Church Hopping Adventure #10
New Wineskins Community
Although it’s not really “hopping” because New Wineskins is my regular monthly church community, I feel it’s enlightening to share my experiences there yesterday.
New Wineskins Divine Feminine Ritual Community was founded by Jann Aldredge-Clanton and Elizabeth Zedaran and a few others, in 1997 as a way to explore “new ways of seeing divinity so that the spiritual gifts of EVERYONE are equally valued and nurtured.” It offers: “rituals especially focused on the Divine Feminine, to change culture from devaluation to empowerment of the feminine “, as per jannaldredgeclanton.com. “The rituals also symbolize shared power and responsibility”…”to expand experience of Divine Mystery and to contribute to healing, peace, and justice in our world.”
A dozen or more of us meet the first Sunday of every month in a portable building on the lovely Richland College campus, just a short stroll away from their outdoor Chartres Cathedral style labyrinth. We adorn what is normally a metal professor’s desk with a brilliant purple lace fabric and candles complete with altar additions brought in by present and past visitors to create our altar. In the center stands our Goddess Statue, Flo, (formerly an abused and discarded Virgin Mary statue) who’s been renewed and designed by Elizabeth. We have turned this mundane classroom into a sacred and holy place.
We are always greeted with the biggest smiles and warmest hugs as if finally coming back home to family. All highly educated professionals, this community is kind and gentle. Many leaders in their own right (professors, doctors, counsellors, and authors among us..) we sit in a circle around the altar and all take turns speaking and sharing at New Wineskins.
A few months ago, Jann had mentioned that they had once done an ordination ceremony for all of the New Wineskins members years ago (before I was a member.) Encouraged by my enthusiasm, yesterday came the day for us to do it again.
I think it’s interesting that the time for the New Wineskins Ordination JUST happened to come at the time of the new Pope’s popularity surge and recent re-rejection of the ordainment of women as leaders in the Holy Roman Catholic Church. The Church’s stand on not allowing women to have authority over men allegedy comes from Saint Paul in 1 Timothy (scholars have since found “that this letter to Timothy cannot be contributed to Paul”), according to Margaret Starbird in Mary Magdalene, Bride in Exile. It seems that, at some point during the Inquisition (which we now know was a brutal genocide meant to conceal the fact that Jesus likely had a very noble wife and children), all leadership roles were taken from women and women were branded “unclean”. So for almost a 1,000 years, ALL of the leaders of the Catholic faith have been celibate (and therefore detached from the basic needs of women) men.
So, yesterday, not as a rebellion against the Pope but as reminder that we were all made in the “Image and Likeness of the Divine”, Genesis 1:26, we ordained each other.
We sat, as usual, in a circle around the altar. We began with an Invocation of a Blessing (read in unison) followed by Jann’s new celebratory hymn: “She Lives!” from her newest hymnbook, Earth Transformed with Music! Inclusive Songs for Worship. We took turns reading blessings from Scripture and then each took turns putting on the ministerial stole and briefly shared our gifts. After pronouncing our self-proclaimed and very diverse gifts (healer, spiritual warrior, peacemaker, nurturer, messenger, teacher, writer, social justice activist, political activist, giver of deep joy, etc.), each of us was annointed and received an individual blessing from all of the others. It was glorious. My mere words can not express the other worldly love felt by all in attendance. We were all ordained, equally, all sexes, ethnicities and ages (my toddler son was the youngest.) Many of us go on in our daily lives to have book signings, write books/articles/blogs, are part of organizations, are leaders of other churches or spiritual communities, have websites, lead conferences, teach and counsel 1,000’s of people in the way of peace, healing and justice in our world. GREAT and powerful people, but all approachable and benevolent.