Clergy Council Members,
Being a member of any religion’s clergy was not something I ever dreamed of doing as a child even though it does seem to run in the family. My father was a Wesleyan pastor from the time I was born until I was 11 years old. At that time, the clergy of the Wesleyan church tended toward fire and brimstone pulpit pounding, but not my dad. He was a teacher. He was even keeled and people seemed to hang around just to talk to him. I remember him saying that one day that he would love to be able to sit on a beach somewhere and just talk and “philosophize” about religion. As time has gone by and I have grown up and started on my own journey, some of the same things developed in me. Now granted, the religion of my dad and ADF are vastly different, but the tug and pull of aiding the religious community of which I am a part is the same. As cliché as it sounds, I want to help people or, “serve the folk” as I hear it so often expressed.
I already lead a lot of public rituals in the area, but more than that, people talk to me. Sometimes they are looking for advice and sometimes they just want an open ear or a set of strong but comfortable shoulders to lean on. I see myself being called upon as a mediator and a source of information as well. Not only do they come, but I truly enjoy helping them. I feel like I am truly “me” when I am leading a ritual or helping out someone in the community. To me, becoming a member of the Clergy is a logical next step along my path and one way to fulfill the calling I have been experiencing for a while now. This will require time, strength, energy, and perseverance to accomplish. I plan on completing the First Circle within a year and applying for ordination. I will be serving on the Board at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Elkhart and hope to reach out to Pagans and Pagan friendly folk as well as becoming a source of information for those that may be curious about paganism, but never had anyone to ask questions of. I will be presenting at least one workshop at Chrysalis Moon and hope to do at least one more in the Northern Indiana area by the end of the year. I will also continue to lead ADF Core Order rituals for our local CUUPS group and hope to do at least one outside of the CUUPs umbrella during that same time frame.
I choose to take the clerical journey within the context of ADF because this is my religious home. As I was researching rituals I fell in love with the Core Order, especially the imagery of the Sacred Center and the Gates. Not only that but the emphasis on scholarship made my Nerd Girl heart squeal with glee. I don’t just want to know what to do; I want to know why it is done, where it comes from, how it works, and why we don’t do something else. In most of the traditions I investigated, there were lots of ideas, gestures and words, but no one could tell me where they came from or why we were doing what we were doing. That same frustration and my refusal to accept the canned answers of those unwilling to admit that they didn’t know something got me into trouble with the Christian churches I was a member of in my youth and early adult years. I am not one to leave well enough alone once a questions sticks in my brain. ADF encourages, and insists upon, scholarly research. I found a bunch of people who, like me, are trying to find the real answers to big questions through research and scholarship rather than whatever seems catchy and cool at the moment. I found a home in ADF and so it is here that I chose to offer my time and talents to serve the community.
My primary hearth culture is Celtic and so Druids immediately come to mind when thinking about clergy. Leading ritual and supervising sacrifices is important, but I feel that the roles that are filled by clergy members outside of ritual can make a big impact as well. One aspect of the Druids that I find intriguing is that the Druids are seen, not only has religious facilitators, but as mediators, historians, counselors and mentors. These other roles can make real differences in the lives of community members and the results of those interactions do so much more than what can be done in the relatively short amount of time that a ritual occupies. These are the things that I am strongly called to do, not only for the ADF community, but in the community as a whole. I would like think the Druids of yonder years did the same thing. Within their abilities, they ministered to and assisted the entire community, not just those who thought the same way they did. If someone had an issue that needed mediation, they would mediate, no matter what deity or deities the parties worshiped. If someone needed a healer, they helped as best they could no matter if those in need showed up for the last ritual or not. This is what I strive to do.
I have been working the Dedicant Discipline since August of 2014 when I completed the Dedicant documentation. I have been a member of ADF since July of 2013 but I have been leading public ADF rituals since December of 2012. That is not a typo. Really, it’s not. I was leading ADF rituals even before I became a member of ADF. I have continue to lead and assist with public ADF rituals as well as do solitary work at my home alter. I expect that my work with the Kindred, Gatekeeper and Earth Mother will become more frequent and move to deeper levels as I go through the Clergy Program and I am very much looking forward to seeing where this next phase leads. I feel that I have just scratched the surface of my personal practice and as much as books thrill me, there is no substitute for taking the time to commune with the Gods and Spirits.
I feel that I have found a home here in ADF. The ritual, scholarship, and sense of belonging make my heart and soul happy. I believe that I have a lot to learn and I look forward to learning it. This type of journey is not just one of intellect, but of introspection and self discovery, of connection with beings outside ourselves as well as the forgotten aspects within. It is a challenge and one that I am excited to face. The journey through the Circles of the Clergy Training Program will be hard work and I am sure that there will be frustrations along the way, but I will do what needs to be done to complete it.
Thank you for your time and consideration,
Amber Ferrebee (Avelyn)