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Pagan Witchcraft Worship Visits The UMC, Again, Again, Again.....

Pagan worship in a United Methodist Church?

by Wesley Putnam

Excuse me? Did I read this right? A United Methodist pastor in Austin, Texas, opened his pulpit to a Wiccan priest? Tell me Iím having a nightmare. Surely an ordained elder in our denomination would not dare to subject the people committed to his care to the teachings of a professed pagan.

In an article in the Austin American-Statesman on September 13, 2004, Eileen Flynn reported the story almost as a celebration of the way religion has progressed. During a Sunday morning service, Tom Davis, a Wiccan, stood in front of an altar in the Trinity United Methodist Church in Austin, TX, and performed a pagan ceremony. He cast the circle and faced the four directions of the compass invoking the elements of earth, air, fire, and water.

Does anyone else out there find this to be beyond the pale? As United Methodist elders, we are given the responsibility of caring for the souls of our members. I think this is one of the clearest examples of spiritual malpractice Iíve ever seen. I believe Rev. Sid Hall should be held responsible by his annual conference for this irresponsible act. What kind of message does this send to the members of Trinity UMC and to the community?

This is where the lie of universalism ultimately leads. If all roads lead to the same place and it really doesnít matter which road youíre on, then even those who worship the devil must be accepted. It seems that the entire ministerial association in Austin has lost its way. What once was a Christian organization has now turned its back on the faith. In order to be a member, you have to sign away your right to evangelize. You are not allowed to share your faith with a member of another world religion if you expect to be a part of their organization. Many pastors have refused to be a part of such a pact and have broken fellowship with them. But, many have bought into the new "open-minded" teachings and have sold out their faith for the empty promises of cultural Christianity.

I am angry. The shepherds have become wolves. The sheep are being slaughtered.


Below is the full text of the article and an example of the circle ceremony.

*Full Text:* COPYRIGHT 2004 The Austin American-Statesman


It's almost 9 a.m. at Trinity United Methodist Church on Sunday, and Tom Davis, a Wiccan, is looking for the sun. In a few moments, he will cast the circle, pointing to each direction and invoking the four elements: earth, air, fire and water. He starts by facing east.

"By the earth that is her body," Davis declares as light pours through a
stained-glass window behind him. "By the air that is her breath. By the fire of her bright spirit. By the waters of her living womb."

For the congregation of the church, at 600 E. 50th St., a witch leading
worship isn't scandalous. It isn't even that unusual.

Trinity members have hosted American Indian shamans, Buddhist priests and other faith leaders, including Wiccans, before. They even practice their own pagan-inspired rituals at services.

"It's not my way or hell," said Trinity member Linda Eldredge. "All are
welcome here. Everybody's got something to offer."

But for Davis and the Live Oak Local Council of the Covenant of the
Goddess he represents, Sunday marked an important, albeit small, step toward inclusion as new members of Austin Area Interreligious Ministries, an interfaith group that voted this year to accept Wiccans.

Davis wasn't the only person of faith building bridges Sunday. At churches, synagogues, mosques and other local houses of worship, clergy relinquished their pulpits to leaders of other faiths for a "pulpit swap," a project organized by Interreligious Ministries to commemorate the third anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks and to build on relationships that emerged in 2001 when people from different religions made an effort to befriend Muslims and learn about Islam.

"I don't think as a nation we've figured out what to do with September 11," said the Rev. Tim Tutt, United Christian Church pastor and president of the Interreligious Ministries' board of directors. "This is AAIM's best attempt to create a living memorial."

Christians and Jews shared their sacred space with Muslims, Hindus and Bahais, and more exchanges are planned in the coming weeks.

The Rev. Gerald Mann, pastor of Riverbend Church, a large Baptist congregation in West Austin, hosted Imam Safdar Razi, spiritual leader
of Islamic Ahlul Bayt Association, on Sunday. Although Mann thinks his flock is open-minded, he said he also knows that prejudice and ignorance can plague any community.

"Here I am with a Ph.D. and studied in philosophy of religion," he said,
"and I'm 66 years old, and this is the first time I read the Quran."

Mann added that he was surprised to find many familiar stories from the Bible in the Muslim holy book, examples of the two faiths' commonality that he and Razi shared Sunday.

At Trinity, Davis, a former Methodist, started with the most basic similarity: "We are a people of faith," he said, "and that's hard for some folks to get their minds around."

Wiccans, who are part of a pagan tradition that predates Christianity, celebrate nature and the divine, which they see as both male and female. They tend to believe in reincarnation, Davis said, and have their own version of the golden rule: "If it harm none, do as you will."

After the service, Davis noted the dread of sharing one's identity in
public. Just as some of Trinity's gay members fear the consequences of
coming out of the closet with their sexuality, he said, Wiccans have a
metaphor for their own situation: coming out of the broom closet.

The expression is an example, Wiccan Gordon Fossum said, of the mix of mirth and reverence his faith embodies. Earlier that morning, Fossum had jokingly invoked the "Goddess Caffeina" to get the church's coffee maker brewing.

Wearing a silver pentacle necklace and sipping from a Garfield mug, Fossum shrugged.

"If a religion can't laugh at itself, it's got some work to do," he said.

Demythologizing Wicca at Trinity isn't Davis' greatest challenge. But
Trinity's pastor, the Rev. Sid Hall, said Wiccans' participation in the
interfaith community may "open up the dialogue to see how Christianity has walked a very tight line with both diminishing pagan roots and Celtic roots and yet incorporating (them) when it was convenient."

