|Hellenion||The Role of Theoroi||Ελληνιον|
ΒΙΒΛΙΟΝ ΔΗΜΟΙΣ: A MANUAL FOR THE HELLENION DEMOS
Version 1.0 (10/16/01)
Compiled by Drew Campbell
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1.1 Organizational Structure of Hellenion
Hellenion is a US-based religious organization ("church") dedicated to the revival and practice of Hellenic polytheism. We approach Hellenic religion from the Reconstructionist perspective, which includes both an emphasis on historical precedent and respect for personal spiritual inspiration. We offer local congregations, study opportunities, and fellowship for those who worship the Olympians and the other deities of ancient Greece in a traditional way. Hellenion is incorporated as a nonprofit religious corporation in the state of California.
Hellenion is a single, national organization that charters local congregations, known as Demoi. Both the national organization and the Demoi have an open membership policy. The Demoi are not exclusive clubs, but venues for fellowship, education, and, above all, the worship of our gods. Individuals join Hellenion at the national level and may choose to participate in their local Demos, or, if none exists, to found a new Demos. They may also choose to remain solitary, while still taking advantage of the educational resources or other offerings of the national organization.The organization is governed through a system of representative democracy.
1.2 Organizational Structure of the Demoi
Hellenion strives to offer maximum local congregational autonomy consistent with the survival, identity, and well-being of Hellenion as a whole. Worship in the context of the Demos must fall into what we, as a group, have defined as "Hellenic Reconstructionism." For what we mean by this term, and what it includes and excludes, please see our Mission Statement.
Each Demos may choose any Hellenic focus, pantheon, liturgical language, or calendar of interest to the majority of its members. For example, one Demos may focus on reconstructing the worship of Demeter as it was practiced at Eleusis, while another may have a special devotion to Olympian Zeus and hold agones (competitions, games) in his honor. This Demos might choose to follow the Spartan religious festival calendar, while that Demos uses the Athenian calendar. A Demos in Puerto Rico might hold worship services in Spanish and/or Greek. Demoi are encouraged to explore the diversity of our spiritual heritage.
A Demos may be governed by any method that is mutually agreeable to its membership, as long as it allows for each member to have a voice in the running of the Demos. For more on this topic, see below.
1.3 The Relationship between National & the Demoi
In keeping with our commitment to local congregational autonomy, Hellenion (hereafter "National") sets policies for matters that affect the organization as a whole, such as study curricula, but leaves the bulk of the day-to-day running of worship services, classes, and the like to the Demoi. Demos control includes, but is not limited to: (a) methods of congregational governance; (b) choice of liturgical focus and scope (patron deities, calendars, festivals); (c) community service; (d) the endorsement and installation of clergy (see below); (e) the recognition of private vows to the gods; (f) the celebration of life cycle events, such as weddings.
Hellenion does not dictate to its members how they should worship in private; this is a matter for each individual to decide. Nor does the organization prevent members from networking to form private associations of like-minded individuals, but these groups remain separate from Hellenion. Members of Hellenion are also free to join other groups, as they see fit. In general, Hellenion does not take official positions on politics or other issues not directly related to our religion. Members are free to act as their consciences direct them in such matters.
Demoi are required to submit an annual report to National detailing their activities. They are also subject to any policies set by National for the whole organization.
1.4 Joining Hellenion
Members join at the national level and may also choose to join a Demos, or form one themselves, if none yet exists in their area. Those who do not choose to affiliate with a Demos may still avail themselves of the organization's various study programs or other offerings.There are three types of membership provided for in our bylaws:
To join, the prospective member must complete an application form and send it with annual dues payment (currently $10/year) and proof of age to the organization's mailing address, which can be found on our Web site. Membership applications are available for download from the web site (www.hellenion.org) or by request from the postal mailing address. (Please enclose a business-size SASE.)
1.5 The Role of the Demos in Electing Bouleutai
The Demoi play a special role in the election of representatives to the Boule (council). Each duly chartered Demos is permitted to appoint one Bouleutes (representative) to the Boule for every 25 members of the Demos. Here are the bylaws sections relating to Boule elections; section C explains the role of the Demoi.
2.1 Requirements for Founding a Demos
Three adults are required for the formation of a Demos. These individuals must fulfill the following requirements (cf. Bylaws Article 4.2):
If there are insufficient members to form a Demos in a given locale, one or two Hellenion members may request permission from the Prutaneis to form a "Proto-Demos"--that is, a provisional congregation. A letter of intent should be sent to the Demos Support Director giving basic information about the proposed Proto-Demos: the name, geographical area served, proposed events, mailing address, and so on. The group should apply for a charter as soon as its membership numbers allow.
2.3 Applying for a Charter
Qualified individuals wishing to found a Demos must fill out an application for a charter for the Demos, specifying the name of the proposed Demos (see 2.4 below) and its officers. Applications are available on our web site (www.hellenion.org) and by request from the Prutaneis. A copy also appears in the appendix. They should then submit the application to the Prutaneis for assessment. There is no charge for applying, or for the charter.
2.4 Choosing a Demos Name
As part of the charter application process, the proposed Demos is asked to choose a name for itself. This name must take one of two forms: "__________ Demos, Hellenion" or Demos of ___________, Hellenion." Names may be in Greek or in English or both. They should express something about the Demos: its location, patron deities, etc.
If choosing a Greek name, please be sure that it is grammatically correct! If no one in the Demos is proficient in Greek, ask other members or the Prutaneis for help.
Demoi are also encouraged to choose a logo, motto, or any other symbol of their common religious purpose. Variations on the Hellenion national logo--substituting another image for the central hearth flame, for example--are permitted. Such information need not be included on the charter application form, but it is helpful to inform National of any such usages once they are established by sending a copy of the image, motto, etc. to the Demos Support Director.
2.5 Demos Governance Options
Hellenion National runs primarily by a system of representative democracy, as explained above. Demoi are free to choose other governance options, such as consensus or simple majority vote, as long as these do not prevent individual members from having a voice in the running of the Demos.
2.6 The Demarkhos and Other Officers
Demoi are required to have three officers: a Demarkhos (deme leader), a Grammateus (secretary), and a Tamias (treasurer). These are necessary for accountability and for the required reporting to National. How these offices are distributed is left to the discretion of the Demos; however, no individual may hold more than one of these offices simultaneously.
Even if the Demos is relatively small, it is recommended that elections for officers and other leadership positions be held regularly--annually or at minimum biannually. This helps prevent stagnation and overwork and allows for smooth and timely change of leadership when appropriate.
2.7 Boule Elections
As mentioned above, the Demoi play a special role in the election of representatives to the Boule. Each duly chartered Demos is permitted to appoint one Bouleutes (representative) to the Boule for every 25 members of the Demos.
It is left to the discretion of each Demos to determine how its members will choose Bouleutai. Most will choose a simple majority vote, but other options, including selection by lot, are both historically founded and acceptable. All Bouleutai must be members in good standing at the time of the election and must have reached the age of majority.
2.8 Leadership Skills
Leading any group well requires certain skills, organizational as well as interpersonal. This is all the more true in a religious context, where members may bring profound emotional and spiritual, as well as practical, needs to the table.
It is beyond the scope of this manual--and at this time, the National organization--to provide direct training of Demos leaders. Further, we believe that it is in keeping with our commitment to maximum autonomy for the Demoi to allow each Demos to select its leaders by their own lights.However, to assist in this endeavor, we offer the following list of considerations:
In addition, here are some group-process skills that may be helpful for leaders of Demoi (as well as national leaders and Theoroi):
Leaders will also want to familiarize themselves with the normal "life cycle" of small groups. Although this information is too complex to include here, a good summary can be found in chapter 27 of Amber K's Covencraft, pp. 341-351. (As is the case with all references to this book, the reader should be aware that the author is writing for and about another religion, so some specifics may not be directly applicable to the Demos.)
