Looking toward the future with the Troth’s new steersman

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During the month of May, elections were held within The Troth, a Heathen religious organization, for officer positions on the High Rede. Among the officers elected are Lagaria Farmer as Associate Steer, John T Mainer for Communications Officer, Amanda T Leigh-Hawkins as Officer Liaison, and  Robert L. Schreiwer as the new Steersman. Mr. Steve Abell, former Steersman, did not seek another term.

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Troth members who have been part of the organization for a year and a day are eligible to vote in the election and may also nominate others for the officer position. Those nominated can either accept the nomination or decline to run. In the race for Steersman there were only two candidates, Schreiwer and Mr. Dennis Ford.

Schreiwer joined The Troth in 2007 and has held various roles within the organization. In 2009, he was the Pennsylvania Steward and added Stewardship of New Jersey in 2010 and Delaware in 2011.  Also in 2011, he was elected to the High Rede and rose to Assistant Steer in 2013. In addition to his officer duties, Schreiwer was the Program Coordinator of the In-Reach Heathen Services Program and has represented The Troth at events such as the 2015 Parliament of the World’s Religions in Salt Lake City.

Although Schreiwer has his own vision for The Troth, he says there will be continuity between his approach and former Steerman Steve Abel, “Steve and I have much in common. We both care greatly about The Troth and about Heathenry and humanity in general.”


Troth altar at the Parliament of the World Religions 2015 [Courtesy Photo]

He says his background in IT and branding in the hospitality industry have shown him that, although consistency in messaging is important, branding sometimes must evolve to meet the current needs of the public. He says the needs of Heathens have changed over the past decade.

“There are more Heathens online; more kindreds and freeholds have formed. In addition to the top-notch scholarship in The Troth, we now must evolve to meet greater needs – those that are too large for one kindred to handle. In-Reach Heathen Prison Services was the first step toward that goal. We need to spend a few months fixing [our web presence] while sowing the seeds for the next phase of our organization’s functions.”

In the past few years, The Troth has been criticized for its response, or lack of response, to controversial issues playing out in the wider Pagan, Heathen, and polytheist communities. This is an area that Schreiwer sees as a primary challenge to address, “We find ourselves embroiled in debates that we have not actually chosen to enter into as an organization, and, thus, we are highly reactive rather than proactive.”

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Steersman Robert L. Schreiwer [Courtesy Photo]

Through his candidate statement, Schreiwer explained that, “It seems that every time a minor issue arises, it turns into an unnecessarily divisive conflagration that serves mostly to weaken the organization from the core.” He plans to address this issue by crafting strong and clear messaging about what The Troth stands for, what they believe, and what they wish to accomplish.

The Troth has already moved forward on more clearly articulating their position on discrimination policies. Schreiwer says that, while Sovereignty of Conscience or the right for people to what they wish to believe, is an important ethic in Heathenry, The Troth as an organization has the right to draw its own boundaries.

At the recent Trothmoot, members voted to change section 4.4 of their bylaws from “The Troth does not support any misuse of Germanic religion and culture to advance causes of racism, white supremacy, or any other form of discrimination.” to “The Troth is open to all who seek to know and to honor the Gods, ancestors, and values of the Germanic Heathen traditions, regardless of gender, race, nationality or sexual orientation. The Troth stands against any use of Germanic religion and culture to advance causes of racism, sexism, homophobia, white supremacy, or any other form of prejudice.”

Schreiwer highlighted his vision for The Troth’s future as Heathenry evolves and changes from individuals whose only link to Heathenry is online to Kindred groups and thriving local communities of Heathens.

He said that The Troth needs to become the “go-to” organization for Heathen issues making news. “We are hindered, though, by our seemingly constant state of reactivity. … Taking control of our own narrative is a major feature of the next phase of The Troth’s growth.”

Another change that Schreiwer has already instituted will make it easier to volunteer. He said that The Troth is going to need more volunteers if they are going to take on projects that are too large for individual Kindreds. The Troth now has Paul Mercurio in the newly created position of Volunteer Coordinator.


New High Rede members oathing to the organization. From left, Lagaria Farmer, John Mainer, Robert Schreiwer, Jo Spinks, Lisa Crowley Morgenstern. [Photo Credit:D. Paxson]

Some of the other new projects Schreiwer proposes are the creation of a network for disaster relief, a revamping the website, assisting with the building Hofs, and a mutual aid society.

Also elected to the High Rede as members of the Board of Directors are Lisa Cowley Morgenstern, Tanya Equality Peterson, Jo Mckee-Spinks, Brian K. Jenkins, Hrafn Skald, and Mikki Fraser. Other volunteer positions filled include Murielle Tugendhaft as Reckoner,  Dennis Ford  as Troth Kindred Program director, and Thomas De Mayo in the permanent role of Provost of the Lore Program.