,

                                                                                    Goddess return                                                           weaned        Charge seed for next year's crop,

                                                                                                                                                 

Samhain         Strongly              Last Harvest       Goddess as           God as                  Pumpkin,        Crone,          Spiritworld contact, Festival

                        falling light          Falling leaves,     Crone                     Gatekeeper          Pomegranate,Elder,            of life and death, Celebrate

                        Balanced heat     Transition                                                                          Apple             Universal     harvest completed, Divination,

                                                                                                                                                                          Knowledge  Past-life regression,

                                                                                                                                                                                                pomegranate/apple mystery

                                                                                                                   

Winter            Death/birth Sun Hibernation         Goddess gives      Sun God               Yule Log,       ConceptionGiftgiving, Rituals to help

Solstice          peak darkness,   Dormancy            birth to SunGod    Reborn                 Evergreen      Time in         good causes charity, Solar beacon

                        Promise of Light                                                               tree,                      Summer-         cone of power, Saturnalia, Magical

                                                                                                                                                  Holly, Ivy,     land              oaths, Go through portal, Give

                                                                                                                                                  Mistletoe,                            birth to new projects, Mythraic

                                                                                                                                                  Oranges                               ritual, Kindle Yule log

 

We may need to expand this to include specific dates, a lunar calendar and a basic astrological discussion-along with the fact that the specific dates may be modified to as needed for various reasons. 

 

In addition, something about the schedules of study groups, covens and other groups likely to become standing committees meeting on other schedules should be provided, along with some examples.

 


6 Are the services open to the public? No Yes

If “Yes,” describe how the organization publicizes its services and explain the criteria for admittance.

 

At present, our Beltane, Samhain, and Yule rituals (put on by our Pagan Awareness Coalition Standing Committee) and the rituals of at least one of our monthly study groups are open to sympathetic and interested members of the public who are not disruptive.

 

 For the last ten years, our Samhain rituals have been performed on Cleveland Public Square, and Beltane for the last three years at Cleveland Public Square.  The public gathers at the square and joins in the ritual, although our security team has occasionally had to exclude verbally abusive, intoxicated and/or otherwise disruptive individuals.

 

Our public events are publicized by fliers distributed to various Occult Stores, coffeehouses and events frequented by our members, as well as by e-mail, conventional mail and word of mouth.  In addition, they are often listed by other organizations in their calendars or newsletters, and we have encouraged (but not always obtained) publicity in newspapers, radio and TV through press releases, etc.  We also have sign up lists at our events for inclusion in our mailing lists.

 

Our study groups are publicized by word of mouth, and occasionally by fliers or listings in other publications.

 

In addition to public events, members of our standing committees perform many rituals that may or may not be publicized or open to the public

 

 

7 Explain how the organization attracts new members.

 

Generally through publicity about our public events or word of mouth

 

8 (a) How many active members are currently enrolled in the church?

 

Including affiliated study groups, we need to provide list here-making the distinction between affiliated members and voting members)

 

 

(b) What is the average attendance at the worship services?

 

About 175 at our public Samhain and Beltane ceremonies.   Our standing committees (covens, study groups, etc.) vary typically from three to thirty.  In addition, individual members often worship alone or with very close friends or family members

 

 

9  In addition to worship services, what other religious services (such as baptisms, weddings,funerals, etc.) does the organization conduct?

 

Our Wiccan standing committees typically perform Wiccanings (equivalent to baptisms), handfastings (equivalent to weddings), handpartings, dedications, initiations, clergy investitures, Fertility rites, Cronings, Saging, rites of passage (such as funerals), healings, exorcisms, blessings, purifications, etc.  Similar rites may be performed by druids, shamans and other earth religionists.

 

 

10 Does the organization have a school for the religious instruction of the young? Yes No

 

At least some of our study groups are intended generally open to the young, along with most of our rituals.

 

.  Section 10 on Training children.  We added the word intended concerning at a church study group and children.  We also agreed to have Dutch draft text to the effect that parental permission will be required for minors to be involved in church sponsored study groups when not in a public venue. The main reason discussed for thus was minimizing the chance of legal hassles from irate parents that we are not prepared at this time to deal with.  We all agreed that we need an attorney advisor and that somewhere in what we write the Church should be empowered to make exceptions to such policy, if it should decide otherwise.

 

 

 

11 Were the current deacons, minister, and/or pastor formally ordained after a prescribed course of study? No Yes

 

Ordination in this church is conferred when at least three functioning Clergy in the church deem the person by reason of training and experience to be competent at the type of work for which the person is ordained.  In many cases, such clergy status is given to people who have for considerable amounts of time lead congregations or otherwise clearly demonstrated their competence. 

