Ordination - Guidelines

Ordination Requirements and Procedures

Ordination is a process and a ceremony by which the Re-formed Congregation of the Goddess, International (RCG-I) confers on a graduate of the Women’s Thealogical Institute the spiritual and legal authority and powers of a Priestess. Ordination affirms the individual's calling to Priestess, her training and qualifications, and her willingness and ability to enter into service to the Congregation.

RCG-I is a women's religion, and Priestesses of RCG-I perform a substantial majority of their work as clergy with women. While RCG-I supports networking with other religious groups, RCG-I does not offer services to men at this time.

RCG-I is an organized religion. Although RCG-I is organized much more freely and with a great deal more autonomy than most traditional religions, it has a governing and administrative structure, ongoing councils and a board. The Board of RCG-I is called the Conclave. RCG-I leadership makes most decisions. The Conclave makes policy decisions for RCG-I. The Consistery Executive makes administrative decisions for RCG-I. When sanctioned to do so by the Conclave, appropriate Councils make a variety of other decisions.

RCG-I grants credentials only to qualified Priestesses of RCG-I. RCG-I does not grant generic Priestess Credentials. Honorary Mistress of Women’s Spirituality degrees may be granted, by WTI, however, no honorary ordinations are performed.

This document describes the requirements and procedures for Ordination as a Priestess of the Re-formed Congregation of the Goddess-International and the ongoing activities required to maintain Priestess Credentials.

1. Authority, Powers, and Duties of Priestesses of RCG-I

1.1 -Title of Priestess

"Priestess" is the title given to ordained clergy of RCG-I.

1.2-Ceremonial Authority

Priestesses of RCG-I are vested with the authority to officiate at weddings, handfastings, and commitment ceremonies; officiate at funerals and memorial services; and lead and perform other rituals and ceremonies for Congregants and others.

1.3-Duties of Priestesses

Priestesses may also teach, counsel, and perform all activities, which conscience and duty require and for which they have been trained through a WTI program, subsequent Internship, and community service experience.

1.4-Authority of Priestesses

Priestesses may serve in any position within the governing structure of RCG-I.

1.5-Legal Standing of Priestesses

Priestess of RCG-I will, to the best of RCG-I’s knowledge, meet the requirements for Ministerial Certification in any state in the United States. It is up to the individual Priestess to determine what the requirements are for her state.

2. Thealogy

2.1.1 -Goddess and Women’s Religion

RCG-I is a Goddess religion. Priestesses of RCG-I perform their work as clergy from this worldview.

2.1.2- RCG-I is a women's religion, and Priestesses of RCG-I serve individual women and women's groups, circles, and covens.

2.1.3-RCG-I affirms the inherent value of all people, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, sex or sexual/affectional preference.

2.2-Affirmation of Women's Spirituality

The spirituality and practices embraced by RCG-I are described in the Affirmation of Women's Spirituality (below). Priestesses of RCG-I must consider this Affirmation.

2.3-Consecration Affirmation

The commitments required by RCG-I of its Priestesses are described in the Consecration Affirmation (below). Priestesses of RCG-I must subscribe to this Affirmation.

2.4-Ordination Affirmation

Priestesses of RCG-I are required to affirm the following at their ordination:

I am:

  • a woman who honors the Goddess and practices woman-focused spirituality;
  • willing to serve the community and the Goddess;
  • committed to and supportive of the purposes of the Congregation.

I can:

  • listen to women and develop dialogue for empowerment;
  • value and give priority to the concerns of women;
  • establish inclusive language and form ethics that challenge violence against women, sexism, classism, ageism, ableism, racism and heterosexism;
  • make resources available for women's projects and concerns;
  • exude confidence and provide motivation;
  • remain tolerant and able to listen;
  • speak well of the Congregation and express any concerns in appropriate venues;
  • make difficult decisions;
  • work under pressure.

I have:

  • the ability to give and accept love;
  • the capacity to credit others for their work and support;

I affirm that I walk a positive path.

3. Required Study and Training

3.1-WTI Training

A woman who seeks ordination by RCG-I must successfully complete a Women’s Thealogical Institute (WTI) Training Program and receive her Mistress of Women’s Spirituality. Note: RCG-I Ordination and conveying of Priestess Credentials are distinct and separate from the awarding of the Mistress of Women’s Spirituality Certificate. All participants who have successfully completed a WTI program will receive the Mistress of Women’s Spirituality.

4. Request for Ordination

Please Note: For WTI Apprentices, the timing of the ordination application and approval process will differ from that described here. Please contact the Consistery Executive for more information.

4.1-Declaration of Interest

A WTI participant who wishes to apply for ordination must declare her interest to her Convening Advisor and the ordination Council when she enters Cycle III.