2.9 Keeping in Touch
Demos leaders are strongly encouraged to keep in close contact with National and with other members of Hellenion through the Internet mailing lists provided for that purpose, and by other means. Not only will this help them keep abreast of new policies and programs of the organization, but it will also provide them with ongoing practical and spiritual support for their local efforts.
2.10 Revocation of Charter
National reserves the right to revoke the charter of any Demos that has become inactive; that has a pattern of denying participation to members without sufficient cause; that is practicing a religion other than Hellenic Reconstructionism; that refuses to follow National's policies or bylaws; or with other just cause. The bylaws specify, "[a] vote on revocation of the Demos charter shall be held after a minimum waiting period of three months after suspension. The vote to revoke a charter shall be held at a Prutaneis meeting of which the full Hellenion voting membership has been invited and informed of the agenda. Failure by the Prutaneis to revoke a Demos' charter results in immediate reactivation of the Demos."
3.1 National Membership Policies: Non-Discrimination and Restrictions
Hellenion has a strict non-discrimination policy to which Demoi are also subject:
"Inimical creeds" are defined in the bylaws as "varieties of conservative monotheism, atheism, demonism, racialism, or other such faiths and practices as shall be determined by the Prutaneis."
The bylaws also note that "[a]ll organizers of public and semi-public Hellenion activities shall make strenuous efforts to facilitate the participation of differently-abled individuals. Nonetheless, such activities as the Prutaneis or local Demoi may designate may be held in places naturally inaccessible to some."
Finally, the bylaws specify that, "all aspirants to any given position must be able to meet all the relevant qualifications previously determined for said position, unless the Prutaneis shall rule otherwise in a particular instance."
3.2 Finding Members
One of the first challenges a new Demos will face is finding members. Our numbers are still small, and even many self-identified neopagans have never heard of us. We trust that that situation will soon change!
Here are some suggestions for ways to let people know about the Demos:
Notices should include contact information (voicemail, email address) and clear information about the group or event:
Friendly Demos, Hellenion, a local Hellenic Reconstructionist congregation, invites you to an open ritual celebration of the Panathenaia! Come honor the goddess Athena and thank her for her gifts in this traditional Greek rite. Gather at noon on July 1st in the northwest corner Lovely Public Park, near the intersection of Oak & Vine Sts.; worship begins at 12:30 sharp. A potluck feast follows. All are welcome. For more information, call Platon at (101) 555-1212 or email
Or to seek members for a proto-Demos:
The Gods of Olympus Live! Do you honor the ancient Greek gods? Are you interested in traditional forms of worship? Do you value scholarship and inspiration? We are currently forming a Demos (local congregation) of Hellenion, a national Hellenic Reconstructionist organization, here in Cowtown-Hicksburg area. Please call Demosthenes at (101) 555-1212 or visit our Web site at http://www.hellenion.org/HopefulProtoDemos/ for more information.
3.3 Beyond Worship: Meeting Members' Needs
A common set of beliefs is not enough to keep most people involved in a religious group. People seek out religious communities for a variety of reasons--intellectual, emotional, and social, as well as spiritual. It is therefore desirable for Demoi to provide opportunities for fellowship as well as for worship.
Since Hellenic clergy are not charged with the "care of souls" as are their Christian counterparts, and many Demoi may not have any clergy as members, the need for social and emotional support becomes the responsibility of the congregation as a whole. What can your Demos do to serve the needs of its members? Study opportunities, Demos suppers or picnics, nature walks, and plain old informal socializing all help people feel connected. Larger groups tend to have more problems with members feeling out of the loop or isolated, and so may benefit from a more formal approach to the issue. How about developing a system of "guest-friendship" in which more experienced members agree to host one or two newer members as dinner guests once a month? Informal, ad hoc social groups, even if not formally sponsored by the Demos, can also help increase feelings of trust, comfort, and belonging among the members.
Guests, as nonmembers of Hellenion, should not be permitted to hold office or to vote in Demos elections. Those who have been attending regularly should be invited, though never pressured, to join Hellenion. (For more on guests at worship services, see below, section 5.4.)
3.5 Minor Members
There are some special considerations for Demoi that include minors, particularly minors whose parents are not members of the Demos. Such minor members must, of course, have written permission of a parent or guardian to join, but they are also subject the civil laws relating to alcohol consumption and other for-adults-only activities. It is advisable for the clergy or other leaders to speak with the parents or guardians about the content and form of our worship so there is no misunderstanding.
The law protects the rights of religious groups to allow for modest alcohol consumption by minors in a religious context, such as communion or Kiddush. Therefore, a minor member of Hellenion may be allowed to take a sip of wine during libations, but they should not consume wine or other alcoholic beverages at the feast afterwards.
Likewise, minors should not be exposed to nudity, sexual activity, drug use, or other activities or situations prohibited by law. (In fact, the entire Demos is subject to all civil laws in their locale, and failure to observe these is grounds for expulsion from Hellenion.)
3.5.1 Younger Members
Although the above comments apply to all legal minors, there are additional considerations for younger members, especially those from toddler through elementary school age.
Parents will, of course, decide to what extent they wish their children to participate in our religion, but Demoi that include families should actively encourage children's involvement by providing Children's Education and age-appropriate ritual opportunities. Historically, Hellenic children began to participate in the ritual life of the broader community after age 3, and indeed, a child of that age can carry a basket of bread or fruit in the procession. It goes without saying that all children should be supervised, and that this remains the responsibility of the parents unless the Demos as a whole wishes to provide for additional childcare.
For ideas on including children in worship, please contact the program director for Children's Religious Education or the Prutaneis. A list of children's books appropriate for religious use appears in the section on the Demos Library (4.11).
4. RUNNING THE DEMOS
4.1 Reporting & Meeting Requirements
The leadership of each Demos is required to send an annual written report to National; the report is due on July 1. It should include the names of all elected officers (with any changes to the leadership clearly indicated); a detailed report of the Demos' activities for the year, including rituals, classes, and all other events; copies of brochures, flyers, programs, and other publications.
In addition, the Tamias (treasurer) of each Demos is required to file financial statements with National on a quarterly basis.
In order to retain its charter, each Demos must hold a minimum of six meetings, the majority of which must be open to the public. These must be documented in the annual report.
It is desirable to schedule all events well in advance, so that members can regularly include group worship, study, and fellowship in their lives. Some groups have successfully scheduled a full year's worth of festivals in advance, and this is particularly helpful if the Demos membership is spread over a relatively large geographical area. When possible, festivals should be celebrated on weekends to accommodate those whose jobs would prevent them from participating during the week and those who may need to travel to attend. It may be necessary to rent or otherwise secure a somewhat larger space for festivals, as they tend to be more elaborate than everyday worship. Care should be taken to assure that any necessary permits (for use of parks, for example) are obtained and any local zoning regulations observed.
In addition to festivals, most Demoi will want to hold regular weekly, semi-weekly, or monthly worship services. These may be more or less formal in tone, but should of course follow our religion's usual format of prayer and offerings to the gods. Which gods are honored at any given time is left to the discretion of the Demos, but should reflect the needs of the members and the larger community. It is helpful to have a regular time and place for such worship. Supplications and thanksgivings for the special needs of individuals or families may also be carried out in the context of the Demos, as may life cycle celebrations.
