Submitted by RobbMLewis on Tue, 11/07/2017 - 18:43

Over the past few weeks, I can't help but see that the Board of Directors for ADF (aka Mother Grove, MG) is going down the same path that caused major headaches only a few short years ago.  What I have seen is that once again, the MG is not living up to the reforms they stated they were making.  They are once again doing what they please, and not involving the membership in significant decisions for the organization.  They are also not approaching the membership with calls for resumes for open appointed positions, as they said they would.  I wish this was an isolated instance, but it has happened 2 times in the last 2 weeks.

Before I go any further, let me state clearly that I am not commenting on the qualifications of the people that were appointed.  I am only commenting on the process.  I also want to state that I am only writing this after hearing privately from many members about this topic, all of similar opinions and that this should be discussed by the membership at large.

At the end of October, ADF as a whole suffered a loss with the death of the long term Office Manager, Hugh.  For all of us that knew him, myself included, condolences have been extended, and prayers for his family have been made.  This being one of the most important positions within ADF as far as members are concerned.... the position is the person who processes membership applications, and answers basic questions or directs them to the appropriate person when the office is mailed or emailed... they are very much the initial organizational face that members meet.

Because of the importance of this position, we needed a replacement ASAP.  This meant that Selene, a member of the MG, was appointed to the position.  She used to be his supervisor, it does make sense.  This appointment was only for a maximum of 6 months.  What this does though is create potential conflicts of interest.  Selene's sister is the Administrator, who is the Office Manager's boss.  Selene is on the MG, making her part of the Administrator's boss.  Let's also remember that the Office Manager is one of 3 paid positions, the others being the Administrator and the Arch Druid.  If Selene is accepting a salary for this temporary appointment, that raises other questions as she has a vote in the compensation she gets.  It just is a quagmire of questions that needs to be resolved.  We were told that there would be a call for applications for the position forthcoming, but as of this post, 1.5 weeks later, no call has been made.

What was done with the Office Manager, due to the urgency, I can understand and somewhat excuse.  What I cannot understand or excuse is the more recent announcement with regards to the ADF Preceptor.  This position is the person who is in charge of making sure that the study programs work, and to run the Council of Lore, the group that oversees all the study programs.  With ADF's focus on training, this is an important position.  It was announced by the AD that Carrion was stepping down and that Rowen Grove was being appointed to the position, followed a couple days later that she had been approved by the MG by a 7 to 2 vote.

This was a matter of someone was stepping down, and I had heard rumors about it mid October, so it was not a sudden thing.  There was/is plenty of time for the MG to put a call out for people to apply for the position.  No call happened.  When this was brought up by the leaders, the AD had the following to say:

Since the Preceptor needs to oversee the Clergy Training Program and the Initiates Program, it seemed to me that the candidate for Preceptor should be both a Priest and an Initiate because I think it would be impossible to oversee either program without experience of it.

First off, using the logic that they need to oversee the CTP, that means to me that the best qualified people for that role would be those who have completed it, which are the senior priests (third circle).  Rowen is an ordained priest (first circle).  Even if we were to limit it to all priests that are also initiates, which is a very small number of people, there was no call for applications to that group.  This was an appointment of Rowen without any chance for anyone else who was qualified, possibly more qualified, to apply for the position.

The argument that it should be clergy is also not a good argument.  Many years ago when Raven stepped down, the role of the ADF preceptor was changed by policy adopted by the CoL (if I remember correctly, if not it was the MG) that made the position purely administrative.  The only time the ADF preceptor had to get involved with reviewing a course is as a last hope as nobody else can do it.  We even have precedence that the review of courses by the ADF preceptor can be appealed to the full MG.  The responsibilities of the ADF Preceptor per the policy are to basically run the CoL (votes, reports, etc), and make sure that the CTP, IP, GSP, and DP preceptors were doing their jobs.  They were actually forbidden from reviewing work with the exception of being a last resort or on appeal, a situation I am only aware of happening once since the policy went in place around 2010.

