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February 28th, 2013


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02:20 pm - ADF Elections are Coming: Some Thoughts on Voting That Won't Make Me Popular
Over the last few years, I've been watching as ADF waxes and wanes in membership numbers, but never really gets anywhere new. We're mired in a lot of things, and in many ways we seem to be spinning our tires. Brave new ideas like Teo Bishop's SDF can't really get off the ground, and even though it's been successful for the first few months, no one seems interested in helping to support it by providing a structure within ADF to allow it to thrive: it's not even mentioned on our website, except on the Members' side.

As a result, I've been thinking about the upcoming elections and what they mean to ADF. It really comes down to two issues, to me, born from years of watching the MG from both the inside and the outside, and from being a Clergy Council Officer.

1) Crossover in the MG and the CC Officers

We have nine voting members on the Mother Grove (AD, VAD, Secretary, CoCoSD, CoCoRD, and 4 NOD's). The MG is the only body that can over-rule the Clergy Council, which is by nature a rather conservative body (it has to be, and should be). It can get stodgy as a result. But if the CC Officers hold over half the votes on the MG, ADF ends up with that same deep conservative streak, and gives up its ability to be nimble in the face of new challenges. Right now, Priests hold 7 of the 9 votes on the MG, and 5 of those votes are held by CC Officers.

Check out the list of CC Officers and the list of MG officers (remember not all MG Officers can vote, such as the MA or the Treasurer).

Every so often, someone will suggest that the number of clergy members on the Mother Grove be limited. The suggestion came in again recently, and while I'm behind it entirely, it appears no one else is. The request was put to the CC Officers (not the Clergy Council in general), and then promptly ignored. . . or so it seems from my perspective, as a CC Officer myself. And this seems to happen reasonably often, where good ideas are overruled or questions ignored because action isn't required on them: no one can force action from the Clergy Council, after all, due to the number of votes they hold on the MG.

The crossover seems to ensure that the MG remains in line with the CC, which is an unelected body within our organization. I'd really like to see the MG hold the CC responsible for certain things, and for there to be more transparency into what the CC is doing, but that doesn't seem to be in the cards until the makeup of the MG changes.

The folk have the power to bring new ideas to the MG, but the concentration of power in so few hands is a bit mind-boggling to me. The only two groups that make decisions about how we practice Our Druidry and what its basic structure is have their majority held by the same five people.

So, how do we, as members, fix it? The first step is to simply vote. Because any member of the CC can become a Clergy Council Officer, the simplest way to resolve this is to vote for people who don't have "Rev." in front of their names. We have a lot of extremely qualified folks running who don't have that prefix, and it would be really, really nice to see some new faces meeting the challenges of running ADF for a while.

The real issue worth addressing, though, is this one:

2) Administrative positions place constraints on the production of stuff that helps our members

I worry a lot about how little our Priests seem to produce, and the lack of emphasis put on production that benefits others. Over and over we emphasize coursework (something that benefits the individual, a single person, unless that person chooses to share those benefits. . . and nothing requires that they do) over the production of other things like rituals or articles or podcasts or books (which benefit large swaths of our membership).

Electing people to the MG puts them into a position where all they have time to do is administrative work. Check out the list of ADF authors or pick up a copy of Oak Leaves to see who has published recently. Additionally, projects waste along for years due to inadequate management, because people are pulled between spiritual pursuits and administrative duties, and when the people who have projects that should be managed by the MG are effectively managing themselves, it just gets worse.

In other words, rather than electing our Priests to do administrative tasks, let's give them the freedom to deepen their religious work. Putting Priests in charge of the administrative aspects of a church might seem logical, but in reality, few churches do this. They find people who are competent outside of their priestly ranks to run their administrative arms, and they only really leave theological choices to their clergy-folk.

So maybe this year, give someone new a chance in this election. I'm interested in seeing new blood flow into the heart of ADF, and in seeing us take a fresh look at challenges rather than doing the same thing over and over. This is a small election: only a couple of seats are really open for the membership to vote on, so the MG will retain a continuity of experience even if every currently-sitting MG member loses. Help re-balance ADF's leadership, and let's see if we can't finally start to grow again as an organization, toward the Vision we all share.
Current Location: Southeast of Disorder
Current Mood: pensivepensive
Current Music: "Time To Go Home", -JB
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Comments:


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From:disarray2
Date:February 28th, 2013 07:27 pm (UTC)
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There seems to be very little room for people (like me) that aren't called to be a priest but are good on the business side of things. I told Mel the other day if there was a training program for running groves that I would get my DP done and do that but all of the programs are geared towards spiritual training.
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From:chronarchy
Date:February 28th, 2013 08:21 pm (UTC)
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I think spiritual training is important for all of us (we are a church, after all), but I'd like to see more organizational training as well. I think we're missing a big component in the management of Our Druidry if we ignore the basics of "how to fundraise" and "how to read a contract." Both of which we sort of suck at :)
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From:klm185
Date:February 28th, 2013 07:38 pm (UTC)
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Great post, and food for thought. I'm with you 100% on looking for content-creation from priests; that's part of why I was eager to join the CTP and part of why I hesitated for awhile about actually making the leap. To me, the priesthood is akin to a professorship, where writing articles and other materials useful to the membership at large is part of the job description. It never occurred to me to think about how MG administrative duties might get in the way of that responsibility.

