Adopted February 15, 2000
*Revised October 27, 2007*
The Constitution and Bylaws
Four Quarters InterFaith Sanctuary of Earth Religion
A Statement of Process and Organization
As is right and proper there is much that is best undertaken by the individual, and there is much that is best done by people working together. This document outlines the structure of The Four Quarters InterFaith Sanctuary of Earth Religion, a group of people who have come together in their individual realizations of spirit to combine their strength and abilities towards the common goal of fostering Earth Spirited Religion. It is our intent to provide the benefits, structure and resources of the Church to those who practice in the many EarthSpirited ways and traditions of EarthReligion, knowing that our right to join together as a Church is one of the many blessings of the great nation of which we are a part.
Section 1.0 Purpose
Four Quarters Interfaith Sanctuary of Earth Religion (the Church), is an Interfaith Church of EarthReligion, incorporated as a non-profit organization in the state of Pennsylvania, EIN 25-1853964; whose purpose is to foster and support the expression of all Earth Religions.
Being a country based and landed church, we also exist as an Interfaith Church Camp, making the land available for the spiritual needs of those who come here.
Being an organization of service, we incorporate and support within the Church a Religious Community Sharing a Common Treasury, living under Vows of Poverty and subject to the authority of The Board of Directors: “The Community of Service at Four Quarters.”
Our focus is the Stewardship of this Land and the Stone Circle being raised upon it, held as a place of safety and respect for all Earth Religions and all people of Spirit; a sanctuary for individuals to explore their spiritual relationship with themselves.
1.2.0 * We do not attempt to define the belief of the individual, knowing that belief is a deeply personal matter, a part of our ongoing journey together.
1.2.2 * We do recognize, support and incorporate into the body of our experience as a Church those practices that we perceive are commonly shared and expressed among the many indigenous and modern traditions of Earth Religion.
1.2.4 * These practices include but are not limited to: the work of Spirit as a gender duality and polarity; our honor of the Circle in its completeness and its directions; polytheism and monotheism as accessible and understandable expressions of the divine impulse; the Wheel of the Year as a means of understanding ourselves and our world; and the recognition of nature as the source and endpoint, image and reflection, of ourselves and our experience of Spirit.
1.4 * Our tradition is one of public service through work, on the land and amongst the public., to foster and protect the Standing Stones as sanctuary for all.
Section 2.0 Organizational Structure
2.2 * The Church is founded on the episcopal model; the President of the Church Corporation may exercise the authority of the office herein granted to prevent the Board of Directors from taking an action. Legal authority, ultimate oversight for church operations, and the functioning of the Board of Directors rests with the Board of Directors, and are voted and consensus based. When consensus cannot be reached after three lunar cycles, resolution of issues rests with a majority vote of the Board of Directors and the concurrence of the President of the Church Corporation.
2.4 * As a minimum the seated Board of Directors shall consist of a President, Vice-President and a Member of the Community of Service; no less than two and no more than seven seated members. The President and Vice-President of the Board are elected to minimum terms of three years or longer by the Board of Directors. Other seats on the Board may be created and terms defined as seems good to the Board of Directors. Members of the Board shall be drawn from the Membership of this Church. Due consideration shall be given to maintaining the gender balance of the Board whenever possible.
2.4.2 * The Board shall appoint Members Advocates to serve as advisors to and Members of the Board. They shall be treated as full Board Members, with all rights and responsibilities of Board Membership, excepting personal legal responsibility for the actions of the Church Corporation in matters of law.
2.4.4 * Resignations from the Board prior to completion of a term of service must be tendered in person and in writing, at a scheduled meeting of the Board.
2.4.6 * The privacy and confidentiality of the deliberations of the Board must be respected by the members of the Board and of the Church, membership being contingent upon maintaining this privacy. The internal process and discussions of the Board may be opened at the determination of the Board.
2.4.8 * The decisions of the Board shall be noted in the minutes of the Board. Minutes shall be signed and dated by the Board members present.
2.4.12 * It is the tradition of the Board of Directors to meet on the weekend of Church Full Moon Services. It is expected that the Members of the Board will make reasonable effort to attend all Full Moon meetings of the Board.
2.6 * Financial, Minutes and organizational documents shall be freely available for review by the Membership of the Church.
2.8 * The founders of this church state that the Board is to operate in such a way as to preserve the Land and the Stone Circle as a sanctuary of safe ritual space for Earth Religion, to promote the Mission Statement of the Church, the founders' personal agreement, and other founding documents, all incorporated here by reference.
2.10 * The founders state that it is their hope and goal that in time the land which is the heart of the Church will pass to the ownership of such legal entity as will hold and protect the land in accordance with the values and goals stated in the founding documents of the Church. At that time the Board may elect to change the organizational structure as set forth here.
