"Be on your guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be brave. Be strong.
Be loving in everything you do." - I Corinthians 16:13-14

Toil and Trouble

When was the last time you gave your hard-earned money to support a conference for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people, with "skill-enhancing workshops led by nationally renowned activists and community-building activities with like-minded progressives," and such luminaries as:

  • Raven Kaldera, Female-To-Male Transgendered Activist and Shaman, pagan priest, intersex transgender activist, parent, astrologer, musician, homesteader, and the author of Hermaphrodeities: The Transgender Spirituality Workbook. He is the founder and leader of the Pagan Kingdom of Asphodel, and the Asphodel Pagan Choir. He has been a neo-pagan since the age of 14, when he was converted by a "fam-trad" teen on a date. Since then, he's been through half a dozen traditions, including Gardnerian, Dianic, and granola paganism, Umbanda, Heithnir, and the Peasant Tradition.
  • M. Macha NightMare, Priestess & Witch, author of 101 Reasons To Be Proud You're Pagan, whose "magical practice is inspired by feminism and a concern for the health of our planet, and is informed by Celtic, Hindu and Tibetan practices, the sacred art of tantra, and the magic of enchantment."

Well... if you contribute to the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan, you just did.

On May 22nd at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, Together in Faith, sponsored in part by the Michigan chapter of Episcopal GLBT "outreach" group Oasis, will bring together Wiccans, shamans, Muslims, pagans, Hindus, and one Episcopal... something or other... to talk about such topics as Sex & Spells: Gender and Political Activism in the Witchen Community, where "We will sit in circle for focused discussion about gender, power, and the many ways that people change culture. We will address our values and the ethics of spellwork, after which we will plan, create and empower our own collaborative spell for change in harmony with our values and in accordance with our wills."

So good to know that affirmation and inclusiveness are alive and well in Ypsilanti.

Oh, and paganism too.

If you're in eastern Michigan next weekend, let us suggest a healthier alternative.

Posted by Greg Griffith at May 14, 2004 11:37 PM (GMT -6:00)

I would think it more likely that the funds came from independent sources within the diocese than through official church budgetary channels. Either way, it's appalling.

# Posted by: Jill Woodliff at May 15, 2004 09:09 AM

I spoke on the phone at length with a prominent cleric from the diocese. He said the organization indeed gets some of its funds from the diocese.

# Posted by: Greg at May 15, 2004 10:03 AM

It certainly seems to be strongly supported


# Posted by: spinster at May 15, 2004 06:41 PM

In the 1960s the Episcopal Church was jokingly referred to as "the Republican Party at prayer!" What happened in the '70s? Was this a leveraged, hostile takeover, or did we just cave in to the times? During the "Decade of Evangelism" (in the 1990s), the Episcopal Church actually LOST 10% of its members. If this were the corporate world, the brass would be on the street selling pencils. Instead, they are sitting pretty, relishing the rewards of the hostile takeover, depleting what little remains of the Church's prestige and funds.

Jesus wept.

# Posted by: Joseph Dzeda at May 15, 2004 09:03 PM

Actually, most of the pagans I know live in Ypsilanti. :)

If you doubt that this is strongly supported by the diocese, check out the biography on the website of workshop leader Jim Toy.

I have more on Mr. Toy at Eclectic Amateur.



# Posted by: Zach Frey at May 16, 2004 12:28 AM

Joseph, back in the '60s, evangelicals were Democrats and northern WASP liberals were in the Republican party; you don't get more WASPy than Episcopalians. Since then, liberal WASPs have migrated to the Democratic camp when they aren't grumbly RINOs.

# Posted by: Mark Byron at May 16, 2004 05:38 AM

Thank you for your diligence, Greg. It has been three days since this story broke. I continue to await a statement of dissociation from the bishop in whose diocese the event is taking place. The silence is staggering, but perhaps one is forthcoming.

# Posted by: Jill Woodliff at May 18, 2004 10:12 AM


Don't hold your breath.

# Posted by: Greg at May 18, 2004 10:27 AM

whats a RINO?

