Where are the church ladies …

when we need them?

Haven’t we all heard someone say, in response to a very human need, “Well, where is the church in all of this?  Should they be stepping up to ….?”

And, of course, my head immediately answers for me, “Which church?  How is this _____’s problem?”

Sure, if you’re a decently-sized, well-funded religious organization and troubles descend on one of your own, you may well have a function established to come to the rescue with food, clothing, shelter, social support, advocacy, and the other things that help folks through a crisis.  Maybe you’ll even stretch your compassion to folks not of your particular belief system or at least who are your own but rarely show up or donate.

But the troubles of the world can fall on any of us, regardless of any other considerations.  There are government agencies and such set up to minister to those needs — complete with criteria, qualifications, paperwork, bureaucracy, delays — and denials.  People in dire need can fall through the cracks quite easily.  And no one or several decently-sized, however well funded religious or charitable organizations can rise in response to every need — although they are less hobbled by rules and regulations than anything governmental.

Where does Sacred Grove come into this rant?

We are exploring the role of the small, informally-gathered religious community filling the various roles expected of a church/ congregation/ circle, given no building, no secure funding source, no fixed membership, and only the choice to join with each other in appreciation of all that is real and personal and important about the divine connections in our lives — where the Divine lives and breathes in the infinite connections of the Sacred Web of Life.

This is a new persona for a church — this amorphous webspinning eclectic group.  It is not confined to a single place or area — we are scattered as widely as the internet, yet we are as personal as individual commitment and action or two people talking it over.

We have a few resources that empower us as a church that we would not have as individuals: We have an identity that has stood the test of time, at least on the East Coast: The Fellowship of the Sacred Grove has been a visible and respected contributor to the Pagan community since 1989. We have a legal and effective association with a larger and more widespread Wiccan organization — Sacred Well Congregation — that has successfully managed the bureaucratic requirements at the federal level for years, through which the IRS knows us as a 501(c)3 religious charitable organization.

In the name of Sacred Grove Community Circle (SWC), we can stand with other churches and participate in community activities, provide clerical credentials for clergy visiting hospitals in our name, accept charitable donations to support our service to individuals and communities, and maintain our Facebook page and this website as the hub of our web.

What has Sacred Grove been doing lately?

I’m so glad you asked.

We are providing social support, spiritual support, and random material resources to several individuals in crisis who have fallen through the aforementioned cracks — and learning more about the plight of the poor, abused, disabled, and homeless with every step.  We have helped a few others out, here and there.  We what we can to help folks over an obstacle or through a critical door, then cheer as they continue on their way.

We support one chaplain volunteering in a Level 1 trauma center.

We are actively working with public safety chaplains in a county chaplain corps and in the Washington-Baltimore area military and civilian chaplains in disaster readiness and resilience.

We are partnered with Rising Sun Outreach Ministry to provide care for the caregivers.

We hang out with the Religious Tolerance group on Facebook and contribute the services of one moderator, helping ease the tensions and build pathways of communication among people of all religions or none.

What can I do to help?

We have a Paypal account which will accept donations, which will be acknowledged with thanks and a receipt.  Other than the minor expenses of maintaining the web presence, our funds are disbursed directly and swiftly where the need is greatest.

Visit us on Facebook — start a conversation!   Express a need.  Share some ideas.  https://www.facebook.com/SacredGroveSWC/

Email me at RedBird@SacredGroveSWC.org

PM me on Facebook — https://www.facebook.com/Sandra.Lee.Harris





The Many Faces of Wiccan Divinity — Patheos, 7/2/2015, by Sable Aradia


Wiccan theology is actually very complex.  It is perfectly valid to interpret Wicca as duotheism, deism, polytheism, animism, shamanism, pantheism, panentheism, monotheism, agnosticism or atheism; and I know Wiccans who hold all of these views, often at the same time.  But to say, unequivocally, that Wicca is any one of these things incorrectly pigeonholes us.  Although we are most commonly interpreted by other Pagans as duotheists, defining oneself by that term is only one of many perfectly theologically sound ways to interpret and relate to our deities.  It is for that reason that we often describe ourselves as an orthopractic faith, one more concerned with our practices than our beliefs.

Politely-Unasked Questions

What crazy kind of church is this, anyway?

Welcome, friend, and thank you for asking.  You have found our on-line door, which is always open to people of any faith, or none, or who wonder, as we do, what being a person of faith is.  The technical details are in the regular pages, of course, but this may be a new experience.

We are a bunch of people who share an urge to, in the words of an Elder, Think cosmically; act neighborly.  For most of us, this is the closest we come to organized religion.  We gather, physically or virtually, to do for ourselves what brick-and-mortar churches or temples or mosques do for their congregations and for their communities.

Cosmically, our underlying spiritual path is Pagan, owing no allegiance or submission to any particular texts or teachers.  Rather, we each being to this community the fruits of our exploration, experience, and gathered wisdom, and we grow as we share.  We have a formal spiritual tradition that provides a default framework and liturgy for our rites, but we are also free to craft ritual from scratch or to adapt others’ rituals to the needs of our guests and the moment.

The Bhakti Wiccan Tradition of Sacred Grove is a growing and living tradition, with deep roots in the past and branches growing into the future.

Locally, we are recognized as one of the northern Virginia faith communities that serves needs outside our congregation, near and far, and participates actively with other congregations to support the wider community.

So who is running this outfit?

Hi, I’m RedBird.  I am the Community Faith Group Leader (CFGL) — to use the term derived from the military usage, Distinctive Faith Group Leader (DFGL), for persons authorized to work with the uniformed chaplain to meet the spiritual needs of personnel outside the religious mainstream.  I maintain this site and our Facebook page, handle the administrivia, and keep us in compliance with the (minimal) requirements of Sacred Well Congregation.

How many members are in your congregation?

Hm.  Good question.  We have not been keeping membership rolls of late, since our rituals are public.  People are fairly mobile these days, and we keep in touch through the web.  When we need to take more formal notice of affiliation, we handle that on an individual basis and recognize that each of us may be affiliated with other faith groups as well.


Beltane for Kids


Love – love is a huge part of Beltane, and it’s not just sexual or love for a partner.  Talk to your children about their love for family, friends, and the world around them.  Plan a ritual involving a brother/sister deity pair, or a parent/child relationship.  Celebrate that love comes in many forms.

Passion – what is your child passionate about?  Sexual passion is certainly not the only kind there is!  What is your child strongly interested in, fiercely dedicated to?  Do they spend hours practicing piano, drawing pictures, writing stories?  Turn that into a ritual!  Invite the patron deities of what they’re passionate about, ask for their blessings on your child – this will help them understand the concept a thousand times better than attending a symbolic Great Rite.

Creativity – when you break it down far enough, the magic of fertility is all about an act of creation.  Plan a rite that features a craft of activity that gives your child an opportunity to make something, to bring something new into the world.  It can be anything!  Plant a few seeds, sculpt with salt dough, anything your child will be excited and proud to have made.  Younger children may not understand the magic and mystery inherent to baby-making, but making an awesome finished product from simple ingredients is just as magical for them!

About Molly Khan

Molly Khan is a writer, student, and mother of three from the Midwest prairie. She is a founding member and liturgist for Prairie Shadow Protogrove, ADF. She writes about her joys and struggles as a mother and a Heathen Druid, as well as her experiences raising children in an interfaith household at thepagangrove.blogspot.com.