What Will I Learn?
15 month-long modules placed in our online classroom will give you a brief introduction to these topics:
- Pagan history and theology basics
- Creating and leading ritual
- Diversity & cultural understanding
- Personal spiritual development
- Serving people at various life stages
- Group leadership
- Family dynamics
- Addiction issues
- Domestic violence issues
- Lifework planning and optional ministerial prep for Sacred Well Congregation (SWC)
Where Are Classes Held?
There are no live class meetings – all media presentations, readings, web resource links and discussion lists are in our online classroom. With good internet access you can do this from anywhere in the world, any time of the day, 24/7.
Who Will Be My Teacher?
Instead of a teacher, you will be assigned a faculty mentor who has experience in community ministry. That mentor will stay with you throughout your independent study, checking in with you regularly and giving you feedback and evaluations. Your mentor will probably also want to have phone or web meetings periodically.
How Much Will This Cost?
When you register for the program you will set up a Paypal monthly payment of $100. The work is self-paced, but you are expected to complete each module in the month so you can go on to the next. If you drop out or must take a leave there is no refund. When you return, there is a reinstatement fee equal to one month’s tuition. There are a few books that you must purchase on your own. Many of the readings will be posted in your classroom.
What If I Am Not Interested In SWC Credentials?
That’s fine. You and your mentor will work out some details of your program which are specific to your tradition (or no tradition). At this time, SWC is the only organization offering ministerial credentials to CHS students, but we hope there will be additional options in the future.
Will This Mean I’m Able to Legally Marry Someone?
Maybe – the laws are different in each state. It will give you education from a respected source, and you will be better prepared to offer this service to others. If you choose to seek ordination with SWC, then you will be endorsed by a reputable Pagan organization which is recognized by the U.S. Department of Defense and others.
How is This Different From a Master of Divinity Degree?
An MDiv is a full graduate degree, comparable to any graduate degree you would receive at a university or other seminary. It is often required for professional chaplaincy or paid congregational ministry. The Community Ministry Certificate is not a graduate degree or professional certificate. It is designed for the many individuals who are doing work in their own community and who need an introductory program to help them with the skills and knowledge essential to such work. You do not need a college degree in order to enter the CMC program.
How will people know I’ve received this?
Following award of your Community Ministry Certificate, you are entitled to add the initials CMC after your name. Also, if you have received your Community Ministry Certificate from Cherry Hill Seminary, you may commission a ministerial stole. A deep green stole with the embroidered Cherry Hill Seminary official logo is exclusively designated for our Community Ministry graduates. Contact the office for more information.
Do You Have Scholarships?
Not at this time. Cherry Hill Seminary offers the highest quality Pagan-focused education at the best prices available anywhere. But we do this on a very tight budget. We think that if you look around at tuition rates for other seminary programs, you’ll be astonished at how reasonable our tuition rates are.
When Does the CMC Program Start?
Register as soon as you decide to take this step. Since the program is for independent study, there are no dates for classes, just your individual progress through the modules.
Why Didn’t You Do This Before Now?
In its earlier days the Pagan world was a little different. Most people belonged to covens, and some of those leaders advised CHS founders of a concern that students would leave their home group if they got training elsewhere. Now a large percentage of Pagans surveyed say that they are either solitary by choice or unaffiliated with a group for other reasons. Finally, most tradition training does not cover the topics taught at a seminary. Since this is one of the most common inquiries we’ve received over the years, we felt that it was time.
What Is Sacred Well Congregation?
From their web site: “The Sacred Well Congregation International is a Universalist, independent, non-evangelical Wiccan Church. We are organized for the purpose of conducting and promoting religious worship on alternative Spiritual Paths. Our Church provides open, public venues for the practice of the Old Religions; we promote community benevolence efforts, spiritual counseling, and religious educational programs, and provide extensive spiritual and administrative support to service members, their families and military communities.We believe that there are many paths leading to the same spiritual dwelling place, and we affirm the right of any individual to choose his or her own path, and the right of any group to worship the Divine in any lawful manner they may choose. branches of our family tree extend far and wide. Our Kindred reside across all fifty States and in twenty-three nations on six continents. We are formally affiliated with the Greencraft™ Tradition of Wicca, a branch of the Continental Alexandrian line originating in the Benelux. We work in harmony and purpose with a number of individuals and organizations across North America and around the world to promote tolerance, understanding and love for all Paths Sacred. We are, in concept and in fact, a Church without walls.”
What if I already have a tradition that is not Greencraft Wicca?
SWC includes affiliates of various traditions, a number of them being something other than witchcraft. Founder and Executive Director David Oringderff tells us that SWC was founded at a time when Wicca was predominant in the Pagan world, but that SWC has always been intended as an open organization, there to serve the growing and changing needs of today’s Pagan world.
Tell me more about applying to Sacred Well Congregation.
SWC has been updating their materials and web site to accommodate new CHS students. SWC states that: “Upon completion of the CMC and when accepted by SWC (we will do background checks) you will be given deacon status so you can start performing clergy duties right away. You will have some strict reporting requirements for 21 months (3 years including the 15 months of the CMC program). After that, assuming all goes well and we are both still happy with each other, you are given clergy status. There are still reporting requirements for clergy, but far less rigorous.” If you intend to apply for deacon and then clergy status, we recommend that you start by joining SWC as a member at the time that you begin your certificate studies.”
Do I need to buy any books?
Only a few. Most readings are provided in the online classroom. Click here to find out what books you need.
Our organization may want to receive candidates for ordination or priesthood who have completed their CHS Community Ministry Certificate – what is required?
We are happy to facilitate a connection between our CMC students and your organization, and to mention your organization in our information for students and the public.
For example, Sacred Well Congregation accepts the CMC in place of their coursework and counts the time spent in the CMC program (15 months) towards time required before full ordination. Students who plan to pursue Sacred Well Congregation ordination are encouraged to go ahead and join SWC early on so they can develop that relationship. Sacred Well Congregation has provided us with detailed information introducing the CMC student to that organization, including a powerpoint introduction. This material is posted in the 14th module of the program.
Upon completion of the CMC, Cherry Hill Seminary issues a formal letter and certificate which may be presented by the student to any organization. Of course, it is up to that organization to provide any tradition-specific training. It is also the organization’s responsibility to perform any vetting, background check, and contacting of references which you would normally require of your applicants for priesthood or ordination. No student is guaranteed acceptance as clergy; the ordaining tradition makes that determination.
Please contact us if you have questions or would like to set up such a relationship. Please send inquiries, a description of your organization, its mission and programs, and current requirements for both membership and priesthood or ordination.