Thanks for posting this!
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From:chronarchy
Date:February 28th, 2013 08:35 pm (UTC)
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They do seem to get in the way. I know in my own experience, I really started writing and contributing after I'd been out of the SD chair for a while, since being an SD is really an administrative position (though early on it's hard to divorce it from the priestly aspects). When you're handling budgets, it's really hard to spend time praying and writing. When you have to be at all your Grove's events, it's hard to travel around and visit others. When your bank account supplements the Grove bank account from time to time, it's hard to get to festivals.

The same thing happens, I've noticed, on larger stages. The more administrative stuff you have to do, the less you get to do what you really want/need to do as a Priest.
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From:chronarchy
Date:February 28th, 2013 08:25 pm (UTC)

Re: Borderline off topic

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Hmm. Perhaps I counted wrong in terms of size. I thought fewer were up for election than are, I guess. Still, the continuity remains on the list, and with Kirk running unopposed, it's unlikely he won't get the less than 51% required and have to face a run-off election against himself. :)
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From:kargach
Date:February 28th, 2013 08:21 pm (UTC)
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I've actually turned down every MG nomination I've gotten since becoming an ADF Priest, for mostly the same reasons you've noted here.
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From:chronarchy
Date:February 28th, 2013 08:26 pm (UTC)
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Me, too. I even turned down the nomination to be the "site of the ADF Annual Meeting" one year. I'm pretty sure I could have managed the weekend-long commitment, but I couldn't prove I'd been "held between May 1 and Sept. 1" in the previous year.
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From:chronarchy
Date:February 28th, 2013 09:02 pm (UTC)
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Clergy have an administrative role as well as a spiritual one. I just don't think that spirituality makes one an effective administrator. . . especially since we don't train administrators at all any more in the CTP (those courses were generally cast out of the original revisions).

Note I didn't indicate that people on the MG don't have talent, or to suggest that their credentials keep them from being adequate or even great administrators. I argue the opposite: that administration seems to be crushing religious production.
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From:kargach
Date:February 28th, 2013 08:57 pm (UTC)
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I admit to having some issues with the way the SDF is being run and can't give it my personal backing, but I still think that ADF should do more to publicize it.
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From:vanye
Date:February 28th, 2013 08:56 pm (UTC)
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Thank you for the links for the CC membership. I didn't know who was on it.
Looking at the nominations, I see several INELIGIBLE entries for various positions. Where do I find eligibility requirements for positions, is that in the bylaws, or is it called out elsewhere online?
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From:chronarchy
Date:February 28th, 2013 09:07 pm (UTC)
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It's mostly in the bylaws:

The AD can only be nominated by the MG, CC, CoSD, be the sitting AD, or be someone who collected 50 signatures from voting members. Thus, the ineligible nomination for Missy, who didn't get nominated through those routes.

I suspect that Missy is also ineligible due to being the Election Officer, and she's term-limited out from being MA. I don't know about the other ineligible person on the ballot.

Section 4 of the bylaws has all the eligibility requirements. They're sent out with the Call for Nominations as well.
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From:serendipity_9
Date:February 28th, 2013 09:31 pm (UTC)
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From a purely theoretical viewpoint, I see some of the logic behind your thoughts and think it would be best for individual clergy to take this into consideration, but I'd leave it up to the individual to determine whether or not s/he wants to concentrate on administrative, scholarly or other works. The election process leaves it up to the entire membership to decide if they agree -- and with abstention/write-in being a choice, I doubt the current Archdruid's approval rating is so high by chance. While I agree there is room for improvement in the jobs our volunteers are doing, I don't think it's a good idea to speed decision-making unduly. "Fast as a speeding Oak" allows for Moderation in the speed of decision-making. Also, I think it would be better to tackle each of the back-burner projects in turn with fresh ideas on how to create enthusiasm for getting them done. ALL of these tasks are being done by volunteers who have normal lives (jobs, family, outside interests) that take precedence over their volunteer time. Complaining about how fast they do them tends to dissuade them from doing it. Finding more volunteers, inspiring them, and supporting them tends to work better, in my experience.
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From:chronarchy
Date:February 28th, 2013 11:40 pm (UTC)
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I think that our voting process works pretty well. I'm generally pretty happy with it.

A lot of the time, fresh ideas get shot down, though, or replaced with, "Well, you had the idea, guess you're volunteering." Sometimes I worry that we don't stretch ourselves *enough* for the Org, and that we create structures that encourage us not to stretch ourselves once we're in a volunteer position, too.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:February 28th, 2013 09:35 pm (UTC)
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I left ADF when local clergy said they are responsible for rituals and that's all. Anything more was not their problem. ADF could be wonderful. And I have respect for those who stay and try to fix it. But mentioning a problem on a board and being told I was lying because ADF members don't do that, was my final straw. ADF has problems and until they are seen, they can't be fixed. I,personally, have chosen to join a druid group that is more supportive of all. Someday, I may return to ADD. But not for now.
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From:fionnabhar
Date:February 28th, 2013 10:14 pm (UTC)
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I have a Master of Divinity from an ELCA seminary. Clergy from the "high church" denominational seminaries study full-time for four years (at least.) Coursework prepares them to be theologians, historians, exegetes, spiritual directors and counselors (to some extent), preachers, religious educators, administrators, crisis interventionists, and yes, liturgists. They are required to do Clinical Pastoral Eduction, to work in teaching parishes as part of their coursework, and to spend an entire year as an intern in a field parish. The notion of graduates getting an interview with a congregation and then declaring to the call committee that they're only going to do Sunday worship is laughable.