4.2-Information required from Applicants for ordination upon entering WTI Cycle III

4.2.1-Initial Letter of Intent

The applicant must submit an Initial Letter of Intent to the WTI Advisory Council stating her request to move to Cycle III and her interest in applying for ordination. This Initial Letter of Intent should include:

  • a description of the precise focus/foci of your Priestessing.
  • visions of your Goddess work and how you intend to enact these visions.
  • a written statement that you meet all the requirements for ordination.
  • a Self-Evaluation. (This document is available on the RCG-I website.)

4.2.2-Submission of Information Additional Information

Along with an initial letter of intent, an applicant shall also mail/email to the RCG-I Consistery Executive a:

  • hold harmless document,
  • participation agreement
  • release of information

Additionally, the applicant will provide a copy of her initial letter of intent to her Convening Advisor. Her Convening Advisor will present her Letter of Intent to the WTI Advisory Council for review at their next meeting.

4.2.3-Hold Harmless Statement, Participation Agreement and Release of Information

4.2.3.1 Hold Harmless

The applicant must sign a "hold harmless" statement indemnifying the Congregation from:

  • all liability in the areas of employment, evaluation, examination, or training and in the process of ordination.
  • any legal action beyond the governance, structure and procedures of the Congregation.

4.2.3.2-Participation Agreement

The applicant must sign a participation statement agreeing to voluntarily participate in all requirements of the ordination process.

4.2.3.3-Release of Information

If requested, the candidate must sign a release of information and/or provide documentation:

  • from a health care provider or mental health practitioner confirming her psychological and emotional stability. The candidate may fulfill this requirement by releasing her treatment records to the Ordination Council.
  • Any of the optional additional criteria requested. (Listed in section 8.2 of this document.)

4.2.3.4-Review by Ordination Council

The Council will consider the applicant's application and identify any discrepancies, areas of concern or clarification needed. When needed and in a timely manner, the applicant and her Convening Advisor will generate personal growth goals based on the evaluation that will assist in preparing an applicant for ordination.

4.3-Applicants requirements during Final Year in WTI - Becoming a Candidate

4.3.1-Community Service

An applicant for Ordination will provide one year of community service in an area related to the focus of her priestessing. This community service will be a minimum of 52 hours and shall be completed before the candidate’s internship. A candidate shall provide a report on and documentation of her community service work to her Advisor and shall mail/email a copy to the Consistery.

4.3.2-Confirmation of Intent Letter

The applicant must submit a Confirmation of Intent Letter. This should include:

  • a description of the precise focus/foci of your Priestessing.
  • visions of your Goddess work and how you intend to enact these visions.
  • any changes from your first Initial Letter of Intent should be explained.
  • a written statement that you continue to meet all the requirements for ordination.
  • a second Self-Evaluation.

4.3.3-Other required Information

An applicant must, at her own expense, take a required psychological test and make the results available to the Ordination Council. She must also complete all other necessary information and forward these to the Consistery Executive.

4.3.4-Revocation of Previous Ordination

If an applicant for ordination has been previously ordained she will be required to revoke her previous ordination at this time.

5. Discussion of Confirmation of Intent Letter

At its winter meeting, the WTI Advisory Council will discuss an applicant’s Confirmation of Intent Letter. Approval of an applicant by the Advisory Council endorses a participant as a Candidate for ordination.

6. Denial of Application for Ordination

6.1-Report of Reasons for Denial

If the Ordination Council does not approve an applicant’s request for ordination, they must provide the applicant with specific reasons for the denial.

6.2-Reapplication for Ordination

6.2.1-A denied applicant may agree to address the reasons for denial and may reapply for ordination when they have successfully dealt with these issues.

6.2.2-Applicants who fail to act to address the issues for denial may not reapply.

6.2.3-A denied applicant may reapply only once per academic year.

6.3-Ongoing Mentoring

A denied applicant who wishes to be reconsidered for ordination must maintain an on-going relationship with her mentor, who will act as a liaison between the Ordination Council and the denied applicant. The applicant’s mentor will convey to the candidate all criteria for acceptance or denial of ordination within 30 days.

6.4-Denial of Ordination Request

6.4.1-An applicant will receive the rationale for her denial in writing within 30 days of the Ordination Council meeting in which she was considered. She will be asked to sign this and return a copy to her mentor.

7. Disqualification for Ordination

7.1- Potential Disqualifications for Ordination

The following conditions are likely to disqualify an applicant for ordination:

  • certain felony convictions;
  • destructive life patterns that are not corrected in a timely manner;
  • abandonment of financial and ethical obligations to others;
  • history of sexual, physical or emotional abuse towards children or vulnerable adults;
  • misrepresentation of self;
  • failure to satisfactorily meet qualifications as previously stated in these requirements;
  • inability to represent RCG-I responsibly and effectively to the general community.

