On August 14th, Detroit was again the site of the powerful Street Store phenomenon. In the shadow of the Masonic Temple, volunteers from various areas of Southeastern Michigan came together to put forth their hearts and hands in providing good clothing and material needs in service to the homeless residents of Detroit. This time, the event was at Cass Park, 600 Ledyard Street.
Matt Orlando, of Ancient Faiths Alliance and Northern Mist Kindred pitched in to lend an arm. A busy man, he found time to come in and put feet to the street to get to know the people who may not get to speak to candidates up “close and personal”. He is running for Representative to U.S. Congress under the Libertarian ticket this election. And though the folks who live in this district are not his constituents, he expressed his belief that people don’t stop having needs at the edge of a voting boundary.
The good Reverend Gerrybrete Leonard-Whitcomb, of Universal Society of Ancient Ministry dashed off before I could get an image of her dropping off a fresh batch of clothing. She put out a call on the Pagans In Need Facebook page for men’s clothing in larger sizes in the week leading up to the event. Though sick, she still made it a priority to drop and dash back for some needed recovery time.
Modest beginnings lead to big things. These racks below look like they are very thin. However, within minutes they were groaning under the weight of hundreds of donated, clean garments. Bins and boxes waited in readiness as they were continuously emptied by all who came.
Kyle Coviak, of the GLWC of Michigan, and Ancient Faiths Alliance, also hit the park site with strength and energy. He is known as one of the faces of volunteerism in the local spiritual communities. Working in tandem with a system of constant flow, he kept the clients happy and the lines stocked with clothing and home wares. Neat and tidy is his watchword and it showed.
*Full disclosure: He is my husband, and at this time we shall all ask for prayers, as I am definitely NOT neat and tidy. His struggle continues.*
In addition to these items, hygiene kits were available as well. Food items were on hand and ready to go. This seemed to work hand in hand with the mission of the good folks across the green.
The Wobbly kitchen, as a gathering and an institution, is all about good feelings, good folks, and food. The smells coming from the buffet were mouth-watering, and the music was jamming. If you want to see more, catch them the 2nd and 4th Sundays.
The Burners Without Borders Detroit chapter plans to do this again. If you want to volunteer, you can go to their WordPress to keep yourself in the loop. The place may change, but the mission remains the same. Be a part of a growing momentum and give of yourself. It feels good. And you might just get to share ice cream at the end.
Burners Without Borders Detroit repeating its Street Store in Detroit for our homeless residents. It is happening this Sunday, August 14. This is an opportunity for those who missed the first one to get out there and put their Pagan ideas of service into action. The event takes place in Cass Park, located at 600 Ledyard Street. It lasts from 10:00 am until 1:00 pm.
For those of us who love Theatre Bizarre, this is in your zone area. It is not far from the Masonic Temple. This is a whole different type of party. This is about the reality of coming together to help those surviving as homeless people in this city.
Explicit Content Advisory-Video
They are looking for hands, to volunteer with the set-up, distribution, restocking, and break-down of the store. This event will be held outside, so dress for the sunlit skies. It gets hot. Also, make sure to bring enough water for yourself, and a snack.
Reverend Gerrybrete Leonard Whitcomb, of the Universal Society of Ancient Ministry, has put out an open call to the community to give clothing for this event. Needed specifically are men’s clothes, preferably in larger sizes. You can contact her for pickup or drop off at either firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Burners Without Borders Detroit has been doing “boots on the ground” style work for years here in Detroit. Their backpack program is well established. This Street Store is a natural complement to their continual mission of activism.
Donations of clothing should follow the standard rules of charitable giving. All items are in good condition. Items are wearable and clean, laundered before given. And always give items that you would be comfortable in being seen wearing if you had to do so.
Women who are dealing with homelessness have special challenges. Feminine hygiene products, personal care items, and undergarments are also needed. These items should be new and unopened.
In general, remember that whatever you donate should also be portable. Smaller sizes make it easier to pack and secure. Single use toothbrushes, personal wipes in small packs, and tissues are also in great demand. Do not forget that hand sanitizer come in small sized multipacks, that is an easy item to find.
