Claremont 2019: How Professional do we want Pagan Ministry to be?

Sam Webster, PhD. M.Div, Mage

We have very few trained ministers in the Pagan community.

We teach priestcraft, but too frequently it is thin, often with little depth of knowledge, and lessons learned are rarely passed along.

Ministry is an entirely different matter, more focused on the congregants than the Gods.

We have issues of of abuse. But as we have neither a centralized authority structure, nor clearing house organizations, nor a self-policing professional clerics organization, nor any of the other means other religions use to prevent abuse of authority.

We are the only religion you can just declare yourself a member of. Normally, someone else has to validate your membership; bring you in, so to speak. Because our lack of this many people can declare themselves Pagan even if they have never met the culture we have been building for 600 years.

These circumstances raise critical questions:

  • What is Ministry vs Priesthood?
  • What kind of power does a Pagan minister have in our community?
  • What should they have?
  • How does this differ from Priestly power?
  • What is ministerial formation? Why is it important?
  • What is it to be called and how is that constitutive of a Minister?
  • What value is seminary training and what does it entail?
  • Can we get help from the liberal traditions?
  • What value has Cherry Hill for our Community?
  • Why is its accreditation important, and quite possibly impossible?
  • Why should we expect them to share our values?
  • Why should they expect us to consider them Pagan?