7.2-If an applicant has been disqualified and wishes to appeal the ruling, the applicant must appeal in writing directly to the Ordination Council within 30 days of notice of disqualification. Appeals are handled in accordance with the established resolution process within RCG-I.

8. Criteria for Evaluation of Applicants for Ordination

8.1-Ethical Behavior

RCG-I Priestesses serve as representatives of RCG-I in their communities, and may be called on to represent RCG-I in public venues, in groups, and on boards such as community interfaith organizations, interfaith ministerial boards or councils. RCG-I Priestesses serve members of RCG-I and others in their communities in many roles that require a clear understanding of, and agreement to abide by, codes of conduct and professional ethics. Examples of these roles include counselor, ritualist, healer, or mediator.

8.1.1-Applicants for Priestess must demonstrate the highest degree of ethical and moral conduct.

8.1.2-Applicants must demonstrate knowledge of the specific codes of conduct and ethics in their areas of focus.

8.1.3-At a minimum, the applicant must demonstrate the capacity to maintain strict confidentiality, and maintain appropriate personal and professional boundaries.

8.2-Personal Characteristics

8.2.1-Applicants for Priestess must demonstrate the following personal characteristics: psychological and emotional stability, integrity, trustworthiness, leadership, good judgment, compassion, and commitment to treating others with dignity and respect.

8.2.2-Applicants for Priestess must demonstrate psychological readiness to make the commitment to Priestess work within the Congregation as a calling to service.

8.2.3- Applicants for Priestess must demonstrate their commitment to women as a class.

8.3-Legal and Fiduciary Knowledge

8.3.1-The applicants must understand and be able to carry out her legal responsibilities to individuals and groups for whom she will serve as clergy. At a minimum, the applicants must demonstrate a working knowledge of the clergy abuse laws in the jurisdiction(s) in which she expects to serve as a Priestess.

8.3.2-The applicants must understand and be able to carry out her fiduciary and financial responsibilities to individuals and groups whom she will serve as clergy.

8.4-Commitment to RCG-I

Applicants for Priestess must demonstrate their commitment to RCG-I as an organization, and their ability to work within the governing and administrative structure of RCG-I.

9. Mentoring

Candidates/ordainees must successfully complete a mentoring process. The process of ordination is a spiritual journey. As such, it can be filled with both joys and challenges. Candidates/ordainees are assigned a mentor Priestess who has already walked this path. The Mentor supports the Candidate/ordainee in her personal ordination journey, and may speak for her before the Ordination Council.

9.1-Mentoring for ordination lasts one year before the ordination ceremony and for one year plus one day after ordination.

9.2-During mentoring, the Ordainee will correspond with her mentor regularly, at minimum on the solstices and equinoxes, in a written or recorded form. The Ordainee’s mentor will respond within 30 days.

10. Internship

Candidates must successfully complete a 64 hour unpaid internship at the RCG-I Mother House in Madison, Wisconsin. This internship provides the Candidate with the opportunity to meet the staff and Conclave (board) of RCG-I, to learn in detail about the organizational structure and operations of RCG-I, and to finalize her decision to be ordained. It also allows RCG-I staff and Conclave to meet candidates for ordination.

10.1-Internship must include 64 hours of work at the RCG-I Motherhouse.

10.2-Internship may be completed in segments of any length with the prior agreement of the Consistery Executive. If completed in segments and Internship shall not exceed two years.

10.3-It is the responsibility of the candidate to contact the Consistery Executive to arrange for the dates of her internship and the plans for her service project (see below).

10.4-It is the responsibility of the candidate to arrange for transportation and housing during her internship. Community housing is often available and the Mother House staff can provide suggestions and recommendations on housing.

10.5-As a part of this internship, the candidate will successfully complete a service project that she has designed with assistance from the Consistery Executive. The project should reflect the skills, talents, interests, and experience the candidate brings to RCG-I. The Ordainee may ask for assistance or guidance in completing the project, but she will not be supervised.

10.6-During the internship, RCG-I will provide the candidate with instruction and training in: the performance of sacred ceremony; RCG-I bylaws, governance, and administration of RCG-I; religious law; and moral thealogy.

10.7-Internships must be completed before the fall meeting of the Ordination Council in order to be considered for ordination the next May.

10.8 -Upon completion of her internship, the Candidate for ordination must submit in writing to the Ordination Council a confirmation of her continuing intention to being ordained.

11. After Competing Internship

After completion of her internship a candidate must submit a Final of Intent Letter. This should include:

  • a description of the precise focus/foci of your Priestessing.
  • visions of your Goddess work and how you intend to enact these visions.
  • any changes from your last Letter of Intent should be explained.
  • a written statement that you continue to meet all the requirements for ordination.
  • a final Self-Evaluation.
  • a request to the Ordination Council to set the date for her ordination.