 

Within our standing committees, nomination for ordination typically requires at least a year and a day of training and clear demonstration of the necessary competency for which the person is trained, along with a clear need for the person to be so ordained.  However, we reserve the right to recognize divine inspiration and the ability to manifest it as sufficient grounds for ordination, etc.

 

There will be a variety of ordained clergy positions, including

Priest or Priestess of Wicca

Ordained Clergy-Counselor (Seith, Oracle, etc.) -- mainly for Pagans who need clergy status to avoid legal hassles over doing divination and/or who are recognized as skilled in counseling)

Other titles as necessary and appropriate

 

Section 11 on Clergy will require some work. Regarding the grandfathered Clergy list, more of our clergy need to get to know Copper, who is relatively new to our community.  It may also be appropriate to make it clear that clergy in our church are expected to be responsive to situations that in most religions would warrant clergy counseling, at a minimum by providing appropriate referrals.  At a previous meeting we discussed the possibility of the church sponsoring and/or encouraging training in this area.

 

 

12 Describe the organization’s religious hierarchy or ecclesiastical government.

 

Our standing committees hierarchy varies from one committee to another, varying from rule by consensus, to rule by volunteers, to rule by the High priestess and/or high priest of the committee. 

 

The church government is designed to minimize the potential for matters related to ordaining clergy and other traditional matters related to churches or incorporation to interfere with the internal affairs of its Standing Committees.

 

The Church’s central government has just enough centralized, formal, corporate structure and power to:

Provide and maintain a 501C3 umbrella for donations and grant applications for a broad range of independently funded and organized projects and associated standing committees serving the Pagan community and consistent with a broad interpretation of the purposes of the church. . Such standing committees would include PAC, ____, ______, _______, ______< an Ordination Committee, NeoERAA, the Ohio Events Calendar, and a variety other potential projects. 

Ordain a wide variety of Clergy

Recognize  and extend the legal protection and rights of the church to a wide variety of privately owned Pagan Chapels and activities, as well as potential new facilities and activities, like the proposed  storefront church/ coffeehouse -- in so far as reasonably possible

Assure that the necessary financial reporting, etc. required by law are met (including compliance with bylaws, contracts, etc.), and that information on how such funds were spent be readily available to members of each committee and those making donations 

Assure that different standing committees within the church do not interfere in the internal affairs of other standing committees or put them at financial risk, except when decided otherwise by mutual consent between the standing committees, in so far as reasonably possible

Mediate disputes and act as a supreme court regarding compliance with bylaws and procedures (or arrange for such procedures)

Carry out the financial and other responsibilities required of a church and a corporation

 

All other powers and duties of the church are reserved for its standing committees.

 

At the center of the church are the Board of Trustees, consisting of the six people who signed the articles of incorporation, who have the duty to serve as a supreme court concerning matters of interpretation of corporate bylaws, charters, etc. in event of a dispute over their interpretation (when necessary), and who have the power to remove corporate officers for gross malfeasance, misfeasance or neglect of duty.   Trustees are subject to a vote of confidence every five years within the church.  If they loose such a vote, trustees may be replaced by election by voting members of the church.  The six candidates for trustees getting the most votes would be elected, in event of a vote, and the persons with the seventh through tenth most votes would be alternates, if an existing trustee is unable to function or resigns.  In addition, a trustee can be removed for gross misconduct or neglect of duty by a 2/3 majority of the trustees, the board and the membership.

 

In addition, the church has a Board of directors, consisting of a president, vice president, secretary, treasurer, publicist, members advocate, membership coordinator, and legal advisor, unless changes are approved in corporate bylaws.  These positions are filled initially by volunteers doing the work, and are subject to annual election by voting members of the church (by a majority vote), as well as recall by the board of trustees, board of clergy, or voting members by a 2/3 majority.

 

While a variety of levels of church membership are available, ranging from affiliation due to membership in a standing committee that is part of the church  and agreement to its code of ethics, to patronship by making substantial donations of property or money, voting membership is reserved for the volunteers who:

Occupy specific positions with specific job descriptions that have been approved by the other voting members,

Provide quarterly reports on their progress and plans for the next quarter to the Board and Members

Do the work in their job descriptions and demonstrate a pattern of keeping commitments whenever reasonably possible

Maintain reasonable compliance with the Church’s standards of ethics

Gross failure to meet these criteria are sufficient grounds for loss of voting membership, as determined by the Board of Directors or their designated agent, subject to appeal to the Board of Trustees or the other voting members.

 

In general, all decisions by the trustees, the board of directors and the membership shall take place by consensus when reasonably possible or a two-thirds majority when necessary.  If a decision is formally proposed to the membership and/or the board, and no member objects within a week (if all members are on-line) it shall be considered to be passed by consensus.  Up to two weeks may be needed, plus a phone or US mail notification system if all members are not on line.