Finally, many Demoi will want to offer regular opportunities for study and fellowship outside of worship. National can provide information about Basic Adult Education, Continuing Adult Education, and Children's Religious Education and other study programs. Demoi are also encouraged to offer their own Adult Continuing Education classes in keeping with the skills and interests of their members.
When scheduling all events, stay flexible and in tune with the needs of the Demos' members. If the congregation includes many stay-at-home parents with small children, it may make sense to schedule a playgroup or Children's Ed class on a weekday morning. Those who work on weekends will appreciate having some events scheduled on weekday evenings.
A full monthly schedule for an established Demos with a special dedication to Athena might look like this:
June 22: Hekatombaion 1: Noumenia Rite
The Demos should develop a system for informing its members, and the public, of upcoming events, elections, and policy changes, and for distributing any other materials, such as newsletters or application forms. This system may include email lists, a phone tree (useful for last-minute changes due to illness or bad weather), and mailings. Larger groups may wish to appoint a communications officer to handle these tasks.
The Demos should arrange for the secretary and other officers to have a supply of letterhead for official correspondence. This need not be professionally printed if cost is an issue; a single laser-printed sheet can be photocopied inexpensively. The letterhead should include the name of the Demos, its mailing address, and any logo; the Hellenion National logo may also appear.
Every Demos should have a post office box, and, if possible, voicemail. For the privacy and safety of all members, the home addresses and phone numbers of the leadership or other members should never be circulated outside the Demos.
4.4 Handling Finances and the Role of Tamias (Treasurer) by Dennis Dutton
The job of Tamias (treasurer) is complicated and I can't teach everything that you'll need to know in a short essay. In addition, I'm not an expert. I have a little knowledge and a willingness to take on the job. What I'll do in the following is give a brief overview of the job and the tools of the job. Fortunately, for a small group, the IRS and large corporations are less strict (hopefully, I can learn on the job by the time we become a large corporation).
4.4.1 Job Description for the Tamias
The responsibilities of the Tamias can be separated into two categories: bookkeeping and accounting. Bookkeeping is keeping track of anything with a monetary value that comes in or goes out of the group. Accounting is the reporting of the financial status of the group to the IRS, contributors and investors.
Obviously, the Tamias must be honest and able to handle their personal finances. They should be good with numbers, good with a spreadsheet or both. Less obviously, they should have a good attention to details and should deal with issues in a timely manner. (It's easier to take care of one small thing a day for thirty days then it is to take care of those same thirty things on one day). Finally, they should be able to handle change and should have good study habits as accounting rules are continually changing.
4.4.2 Chart of Accounts
The first tool or "financial vehicle" to be considered is the Chart of Accounts. This is a listing of every financial category, every contributor and every vender. Each item has an associated number since it's easier to tell 4000 from 5000 then it is to determine if John Doe and J. Q. Doe are the same person. These account numbers should be categorized to make it easier to analyze the other reports.
The categories that I'm currently using:
A partial sample of a Chart of Accounts follows:
101 Cash or Cash Equivalents
4.4.3 General Journal
Next are journals, ledgers, general journal or general ledger. A journal keeps track of a single account (such as the "Cash or Cash Equivalent" account above) and records everything that goes into or leaves that account. A ledger is the same as a journal with an additional column for the balance of the account (e.g. current status). A general journal keeps a running record of activity in all of the accounts and the general ledger is a general journal with a balance column. These come in many different forms and the distinction between journal and ledger is sometimes loosely defined. For a small organization, a single general ledger/journal is sufficient. A sample of the form that I use is below with an explanation following:
Two things to keep in mind are 1) All transactions must have some sort of documentation (receipt, check, etc.), and 2) all transactions must be recorded with only the necessary information.
4.4.4 Income Statement
Journals and ledgers are functional documents and should be designed to serve the function of tracking financial activity. The Income Statement is a presentation of summaries of the revenues and expenses of the organization to show how the money is spent. There are many forms of this document but, since it is for presentation to the government, the contributors and to potential contributors and creditors, there are many requirements on the contents of the document. Two important features for small, non-profit groups are the classification of contributions and the categories on the statement.
A "For-Profit" business collects money from sales and services but the sources of this revenue usually have very little say in how the money is spent. For a "Non-Profit" group, contributors sometimes give money for whatever use is required to support the purposes of the group (called "Unrestricted Contributions"). Sometimes the contributors say, "I want to contribute to this goal." (Called "Restricted Contributions"). There are also "Time-Restricted Contributions" and various ways to handle left over monies after the restrictions have been fulfilled or the time has expired. These all have to be accounted for separately. (If possible, try to persuade your contributors to not put restrictions on contributions until there is enough to hire an accountant to sort it all out.)
The categories that are required (currently) are "Revenues", "Expenses", "Gains", "Loses" and "Reclassifications". "Gains" are increases to assets other than "Revenues" and "Losses" are decreases in assets other than "Expenses" (fire, theft, etc.). "Reclassifications" are from left over restricted contributions after the restrictions have been fulfilled or the time restriction has been fulfilled. These contributions usually become "Unrestricted Contributions".
4.4.5 Balance Sheet
The Balance Sheet is a presentation of the assets and liabilities of the group to show what its monetary value would be if it was dissolved at this moment. Since this is a presentation document like the income statement, those receiving the presentation define its content. On the other hand, for a small starting group, the only asset is cash and, until a credit history is developed, there will be few assets.
4.4.6 Special Reporting
There are many other types of financial vehicles, but the small starting group should keep things simple and learn new methods as they become necessary. Below, I'll discuss a couple of reports that have become necessary early in our development.
Bookkeeping is simple once you get used to it but accounting is very complicated and constantly changing (that's to keep accountants employed). A small starting group should do the minimum necessary for tracking and reporting purposes, should automate as much as possible, and continually learn new methods as they continue. A couple of sources I have found invaluable are:
The first is probably available for 2001 or 2002 and the latter is a textbook from a college accounting course over 20 years ago (so is probably out of print).
As the organization gets larger and we get several Tamiai, we can start an email list to share experiences and skills we have learned.
4.5 Business Meetings
Once the Demos has received its charter, it will be necessary to hold regular business meetings. Depending on how active the congregation is, these may be held as frequently as every month or as infrequently as every quarter. Business meetings are the time to discuss finances, group policy, schedules, and any other issues relating to the day-to-day running of the Demos.
Business meetings are best held separate from any worship services or other activities, and the dates, times, and locations of such meetings should be announced to the Demos well in advance. (As with worship, it helps to set a regular time for business meetings.) Officers should make every effort to attend all business meetings.
If the Demos is relatively small (3-8 persons), the group may want to make all business meetings open to the entire congregation. If the group is larger, or any of the agenda items are particularly sensitive in nature, the officers may choose to meet privately. However meeting attendance is handled, it is desirable that the Demos be informed as soon as possible about any policy decisions or other important matters that affect them. Likewise, financial records should be available for inspection by the membership and by National.
In order for a meeting to run smoothly, it is vital to have (a) a predetermined agenda; (b) a predetermined method for making decisions (voting, etc.); (c) a way of regulating the discussion to avoid tangents or distractions (this is usually the responsibility of the person chairing the meeting, such as the Demarkhos); and (d) a set starting and stopping time.