12. Documentation of Candidate Qualifications

12.1-Required Documentation

12.1.1-The candidate must document their knowledge of the clergy abuse laws in the jurisdiction(s) in which she expects to serve as a Priestess.

12.2-Optional Additional Criteria

When appropriate the Ordination Council may use any or all of the following to evaluate an applicant’s appropriateness for ordination:

  • personal interview
  • letters of reference
  • personal knowledge of candidate
  • psychological examination
  • credit reports
  • background checks
  • recommendation by a Convening Advisor in candidate’s community
  • randomly selected recommendations from peers in candidate's WTI Group
  • interviews with family, friends or others in candidate's community,
  • any other legal and ethical methods of examination

13. Final Consideration of Ordainee

At its fall meeting the Advisory Council will review a candidates Final Letter of Intent, make a final confirmation of RCG-I’s intent to ordain and set the date for an ordination. Approval of an applicant by the Advisory Council endorses a participant as an Ordainee. If ordination is denied the process outlined in Section 6.4 will be followed.

14. Ordination

14.1-Timing and location

An Ordainee may be ordained at any RCG-I Priestess Gathering for up to three years after the RCG-I Ordination Council and the RCG-I Conclave have approved her request for ordination.

14.1.1- The RCG-I Priestess Gatherings are usually held on or around the 3rd full weekend of May in Wisconsin. This is the only location and event at which ordination ceremonies are performed.

14.1.2-If an Ordainee cannot attend the Priestess Gathering because of permanent physical disability, she must notify the Consistery Executive to make other arrangements for her ordination.

14.2-Certain Commitment

Three years after her ordination a Priestess will be asked to make a certain commitment to RCG-I. At this time, RCG-I will make long-term commitments to the Priestess and will ask her to make commitments to the Congregation.

14.3-Reapplication

If an Ordainee is not ordained within three years of her approval, she must resubmit her application for ordination and re-complete her internship period.

15. Credentials

Upon completion of the ordination ceremony, the Priestess holds full and legal credentials as a Priestess of RCG-I, and is able to act as a full Priestess as described in Section 1.

15.1-Confirmation Ritual

The newly ordained Priestess may (and is encouraged to) hold a confirmation ritual, in which her local community acknowledges and accepts her as a Priestess.

16. Continuing Annual Responsibilities

16.1-Annual Report

To maintain continuing Priestess credentials, a Priestess will make an annual report of her activities to the Consistery Executive by Hallows of each year. Failure to provide an annual report for two consecutive years will result in suspension of credentials.

16.2-Yearly Activity

Each Priestess shall to do at least one (1) activity with/for the Congregation each year. Examples of activities might include:

  • participate actively in a local RCG-I Circle
  • attend an RCG-I Gathering
  • teach/organize a WTI Intensive
  • teach a class online
  • organize a fundraiser for RCG-I
  • work as part of an RCG-I committee

If a Priestess does not complete an activity as outlined above for two consecutive years her credentials will be suspended.

16.3-Reaffirmation

Each Priestess shall reaffirm her ordination vows once every three years.

  • Recommitments shall be part of the ordination ceremony at the Priestess Gathering.
  • If a Priestess cannot attend the Priestess Gathering, but would like to make a recommitment she shall inform the Ordination Council of her intent to recommit. Her name shall be read into the Circle and her vows renewed in her absence.

16.4-Declining Reaffirmation

When the RCG-I Ordination Council believes it to be in the best interest of the Congregation they may decline to accept a recommitment by a Priestess. This decision may be appealed in writing directly to the Ordination Council within 30 days of notice of being declined. Appeals are handled in accordance with the established resolution process within RCG-I.

16.5-Psychological Testing

Every three years coinciding with the renewal of her vows, each Priestess shall take a psychological test. The Ordination Council shall state the required test and provide information about how a Priestess may take the test. The cost for taking this test shall be at the Priestesses expense. A Priestesse’s vows will not be reaffirmed until she has taken a current psychological test.

16.6-Current Address

Each Priestess shall keep a current address, phone number and email address on file with the Consistery at all times. If we cannot find you, your Priestess Credentials will be placed hold until we hear from you again. If a Priestess does not make contact with the Congregation for a period of a year more her Priestessing Credentials will be suspended.

Adopted by the RCG-I Ordination Council 2/3/06

17. Suspension of Priestess Credentials

17.1-Request by Ordained Priestess for Suspension of Credentials

RCG-I Ordained Priestesses who later choose not to work within the RCG-I structure may request that their Priestess Credentials be suspended. Any suspension shall be permanent.

17.2-Review by RCG-I Concordance

If, for any reason, it appears that an RCG-I Ordained Priestess is not working within the RCG-I structure, and she has not notified RCG-I of this, the RCG-I Concordance will be asked to review her status and make recommendations regarding suspension of her credentials to the RCG-I Ordination Council and the RCG-I Conclave.

Document revised 8/10