For those who are heading out to the event, consider making it a group affair. The feeling of fellowship you get when you volunteer is a top shelf memory maker, and may turn into a regular pursuit. Become a Givingnista.
In the heat of the morning, a small crew of volunteers came together to transform an empty sidewalk into a happening. Atheists, agnostics, Pagan ministers, and more were on site to help Burners Without Borders make the Street Store happen this last weekend in the Cass Corridor area of Downtown Detroit.
Volunteers with joyful hearts and focused hands created a show room of apparel and material resources for homeless shoppers in the free pop up event.
The heat of the blazing summer sun seemed to show the inner shine of benevolent energy.
The two sides of Detroit ironically next to each other.
In the shadow of new developments, residents who receive none of the fruits of the “new Detroit robber barons” came together with the spirit of the old Detroit unity.
The architecture of a city embattled but still here stands sentry as its streets filled with hope.
Hundreds of articles of clothing, hygiene kits, water, and food items available to homeless citizens this day.
The work doesn’t stop here though. Burners Without Borders never stops here in Detroit. Soup kitchens, charitable events, hat and glove drives, and a backpack program are a few of the programs that make up a tapestry of outreach and support that blankets Southeast Michigan with compassion.
Serving as an ordained minister for a several years now, I have found it necessary to form my own moral matrix of beliefs and practices. The one-size-fits-most rule does not work in life when dealing with the myriad paths and traditions here in the Pagan and alternative worlds of spirituality.
Two years ago, I committed to teaching an outer court grove. During the Year and a Day studies, conversations arose about what the basics of being clergy are. This cause me to challenge the commonly held standards, and question who and what cultures codified them?
Cherry Hill Seminary, and other groups strive to serve as the established model arbiters of this. But they are not the only route to being living, practicing, clergy. More importantly, they do not represent me. Academic training is marvelous, but it does not invalidate the experiences and education of on the ground application of the skill sets needed in non-rarified spaces.
Authors such as Belladonna LaVeau broach the subject in published works. Her “Awakening Spirit: WISE Seminary, First Year Certification for Wiccan Clergy” serves as one of the standards for the new generations.
But what of the non-affiliated among us? What standards do we choose ? How does one be a “clergy alone”?
My first attempt to name my standards resulted in this list. In may of these, I highly recommend that those who have the feeling that they are not sufficiently prepped in certain areas to take additional classes and training. Many are free or low cost. Some are available through grants. Continuing education is an integral part of life long development for ministry.
1. You should have at least attained the age of 21. Why? Because you sometimes need to be able to enter a bar and pick up your damn covener/parishioner from the damned floor and take them to the car. You should also be able to have discernment and wisdom so that you can make the decision whether or not to take a person to the hospital or other care facility.
2. You should also be able to enter into contracts and be able to understand them. You should also be able to compose correspondence, serve as a character reference for those in your care, and be able to testify if called on.
3. You should know the laws on Confession. And be able to use them to protect yourself and your client. This is in reference to the protections afforded and the responsibilities. This is the rite of the seal of the confession for a Pagan minister/priest.
4. You should know the laws on Mandatory Reporting of information to the civil authorities in your state. In many states, by being an ordained minister, you are required by law to report harm, intent to harm, and abuse. In different nations, so when traveling it is critical to know the laws of the land in which you practice. Persons who fall under these laws are
5. You should know the laws and requirements governing marriages and weddings in your state and for other countries. Also, you should know the requirements to officiate a marriage for someone who has divorced and what paperwork you need.