4.5.1 Setting the Agenda
One way to set the agenda is to make one person--perhaps the Demarkhos or Grammateus--responsible for it. Anyone who wishes to have an issue placed on the agenda must contact that person by a set time--say, three days before the meeting. The agenda should be distributed to all attending the meeting, and notes taken throughout by the Grammateus. These notes ("minutes") are then typed up and distributed at the next meeting, along with the new agenda. Usually, the first order of business is to review the minutes from the previous meeting and either approve them or make any necessary corrections. The minutes should be archived for future reference.
Here is a sample agenda:
Arete Demos Board Meeting
4.5.2 Discussion and Decision-making
Many groups find Roberts Rules of Order useful; these need not be followed strictly in smaller groups to be effective. Another option, which is particularly useful in medium-size and open meetings, is the use of the "scepter." This is described in the Iliad as a sign of authority and appears in a scene in which the leaders of the Achaians meet in council. It may be used like the "talking stick" that is found in other religions, especially when there is concern that the opinions of the less forthright members of the community might be overlooked.
Depending on the form of governance used by the Demos, decisions will usually be made by majority vote or by consensus. It is vital to decide in advance which form will be used.
4.5.3. Prayer for Successful Meetings
Many religious groups begin their meetings with a prayer; we know that the ancient Greeks did so before meetings of councils and the like. Here is an example of a prayer that could be used to begin a Demos business meeting:
Hear, O Zeus Boulaios, and accept our offering! Athene Polumetis, accept this wine! [Pour libations.] May our meeting tonight be fruitful, serving your will and the needs of this Demos. May our minds be clear, our hearts clean, and our actions just. Bless this council with your wisdom, o gods. Houtos esto! May it be so!
4.6 Group Dynamics and Conflict
Leaders should be aware of the basics of small group dynamics. Most important is to recognize that members of small groups, especially religious ones, bring all manner of personal baggage with them--some useful, some not. It is not uncommon to find that a "difficult" person is playing out an old emotional pattern, but casting the group's leaders or other members in the roles previously played by parents, siblings, or partners. It takes a great deal of sensitivity--and often, harsh experience--to be able to recognize these patterns and bring them to light in a non-threatening way. Leaders facing such challenges are strongly encouraged to seek advice from experienced group leaders through our mailing lists and other support venues.
The needs of individuals must be balanced with the needs of the group as a whole, but when it comes down to it, the stability of the group (the good of the many) outweighs the needs of any one individual (the good of the one). In most cases where there is serious, ongoing conflict involving only one individual, the best solution is for everyone to recognize that the individual's needs are not and cannot be met by the group and that the individual should move on. If the conflict involves a sub-group ("faction"), then serious effort should be made to find a workable compromise position. (In cases where the "faction" wants to do ritual not in keeping with Hellenion's mission or bylaws and at odds with the majority's wishes, they can always do so privately outside the Demos setting.) Failing this, it may be best for the "faction" to found its own Demos or another group.
4.7 Some Resources for Handling Conflict
See Covencraft, pp. 403-408 (some examples won't apply, but it is useful anyway) and Haugk's Antagonists in the Church
Covencraft, pp. 245-253 contains some scenarios for discussion--"what if" exercises. Again, the solutions presented aren't always directly applicable to our religion and group structure, but the exercise is thought-provoking.
4.8 Specific Problems
There are certain perennial issues that experience shows are likely to arise in our community--and, in some cases, in any small religious group. Here are a few suggestions for handling these common concerns. See also the final section of this manual, "The Demos and the Community."
4.8.1 Differences Regarding Reconstruction and Innovation in Ritual
See section 5.8 for a discussion of this issue. When in serious doubt about the appropriateness of an innovative ritual, bring the subject to National or to the mailing lists for input.
4.8.2 Holding Single-Gender Festivals or Other Events
The appropriateness of single-gender worship has sparked heated debate in our community. Some hold that any form of gender segregation in ritual is inherently sexist and that all rituals that were historically single-gender should be made mixed; others believe that as long as accommodations are made for both men's and women's events, there is no discrimination involved.
At this time, Hellenion does allow for single-gender worship with the following caveats:
(1) Any gender-restricted events must be clearly designated and publicized as such.
4.8.3 Differences in Theology among Members
Hellenion's mission statement emphasizes the primacy of the individual conscience in religious belief. We also recognize that human theologizing may or may not reflect divine reality. Consequently, what binds us together is not so much religious orthodoxy (a set of "right beliefs") but orthopraxy (a common style of worship).
It is also important that members carefully distinguish between (1) the historical, traditional beliefs of our religion, (2) any innovations we have made in response to modern circumstances, and (3) personal inspiration or speculation about religious matters. (The latter are often referred to in the Reconstructionist community as "UPGs": "unusual" or "unsubstantiated personal gnoses.") All these are to be valued, but they should not be confused with each other.
4.8.4 Involvement in the Pagan Community
Significant numbers of Hellenion's membership do not refer to themselves as "pagan" or "Pagan" and fewer still as "Neopagan." (A popular term is "polytheist.") Some have serious qualms about the ethics, philosophy, and behavior espoused by others under the pagan umbrella. These people may wish to distance themselves--and the Demos--from the broader pagan community. Others may feel at home in the pan-pagan world; this is particularly true of members who also maintain affiliations with other religions, such as Wicca or Druidism.
Ideally, any discussions about involvement with other religions should focus on specific instances, not general trends. In other words, try to determine whether you will participate as a group in a particular local pagan festival, not whether you should ever be involved in pan-pagan efforts.
For further discussion of this topic, see also section 7.7.
4.8.5 Interfaith Efforts
What applies to involvement in the pagan community also applies--in spades--to interfaith work. At this time, the Prutaneis reserves the right to approve any proposed interfaith efforts. For more on this topic, see section 7.8.
4.8.6 Political Causes
For legal reasons, Demoi must be extremely cautious when becoming involved in any work of a political nature. (See section 7.3 for why.) Rather than focusing on activism, the Demos should consider taking on a community service activity that promotes the values you espouse as a group. For example, rather than protesting logging, the Demos might sponsor a tree-planting program.
All members, but especially leaders, should take care not to give the impression of a group-wide political orthodoxy where none exists. Be sensitive to the diversity of political opinion within Hellenion and our religion as a whole. Avoid statements that imply that all Hellenes do or should hold a particular opinion or that those who differ politically are somehow "bad Hellenes."
4.8.7 Other Common Problems
[Quotations in this section are adapted from Covencraft, pp. 319-320.]
See also section 7 for more on handling problems with the larger local community.
4.9 Disruptive, Offensive, or Abusive Conduct
It may happen from time to time that a member behaves in a way that is disruptive, offensive, or otherwise inappropriate. The bylaws define "unacceptable behavior" as "proven communications or behavior of virulently racist, sexist, homophobic, heterophobic, anti-Semitic, or otherwise bigoted character" and state that these "shall be grounds for expulsion from Hellenion." It should be noted that, "[t]his does not include strong verbal statements about the theology, history, or psychological characteristics of other religions."
The bylaws further define "disruptive or abusive conduct" as "the spreading of slander or libel against Hellenion or its leadership; bigoted communication or behavior as described elsewhere in these bylaws; or active efforts to persuade members to quit or to dissuade nonmembers from joining."
Finally, the bylaws note that the following do not constitute "disruptive or abusive conduct": "the temperate expression of disagreement, such as public or private written or verbal criticism of Hellenion or its leadership; vigorous debate over matters of scholarship, art, spirituality, or politics; the circulation of petitions to the Prutaneis or Boule; the organizing of other members into voting blocks; nor mere rudeness, thoughtlessness, or lack of social skills."
