Pagan Community Notes: Lady Liberty League in Florida, Cherry Hill Seminary, and More!

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  June 4, 2013 — 18 Comments

Pagan Community Notes is a series focused on news originating from within the Pagan community. Reinforcing the idea that what happens to and within our organizations, groups, and events is news, and news-worthy. My hope is that more individuals, especially those working within Pagan organizations, get into the habit of sharing their news with the world. So let’s get started!

Lady Liberty League Forms Task Force, Prevents Protest in Florida: Last week many Pagans were outraged after a story about Christian clergy opposition to a Pagan festival in Pahokee, Florida emerged. In response the Lady Liberty League, a religious freedom support organization for Wiccans, Pagans, and other Nature religion practitioners worldwide, formed a task force to address the concerns raised by this situation.

“‘This is an opportunity not only to bring about better public understanding about Paganism, but for Pagans of many paths to work together,’ said Rev. Selena Fox, Executive Director of Circle Sanctuary and the Lady Liberty League (LLL). 

On Saturday, the Lady Liberty League sent an update that task-force member Peter Dybing attended a meeting of local Christian clergy, explained modern Pagan faiths to those assembled, and received a pledge that they would not protest the Summer Solstice festival.

Peter Dybing and Selena Fox of the Lady Liberty League.

Peter Dybing and Selena Fox of the Lady Liberty League.

“‘What I am here asking is not for your support, or your approval, but your tolerance for our right to engage in religious activity. If anyone were to protest the activities of your church, our community, would, if asked, come to your defense. We ask only the same, please don’t protest our event’. After Rev. Dybing’s statements, the pastor who organized the meeting declared to all present that there would be ‘No Protest.’ He and Peter Dybing shook hands; a significant gesture in heated times. Rev. Dybing stated that if members of their community wanted to pray for our community, we would welcome such prayers as we see all prayer as a good thing. It was clear that LLL’s approach of outreach at this meeting had had a profound effect on the proceedings.”

Further, a representative of the local Chamber of Commerce said the organization fully supports the festival and local business owners will be open for business and looking forward to the festival.” More on these developments, including contact information for the Christian pastor who reached out to Peter Dybing to make this possible, can be found here. This is very good news for the Pagans of Florida, and I think it’s important to reiterate what the LLL said in their previous press release: that people “avoid independent actions that have the potential to complicate efforts,” and to contact them first by emailing liberty@circlesanctuary.org if you have any questions, concerns, or ideas regarding this issue. The Wild Hunt will keep you updated on further developments.

Cherry Hill Seminary Receives Generous Challenge Gift: Online Pagan learning institution Cherry Hill Seminary announced on Monday that a donor was willing to match up to $10,000 dollars in donations for a new scholarship endowment that would help students nearing completion of their Master of Divinity, to assist them with the expense of attending their required second intensive. This is another significant step forward for Cherry Hill Seminary, which recently presented its first academic symposium in partnership with the University of South Carolina.

Ronald Hutton (center) with symposium presenters and CHS staff.

Sacred Lands and Spiritual Landscapes symposium. L to R, Carl Evans, Emeritus Chair of Dept. of Religious Studies, University of South Carolina; Holli Emore, Executive Director, Cherry Hill Seminary; Ronald Hutton, Professor of History, Bristol University; Chas Clifton, Editor The Pomegranate; Candace Kant, Dean of Students, Cherry Hill Seminary; Wendy Griffin, Academic Dean, Cherry Hill Seminary.

Executive Director Holli Emore noted that the donor was inspired to give by the recent Sacred Lands and Spiritual Landscapes held in collaboration with the University of South Carolina. “We have worked so hard for the past several years to shape our program into one with strong academic integrity as well as meaningful impact for the community of Pagan and nature-based spiritualities,” said Emore. This endowment is both an affirmation of that hard work, and a signal to others who might be ready to join the effort.”

Nearly $5,000 in gifts to the endowment have already been received; Cherry Hill Seminary has until July 1, 2013 to raise the full $10,000 match. You can find out more about the gift, including reactions from students and staff, here.  Those who wish to make a gift may do so online, or you can make a pledge of support. For further options, you can send a message to CHS@cherryhillseminary.org. All donors will be acknowledged online unless they request otherwise. Congratulations to Cherry Hill Seminary on this step forward!

 Solar Cross Temple “Love In Action” Update: On May 25th I reported on how the pan-Pagan/Magickal organization Solar Cross Temple, in partnership with a local Pagan and a consortium of activist organizations, were working to raise money for those affected by the massive and deadly tornado that struck Oklahoma recently. On May 30th, T. Thorn Coyle posted a new update on that effort

Debris covers the ground in Moore, Oklahoma. Photograph by Brett Deering/Getty.

Debris covers the ground in Moore, Oklahoma. Photograph by Brett Deering/Getty.

“6 wheel barrows and 4 heavy duty transfer shovels were sent to Oklahoma on May 29th! Thanks to everyone who has donated so far! Including donations from Solar Cross, people have contributed $1061 toward the two shipments of much needed goods. These are all going to the harder hit rural areas of Oklahoma that aren’t getting as much help. In addition to that total, another $150 was collected from our Solar Cross Devotional on Sunday and will take up collections at Troth Moot this weekend. This will enable us to send another shipment!”

For those wanting to join this initiative  please donate via PayPal to solarcrosstemple@gmail.com. Please note that it is for Tornado Relief so they can assign the money properly. As T. Thorn Coyle says in her initial post: “I want to create a world of mutual aid, where we help one another in times of need, and celebrate together in times of joy.” May all those affected find safety, shelter, and the means to rebuild.

