Tuesday, December 1, 2009

An Idea for Temple Organization

This is more me spitballing and tossing out ideas for discussion than anything else first off. Please feel free to poke holes, throw rocks, and challenge anything and everything in here.

Temples are increasingly starting to pop up in the community as are other support structures including the renowned Cherry Hill Seminary. While right now what we have are small what we must remember is that what we build now and how we build it must not just be for us. It must be for those who will follow after our bones are dust. For that reason we as a community must ensure that we stay true to that which we hold dear and be sure that how we organize and manage our communities preserves that. Above all else we must ensure that the temples that emerge do not put duty to the organization ahead of duty to the worshipers.

What I propose would work based on what we as a community have available to us right now. The main foundation blocks of the community are solitary practitioners and small groups for either study or worship. As it stands both by the nature of the community and Paganism as a whole it is unlikely that individual groups are going to become big enough on their own to support their own temples beyond using public facilities, Unitarian churches, or private residences.

I propose instead we take an approach that pools the resources, knowledge, and abilities of the various small groups to establish a working temple and agree to a temple charter. Each chartered group would contribute what they are able to and agree to share the responsibility of managing and maintaining the temple. They would each send a single representative who would in turn elect one person who, for one year, would serve as the overall administrator with the representatives serving as the temple council. The administrator would also appoint a second. They would serve as the executive officers for the temple with all business involving maintenance, admissions for new groups that wish to sign on for the temple, and managing all donations and financial aspects. The administrator and vice-administrator, whatever they end up being called, would along with the council serve as the main staff for the temple. Solitary members could also join the temple, likely by a donation of labor, resources, or money individually.

Very importantly neither the temple council or the temple administrators should not be considered as having any greater spiritual authority than any other clergy or members who are part of the temple. While they would have superior secular power where it relates to the mundane aspects of the temple the position of being a temple administrator or on the temple council the position itself would confer no superior spiritual authority. All members of the council and the administrators must be recognize clergy as according to how their group functions but being part of the council or administration must not give any further spiritual authority. This is to ensure there is no abuse of position or power by those in charge at the expense of the members of the temple. The organization must not put its priorities ahead of the priorities of the worshipers.

Part of temple membership would include regular dues to be determined as needed by the temple council and participation in regular work parties to help with maintenance, upkeep, and possible renovations or expansion. Groups that offer classes or instruction should also offer classes that they would be willing to have open to temple members as part of membership, how this is to be handled should be left up to the individual temple councils. In exchange all chartered members, either through membership in a chartered group or individual membership, would have full access to the temple facilities and grounds for use in worship, any classes open to the public, and any other services the temple offers. Each temple should also hold ritual on the holidays agreed on by the temple council that would be open to the public. The handling of the specific holidays would be up to the particular temples but they should be open to the public both to help bring in new members from the community by showing what the temple has to offer and as a means of educating the general public.

Ideally the temple would serve as a community center, place of instruction, and worship. It should not, however, be the centerpoint of the different faiths. The center of gravity is, and should remain, with the small groups that would make up the backbone of the temples. This is to ensure that dynamic energy remains in the community by putting the emphasis on the grassroots and not the temples. By keeping the focal point based on the small groups and not on the large temples it allows the voices of the individual adherents to be better heard and responded to.

Any questions, comments, criticisms, concerns, or anything else are welcome and encourage! Just please make sure whatever it is you are sending in is more than just a one line, "This would never work." Please give good, solid reasons behind any feedback especially if it is critique.

1 comment:

  1. This sounds like a very well-thought out plan. The one thing I would suggest needs to be taken into consideration is how would the organization/council/administartion be constructed so it will be flexible thru the years into the future? I think the tricky bit is how to make the by-laws/rules/guidelines or whatever one wants to call them open enough to be flexible, but defined enough to have teeth to remain standing in the centuries to come... best example I can think of that I know you will relate to is out own Republic... the Constitution sometimes works and sometimes winds itself around our feet so we trip and fall....

    just a thought... don't know exactly how you want to proceed, but perhaps the Constitution would be a place to look for some guidance... also, CT's constitution, which was one of the first, has been pretty good thru the centuries....

    good luck, and I look forward to checking on the progress.. would be glad to add my 2 cents from the NorthEast, if you think it would help..

    Bright Blessings!
    Cate D.