6. You should know the protocols, rules, and laws on Hospice, Medical Advocacy, Medical Directives, DNR orders, and rudimentary statutory will forms so that you may aid your client to get these resources.*
7. You should know the laws on Birth, Paternity, Foster Care, Kinship Programs, and Adoption so that you refer to sources of information and advocacy for your clients.*
8. You should know the laws on Prison Ministry, even if you do not do this service, and update your knowledge of Prison Chaplain requirements in your state.*
9. You should know the laws on Burial Rites, and have a resource guide for those making end of life decisions.*
10. You should have at least a rudimentary knowledge on Substance Abuse Education and Treatment Programs. Even better, at least some training in this area.*
11. You should have access to mental health service providers, and be experienced enough to know when SOMEONE’S PROBLEMS LIE OUTSIDE OF YOUR SCOPE OF LAY SPIRITUAL COUNSELING. You should know the laws on referring someone for treatment.
12. You have studied, or at least familiarized yourself with the basics of, military chaplaincy and the rights of the people of your faith group
13. You have earned the respect of you, yourself, and others in your peer group as someone who is of good character and consistency*
14. You have cultivated the qualities of leadership in yourself and can undertake hard decisions with fairness and firmness, yet be able to temper them with mercy and discernment
15. If you are of a martial bent, you have the mettle and the character befitting a spiritual leader, and a channel of inspiration and bravery in battle
16. You act as a Judge in the community, impartial and fair, with Wisdom
17. You should have a set of basic rituals on hand. This is to include ritual music, chants, and songs.
These include occasions, but not limited to, the following:
II. Wedding/Handfasting/Commitment Ceremony
III. Divorce/HandParting Ceremony
IV. Memorial Services
V. Funeral Service/Rites
VI. House Blessings
VII. Blessing a Person
VIII. Rites of Passage Ceremonies
X. Warrior Rites
XII. Surgical/Medical Pre Prayers
Rev. Terrie Brookins pointed out to me something critical when she proofed this. You should also be able to WRITE rituals as well. If you don’t know how, try to learn. If you just cannot, then find a great ritual writer. Why?
since not everything is readily available on Google and often times, clergy members are on the spot, in the woods, with no cell signal.
Also, be mindful of the health and safety of others during rituals and devotions. Allergies, food intolerance, food allergy, sensitivities to smoke or anointing oil ingredients, aversion to ritual components, these are all factors to weigh. Be ready to adapt, adjust, and advocate.
18. You explain what your beliefs are and some of their history.
19. You avoid shock and awe, but engage in quiet, polite, civil theological conversation in general with other ministers of their faiths about matters of spirituality and life
20. You should know the meanings behind every tool you use, every ritual, and every hand gesture you use in YOUR practices
21. You should have some sort of First Aid Training (this includes Mental First Aid)
22. You to walk into a room and hold your ground, soundly, in the face of those who would ridicule you
23. You should bring no disgrace to those who associate themselves with your ministry
24. You should bring honor to your faith, and associate nothing false
25. You advocate for the weak, no matter the faith
26. If you are of a martial bent, you stand at the forefront of social causes to the best of your ability if your conscience moves you so
27. You should have no fear, nor eat your heart, when you witness something evil or wrong and call it out
*Never hesitate to call in someone who is an expert in this area for help. And always be aware of a pro bono lawyer or legal aid office that can help here.
In addition to these, there are some experiences that make really good clergy. Not all, but at least some of these are necessary for a balanced view of life. Some experiences leave the etchings that complete our belief windows.
1. You have lost someone close to you to death
2. You have had a major medical procedure
3. You have had a brush with death
4. You have had a child
5. You have dealt with someone with a substance abuse issue OR had one yourself OR both
6. You have volunteered to help those less fortunate and/or were yourself at one point in a place to need help
7. You have attended the practices, ceremonies, and ritual services of other groups on your path and on other paths and examined them objectively
8. You have led at least one person through a personal crisis, a “dark night of the soul”, or other close emotional trauma
9. You have been in an accident
10. You experienced marriage, or a long-term relationship, where you lived with the other person
11. You completed a term of military service
12. You have someone in your circle who is in the military
When I first presented this at Michigan Pagan Fest in 2015, Figment (Michael Poe) gave the gift of his wisdom when he pointed out a critical missing quality. You have to have a sense of humor. Sacred Mirth is a part of my belief system, and it serves as a mystic’s balm to the soul.