Section 3.0 Four Quarters Farm Membership
The Church functions on many levels and with accommodations made for differing degrees of participation. The Church is a practicing body of EarthSpirited people and supporters that has chosen to organize its religious experience and legal existence. Four Quarters Farm (the Farm) is the land stewarded by the Church and is the InterFaith Church Camp of Earth Religion administered by the Church. The Farm is the outward reaching focus of the Church in making this land open for diverse peoples’ spiritual use.
3.2 * As part of our public work the Church hosts ritual, conferences and festivals on the land that are open to all. We consider the people who join us at these times to be Seekers; guests of the Church and guest members of the Church Camp.
3.4 * The Members of the Church Camp are those people who desire a stronger and more permanent tie to the land and have joined us as dues paying members of the Church Camp, having registered as such with the Church. As members they may use and camp upon the land in accordance with policies of the Church.
3.6 * Guests, members and staff of the Church Camp must respect the personal choices made by the membership of this Church to support the Mission Statement of the Church and its foundation documents. They are not liturgically bound to the Church in any way and are not considered to be Members of the Church.
3.8 * Membership in the Church Camp is subject to the consent of President of the Church, or the Board of Directors. Revocation of membership requires two consecutive votes of the Board of Directors, separated by no less than one Lunar cycle and no more than three lunar cycles.
Section 4.0 Church Membership
The Members of the Church are people who want to participate in the life of this Church and have the Church available to them as a resource to assist them in realizing their own spiritual needs. They are free to partake of the ministry of the Church as much or as little as they think good for themselves.
For some this membership may be no more than their voice of support for the mission and work of the Church. For many it may mean leading the open ritual that is part of the work of the Church. For others it may be their earnest worship or formal preparation for study with or membership in one of the Church’s Circles.
Membership in the Church grants no tangible material benefit to the member, but it does demand a high level of responsibility from the member. Therefore, the process of becoming a Member of the Church and maintaining that membership in good standing has certain requirements.
4.0.2 * Becoming a Member of the Church: Any person seeking to become a member of Four Quarters Interfaith Sanctuary of Earth Religion must submit a formal written request to a Member of the Board of Directors or a Member’s Advocate. This request should include a brief explanation of why the request is being made and may be delivered by hand, through the postal service, or via email.
Upon approval of the request, the Board and the applicant may enter into a waiting period of up to a year and a day from the date the request is received, to ensure a good and continuing relationship between the Church and the applicant.
At the end of any waiting period the applicant will be contacted to coordinate attendance at a Full Moon Church Service for formal request, acceptance, in Circle Cast, as a Member of the Church. Following the Ceremony, the new member will register their membership, in their own handwriting, in the Church Membership Register.
4.0.4 * Membership requires an expressed sense of stewardship of the Land and Standing Stones that are Four Quarters.
4.0.6 * Membership in the Church requires maintenance of a valid, active membership in the Church Camp. If Church Camp Membership should lapse, Church membership will also lapse. Church membership may, however, be renewed at a later date, subject to the approval of a formal written request to the Board of Directors.
4.0.8 * Membership in the Church requires public respect and support of the principles stated in the Mission Statement and Constitution of this Church, the internal process of the Church and the individual Members of the Church, and the leadership of the Board of Directors of the Church.
4.2 * Church Membership Revocation
Membership in the Church is subject to the consent of the President of the Church or the Board of Directors. Revocation of membership requires two consecutive votes of the Board of Directors, separated by no less than one lunar cycle and no more than three lunar cycles.
4.4 * Church Members and Other Organizations
Membership in the Church does not preclude membership in any other religious organization.
Section 5.0 Church Circles
Members of the Church may form circles specifically to explore their spiritual lives and engage in religious practice with the full support of the Church and its resources. These circles may be (as examples) Wiccan, Strega, Native American, Eclectic, Santerian, Druidic, Shamanic, Indigenous or any other EarthSpirited path.
Church Circles may exist to explore a special interest of the Church Circle that is not necessarily religious, but which the Church chooses to support, such as: Drumming, Recovery, Men’s or Women’s Councils, Crafts or other areas of special interest.
Church Circles shall incorporate the following principles:
5.2 * The Circle must draft a prepared mission statement defining the purpose of the Circle and naming the Circle, to be reviewed and approved by the Board of Directors.
5.4 * For administrative purposes the Church considers the formal membership of a Church Circle to be those people who are members of the Church. The Circle may choose to open its membership, process and activities to members of the Church Camp and this is to be encouraged. The Circle may invite non-members of the Church Camp as guests to share in its process and activities.