I realize we have, in many ways, a whole different animal in ADF, but there is some wisdom of the ages to the Lutheran concept of having a call, not only from deity, but also from the laity. You can graduate with your degree, but until you receive a call from a congregation, ain't nobody gonna ordain your ass. :-)

Edited at 2013-02-28 10:37 pm (UTC)
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From:Eld Nathr
Date:February 28th, 2013 10:10 pm (UTC)

Good on ya, mate!

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I'm glad to see there are still those on the inside of the CC who are willing to question the existing status quo while pushing for that damn question (to which most seem to just give selfish consideration) an answer that is three dimensional (Personal Path, Clergy Path, Community Path).

I left ADF several years ago after running into the party line used as an excuse for existing clergy not acting for their congregation as the clergy of other religions do. I had gone through a dark time, and while everyone around me new it there was only one sad attempt by my clergy to do anything proactive about it and this attempt ended with me being pressured to give up my officer position within the grove.

It saddens me to see a growing religion that has the potential to change the entire Pagan landscape in a profoundly positive direction falling into the same elitist rut that was the religious down fall of our ancestors.

It is my personal opinion that ADF started the learning curve on the wrong side of the equation and has become too top heavy. By focusing on how to create clergy, how to create a personal transformative journey for those destined to lead ritual, ADF has left the very people they mean to serve behind: the Folk. The journey that has been created and is being used to ordain Clergy, creates individuals who have enormously powerful connections to the Kindred, but lack any real connection with those they would serve as ambassadors to said Kindred.

To put it bluntly, when an individual takes the ADF Journey up the Mountain they return to the Folk as a servant of the Kindred; and NOT AS A SERVANT OF THE FOLK! The history of Neo-Paganism is rife with the need of the individual to take back the power of their own inherant Divinity from the so called authority of others. ADF's current path would reverse this by not providing the Folk with any concrete reason to take this Journey with any potential clergy. The clergy is not really providing anything to them that they cannot as Neo-Pagans provide for themselves at their own altars.

"Why not excellence?" should apply to more than just the individual journey. This is especially true of the proto-clergy. If the proto-clergy does not have deep and continually renewed connections with the Folk as they take their Journey up the ADF Mountain, then they return simply as powerful individuals with deep connections to the Kindred.

Imagine a proto-clergy who has the full support of the Folk and a constant flow of Ghosti energy to and from them. Imagine how different this individual's experience with the Kindred would be. Instead of seeing an individual who comes to worship and forge personal relations with Them, the Kindred would see a representative of the Folk, come to forge alliances with Them for all of the Folk and not just themselves.

To do this, the clergy program must become Folk-centric rather than Kindred-centric. The current program produces very powerful liturgists and ritualists and weavers of magic. It fails to produce actual clergy. It fails to produce ambassadors of the Folk to the Otherworld.

(this is the humble and possibly skewed oppinion of a former member of ADF; ponder or ignore as you will)

Eld Nathr (sic: facebook)
[User Picture]
From:chronarchy
Date:February 28th, 2013 11:06 pm (UTC)

Re: Good on ya, mate!

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I would really like to see us have a "lay clergy" layer that's simply empowered by their local congregation, based on local congregation rules. I've never really been able to figure out how that might work, in general, with the way ADF seeks to vet its clergy, but it's become more appealing to me recently.

We've had a lot of resistance to the notion of counseling clergy within ADF, sometimes for good reasons and sometimes for bad reasons. The biggest reason, from my general viewpoint, has always been a lack of good people to teach the skills, to write the courses, and to provide the materials. I worry much about sending a Priest off half-cocked, to deal with someone undergoing grief. But I want someone to be there for that person, too. At some point, we will need to make a leap.

Your central point, though, that "Why not excellence" must apply to what we bring to others is what I am mostly getting at here: it's not just an internal journey through a study program, and it cannot be. If it is, we will fail the folk. It has to be external with the folk as well. Power with, never power over.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:February 28th, 2013 10:11 pm (UTC)

Spreading the word....

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Mike, you should post the link for this to the discuss list - where it would reach the very folks it needs to!

Chris:)
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From:chronarchy
Date:February 28th, 2013 11:00 pm (UTC)

Re: Spreading the word....

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I don't really think it belongs on an ADF list. It's really just me, puzzling things out, observing, and commenting.
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From:anivair
Date:March 1st, 2013 03:37 pm (UTC)
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Well said. I have been thinking a lot lately that we seem to be mired, but you put it into words very well.

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