Eidolons of Ash

An EGC Development Model

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Sacred River explores spirituality grounded in religious naturalism & progressive ethics that is both non-theistic and non-supernatural.

Based on a recent post by stevensteven, I was inspired to develop my own model for local EGC development. It is important to consider that the levels I present are not discrete. Rather, they represent a spectrum of capabilities and degrees of quality. For example, a local body might be at level 2 in performance, but still at level 1 in materials. At the same time, these areas are not unconnected, and most likely will grow together. Moreover, each area needs to be attended to for all to grow: level 3 in community will probably not be able to be reached if a local body has level 1 materials. The years that I give for each level are admittedly just educated guesses, although I believe they are reasonably accurate.

Naturally, this is all just a suggestion. Please feel free to ignore or mangle this model to fit your vision.

LEVEL ONE (0-2 years)

Performance: Officers are partially or totally on script. Music capability is minimal, such as tapes or CDs on a small stereo system. Lighting capability is minimal, provided by either candles or standard room lighting. Performance skills such as voice-control and physicality are at beginner levels. Ritual skill is perhaps minimal (e.g. just learning to "vibrate"). Blocking of the ritual is rough.

Materials: A basic set of items is available, mostly owned by individuals. Some items and furniture are ad hoc (e.g. using everyday furniture, like a cabinet with a sheet over it for an altar, a bedsheet for the Veil, etc.). Space is use of people's homes.

Community: Consists of a small, core group. At this size, cohesion is not too difficult to establish and maintain, since communication and events are relatively easy to coordinate. Mass is performed ad hoc (i.e. not on a regular schedule) and most or all celebrations are Private. There is probably limited clergy, if any.

Priority: Ritual competence and learning about the Mass, both in terms of performance and theory.

Other actions: Start acquiring and constructing materials. Begin a savings account for future property, and begin considering goals for it. Consider ways to reach out to the larger community to find like-minded individuals.

LEVEL TWO (3-6 years)

Performance: All officers off-script (except perhaps the Collects for the Deacon). Music capability has increased, with live musicians and/or an excellent sound system with a music selection designed specifically for the ritual. Skill in performance and ritual increased. Things like blocking and timing are becoming smoother. Lighting capability has increased, perhaps with ability to create coloring and spot effects.

Materials: All the basic material requirements are fulfilled, and are partially owned by the local body. Items and furniture are no longer ad hoc and are made specifically for Mass use, although some might still be rough (e.g. High Altar not to spec). All officers have proper vestments. There are ritual items for the People, including missals and adequate seating. The space is partially or fully dedicated to the Mass, although it might still be attached to private ownership, and might be less than ideal regarding comfort and functionality for O.T.O. rituals.

Community: Has grown beyond a small group of people. Cohesion is no longer very tight, since cliques are starting to form. Performance of the Mass becomes more regular, and Public celebrations are the majority. Local body begins to make more effort to bring in new congregants, mostly by word-of-mouth, but with other methods being tried out. Other ecclesiastical rituals are beginning to take place regularly, especially Baptism and Confirmation. Non-ritual events are also starting to occur, including scheduled social events, workshops, and training for new officers. Most likely some members have become ordained clergy.

Priorities: Continue working on ritual proficiency, expanding out to other EGC rituals. Complete the inventory of required materials. Set concrete financial goals for a future temple space and develop objectives to meet them. Find ways to support the development and health of the local community. Acquire at least semi-dedicated space.

Other actions: Start making ritual components such as music and lighting more sophisticated. Begin training program for potential officers. Expand outreach. Offer classes and workshops.

LEVEL THREE (7-15 years)

Performance: All core officers are highly competent and knowledgeable, with excellent vocal, physical, and ritual skills. Music capability is sophisticated, with skilled musicians and/or a high-quality sound system with perhaps original scoring, all working in perfect accord with the ritual. Lighting can be manipulated to a high degree, perhaps even dynamically during the ritual. Blocking and timing of all ritual events have become seamless and elegant.

Materials: All materials are owned by the local body, and are of high quality and made to proper specifications. Vestments are attractive and well made. There is now a store of items, with multiple styles of props and vestments that allows for variation. Furniture is functional and well-crafted. The space is fully dedicated and maintained by the local body. Moreover, the space is reasonably attractive, comfortable, and designed for O.T.O. ritual use.

Community: Group has grown to become a large, vibrant community. At this size, the local leadership puts forth effort to maintain social cohesion and high moral, such as coordinating multiple social events. Public Masses are offered on a regular schedule, at minimum once a week. A more sophisticated effort is made to advertise the Mass to people who might find it valuable. The local body has a sophisticated set of texts and educational materials for newcomers and experienced members alike. Clergy begins to get involved in the larger spiritual community, if this is both realistic and useful. A complete range of ecclesiastical "services" are regularly offered, including all the official and unofficial EGC rites, as well as original liturgical rituals and pastoral counseling. A sophisticated officer-training program is offered by the local Episcopate. Several members are now ordained clergy, including one or more Bishops.

Priorities: Acquiring a fully dedicated long-term space. Monitoring the spiritual and social needs of the local community and fulfilling them as possible. Expanding the inventory of materials to include high-quality items. Promote expertise development amongst clergy (e.g. pastoral counseling).

Other actions: Continue on path to temple ownership. Expand presence into larger community in sensible ways. Encourage new officers from the local community in consideration for replacing outgoing clergy.