 

In general, the voting bodies of the church define policies and budgets, and the details are worked out by the people doing the work, unless a voting body decides otherwise

 

 

At least one church ordination committee defines and implement fairly loose ordination requirements that require that anyone ordained

Agree to a basic code of ethics (consistent with church requirements)

Be leading a Pagan group or have demonstrated loosely defined minimum skills necessary to design, lead and perform the types of work for which the person needs formal ordination to meet state requirements. 

It takes the support of at least three already ordained clergy for the church to ordain an applicant.  All members of the ordination committee shall be ordained.

 

 

Ordination would be for life, unless the person has clearly demonstrated a pattern of behavior that seriously violates the basic ethical requirements of the church and the church decides that removal of such status is necessary and appropriate (a can of worms). 

 

 

13 Does the organization have an established place of worship? Yes No

If “Yes,” provide the name and address of the owner or lessor

of the property and the address and a description of the facility.

If the organization has no regular place of worship, state where the services are held and how the site is selected.

 

Public Square at Samhain and Beltane, owned by City of Cleveland.

 

Various Standing committees and members may list their temples, groves, selected power spots, etc. as established places of worship, so that they enjoy the protection of the church, legislation against desecration of churches, tax deductibility, etc.

 

In addition, we may need to add discussions of how we select temporary sites.  I am tempted to include my Working with Nature Spirits article as an example.

 

 

14 Does (or will) the organization license or otherwise ordain ministers (or their equivalent) or issue church charters? No Yes

If “Yes,” describe in detail the requirements and qualifications needed to be so licensed, ordained, or chartered.

 

See previous discussion

 

 

15 Did the organization pay a fee for a church charter? Yes No

If “Yes,” state the name and address of the organization to which the fee was paid, attach a copy of the charter, and describe the circumstances surrounding the chartering.

 

 

16 Show how many hours a week the minister/pastor and officers each devote to church work and the amount of compensation paid to each of them. If the minister or pastor is otherwise employed, indicate by whom employed, the nature of the employment, and the hours devoted to that employment.

 

This will have to be provided by the ministers and officers, most of whom earn their living by working.  Details on who they are employed by, the nature of the employment and the hours devoted to that can be provided to the IRS only in event of an acceptable written agreement by the IRS on confidentiality of this information-unless an individual minister, etc. decides to release more of her or his personal information.

 

 

17 Will any funds or property of the organization be used by any officer, director, employee, minister, or pastor for his or her personal needs or convenience? No Yes

If “Yes,” describe the nature and circumstances of such use.

 

Currently, except for possible reimbursement for expenses directly related to the work with the church, the answer is no.  They are all unpaid volunteers. However, the church reserves the right to pay for the services of specialists (accountants, attorneys, etc) when necessary and appropriate.  In addition, the standing committees, which are generally independently funded, along with the Board reserves the right to have full time paid staff or consultants should it be necessary and appropriate-subject to the limitations necessary to retain 501(c)(3) status.

 

 

18 List any officers, directors, or trustees related by blood or marriage.

 

To be determined

 

 

19 Give the name of anyone who has assigned income to the organization or made substantial contributions of money or other property. Specify the amounts involved.

 

To be provided on tax forms by those persons deducting associated expenses from taxable income, subject to normal rules of confidentiality concerning such matters.  Most church expenses and paid by passing a hat. etc and are not otherwise identifiable. .  For others, the individuals can only be identified if they grant permission.  However, church income and expenditures, and those of associated standing committees, shall be accounted for and reported to the extent required by law.

 

 

Instructions

 

Although a church, its integrated auxiliaries, or a convention or association of churches is not required to file Form 1023 to be exempt from Federal income tax or to receive tax-deductible contributions, such an organization may find it advantageous to obtain recognition of exemption. In this event, you should submit information showing that your organization is a church, synagogue, association or convention of churches, religious order or religious organization that is an integral part of a church, and that it is carrying out the functions of a church.

 

In determining whether an admittedly religious organization is also a church, the IRS does not accept any and every assertion that such an organization is a church. Because beliefs and practices vary so widely, there is no si

ngle definition of the word “church” for tax purposes. The IRS considers the facts and circumstances of each organization applying for church status.

 

The IRS maintains two basic guidelines in determining that an organization meets the religious purposes test:

 

1. That the particular religious beliefs of the organization are truly and sincerely held, and

 

2. That the practices and rituals associated with the organization’s religious beliefs or creed are not illegal or contrary to clearly defined public policy.

 

In order for the IRS to properly evaluate your organization’s activities and religious purposes, it is important that all questions in Schedule A be answered.

 

The information submitted with Schedule A will be a determining factor in granting the “church” status requested by your organization. In completing the schedule, consider the following points:

 

The organization’s activities in furtherance of its beliefs must be exclusively religious, and

 

2. An organization will not qualify for exemption if it has a substantial nonexempt purpose of serving the private interests of its founder or the founder’s family.