5.6 * The Church Circle shall appoint two members of the Church, gender balanced if possible, to act as liaisons of the Circle’s affairs with the Church. These persons may or may not be considered as the Priesthood of the Church Circle, depending upon the practice of the Church Circle. These persons shall speak for the Church Circle in such administrative matters as concern the Church and the Church shall look to them for an accounting of the Circle’s affairs.
5.8 * In as much as the Church Circle may desire to use the land, facilities and resources of the Church, the Board of Directors shall determine such fees, rights and responsibilities as it concludes may be proper to apply to a Church Circle, its members and guests.
5.10 * A Circle may award degree elevations consistent with its own practice and in its own name. Although supported and encouraged by the Church, these elevations will not necessarily carry the legal sanction of the Church for ordination.
5.12 * All public, business, or legal written material referring to the Church Circle by name shall incorporate the words "Four Quarters Interfaith Sanctuary."
5.14 * Any Church bank account opened by a Church Circle must be opened with a Church Board Member as one of the signatories and after an express act of the Board of Directors of the Church.
5.16 * Any fundraising by a Church Circle must be approved by the Board of Directors.
Section 6.0 Ordination and Clergy
6.2 * It is our tradition that the role of clergy in our worship services is filled by volunteer Members.
6.4 * The Board of Directors may assign individuals specific, time limited, clerical duties representing the Church congregation in situations where clerical services are required.
6.6.0 Creation of Legally Sanctioned Clergy
6.6.2 * Although not formally structured, the process of Ordination of Clergy is best brought about through the nomination and acclimation of an individual by the membership of the Church; in recognition of their having already entered in service to the people.
6.6.4 * The Ordination and Creation of Clergy carrying the legal sanction of this church requires a vote of the Board of Directors.
6.6.6 * The creation of legally sanctioned clergy must incorporate a public ceremony of Ordination within the Stone Circle, and a public announcement of this ceremony in the Church's publications.
6.6.8 * Revocation of the Ordination of Clergy carrying the legal sanction of this church requires two consecutive votes of the Board of Directors, separated by no less than one Lunar cycle and no more than three lunar cycles.
6.6.10 * The Board of Directors may choose to formally recognize the Ordination of Clergy from other Faiths, in concurrence with the Church’s Interfaith mission.
Section 7.0 Marriage
7.2 * The Church makes no distinction based on gender or legal sanction of the intrinsic spiritual value of any form of domestic partnership.
7.4 * It is our tradition that legally sanctioned marriage ceremonies shall be witnessed within the physical Stone Circle at Four Quarters; that one of the parties to the marriage be a Member of the Church; that the ceremony is legally witnessed by the Church Congregation; and that the State Marriage License is signed by the ranking Member of the Board of Directors present.
7.6 * It is our tradition that in cases where it is not possible to witness a legal marriage within the physical Stone Circle at Four Quarters; that one of the parties to the marriage be a Member of the Church; that a Circle is considered to exist wherever three Members of the Church have assembled for the purpose of witnessing the marriage; and that the State Marriage License is signed by the ranking Member of the Board of Directors or by the ranking Member of the Church not a party to the marriage.
Section 8.0 The Community of Service
8.2 * The Church incorporates into its body the “Community of Service,” a religious order sharing a common treasury and living under vows of poverty and service.
8.4 * The Community of Service is self governing under its “Charism and Rule of the Community of Service,” incorporated here by reference, and specifically recognizes and functions under the authority of the Board of Directors.
8.6 * The Community of Service shall recommend to the Board of Directors at least one of its Members as a seated Member of the Board, as defined in Section 2.4.
Section 9.0 Disposition of the Deceased
In dealing with the physical remains of our dead it is the intent and focus of our Church to render those remains into a state of natural decay such that in time the processes inherent within nature will be fulfilled. In order to integrate the spirit and body of the dead into the natural cycle of death, decay and rebirth, we specifically do not practice embalming or any other act whose purpose is to halt, retard or manage the natural dissolution and reintegration of the physical remains of the deceased.
9.2 * Upon death, it is the highest and traditional practice of the Church to provide to its Members for the excarnation of the body by exposure to the elements upon Church owned land. After at least a year and a day, the skeletal remains shall be interred in the Church ossuary crypt with such ceremonial practices as are deemed appropriate at the time of the internment.
9.4 * In cases of cremation, the ashes may be interred in the Church ossuary crypt with such ceremonial practices as are deemed appropriate at the time of the internment.
9.6 * In cases of direct burial, such burial may occur on Church owned land as designated by the Board of Directors. In all cases of direct burial no effort shall be made to preserve the physical remains, by means of sealed crypt, coffin or embalming on Church owned land.