Reform Pagan Practice 101: Community Ministry

This post is the second of five installments in Baldr Frostflame’s “Reform Pagan Practice 101” series, giving his high-level overview of Reform Pagan practice.

Many world religions and spiritual systems, many secular philosophies, and even many subfields of modern psychology have recognized that one of the most important aspecks of living “the good life” is giving of oneself to others in love.

Reform Pagans, being among the most willing of Neopagans to learn from non-Pagan sources, often conceptualize this kind of selfless love according to the ancient brahmaviharas of the East: lovingkindness, compassion, vicarious joy, and equanimity. Some Reform Pagans prefer to think of these things in Western terms, such as agape, charity, or simply love.

Exactly how different Reform Pagans conceptualize this idea is less important than is our shared commitment to it, which sets us somewhat apart from many other Neopagans.

Ministerial Roles

Reform Paganism generally recognizes the usefulness of guiding our efforts in community ministry by distinguishing among various distinct ministerial roles, though specifics about the roles tend to vary from tradition to tradition.

Western astrology has served many Neopagans—including many Reform Pagans—as a symbolic lens through which to view distinct qualities and aspects of human personality and human life, so many Reform Pagans use an astrological paradigm (for example, planets, signs, or houses) to define a set of roles for community ministry.

Using the planets, for example, a Reform Pagan might define a set of roles for community ministry as follows:

  • Ministry of Sun: representative, director, and leader
  • Ministry of Moon: caregiver, nurturer, and sustainer
  • Ministry of Mercury: thinker, communicator, and educator
  • Ministry of Venus: encourager, counselor, and facilitator
  • Ministry of Mars: apologist, advocate, and protector
  • Ministry of Eris: innovator, challenger, and reformer
  • Ministry of Vesta: steward, custodian, and provider
  • Ministry of Jupiter: treasurer, cultivator, and builder
  • Ministry of Saturn: secretary, administrator, and manager
  • Ministry of Uranus: performer, creative, and liturgist
  • Ministry of Neptune: ambassador, humanitarian, and missionary
  • Ministry of Pluto: anchor, guide, and friend

The above definitions paint only a broad-strokes picture of what Reform Pagan community ministry can look like, but even these simple examples illustrate how the astrological paradigms of planets, signs, and houses lend themselves to a full and rich understanding of community ministry.

Reasons for Role-Based Ministry

Defining such a set of concrete ministerial roles, rather than thinking of community ministry merely in the abstract, serves two important purposes:

  1. By rotating through various ministerial roles (for each Reform Pagan is generally expected to do so in turn), we each learn about our own individual strengths and weaknesses, and by pushing ourselves to minister in roles in which we are less comfortable, we expand our capacity for lovingkindness, compassion, vicarious joy, and equanimity.
  2. By defining a set of ministerial roles that are interdependent and complementary, we remind ourselves that no person is separate from the rest of the human family and that our ministerial efforts create greater positive transformation in ourselves, in our communities, and in the world when we work together as Reform Pagans.

Discuss the Element of Water in Reform Pagan practice here on the Pagan Renewal Network.

Also published on Medium.

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