In a look back at this, I find that it has a long way to go. It did not encompass the factors of emotional intelligence, cultural fictive kin relationships, and more. These are all things that were an integral part in my college courses in my degree pursuit for a BA in Family Life Education.
It denotes an incomplete inventory. But the list is a good way to find out lay clergy roles, vs. professional. are actually a representative of your beliefs through that office. It is a self test, and a community test that may be used to check where you are in your practice.
The plan is for an upcoming series of workshops about this topic in the community during the later. The location is Metro Detroit, however, as that is my home base area. There are brick and mortar, floating, and virtual circles, churches, and kindred here that are putting faith to work on a practical level.
For those seeking Pagan clergy here in Michigan, you are spoiled for choice. The Universal Society of Ancient Ministryoffers material and food assistance through Pagans In Need, ministry services, educational scholarships, and a 13 step recovery program, as well as a resource guide.
Pagan Pathways Temple offers ministry, a gathering space, and classes. They are also the organization that has taken up the mantle of hosting the annual Pagan Pride Day celebration in Detroit. In addition to this, they are filming the series “Unveiled”.
The Michigan Council of Covens and Solitaires offers an Adopt A Family program, as well as having membership which includes clergy and educators.
And of course, there is also Crossroads Tabernacle Church, ATC. This group is responsible for many innovations and advances in Pagan Ministry. They also hold services that serve Washtenaw County, giving life to ritual solstice gatherings.
There are many more here. There are probably many where you may live. Take some time to see them. Also, here is a great site to get you started for building a chant library. Hedra’s Pagan Chant page is a valuable resource. For one person’s perspective, please enjoy the video at the bottom of this article.
On Sunday July 10, the Universal Society of Ancient Ministry and Pagans In Need will be pitching in as volunteers to help the 461st Street Store pop up store here in Detroit. An humanity-in-action event, it is run by Burners Without Borders. They have committed to the The Street Store project and brought it here.
They are issuing the call for volunteers to come out and help with distributing clothing the Detroit Homeless community. Clean, well conditioned, and presentable clothing is a dignity issue for everyone. This is especially true for those who are homeless.
Burners Without Borders works year round here in Metro Detroit with dignity, respect, and material assistance for the people living on the streets. Backpack campaigns, soup kitchens, fundraisers, and more are ongoing. If you seek, you can find hundreds of folks who can testify to the difference they make. They are part of a world-wide movement.
Burners Without Borders Detroit is a direct action organization of concerned people looking to help others with kindness. – Burners Without Borders
The Universal Society of Ancient Ministry and Pagans In Need consistently exercise the principles of service, ministry, charity, and works in action. The Pagans in Southeastern Michigan are one of the most powerful groups of kinetic social action in this region of the nation, so it the call asks them to come out in force to spread the energy and power of their beliefs to this project. Many have volunteered with Burners Without Borders on other projects, so there will be some familiar faces.
For more details on this event, look up the Facebook listing 461st Street Store in events. The place is 445 Ledyard St, in downtown Detroit. That is not far from Cass Avenue. The event lasts from 10:00 am – 2:00 pm. Volunteers are asked to cover the 9:00 am – 3:00 pm duration if possible.
They request you to bring any clothes you want to give (in good condition and clean), hangers, some water or a beverage to keep yourself hydrated, and some sort of snack – if you get hungry. It is hot this week so be sure to dress comfortably according to the weather. clothes you want to donate. Check in for meet up is 9:00 am at 445 Ledyard St. Detroit.
This year, The Spiral Circle Pagans In Recovery rises being one of the new charities for the 2016 Midwest Witches’ Ball. Many in Michigan learned of this organization through the Universal Society of Ancient Ministry, Witches of Michigan, or through word of mouth. Those who have found it are making changes, and are agents of their own change.
The Spiral Circle is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience,strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from their addiction to self-destructive behaviors. – Preamble to Spiral Circle 13 Step Program Material
Why a need for a Pagan “step program of recovery”is the first question on some readers’ minds. There are many organizations doing great works out here. The pause that some take when hearing of this is understandable.