4.10 When to Contact National about a Problem
The following section of the bylaws deal with the circumstances under which a member's affiliation with Hellenion may be investigated or their membership revoked outright and the procedure for such revocation. Should the Demos believe that one of their members falls into a category listed below, or has displayed objectionable conduct as outlined above, they should contact the Demos Support Director or any member of the Prutaneis immediately.
"The Prutaneis may, by a two-thirds vote, initiate an investigation into a member's conduct after either that member has confessed to, or been found guilty of, committing felony crimes-with-victims, as defined by civil law and current criminological opinion, or after having been presented with documented evidence of disruptive or abusive conduct which works directly against the aims, activities, or welfare of Hellenion or its members. The member will be immediately sent a written notice by registered mail to their last known address informing the member of the investigation, the accusations, the accusers, and any evidence pertaining to the investigation. The member will be given 30 days to respond in his/her defense. After considering the member's response, if any, the Prutaneis may, by a two-thirds vote, suspend or expel the member."
The bylaws further note:
"Members who have been suspended or expelled may, at the discretion of the Prutaneis, be banned temporarily or permanently from attending Hellenion activities, including public worship. Such bans shall be published immediately in Hellenion publications and venues. They may be published elsewhere in the case of very serious crimes."
In such cases, rare as they be, Demoi are required to respect any such bans by denying participation in their events to the former member.
4.11 Demos Library and Other Resources for Members
As the Demos grows, and particularly as the members become involved in National's various study programs, it may be helpful to put together a Demos lending or reference library. The library should be housed in a safe place--preferably the usual site for rituals, if possible--and one regularly accessible to the members. All books should be purchased with Demos funds or donated by members; the library, like other Demos assets, is the property of the whole Demos, not any individuals in it. Therefore, housing it in a member's home should not be the first choice.
Some useful reference books to have on hand include:
4.11.1 General History
4.11.2 Primary Sources
4.11.3 Religious History and Sourcebooks
4.11.4 Reference Works
4.11.5 Modern Practice
4.11.6 Books for Children:
In addition to classics like D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths, the retellings of Homer by Rosemary Sutcliff, and an illustrated edition of Aesop's Fables, the following titles offer many new and exciting opportunities to introduce Hellenic history and religion to the children in our lives. Unless otherwise noted, these books are appropriate for middle- to upper-elementary age kids, although little ones may enjoy them read aloud.
4.13 Buying Land and Other Property by Peter Gold
As local Hellenion Demoi grow, they will acquire artifacts and eventually likely own, or at least rent, land & buildings. The rules surrounding donations to non-profit organizations are relatively simple, but there are a number of common misconceptions and misunderstandings.
4.13.1 Who Owns the Stuff?
First, when a person donates money or goods (the chalice, the building, the books for the library) to a non-profit organization, the organization owns the item. The donor cannot get the item back.
It is permissible to loan goods to an organization, though. If you are going to loan, let the group use something of value, get a written agreement if you will not be taking it home after every event. For example, if you are going to let the local Demos use your vacation beach house every weekend, be sure to get a rental agreement. The rent may only be a dollar per year as long as you are a member of the Demos, but the contract is the important part. It will save everybody grief if you have a falling out with the group.
Second, the organization that owns something controls it. If you donate a piece of land, the organization can sell it, lease it, or use it. You can put restrictions upon your donations, though. For example, you might want to donate a large sum of money, but restrict the organization to only using the earnings on the money.
It is the control of assets, especially land, which has provoked discussion and misunderstandings as Hellenion was being formed.
Hellenion is a central, or single-entity organization. Local Demoi exist on the basis of a charter issued by the national body. Demoi cannot leave Hellenion. The people can leave Hellenion and the Demos.
How does this apply to donations? This is where it can get a little confusing, so an example is called for.
Tony donates his bicycle shop and the office space above it to the local Hellenion Demos, Zeus's Eagle Demos. After a few years, a number of things happen.
First, Tony and some of his friends decide they want to be Asatru instead of Hellenic. Second, the majority (75 out of 78) of the Hellenic-oriented members of the Demos do not want to remain with Hellenion, but want to associate with the Hellenic Pagan Association.
Tony and his Asatru friends do not get the land and building, even though the Asatru group is and incorporated non-profit. The land and building belong to the Hellenion Demos, not to Tony.
The 75 Hellenic oriented members who leave Hellenion for HPA do not get the land. The land and building belong to the Hellenion Demos, not to the individuals or to the HPA.
The three people who remain with Hellenion get control of the land.
If the Demos were to dissolve, the land would revert to National unless other arrangements were made.
It is politically likely, but not required, that if all the members of who made substantial contributions to the purchase and upkeep, plus almost all the members of the Demos wanted to transfer the land and their association to another organization, National would permit it. This would only be possible if National had no financial stake, whether never, or if they were bought out.
4.13.2 Who Should Buy Land?
Buying land is a major undertaking. A Demos must be assured of a steady income in order to pay the mortgage and upkeep. The Demos should also be sure of a stable, dedicated and compatible membership.
There are a number of options to obtain land that the Demos can use.
First, a small group of Demos members could buy the land themselves and then rent it to the Demos. This avoids any chance of the land being taken by dissident members of the Demos or losing the land if the buyers decide to leave Hellenion. The disadvantage is the lack of tax exemption. The owners would owe property taxes that a church-owned piece of land wouldn't.
Second, the Demos could operate the land as a business with only part of the property being used for strictly religious purposes. An examplewould be the operation of a campground that is open to the public. The Demos only uses part of the land. Another example for a more urban setting would be renting out rooms in an apartment building.
Third, a select group of members could form another non-profit that owns the land but leases it to the Demos. This avoids the problems with dissidents taking the land and still gains the tax advantages. It requires more work, but it is feasible.
5.1 Where to Worship
One of the biggest considerations a Demos will face is finding a place or places to hold worship services. There are three main option: worshipping in a member's home; worshipping in a rented indoor space; and worshipping in an outdoor location.
5.1.1 Home-Based Worship
Worshipping in a member's home is sometimes appropriate and can work well if it is carefully planned. Home-based worship is appropriate when:
It is as essential to take into consideration safety, convenience, accessibility, and financial concerns when worshipping in a home as it is when renting a space. Here are some questions to ask when planning a home-based ritual:
If the ritual is taking place in someone's backyard or garden (see also below, outdoor worship):
5.1.2 Rented Space
As the Demos grows larger, it will probably be necessary to rent space. Places to try include:
Using a rented space will mean that the Demos must take financial responsibility for the costs, which can mean either soliciting regular "tithes" from members or passing the hat at the service until the rental fee is met. Arrangements should be made in advance whenever possible; you don't want to be caught short.
In addition to the considerations given above for home-based worship, there are some special concerns when renting a space for worship:
5.1.3 Outdoor Worship
Outdoor worship can be particularly inspiring, especially when honoring nature divinities or deities especially associated with features of nature, like Poseidon or Artemis. Here are the questions to ask when considering an outdoor ritual:
Demoi are strongly encouraged to make every effort to secure physically accessible spaces for group worship and other events. In addition, reasonable accommodations should be made for deaf or blind participants. Large-print service sheets can be provided for those with vision problems, and worship leaders should face the congregation to allow for effective lip-reading when a deaf worshipper is present.
5.2 Scheduling Worship
For suggestions on scheduling, see section 4.2 above.
5.3 Publicity for Worship
The same venues you used to find Demos members will serve you well for publicizing worship services. Avoid publishing the home addresses and phone numbers of members, however.