So, what we have here is a an appointment of someone that was not an emergecy, and without any chance for the membership to voice their opinions, nor apply for the position.  This appointment was also done against the promises of the MG that they would be putting out open positions so that members can apply.  We have the AD adding in requirements that they be both a clergy and initiate to the position.  What this whole thing has done is give the appearance that 7 members of the MG and the AD don't care about the opinions of the members, but will continue to give jobs to people they know well.  This gives the appearance of the "old boys club" mentality in action.  With the Office Manager, it also gives an appearance of nepotism as it's a family member supervising a family member.

I call on the MG to rethink their actions.  I don't expect these appointments to change, but I want to see it become an official policy that ALL appointed and paid positions with the exception of elected paid positions, be open for all qualified members to apply for, and that the entire membership is aware that the position is taking applications prior to an appointment or hire being made.  Not doing so will continue to tell us as members that our skills and our opinions don't matter.  If the MG continues to make the members feel this way, that is the surest way for the organization to lose members.

Blog comments

even after the debacle of a couple years ago which led to the platitudes of “openess” I have really seen little interest in members opinions from the MG. When called out individuals of the MG get testy, offensive and sometimes combative. Often pointing to the dismissive policy put into place to “ask for input 2 weeks before” as a “communications” policy.

Often the call for input is preceded with an undertone of “we are asking for your opinions and comments because we were forced to” not because they truly want to hear it. I am hopeful that not all feel that way, but the perception i get is one of recalcitrance from the MG and really they dont care a lick about membership its about placing the clergy members and friends into power. I’m a member of ADF over 10 years . I do not trust the MG. I remain a member solely due to my grove and people who are a part of it .

Other than that, I am no longer proud to share with greater Pagan community I am ADF. I prefer to align myself with other organizations or paths instead.

How is that for consequences of the classism of the clergy in ADF? They have truly succeeded in becoming a “world” religion - one of separation of laity and clergy through its priestly elitism .

As a MG member, I wanted to apologize to you personally that you've felt all MG members have no interest in what the members have to say about the org. I had made it a personal goal of mine since 2015, when I first got elected, that I would work towards transparency, and make sure the members voices are heard on the MG. I've forwarded every single correspondence sent to me about the MG to the MG. Even ones that didn't ask but were good ideas, I forwarded to the MG for discussion. I've worked and fought for more and more transparency on the MG, beyond what my job descirption entails.

Even with that though, it may not have been enough. I've always been accessible, but maybe I should be even more active and find even more ways to incorporate the membership into the growth and future of ADF. Since I'm the one that sends out the e-mails asking for input, I can only assume that it is my words that have made you feel this way, since the emails I've sent are part of your reply here. I will re-evaluate the wording in them, and see if there are other ways I can incorporate membership feedback so that they know it is wanted, at least on my end.

I found the MG response fairly telling when it was said (and I paraphrase) "yes, we said we would announce these positions, but there's no policy saying we have to do it so we're not gonna." This bald announcement of adbicating all honor stands, as yet, unopposed and unchallenged by any MG member.

I will say that Crystal has been supportive of transparency and making the posting of vacancies to see applicants, and has said such multiple times today in multiple places. Apart from her, there has been no official response to the issue by the MG since this blog post was made.

Good morning. I just wanted to take a second to say that, while I've been quiet so far, I am reading all of the comments, emails, etc. that have been received and am trying to process it all. At this time, I just want to say that my intent is never to make people feel like the MG is not listening or doesn't care about the membership. I've only been on the Mother Grove for 6 months at this point, so there is still learning that needs to be done but that is not an excuse. The lack of a policy on how these appointments need to be handled has been recognized and there is a motion on the MG currently to create this policy immediately to prevent it from happening again in the future. We aren't dragging our feet or procrastinating this issue. I know there have been mistakes in the past, but please know that those of us here, in the present, are actively trying to remedy the situation and prevent future, continued problems. We hear you. We see you. I hope you all know that. We're 100% ok with being held accountable, but please also know that we are trying.

George Santayna knew what he was talking about when he said "Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it."

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