This part is an answer to the second question I was asked about ADF by the local Religious Studies class: In what different ways do people get involved with ADF. What draws them in?
A lot of this reflects my own experiences, and yes, originally this was partially a "marketing" piece for ADF that no one ever really cared to use, called "5 Reasons to Join" (and now it's likely that it won't be used). But really, it's a reflection of the ADF I participate in. In essence, it's ADF through my eyes, and the way I talk about it to other people.
What draws people to ADF? Well, this is what drew me to ADF:
1) Training: Training is the cornerstone of ADF. We firmly believe that it is important to learn the best scholarship about the Indo-European cultures we are drawing form, and that inspiration should start with a foundation of scholarship. We offer five different kinds of training, from our initial training program through clergy training. Two years of constant study can bring eligibility to become an ADF Priest. The greatest strength in ADF's training, though, is the ability of the student to direct his or her studies as he or she sees fit: ADF is not a "one size fits all" program, but a program that the student will craft to his or her own needs and wants.
2) Community: It's been said that the members of ADF are the best part of being an ADF member. The community, online and in person, is amazing. Our members experience vibrant local communities of Groves and the opportunity to start their own Groves with a minimal number of hoops to jump through; for those who do not have access to a local Grove, we have a wide variety of online resources; and several regional festivals that anyone, member or not, can attend to meet our leadership on an equal footing.
3) Support: ADF offers a great deal of support for its members, particularly in the areas of training, mentorship, Grove development, clergy, and military members. Members have excellent resources for problem solving through their local Grove, an accessible leadership, and a fairly "flat" hierarchy where all persons in leadership are approachable. Also, ADF members have recourse to a specific member of the Board of Directors who can bring their concerns to the very top of the organization with no middleman.
4) Identity: ADF is recognized by the IRS as a tax-exempt 501(c)3 non-profit church. At over 1,200 members, ADF has members across the United States and in several other countries including Canada and the UK. ADF credentials, such as ADF Dedicant, ADF Initiate, and ADF Priest, mean something in the greater Pagan community. We expect anyone who holds a title bestowed by ADF to be both willing and able to demonstrate the competence associated with that title upon polite request. Once these titles have been earned, the ADF Office can verify that you have earned them if any question should arise, and the training behind these titles is recognized as legitimate by other Pagans.
5) Empowerment: Every person in ADF is considered able to lead their own rituals, work their own magic, and contact the Gods and Spirits on their own. Neither ordination nor specific levels of training are required to lead or run ADF rituals, but training is offered to help those who wish to achieve higher levels of ritual excellence. Our High Day rites are public and open to all who do not seek to interrupt or disrupt them. ADF seeks to avoid a culture of "power over" and instead promote a culture of shared power and equal opportunity; different genders, sexual orientations, races and ethnicities all have equal footing within the organization. No member is required or expected to embark on training, though it will always be encouraged.