As a southern pagan I always considered to be a part of a larger community that consisted of every kind of pagan there is. Learning and growing to become the best version of myself so that I could help those around me. A long the way I realized that we had to be a part of the community at large not just the pagan community. The communities we live in are a vital part of any church's growth. If we ever hope to be on equal terms with the other major faiths of the world, we have to engage in our town's health and well-being. By doing so we ward off misconception that have plagued us for centuries.
Southern Delta Church of Wicca - ATC (SDCW-ATC) has come very far in the way we are perceived in our community. Living in the buckle of the Bible Belt is challenging for any who are not Christians. At the very beginning we had death threats, drive by shootings, forced out of homes and of jobs simply because we were pagan. This behavior did not detour the growth of the church and its people. We worked tirelessly to forge a bond with the community no matter how hard they pushed we always came back with love and the law on our side.
We started out with talking nicely to those who ask about our church and religion. The Clergy did workshops at the library and talks at the Arkansas State University in Jonesboro AR as a way to get our message of equality out there. The Church adopted a mile of highway to clean up four times a year. After a time, people became less aggressive towards us.
The first big acceptance came when the sheriff showed up on our doorstep with a letter inviting us to participate in the annual Christmas Parade. This shocked and amazed us because when we saw him walk up all we could think of is "what have they been called on us for this time." We were so stunned that we asked him if he was serious, and he said yes. We took home first place trophy that year for best Church Float! This was a historic moment in the church's history and a brake through for all pagans in our area.
The second one made the biggest impact. SDCW-ATC started a community garden. That consisted of all heirloom plants free of pesticide grown and given to the community. The first year was difficult getting the food from the garden to the people. The people were still skeptical about taking anything for the witches. We had to find a way to get the food to those in need. The next year we built a small food pantry at the edge of our parking lot. This gave the community a way to get the food they need even if they were a little shy or too proud to ask for help.
Change in our communities doesn't happen overnight. Change takes time, patience, love, and commitment to progression for the true freedom of our Faith. We strive to serve not only our pagan community but the community beyond. By serving the community at large, we are seen and treated as a valued member of the communities we live in. We are no longer feared but excepted as religious organization dedicated to helping people in our communities.
We promise to our continued serve to the pagan community and beyond.