Congratulations to Erynn Rowan Laurie: Erynn Rowan Laurie, author of “A Circle of Stones,” and a finalist in the poetry category of the Bi Writers Association Bi Book Awards, won in the poetry category this past Sunday for her collection “Fireflies at Absolute Zero.”

"Guess who is now an award-winning poet?" - Erynn Rowan Laurie

“Guess who is now an award-winning poet?” – Erynn Rowan Laurie

“Erynn Rowan Laurie’s  Fireflies at Absolute Zero is a call to poetic arms, written with the ferocity and pas­sion of the Earth war­rior — “my poems burn like stars/​ they fall like spears from the oil-​​black sky.” It is a hymn of praise to the old gods, written in the long tra­di­tion of poets as dreamers of new worlds, and re-​​memberers of old ones. Indeed, Laurie’s poetry reminds us all that humanity cannot face its strug­gles with either mushy plat­i­tudes or mil­i­tarist cliché; we require the nuance of the poet who dances coura­geously on the edges, between the struggle and the embrace.”Theodore Richards, author of Cosmosophia and The Crucifixion

I think this is a wonderful achievement, not only for Erynn, but for creative writings by modern Pagans.  Congratulations! In the meantime, for those who are curious, you can read a preview of the poetry collection, here.

In Other Pagan Community News:

That’s all I have for now, have a great day!

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Jason Pitzl-Waters

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  • WAH

    “avoid independent actions that have the potential to complicate efforts”

    Only the vanguard party can represent your interests! Heh.

    • Peter Dybing

      Lady Liberty league has formed a task force with broad participation from the local community. Our call is intended not to prevent others involvement but instead insure that we are all working together for a positive outcome, Twenty efforts all with a different approach could complicate a delicate situation and lessen the effectiveness of the effort.

      Peter Dybing
      Lady Liberty League

      • WAH

        Just FYI to everyone, I was kidding around. :-)

    • cernowain greenman

      In other words, don’t yell “fire” in a tinderbox like this one. For the good of the community, work together with the firefighters. I respect that.

    • J

      Yours is a valid criticism, WAH. Independent actions should be encouraged. Lady Liberty League has no right to act as a gatekeeper. Mutual aid is horizontal; self-organization is sufficient for its practice.

  • Hecate_Demetersdatter

    Thanks to the Lady Liberty League for its good work in Florida.

    However, I have to disagree with the statement that ” if members of their [the Christian] community wanted to pray for our community, we
    would welcome such prayers as we see all prayer as a good thing.” I don’t welcome their prayers and neither, I suspect, do many Pagans, nor do I see all prayer as a good thing.

    I blogged extensively about this when a Christian group launched a prayer campaign that amounted to maleficent magic, to cause the District of Columbia to be renamed so as to remove any referenced to the Goddess Columbia and to impose Christianity as “America’s religion.” That prayer was not welcome to nearly all the Pagans who spoke about it, nor was it, IMHO, a good thing.

    Just as I do not believe that it would be ethical for me to do magic to cause Christians to stop being Christian and become Pagan, I do not consider it ethical (i.e., a “good thing”) for Christians to pray for me to become Christian, to stop being a Witch, to “accept Jesus Christ as my lord and savior,” etc.

    Again, it sounds as if LLL has done really good work here, but we always need to be cautions about overstating who we represent. Rev. Dybing did not speak for me, or, I suspect, many Pagans when he invited Christians to pray for us.

    • Hecate_Demetersdatter

      I’ve posted my separate evaluation of Rev. Dybing’s framing of the issues over at my blog: http://hecatedemeter.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=5018&action=edit&message=6&postpost=v2

      • KhonsuMes Matt

        Hi Hecate_Demetersdatter -

        Excellent post, but the link goes to a login (for editing the post I think).

        This one works without a login required:

        http://hecatedemeter.wordpress.com/

        • Hecate_Demetersdatter

          Thanks, that’s odd. On my computer, it takes you right to the post.

      • Crystal Hope Kendrick

        I don’t know. I think Dybing, by phrasing it delicately yet effectively, reminded Christians of their Christian duty to not be a-holes. I think it is a subtle set-down, the-don’t-make-the-Pagans-look-better-than-Christians set-down.

  • Aedh Rua

    From what I saw in the Lady Liberty League’s press release and other news coverage, I would say that their approach was exactly what was needed in this case: firm yet respectful of the local people. I applaud them for their efforts!

    Also, congratulations to Erynn Rowan Laurie on her award!

  • Erynn Rowan Laurie

    Thanks for the shoutout, Jason! I was pretty excited by the whole thing. I’ll write up a post about it with some photos and stuff in the next few days for my LJ. As you do. ;)

    • Crystal Hope Kendrick

      I read the first few pages. Absolutely beautiful. I’m definitely ordering a copy. These are the types of “stories” I like telling my son.

      • Erynn Rowan Laurie

        Thanks, Crystal – some of it may be a bit mature for your son (I don’t know how old he is), but the first section is pretty much all mythic/sacred poetry.

        • Crystal Hope Kendrick

          Yes, I read the first few in the book. He’s 3 but he is already familiar with Yeats. : ) The other half of the book can be for mommy until he’s old enough.

  • Terra Mysterium

    Jason, thank you so much for posting our video! Thanks also for all of your terrific journalism efforts, and for your work with A Darker Shade of Pagan!

    • Wendy Griffin

      Loved the video! Wish we had a group like yours in So. Cal!

  • http://www.terramysterium.com/ Terra Mysterium

    Jason, thank you so much for posting our video! Thanks also for all of your excellent journalism and outreach to the Pagan community.