There are many reasons that many Pagans hesitate in getting the full benefit of the programs that are most ubiquitous for recovery. The main one is that they tend to emphasize a heavily Judeo-Christian base of belief and integration as part of the systems. For those who are no longer on that spiritual path or who have no ties to it in any way, this is a hindrance. Proselytizing can undermine the goal of the programs by injecting a feeling of being the “outsider” in a space where this is inappropriate.
Spiral Circle does not engage in this practice. There are no cliques, no causes, and no categories of belief. There is simply the space where healing happens. Their 13 Traditions’ stance of “Principles before Personalities” sets that bar, and rivets it in place.
Rebecca Sisler, a local Pagan business woman and community healer through this work, is the leader of the groups. She continues facilitating safe spaces for people to come together in trust and openness. Why does she do it? Because it works. In her own words, she shares this.
Spiral Circle has a wonderful core group. Some of them have been in other recovery meetings, and I have seen them really blossom from this program.
The Spiral Circle Program is based off the 12 steps of AA. It is designed for those people looking for a program of recovery that is non-Christian. I personally do not have an issue with the Christian dogma used in AA or NA. However it has been proven that Christian dogma is alive and well in both AA and NA meetings.
Up until now I have not spoken out about this program. I have heard a lot of people in recovery question this program, so now I am going to address the questions that I have heard. I have watched many people suffer even in recovery. I have seen people feel isolated and even shunned for their beliefs.
On the other side I have seen many people find recovery outside of 12 step programs. I have seen these people find their healing through Earth based spirituality. Some of these people have helped me work my program in profound ways
My heart bleeds for all those that NA and AA has not helped. Yes, there are people that these programs have not helped. And while listening I have heard two very disturbing facts.
One, there are those who feel excluded because their issue is not drugs and alcohol. They have been told that their issues are not as serious. Some of these people suffer from things like cutting, depression, eating disorders, the list goes one. And the truth is that drugs and alcohol are only a symptom of the disease. Self-destruction comes in many forms, and people are dying from self-destruction.
Two, even though these programs say a God of your understanding and a High Power, they are still based in “God” related thinking. For some people this creates an issue. Personally, I have heard many people say at meetings, “the God of my understand is Christ Our Lord”. Where this personally doesn’t detour me from meetings it does detour others. Furthermore, I know of people who have chosen to walk no-Christian paths that have been shunned at meetings for doing so. I don’t feel that people at meetings intend to come across this way however at times they do, and for some this is enough to railroad their recovery.
Perhaps there is a need for another 12-step recovery program that eliminates these issues? Personally, it is not my place to decide. It is for those seeking recovery to decide. And for those seeking out this new recovery program their reasons are personal. I have only spoke of what I have seen and experienced myself.
So, for those who still question the motive and validity of this program all I can say is that I come to you with an open heart. This program is not in completion with NA or AA. I can only hope that this program will save lives, help people find their true spiritual essence, and promote true recovery for those involved. I think that recovery in any form is a good thing and I believe whole heartily that all recovery programs can work together in carrying the message.
One primary difference in approach is the Pagan version of the Serenity Prayer. This goes into the personal toolbox of those who are working the steps. Other prayers based around Pagan spirituality make a big difference when you do the internal spiritual heavy lifting. They work toward making connections within the personal spirit.
To contact the program, you can look for them on Facebook at their group page, The Spiral Circle Pagans In Recovery. Their program guide is available by visiting the Universal Society of Ancient Ministry’s resource page. There you can find the complete written form to decide if this is right for you.
This song featured in this article, Rootless, dedicated to those who are making the healing journey, whether as healer of self or others. Ginger Doss and S.J. Tucker just hit it out of the park on this one. Through the bad times, and the good times, we SEE you. We are here. And we honor your strength.
Addendum: This article failed to mention that the research, development, and implementation of this entire program was done by Michigan’s own Gordon Ireland.