Over the centuries, Hall said, Christians have condemned paganism as
evil while infusing Easter and Christmas with pagan symbols.

The real challenge, Tutt said, is engaging people outside of Interreligious Ministries, whose members are made up primarily of like-minded liberal congregations. Members must agree not to proselytize to each other, a rule that has sent some clergy packing. And the inclusion of Wiccans also sparked dissent.

The Rev. David Bernard, pastor of New Life United Pentecostal Church in North Austin, plans to end his membership because of the proselytizing ban and the inclusion of Wiccans.

"The beliefs and values of the Wiccans are antithetical to biblical Christianity," Bernard said. "We respect them as fellow humans and fellow citizens, and we teach respect for their civil rights and religious freedoms. However, since we have nothing in common religiously, it does not appear that either of us could profit from a religious association together."

Tutt still holds out hope for the possibility of other interfaith connections that the pulpit swap might inspire.

"Maybe someone will see that Imam Razi is speaking at Riverbend," he said, "and some other large Baptist church in town will think, 'If Riverbend can do that, we should do that, too.' "

Here is an example of a ceremony used to "cast a circle" in a Wiccan coven. This may not be the exact wording that was used that day, but It gives you the idea of its purpose. Remember, something similar to this was done in a United Methodist Church.

Needs: Altar, 2 Altar Candles, Water Bowl, Salt Dish, Pentacle,
Censer, Athame, Bell; Presence Lamp; 4 Quarter Candles;
Sword (optional), Candle Snuffer (optional)

Let all be fit to enter into the presence of the Gods.

Start in the dark.

Ritual Leader waits until it feels like time to begin, then rises:

R: "I light this Candle (lights Presence Lamp)
in the name of that ancient presence,
which is, was, and ever shall be
male, female, all-knowing, all-powerful
and present everywhere.

And in the names of the four Mighty Ones,
the rulers of the elements,
may power and blessing descend
in this hour upon this place
and those gathered here."

R lights the two altar candles, the charcoal, and the four quarter candles
from the Presence Lamp.

R kneels before the altar and places the Water Bowl upon the Pentacle.
R purifies the water by plunging the tip of his/her athame into the water,

R: "I exorcise thee, O Creature of Water, that thou cast out from
thee all the impurity and uncleanliness of the world of phantasm.
In the names of Cernunnos and Cerridwen."

R sets the Water Bowl aside and in its place sets the Salt Dish upon
the Pentacle. R touches salt with tip of athame, saying:

R: "Blessings be upon thee, O Creature of Salt; let all malignity and
hindrance be cast forth from thee, and let all good enter within.
Wherefore do I bless and consecrate thee, that thou mayest aid me.
In the names of Cernunnos and Cerridwen."

Using the tip of the athame, R takes three measures of salt and puts
it into the water, then stirs deosil three times with the athame, saying:

R: "But ever mind that as water and salt purifies the body,
so the scourge purifies the soul. So mote it be !"

R draws a circle, continuous from north deosil unto north with the Sword
(or athame), saying:

R: "I conjure thee, O Circle of Power, that thou beest
a boundary between the world of men and the realms of the Mighty Ones;
a meeting place of love and joy and truth;
a shield against all wickedness and evil;
a rampart and protection that shall preserve and contain
the power that we raise within thee.
Wherefore do I bless thee, and consecrate thee,
in the names of Cernunnos and Cerridwen."

(If others are without, a gate is opened, and they are now brought
into the Circle with a kiss, and the Circle is resealed.)

R takes up the consecrated water and asperges the Circle with his/her
fingertips, from north deosil unto north; and then touches each person within
with the water, being touched in turn by his/her working partner (or another of
the opposite sex to R, if available). Water Bowl is returned to altar.

R then takes up the censer, and likewise censes the Circle from north unto

Lastly R takes around the Presence Lamp (or a candle lit from the Presence Lamp
and returned to it).

All stand and salute the East. R stands in front of group facing East.
Maiden stands at back of group with the Bell. M rings Bell.

With athame, R draws three deosil circles and then an invoking earth pentagram,

R: "Ye Lords of the Watchtowers of the East, ye Lords of Air;
I, N....., do summon, stir and call you up, to witness our
rites and guard the Circle !"

All turn and face South. Ritual Leader and Maiden move to corresponding
positions; others just turn in place. M rings Bell.

With athame, R draws three deosil circles and then an invoking earth pentagram,

R: "Ye Lords of the Watchtowers of the South, ye Lords of Fire;
I, N....., do summon, stir and call you up, to witness our
rites and guard the Circle !"

Similarly, in West:

R: "Ye Lords of the Watchtowers of the West, ye Lords of Water;
Lords of Death and Initiation; I, N....., do summon, stir and call
you up, to witness our rites and guard the Circle !"

And in North:

R: "Ye Lords of the Watchtowers of the North, ye Lords of Earth; Boreas,
thou Guardian of the Northern Portals; I, N....., do summon, stir
and call you up, to witness our rites and guard the Circle !"

All turn back to the East and salute.

Now all turn to North again. M rings Bell. R says:

R: "Ye Mighty Ones,
Lords of the Watchtowers of the Universe,
Dread Lords of the outer spaces,
Thou powerful God, thou gentle Goddess,
We invite you to our meeting.
O thou Loving Cerridwen.
O thou Mighty Cernunnos,
we gather (I stand) before you
to ...." (state intent)

The Circle is now perfect.

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