You can also submit contact information about the Demos to any local religious or cultural resource listings for your area. Consider taking out a Yellow Pages ad for the Demos as soon as this is financially feasible. (It is not necessary to have a permanent place of worship to do this, only a contact phone number and a mailing address.)
It is useful to keep copies of any flyers or other publicity pieces you produce. These should be included in the Demos' annual report to National.
5.4 Welcoming Guests and Newcomers
It is to be hoped that members of the public will attend Demos worship services, and such guests should be welcomed, and assisted during worship if they are unfamiliar with our ritual forms. Demoi should make available brochures, books, and membership applications at all open meetings and gently direct newcomers to them. Bearing in mind our religious obligation to hospitality, Demoi may wish to appoint a member to act as "host" or "greeter" to make sure that visitors are welcomed and their questions answered. Providing food after the ritual gives people a chance to get to know each other.
5.5 Service Programs and Music
If your Demos is very small, you may be able to introduce new ritual forms, songs, and chants by simply demonstrating them before the ritual begins. However, newcomers to larger groups and anyone attending a festival that only happens once a year will appreciate having a printed service program to refer to.
Ideally, any verbal responses that the congregation will be expected to make should be printed in large type (14 point minimum) and clearly indicated:
If the responses are in Greek, it is helpful to provide a phonetic pronunciation guide as well.
Music and lyrics for any sung hymns should also be provided, again with phonetic transcription, if needed.
If the ritual will take place outdoors, consider printing the service programs and hymns on light-colored card stock (60#); lighter paper bends in the wind, making it very hard to read.
5.6 Ritual Etiquette
As is the case with every religion, there are some customs that members will probably learn by simple observation, but that visitors might need to be informed of. This section deals with a few of these.
5.6.1 Cleanliness & Miasma
Intrinsic to the ancient religion was the concept of "ritual impurity" or miasma. Although laws regarding miasma varied widely from place to place and over time, there seems to have been a consistent understanding that exposure to certain things--birth, death, and sex--might make one "impure" for a period of time and therefore unfit to approach the altars of the gods. Certain categories of people were usually excluded from worship altogether until they had undergone ceremonial purification: specifically, those who had committed homicide or any other "blood crime" would not be permitted to participate, as it was believed that their miasma would "infect" the other worshippers. This is the reason for the purification rite that appears in most Hellenic rituals and for the call for "all profane ones to depart."
The Demoi are free to set their own standards for purification as they apply to ritual leaders, including clergy. However, all participants should make an effort to be physically clean--freshly bathed, if possible. At very least, one should wash one's hands and face before the ritual. The availability of washing facilities is therefore a consideration in determining where to hold a ritual. Demoi should respect the scruples of anyone who might decline to participate in a rite because of ritual impurity.
5.6.2 Suitable Attire
Clothing worn for worship should be clean and in good repair, and should show the wearer's respect for the gods and his or her fellow worshippers. ("I'm with Stupid" T-shirts, or clothing decorated with non-Hellenic religious symbols, are therefore inappropriate.) The Demoi are free to set their own policies regarding the wearing of Hellenic-style clothing during ritual.
5.6.3 Holy Silence
At certain points in the ritual, the leader will call for silence. This is usually before hymns, prayers, or utterances of a particularly sacred nature. Obviously participants should maintain silence at these times.
5.6.4 Tasting the Sacrifice and Libations
It is considered an honor to be offered a taste of the sacrifice or to share a libation; these should be offered to VIPs, to hosts, and to others who have a special interest in the ritual (such as the parents at a Dekate rite). However, ritual leaders should be careful in offering these to guests whose religious beliefs may forbid them from eating foods that have been given to our gods. Guests may show that they decline to partake by crossing their hands over their chests and holding their heads down as the libation bowl is passed.
5.6.5 The Feast
The feast is an integral part of our worship services, and participants should be encouraged to eat and drink heartily at festivals. However, several precautions are in order:
5.7 Other Concerns
The question of animal sacrifice has been hotly debated in our community. Some feel that, done carefully and skillfully, it is a valid way to honor our gods. These people point out that occasional animal sacrifice is a part of some mainstream religions, such as Islam. Others feel that it is unethical and highly objectionable. Middle ground is occupied by those who feel that it is unnecessary or impractical.
At this time, National has no comprehensive, organization-wide policy on the appropriateness of animal sacrifice. At a minimum, any Demos considering this type of worship must have an appropiate means and a suitable location for the sacrifice. As always, the Demos must pay attention to zoning ordinances and local laws. Demoi must also discuss their plans in detail with the Prutaneis before proceeding.
Another issue that has arisen is the question of omen-reading at rituals. Some believe that the gods accept all sincere offerings. Others hold that the gods can and do occasionally reject offerings, so it is necessary to read the omens at the moment of sacrifice to determine whether or not the offerings have been accepted. Methods for reading omens include looking for natural occurrences (the flight or calls of birds, sudden weather changes, etc.), inadvertent human actions (sneezes, a kledon, i.e., overheard chance utterance), and the use of simple divination methods such as dice or lots.
It is the prerogative of the Demoi to determine whether or not omen-reading should take place during some or all rituals.
5.8 Innovative Ritual in the Context of Reconstructionism
Since our religion is based more on orthopraxy than orthodoxy--that is, on common practices rather than common beliefs--the issue of innovation in ritual is a thorny one. Of course, most Reconstructionists accept the need for change and put a great deal of thought into how to maintain the intent of the traditional rites while making them meaningful and feasible for modern people.
When looking at instituting new rites or updating traditional ones, the Demoi should keep in mind the following principle from Hellenion's Mission Statement:
[We] strive to be as historically (and mythologically) accurate as the state of the evidence allows. When gaps in the evidence, or the realities of modern life, make it necessary to create something new it should be:
As consistent as possible with what we do know about ancient Hellas and its colonies throughout the Mediterranean up until the point of the end of the Delphic Oracle in history.
Clearly presented as a recent innovation. We frown on attempts to advertise something modern and invented as ancient and historical in order to give it an authority (and marketability!) it does not deserve.
Here are a few questions to ask when planning a new rite:
5.9 Sample Ritual: Outline for a Group Offertory Rite in Greek and English
This is an outline for an all-purpose group ritual with text in both Ancient Greek and English. It can (and should!) be adapted to the specific deities being honored, by selecting appropriate hymns, epithets, and offerings. Since the majority of offering rites honor more than one deity, most of the lines addressed to the gods are in the plural. Singular forms are given in the footnotes. The Greek is transliterated using the Beta Code. Most of the Greek phrases are culled from Simon Pulleyn's excellent study of ritual language and customs, Prayer in Greek Religion (Oxford: Clarendon, 1997).
For Demos worship, the role designated here by "Hiereus/Hiereia" (hier.) may be taken by any person competent to lead worship.
Song in Procession:
S/he sprinkles the altar, the offerings, and the people with khernips (lustral water). As the hier. sprinkles the
water, s/he says:
In small groups, the bowl of khernips may be passed from person to person after the altar and offerings have been asperged. When all are finished, the bowl is set away from the altar, as it now ritually impure. The used water should be poured directly onto the earth outside the temenos after the ritual.
The hier. calls for holy silence, invites the gods to listen, and invokes the blessings of the Muses.
The hier. or another participant reads or recites hymns to the god/desses being honored. If the hymns are read in Greek, a translation should also be read. As the hymns are considered an offering, they should be presented as perfectly as possible--read clearly and slowly, to avoid errors.
(This last formula is repeated before each prayer, substituting the name of the appropriate deity in the vocative case for "O Zeu.")