On June 11, the Michigan Pagan Scholarship Fund announced its 2016 Scholarship Winner Pete Ryland Shoda, III. An intelligent and thoughtful young person, his essay was just what the board looks for when making their decision. It was reasoned, expressive, and genuine. He, and his Father, were there to accept the check at the Magical Education Council’s annual Pagan Picnic. The check was presented by Rev. Gerrybrete Leonard-Whitcomb and Paula Ireland.
What being Pagan means to me, it means I have the ability to walk in the woods, talk to the Divine, become part of Nature, and most of all, it gives me the choice to worship where, when and how I want.
Most people would say that being Pagan means they worship the Goddess. While this is something that I do as well, it also has allowed me to worship much, much more. People that go to church go one time a week, a couple hours, then that’s it, they go home. Not Pagan’s, not me. Being Pagan means that I have a lot to live up to. The God’s and Goddesses are watching me, Mother Nature is watching me, and the wind is listening to me, carrying my spells, chants and requests to the Universe. Always helping, always taking care to leave a small mark, always being a good person to others, taking care of the Earth, giving back when I can. These are some of the things that being Pagan means to me…… (you can see the complete essay by going to the MPSF Winner’s Page.
The MPSF gave its heartfelt thanks and appreciation to the sponsors of the fund this year. Every year the list seems to grow. This year, they are Universal Society of Ancient Ministry, Magical Educational Council, Witches Of Michigan, Candle Wick Shoppe, Coventry Creations, Midwest Witches’ Ball, and a first time donation by the Ancient Faiths Alliance. Also included are the many shops, individuals, and organizations that each contributed to the future of our young Pagan scholars here in Michigan.
A surprise announcement was also made this year. The MPSF has been under the masterful guidance and administration of Gordon Ireland since its beginnings. Through his leadership, he and Paula have seen it grow, thrive, and ensure that the money is there for our young Pagan students. However, he announced last year he would be stepping down and search was on for someone to step into the position, not his place (no one can fill those shoes).
The new administrator was announced to be Kenya Coviak. Yes, that’s right. That is me. So here is your full disclosure, I am the new administrator for the Michigan Pagan Scholarship Fund.
It is time to plan for a new year and a new season of financial aid will be upon us soon. I urge all who read this to contribute to our children’s future by supporting the fund in any way you can.
There should always be a Pagan Scholarship Fund in Michigan. 2017 is coming.
Michigan Pagan Scholarship accepting applications for 2016
by Kenya Coviak
The Michigan Pagan Scholarship Fund has opened its applications process for the 2016 year. The opportunity is open to high schools seniors, undergraduates, or graduate students. They are looking for students aged 17 years or older, with a GPA of 2.85 or higher, and be a Michigan resident. They must also be accepted to an accredited four year college or university, and be a full time student and, of course, identify as Pagan.
This is an essay style competitive scholarship, meaning only one winner will be chosen from a pool of applicants. An impartial panel of judges awaits a fresh crop of submissions, identities hidden for fairness. A recent transcript must accompany the submission in order to verify GPA and residency.
The process is fairly straightforward. Applicants are asked to “state the reason for applying for this scholarship in 250 words or less and submit a 500 word essay about what being a Pagan means to them.” Anyone who meets the criteria may apply. And what is really great is that it is open to those who have been homeschooled, have a GED, or are involved with Alternative education.
So far, two students have won the scholarship. The first was Miranda Owens in 2014 from Bay City, her scholarship can be seen here. The second winner was 2015’s Rebecca Phoenix from Ferndale. Her essay can be read here. 2016’s winner may be YOU, if you apply.
Also, drawings at the Gatherings of Pagans by the Witches of Michigan, contributions by individuals, Paula & Gordon Ireland, and stores that have allowed drop boxes continually assists in this work. This year, Coventry Creations ,Candle Wick Shoppe, and Ancient Faiths Alliance will join the proud company of sponsors for 2016.
So fire up those pens and set your sites on applying. Applications are being taken now. There are no fees and the only thing keeping you waiting is you. Follow this link to apply at Michigan Pagan Scholarship Application.