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Q: Can I attend if I'm: not a member? not UU? not Pagan? doing a project for school on new religious movements? trying to figure out what this Wicca thing is that my kid is into?
A: Sure! Our rituals and other services are open to everyone. Check out the calendar and What to Expect at Gaia Ritual for more information about what we'll be doing on any given Sunday, and come by at 3 p.m. Our rituals and other services are designed to be participatory, but no one will require you to do anything you're not comfortable with. After the ritual, if you have questions about anything you've seen, feel free to ask a Ritualist (they're the ones with the blue ribbons on their nametags). For more information about what it means to be a member of Gaia Community, check out our Membership page, or talk to someone on the Membership Committee (they're the ones with the yellow ribbons on their nametags). You can usually find someone from the Membership Committee at the Greeter's Table.
Q: When you say your services are participatory, what does that mean?
A: It means that we think you get more out of a religious or magical service if you put something of yourself into it. Every ritual will include opportunities for everyone present to join in: to sing, dance, or drum; to meditate or take a trance journey; to add personal energy to a working; to speak out and share experiences; to craft talismans or make offerings; to do their own personal work in a supportive group setting. We respect that not all of the people attending a ritual will necessarily want, need, or be able to participate in the same way, and provide space for people to interact at a level and in a way that that is comfortable and empowering for them.
Q: Is your church accessible to people with disabilities?
A: Heart of the Dove's main rooms do not include stairs. Our children meet on the second floor, and occasionally we do, as well. We will announce on our Facebook group when we are meeting upstairs. Parking is on the street or behind the building, with several spaces directly in front of the entrance to the building. If you have a concern relating to a particular accessibility need, please contact our vice president/ombudsman at email@example.com.
Q: What should I wear when I visit?
A: When you join us, we encourage you to dress comfortably or in your "pagan finery", however you want to enjoy our celebration! Sarongs, jeans, skirts, dresses, shorts, various articles of leather clothing, lace, beads, fringes, and more (or less, within reason) are all common sights at our rituals. The emphasis is on your comfort level and participation, not what you feel the dress code is. Occasionally, a ritual dealing with a certain tradition may have suggested dress appropriate for that tradition or culture, but even then, it's far from mandatory.
Q: Should I bring my athame/tarot deck/golden sickle/broomstick/altar?
A: In general, anything you need to participate in the ritual will be provided. If, however, you prefer to have a particular ritual tool with you when you do magical or religious work, feel free to bring it. (If it's sharp, please keep it on your person at all times; we often have young children moving around, particularly before and after ritual, and we don't want anybody to get hurt.) Occasionally, we specifically request that participants bring something special to ritual -- that information will be in the newsletter and on the calendar, so please take a look and come prepared.
Q: Can I bring my kids to your rituals?
A: Yes! We have an excellent "pagan Sunday School" program called KidSpace, which is designed for children and young teens that generally meets separately from our main services on Sunday. But if you would prefer to have your kids with you in the main ritual, they are certainly welcome. We do ask, though, that if your children are in the main ritual, that they remain with you.
Q: A lot of UU churches take the summer off, or go to a reduced schedule in the summer. Does Gaia Community?
A: Nope. We meet every Sunday at 3 p.m., all year round.
Q: Who is your minister?
A: We don't have one! Our congregation is built on the model of shared ministry. As an expression of this model, most of our Sunday services are created and facilitated by the Ritual Teams, who are all lay members and volunteers. Some services may also be led by members of our Covenant Groups sharing their tradition or spiritual focus with the congregation.
Q: Okay, so you don't have a minister. Does that mean that you don't have anybody who could officiate at a legal wedding?
A: No, we do have a group of lay ministers who are legally authorized to perform weddings. We also perform handfastings, commitment ceremonies, baby blessings, funerals, and other rites of passage. If you are looking for someone to officiate at a rite of passage for you or a family member, or to help you plan and facilitate your own, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: Okay, if you have no minister, who do I go to if I have a problem with something, or a question or concern about something?
A: The duties of the Vice President of the community include acting as community Ombudsman. If you have a concern or a question, or just want to talk to somebody about the community, you can contact the VP, and they will help you out. At a Sunday service, you can find the VP by asking the friendly folks at the greeters' table, or any board member (they have purple ribbons on their nametag). Outside of Sundays, you can reach the VP by email at email@example.com. If you have a question or suggestion that might be best fielded by a specific committee, please look at our page of current committee contacts and the list of the board of trustees.
Q: I heard you take money at rituals. What kind of pagans are you?
A: The kind who pay for the space we use. *grin* Seriously, Gaia Community is supported almost entirely by donations from our members and friends. That money goes to pay our rent/building upkeep, compensate our KidSpace teachers, and cover other expenses like keeping the website up and running. We often also take donations to support other charitable organizations as part of our commitment to social justice and making the world a better place. If you're interested in all the ins and outs of Gaia's finances, take a look at our annual budget. Of course, all donations are made on a strictly voluntary basis; there is no fee to attend services.
Q: I'm looking to do some nude sunbathing. Can I come out and do that at your place?
A: Nope. We're Gaia-with-an-I. You're thinking of Gaea-with-an-E, Camp Gaea.
Q: I heard there was a Unitarian Universalist polyamory group. Are you guys them?
A: Nope, that's not us either. You're looking for Unitarian Universalists for Polyamory Awareness. You'll certainly meet polyamorous folk among our membership, along with people in committed monogamous relationships, single people, parents, people without kids, people in blended families, and people in pretty much any other family structure you can think of, but the community does not endorse or advocate for any particular family arrangement. We welcome people in any family structure, because we're doing that affirming and promoting the inherent worth and dignity of every human being thing, and because we think diversity is pretty cool.
Q: I sometimes avoid using public restrooms because I sometimes get harassed in them. Will I encounter this behavior at Gaia Community?
A: At Gaia Community, we support the right of all people to use the restroom in which they feel the most comfortable, regardless of other people’s perception of their gender. Members, friends, and visitors have the right to make their own determination of which restroom to use. Attempts to harass, threaten, or embarrass another person in the restroom for any reason will not be tolerated. If you encounter any harassment or embarrassment in the restroom, please tell any member (they wear wooden name tags).
Q: But you haven't answered my question!
A: Email it to firstname.lastname@example.org, or use the contact form to the left to let us know.