Thanksgivings for the gods' blessings and petitions for the needs of individuals and the community are offered.
After all the prayers are said, the hier. concludes:
Barley is sprinkled on the altar.
The offerings are brought forward. Each worshipper making an offering says:
When all the offerings have been placed on the altar, the hier. separates a portion of each for the gods with the words:
The remaining offerings will be consumed by the worshippers during the feast.
Libations are now made. As each worshippers pours out the drink, s/he calls:
Texts for Songs
Final verse (same as the first):
Let us rejoice, o friends
Ie Paion ("Alalalai")
(Translation: Alalalai, ie paion /hurrah glorious victor/ o highest of divinities)
Notes Singular masculine: Ω ΘΕΕ. Singular feminine: Ω ΘΕΑ
 Singular: ΥΠΑΚΟΥΣΕ ΔΕΞΑΜΕΝΑΙ ΘΥΣΙΑΣ ΚΑΙ ΤΟΙΣ ΙΕΡΟΙΣΙ ΧΑΡΕΙΣΑΙ.
 Singular masculine: ΑΛ&Lanbda;Α ΘΕΟΩΙ ΕΥΧΕΣΘΑΙ ΧΡΕΩΝ. Singular feminine: ΑΛ&Lanbda;Α ΘΕΑΙ ΕΥΧΕΣΘΑΙ ΧΡΕΩΝ
 If only one deity is being honored, use the name of that god/dess in the vocative case, followed by ΕΛΘΕ, Ω ΘΕΕ (come, o god) or ΕΛΘΕ, &Omgea; &Thtea;ΕΑ (come, o goddess).
Other terms may also be used, e.g., ΠΟΤΝΙΑ [lady], ΑΝΑΞ [lord], ΤΕΚΝΟΣ ΔΙΟΣ [daughter of Zeus], ΠΑΤΕΡ [father], ΜΗΤΗΡ [mother], ΨΙΛΕ or ΨΙΛΗ [dear one masc./fem.], ΜΕΓΑΛΟΙ ΜΕΓΑΛΑΙ [mighty ones masc./fem.], etc.
 Substitute the words for the actual offerings being given, e.g., ΣΙΤΟΝ for grain or bread, ΟΙΝΟΝ for wine, ΠΕΛΑΝΟΝ for the mixed offering of meal, honey, and oil, etc.
 Singular: ΟΡΑ ΤΑΔΕ!
 Singular: ΕΥΨΡΩΝ ΕΛΘΕ, ΜΑΚΑΡ, ΚΕΧΑΠΙΣΜΕΝΑ Δ ΙΕΡΑ ΔΕΞΑΙ.
© 2001 by Drew Campbell <email@example.com>
5.10 Ritual Resources, Online and Print
The above is only one of a wide range of options for group worship. For more examples, see Drew Campbell, Old Stones, New Temples, the Hellenion Web site, or the sites referenced at http://www.nomos-arkhaios.org/
5.11 Ritual Preparation ChecklistUseful ritual items to have on hand include:
5.12 Practical Notes for Organizing a Festival
Putting on a festival ritual--which is usually more elaborate than a simple devotional rite--can be a major undertaking, particularly if you are working together with another Demos. Here are some of the things you'll need to arrange. If your Demos is large enough, consider forming one or more standing committees to organize the different aspects of festival worship. (These items are adapted from Covencraft, pp. 151-152.)
5.13 Fellowship ActivitiesAs mentioned above, people bring a wide range of needs to their religious communities. Worship is fundamental, but should be supplemented with other activities that promote community participation and a sense of belonging. Some suggestions:
6.1 Theoroi and the Demoi
Clergy are persons "empowered by a church (as legally defined) to perform specific religious services for the members of that church." Hellenion trains and ordains a single class of clergy, known as Theoroi ("sacred envoys").
At this point in the development of our religion, the distinction between layperson and clergy is more a matter of degree than type. All adults are expected to be competent to lead rituals and are encouraged to do so in the context of the Demos. Theoroi, for their part, will simply have more specialized and in-depth knowledge of our religion, allowing them to develop and lead ritual, to teach, and to advise others on questions of religious practice. They are also charged with the responsibility of leading group ritual when no other person is willing or able to do so.
The following is a summary of the responsibilities of Hellenion's ordained clergy:
6.2 Theoros Candidates & Required Practicum
Theoros candidates are required to perform a number of group rituals as part of their study program, and they are encouraged to do so in the context of Demos worship. Demoi are therefore asked to facilitate this by making room in their calendars for Theoroi-in-training to lead a variety of worship services. The Demoi may also be asked to certify that these rituals have taken place and to comment on them as part of an overall evaluation of the candidate's progress.
6.3 Evaluating Theoros Candidates
In addition to performing rituals within the Demoi, Theoroi candidates are required to secure the endorsement of their Demos in order to be ordained. Since it is the local congregation that knows the candidate best, it is that congregation that is charged with evaluating the candidate's preparedness for clergy work, their commitment to the worship of their patron/matron deity and to Hellenic religion generally, and their ethics and personal character.
Demoi will be provided with a list of specific questions to answer when evaluating clergy candidates. In smaller Demoi, the whole congregation may wish to work together on this; in larger congregations, an evaluation committee may be established.
6.4 Selecting and Installing Theoroi
The Demoi are free to select any duly ordained clergyperson(s) to serve them, but they are not required to do so. Clergy credentials are not required to hold any other office in Hellenion, whether at the local or the national level. The Demoi are encouraged to develop their own rituals for the installation of Theoroi.
Before selecting a Theoros, the Demos should draw up a profile of their ideal candidate--a job description, if you will. Every congregation develops a "personality" based on the interests of its members. Is your Demos involved in interfaith work? Do you put on many large festivals in a year? Do you have a commitment to educating the public about our religion? Are you planning to implement a Children's Education program? The needs of the congregation will directly affect the sort of person(s) who will be best suited to serve you.
As our religion grows, we will be able to pay our clergy to serve our congregations either part- or full-time. At this point, however, National assumes that all ordained clergy will have other means of financial support. Realistically, this means that Demoi should expect Theoroi to be available on a part-time basis only. If a Demos is able to offer regular financial compensation to a Theoros, a formal contract should be drawn up detailing the responsibilities of each party toward the other. How many hours a week is the Theoros expected to work? Are they to be "on call" in case of emergency? What specific services are they expected to offer (ritual leadership, advice on religious practice, teaching...)?
Even if the Demos is unable to pay the Theoros--and this will be the case in the majority of Demoi for the foreseeable future--it is acceptable to offer the Theoros modest gifts as a means of thanking her/him: a special seat at the feast, a bottle of wine, or a new khiton or peplos for ritual wear.
It should be noted that Theoroi are permitted, at their own discretion, to charge the public reasonable fees for their services, such as teaching, divination, counseling on ritual practice, or performing weddings.
6.5 About Titles
While Hellenion only trains and ordains one type of legal clergy, Theoroi, it is expected and accepted that Demoi will wish to recognize the service of certain individuals to the gods and their community. Such people may regularly lead ritual, promote the worship of their patron or matron deity, teach, etc. In other words, they fulfill a role similar to that of lay ministers in other religions and may, with the consent of their Demos, take on any leadership role for which they are qualified. The only exception is that Theoroi alone may sign legal documents, such as marriage licenses.
Hellenion's policy is that lay ministers may adopt any Greek-language title appropriate to their work, with the exception of "Theoros," as that term already designates our legal clergy. Lay ministers should avoid the use of the English titles "priest" or "priestess," since these terms usually refer to ordained clergy in other religions, and their use has caused confusion about the legal status of lay ministers within Hellenion.
