Building Community Part 2 – A Gentlidecht group in ADF

This is the second part of a series on building an Irish Polytheist community.  I realized after writing the first part, that it did not include any real methodology but was simply a structure of the community not necessarily how to build it.  In this essay I will not only cover how typical ADF groves are structured, but how I can envision an ADF grove founded and run by people who practice gentlidecht may change the structure and what actual methods are used to bring in individuals and families to build a community of genti, around the ADF grove.

A few local folks who identify as Irish Polytheists have joined me in starting what is called a protogrove of  Ár nDraíocht Féin in the Baltimore area.  ADF at its core is a Neopagan church but due to its orthopraxic nature allows for many traditions to function within it at the local group and individual level.  What is most attractive to us was the longevity of the organization, an established ritual structure created using reconstructionist methodology, and a built in community at the national and international level.  Being a protogrove or grove of ADF also has the advantage of being an immediately recognizable body within the community, most Neopagans know that ADF is a druid organization, making the process of building a community a little simpler…name recognition goes a long way.

Organizationally, ADF requires that each Provisional and Chartered Grove have a Senior Druid, a treasurer (Pursewarden) and a secretary (Scribe), a Protogrove is only required to have a Grove Organizer.   The required duties are also defined by ADF, but outside of these requirements a grove can operate according to its own bylaws.  As we plan to remain focused on gentlidecht we expect to have some roles defined that are not found in other groves.

While not explicitly stated in any official document the Senior Druid is the expected leader of the grove as can be seen by the existence and function of the Council of Senior Druids. However, as Irish Polytheists we are considering having another role that is more of a secular leadership position that functions along side the Senior Druid.  The religious duties and those ADF expects would be handled by the Senior Druid, with as yet undefined responsibilities falling to the secular leader. 

It may even be possible to establish an ADF grove or protogrove and function in nearly the same way as the dearbhfine as described in Part 1. With the Conn Fine being the secular leader mentioned above and the Senior Druid as the spiritual leader and adviser to the Conn Fine.  Another poissble adjustment would be to only allow ordained ADF Priests to function as Senior Druid, as they are trained to lead ritual and be the spiritual leader of the group.  Mind you this is just an example as we have not yet even started to consider organizational structure of our future Provisional Grove, just want to give you an idea of how, as an Irish Polytheist, you can adapt to the ADF system and remain true to your identity. 

So now that you have decided that  ADF is the way to go, it only takes is one ADF member with at least 6 months membership to form a Protogrove…that means it only has to be you.  Even if you are the only CR person you know in your area forming a Protogrove is a good start to building community. It demonstrates that you are serious in your intent and again provides you with instant name recognition, and places your ‘group’ into the searchable ADF grove database. 

Now you have a “Protogrove, ADF” and it is time to start building that community.   To get started use social media to get word out that you are going to hold some sort of  meet and greet for folks interested in Celtic Reconstructionist Paganism or be even more specific, it is up to you.  In our case, we established a Facebook page for our protogrove and MeetUp site to advertise events.  Once the event is created use every means you have to get the word out – e-mail lists, social media, and online forums.  Hold the event – even if no one has RSVPed you should ALWAYS hold the event.  You do not know who will drop by unannounced.

Establish a schedule of events and be as consistent as possible.  As mentioned in Part 1, monthly meetings help foster community and ADF does require its groves to hold monthly business meetings and quarterly public service activities, so you may as well get into the habit.  You can change up the purpose of the meeting, the location even the time to give others an opportunity and reason to attend.  My protogrove is planning to hold monthly events that range from the simple “Meet and Greet” to classes on topics of interest to Irish Polytheism.  As an ADF grove we will also have classes specific to ADF, such as for those going through the Dedicant Path and general introduction classes on ADF topics.

The trick to building any form of community is commonality and communication.  Community members have something in common, in our case Irish Polytheism, and they have to be consistently informed of what is happening, the Facebook page and MeetUp.   Throw in consistency and you will find that the same people tend to show up time and time again.  When this happens you get to know them better and eventually, you invite them to be an active member of your small group.  Rinse and repeat and you will not only end up with a Chartered Grove, you will have an extended community outside the grove to whom you provide services.

End Part the Second.

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