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CAW Clergy Defined

By Oberon Zell, Primate

Clergy are defined legally as: “individuals who are duly ordained, commissioned or licensed by a religious body constituting a church or church denomination. They are given the authority to conduct religious worship, perform sacerdotal functions and administer ordinances or sacraments according to the prescribed tenets and practices of that church or denomination.” (U.S. Social Security Self Employment publication #533)

The Church of All Worlds offers both Ministerial Licensing and Priesthood Ordination, which are separate processes. The term “minister” is derived from the Latin word minister (gen. ministri), which means a servant to a higher good, recognized through a process of formal investiture. In CAW, ministers are licensed through an application process, indicating prior experience and training, reasons for wanting to be licensed, and letters of recommendation. Ministers are licensed to perform legal sacraments, marriages, rites of passage, prison and hospital visitations, chaplaincies, etc. These need not be specifically CAW-Trad, but may be as generic as appropriate.
CAW Priests and Priestesses require considerably more training and experience than Ministers in CAW’s particular history, practice, liturgy, theology and philosophy. In addition to the Ministerial functions described above, our ordained Priests and Priestesses also need to be adept in pastoral counseling, divination, ritual creation, administration, teaching, group dynamics, and public speaking. They must have theological understanding as well as liturgical skills. As CAW is a Bardic tradition, having theatrical experience and a repertoire of chants and songs is a particularly relevant qualification. Just like 19th-century Christian missionaries, a CAW Priest or Priestess is expected to be able to go to any remote place and establish a functional extension of the CAW; as well as be an effective representative of CAW at interfaith conferences, Pagan gatherings, etc. And finally, they need to have the support of a congregation who value their service and acknowledge them as Clergy.
Obviously, in order to be either licensed or ordained as Clergy in the Church of All Worlds, one must be a currently active member of at least 6th Circle.

NOTE: In view of the epidemic of sexual and other forms of abuse currently surfacing in certain other religious organizations, the protection of innocents is a primary concern of the Church of All Worlds. Therefore we require prospective Clergy to sign a sworn statement that they have never perpetrated criminal abuse or victimization of others. We will not license or ordain any persons who have been so convicted in the past, nor any persons who for reasons of neglect or abuse have been compelled by the state to surrender the custody of minor children; and it is our policy to immediately suspend Clergy standing upon any such charges being filed, and revoke Clergy standing upon conviction for any crimes involving abuse of children or others. We offer compassion, counseling and support for abuse victims and their families.

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