Individuals who hold titles from other groups are of course free to continue to use them, but should be scrupulous about distinguishing between their work in Hellenion and in other groups. For example, a member holding clergy credentials from another organization and also acting as a lay minister in Hellenion might describe herself as "Jane Doe, High Priestess (Amberlight Grove) and hiereia of Hera (Hellenion)."
Because of Hellenion's open membership policy and our requirements that Demoi make most worship services open to the public, it is desirable that the Demoi foster a positive and mutually beneficial relationship with the surrounding local community. Although we understand that some members may live in areas that are hostile to religions such as ours, nevertheless, Demos leaders must recognize that they may well be on the front lines of educating the public about our religion. It is simply not possible for Demoi, or their leaders, to be "in the closet" about their religion. This doesn't mean you are expected to wear a Hellenion T-shirt everywhere you go, only that you must be willing--and prepared--to present a positive and affirming message to your local community.
7.1 Public Classes, Lectures, and Other Events
Aside from the public worship services that are required of all Demoi, the best way to educate the public about our religion is through offering public classes, lectures, and other events. If you have a usual worship space that will serve for classes, this is ideal, because it allows newcomers to see you in your "natural habitat" and dispels any myths about secretive midnight meetings that people may have picked up from other religions. Library meeting rooms, social halls, and other rental spaces can also be used. For reasons of security, avoid holding open classes in members' homes.
Some topics for classes include: Hellenism 101; Introducing the Olympians; Home and Family Devotions; Introduction to the Hellenic Festival Year.
Lectures can be offered in the same way as classes, or at neopagan or multifaith conferences or other events.
If members of the Demos have special skills--folk dancing, wine making, weaving, Greek language--these can also be taught to the public, with the class sponsored by the Demos. Likewise theater outings, video nights, guided museum visits, picnics, wilderness trips, food festivals, archery tournaments, and other recreational activities can be put on as Demos-sponsored events. * No actual religious content is necessary, although it would be acceptable to have Hellenion brochures or other information handy for those who may have questions.
* A number of these ideas come from Covencraft, pp. 309-310.
7.2 Community Service
Perhaps the most effective way to develop a positive reputation in your community is to engage in public service projects. Food and clothing drives, litter pickup in public areas, and tree-planting are all relatively easy to organize and show your good will toward the community as a whole. Many other possibilities will suggest themselves as you make an effort to learn what your community's needs are. Look around at what other religious and civic groups are doing if you need ideas; better yet, is there some type of service that no other group has yet taken on?
Do be aware that some charities may balk at taking donations from a "pagan" group. Do be open about your affiliation, but if you are turned down, ask to speak to a supervisor. If that brings no resolution, express your regret calmly and take your donations elsewhere. Do not allow your religion to be a matter of secrecy or shame! If you meet with outright discrimination, please report the incident to National.
7.3 Limits on Political Action
In all communities, pressing issues arise that have a political dimension, and Demos members may wish to become involved. Individuals are free to do so as private citizens, but the Demos as a whole should not involve itself in political actions, such as lobbying or the endorsement of political candidates, as these are expressly disallowed if we wish to retain our nonprofit status.
7.4 Speaking for Hellenion or the Demos
Individual members are not permitted to speak for Hellenion or for their Demos--especially on political issues--without express permission from the Prutaneis. Leaders should respond to any requests for an "official position" by saying, "I'm not at liberty to speak for my Demos or for Hellenion as a whole." Do consult with the Prutaneis if a situation arises that you are unsure about.
7.5 The Demos and the Law
Demoi are required to heed all local, state, and federal laws (or their equivalents in other countries) at all times. Leaders should be scrupulous about applying for permits, verifying zoning regulations, adhering to fire codes, and otherwise complying with any local laws that affect the Demos. Religious bigots often use these laws to get minority religious groups shut down.
You can help prevent this by being proactive in getting legal information from the local authorities. The police, fire department, local zoning board, county clerk, and city or town hall can provide you with the information you need. When approaching these authorities, be professional and show appropriate respect; avoid giving the impression that you have a chip on your shoulder or are in any way suspect. Dress tidily and conservatively, and speak clearly and confidently, using language that will be readily understood: "Good morning, Ma'am. My name is Sokrates Smith. My congregation would like to hold a picnic in Lovely Park on June 19th. The event would be open to the public, and we expect 50 or more people to attend. Do we need a permit to gather there?"
The following book may also be of help:
7.6 Handling Community Opposition
Even a Demos' best efforts at putting forward a positive image may meet with opposition from certain facets of the community.
Much opposition can be headed off by making the effort to educate the public about our religion. Viewed objectively, Hellenes have a great deal in common with many mainstream religious people. Except for being polytheists, we hold dear many of the same values: family, civic virtue, and personal piety, for example.However, there will always be people who focus on differences rather than similarities. Here are some suggestions for dealing with different types of community opposition your Demos may encounter:
7.7 The Pagan Community
There is much to be gained for Hellenion from active involvement with the larger neopagan community: access to resources, information, meeting spaces--not to mention potential members! It is very much worthwhile for Demoi to participate in pan-pagan events when it is clear that Hellenion as a whole, or the Demos specifically, will benefit from it. Festivals and conferences, in particular, are wonderful venues for public teaching about our religion.
But there are also a few caveats to be observed. First, it is an unfortunate reality that, in practice, "pan-pagan" often means "generic Wiccanesque neopagan." Members of non-Craft religions such as ours face an uphill battle when it comes to having our own distinct traditions recognized. We must be firm and consistent about pointing out that not all people under the pagan umbrella worship a monolithic goddess, celebrate the "Wheel of the Year," believe in or practice magic(k), follow the Rede, etc. etc. None of this is, of course, meant to slight people whose religions do include these elements, or to prevent members of our religion from participating in neopagan ritual if they so choose--and we must be clear about that at all times. But Demoi should be wary of any attempts to make Hellenism into just another ethnic flavor of witchcraft, and so lose what makes us who we are.
Secondly, the ethical, social, and political standards of the broader neopagan community--as far as these may be defined at all--are not always shared by members of our religion. Again, we should respectfully but strenuously resist generalizations about "what pagans believe," never mind "whom pagans should vote for." Unfortunately, some of the most prominent pan-pagan leaders are also the most egregious offenders when it comes to perpetuating myths about the makeup of "the neopagan movement," and most especially about its links to the 1960s counterculture.
Experience has shown that networking with members of other Reconstructionist religions often proves the most fruitful starting point for pan-pagan contacts.
7.8 Other Interfaith and Multifaith Efforts
It is to be hoped that our religion will gain enough recognition and respect to allow us to work shoulder-to-shoulder with members of other religions on matters of mutual concern. At this time, the Prutaneis reserves the right to review any proposed interfaith or multifaith efforts that Demoi may wish to undertake. (This is primarily to avoid inadvertent involvement in partisan lobbying groups or other political organizations that fall outside of our legally defined sphere of influence.) Demos leaders are encouraged to forward detailed information about such efforts to the Prutaneis, along with a proposal for the Demos' involvement.
Many of these documents are also available in PDF (Adobe Acrobat) format in the files section of Hellenion's YahooGroups mailing list at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Hellenion/files/. You must be a member of the Hellenion list and have a YahooGroups ID to view this page, however.
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Except where otherwise noted, this document is copyright 2006 by Hellenion, Inc.
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|Content Owner: Επιστατες||Copyright © 2006, Hellenion, Inc.||Last Updated: 07-Jun-06|