# Posted by: CarolD at June 18, 2004 09:28 AM

CarolD -

"Republican In Name Only"

# Posted by: Greg at June 18, 2004 09:39 AM

How about this one? This is a response from the national Episcopal Church after my e-mail about a pagan "eucharst" on its website. I find it interesting that they are primarily concerned with apologizing for copyright violation, rather than my issue of why is a pagan ceremony on a Christian church's website:

Dear Mr. Hignite,

We appreciate you contacting us with your concerns. The following is our official response to "A Women's Eucharist" and the weblog on Christianity Today regarding this resource:

Office of Women's Ministries Official Response to Christianity Today's "Weblog: Episcopal Church Officially Promotes Idol Worship"

We have been astounded and grateful for the number of people who have taken an interest in The Office of Women's Ministries of the Episcopal Church through Christianity Today's recent weblog, "Episcopal Church Officially Promotes Idol Worship," as posted by Ted Olsen on October 26, 2004.

The material questioned in Olsen's article, "A Women's Eucharist: A Celebration of the Divine Feminine" was sent to us in good faith in response to our recent call for resources. We regret we did not realize that the material was copyright protected. Proper notifications were not included by mistake and so the page has been withdrawn from our website.

We profoundly regret that Christianity Today did not contact us before making claims such as, "...leaders of the Episcopal Church USA are promoting pagan rites to pagan deities." The resources listed on our website are not approved liturgies of the Episcopal Church. These liturgies are intended to spark dialogue, study, conversation and ponderings around women and our liturgical tradition. There is quite a difference in presenting resources for people's interest and enlightenment and promoting resources as official claims of the Episcopal Church. Only General Convention has this authority.

The current liturgy project - A Call for Resources: The Women's Liturgy Project - and the Women's Worship Resources section on our website is a grassroots, organic, interactive process. It is an offering to open the awareness of the many voices and needs that exist among people in the church as we all strive to find expressions of our life, love and faith in God.

-----Original Message-----
From: Mike Hignite [mailto:mhignite@captec.com]
Sent: Tuesday, October 26, 2004 9:36 PM
To: Womens Ministries
Subject: What are you promoting here?

I checked out this resource for women of the Episcopal Church:


Why are you promoting idolatry in the name of Christianity? It is undeniable that women have contributed greatly to the life of the Body of Christ. Scripture is full of faithful women loving and serving God. Our tradition is full of the powerful witness of women over centuries. The good work and witness of the UTO was begun by women. How dare you attempt to denigrate their service and faithfulness by offering this abomination as having anything to do with Jesus Christ! I somehow doubt that Sarah, Ruth, Esther, Martha, or Mary would thank you for this offering.

I ask your forgiveness on behalf of men everywhere for any way we have, through thought, word or action, led you to feel that God doesn't love and value women just as much as He loves and values men. But let's not stupidly promote idolatry in some misguided effort to "balance out" a feminine "Eucharist". Our God is too far beyond this.

We have a common Eucharist to remind us that all baptized persons belong to Christ, are saved by Christ, and have a place with Him. Any special Eucharist exclusively for one group, one sex, one race, or one occupation denies this oneness.

Mike Hignite
Diocese of Michigan

# Posted by: Mike Hignite at November 3, 2004 04:48 PM

Mike, surely you are aware by now (hopefully anyway) that there NEVER WAS any copyright issue here, because the original author of the druid rite, and the person who submitted it to the OWM are the SAME PERSON: a Rev. Glyn Ruppe-Melnyk, rector of St. Francis in the Fields (ECUSA), Malvern Pa.

# Posted by: Marty at November 3, 2004 07:10 PM

At least Mike got a response from ECUSA - I sent an email and all I got was a form letter saying they had received my response and would get back to me. I guess they were too overwhelmed with comments to get back to me.

# Posted by: Mary at November 4, 2004 12:44 PM


I received a real email response from Rose, in which she apologized--albeit defensively. But I emailed the very same day, and I bet you're right they were overwhelmed.

# Posted by: Barbara+ at November 4, 2004 12:50 PM