The Community of Service at Four Quarters
an Earth Religious Monastic Order
At all times and in all places people are called to their religious experience, and the expression of that experience. Four Quarters is such an expression, as a Church and a Spiritual Sanctuary based upon the Land.Four Quarters is also a Religious Order, a group of people who have accepted a Rule governing the living of their lives, and who have dedicated their lives to supporting the work of this Church. They accept no wage for this work and if the work is outside of the Church they give their wages to the Church, being supported by the Membership and the Common Treasury of the Church.
Although the Community of Service at Four Quarters is in every way a living community, it is not an intentional community in the commonly understood sense. We are not attempting to create a model for economic or egalitarian lifestyles, nor are we an effort to provide an alternative to society at large. In fact, we doubt that anyone is so wise as to be able to create Community by intent. Our experience has been that when people are moved by a common goal, have struggled in common effort and share a mutual spiritual and physical investment, that community will arise. In fact it can hardly be otherwise.
Charism and Rule of
The Community of Service
at Four Quarters
Adopted Feb 11, 2001 by The Board of Directors
Four Quarters Interfaith Sanctuary of EarthReligion
A Religious Order of the Four Quarters InterFaith Sanctuary of Earth Religion
Charism of the Community of Service at Four Quarters
We find Spirit working through ourselves, through those with whom we share this journey and through the cycles and seasons, all in their proper time, of the world of nature all around us.
We find Spirit revealed to us in the eternal Dance of the Goddess and Great God, reflecting both the singular and the plural nature of Spirit; revealed to us again in the turning of the Great Wheel of the Year, marking out the universal rhythm of the cosmos and reflected in the stations of our own personal lives; and revealed yet again in the dynamic of our community, drawn together in worship and religious festival, to mark our own understanding and to Honor the Old Gods.
We find Spirit dwells within ourselves, within our Sisters and Brothers in relation with each other, and within the substance of the living world. Together, these things constitute the Mind of Spirit.
As we travel through the Great Wheel, we are privileged to experience that which has brought us such understanding as we may have. Seeking to increase our understanding of Spirit, we now realize that we can best do so by undertaking a life of Service.
Service to the Spirit that dwells within the natural world, through a commitment of physical stewardship to the land upon which we live, held as an InterFaith Sanctuary of Earth Religion; and through stewardship of that greater whole, our Planet Earth.
Service to the Spirit that dwells within our Community, by making our Sanctuary open for the peoples experience of Spirit. Through regular worship on the Land, through religious festivals and ritual held upon the land; and by bringing ceremony and solace to those who request it from afar.
Service to the Spirit that dwells within our Sisters and Brothers, by caring for their wants both physical and spiritual, and seeing in their own hurts and joys a reflection of our own.
And a life of Service to the Spirit that dwells within our own hearts; through personal Sacrifice, Ceremony and Celebration.
of the Community of Service at Four Quarters
This Rule is provided for the guidance of the Sisters and Brothers of the Community of Service at Four Quarters and describes how they have agreed to live, for anyone undertaking this Life of Service should do so in knowledgeable understanding of its terms.
As loving discipline is a good thing, the Community of Service is subject to the authority and decisions of the Board of Directors of the Four Quarters InterFaith Sanctuary of EarthReligion, in all matters where the Board exercises that authority
Discipline from within is as important as discipline from without; in any other matters a Member of the Community of Service is subject to the authority and decisions of a Council of Dedicants of the Community of Service.
If you undertake to live under this Rule have no expectation that you will receive financial benefit or physical wealth for your labors. And if you owned nothing of the world do not look for those things within the Community of Service that you were unable to have when living without.
The income or benefit of property held by a Member of the Community shall not personally benefit that member in a way that would distinguish them from any other Member of the Community. And the financial rewards of any kind of internal work or external wage paying work performed by a Member of the Community shall always be settled to benefit the common treasury of the church.
Think of nothing within the Community of Service as your own, but consider it to be yours in common. Food, clothing and shelter shall be provided from the common treasury in equal portions, with just allowance made for differing individual needs.
If you owned something of the world, do not make haste in wanting to give it to the Community, but rather give thoughtful consideration to your irrevocable acts.
A Novice of this Community is a person exploring this Rule as a basis for living their life. They have petitioned the Council of Dedicants, which has recommended them as a Novice to the Board of Directors, which recommendation the Board has accepted. They shall be accepted as a Novice in private ceremony with the Council of Dedicants.
The Novice agrees to live under the terms of this Rule and the authority of the Church to the best of their ability, and the Church agrees to provide for their daily wants from the common treasury; understanding that the Community and the Church have extended no assurances of their tenure. The Council of Dedicants or the Board of Directors may terminate their Novitiate for any reason or for no reason.
Because a lack of alternatives is the poorest of reasons for membership in the Community, no Novice of the Community should ever be without the means to freely effect a graceful decision to leave the Community. A Novice must show proof of and retain such personal resources sufficient to allow their free withdrawal from the Community. Likewise, the Community is forbidden to accept as a gift from a Novice any resources that would inhibit their free withdrawal from the Community. To join or withdraw from the Community of Service carries with it neither honor or derision. It is a choice that reflects the needs of the individual and the Community.
A Novice is encouraged to retain their personal and movable property, and may bring with them to the Community such movable personal property as can be neatly stored in their assigned living quarters. If they make available for the use of the community personal or movable property that is consumable, they do so knowing that such consumption shall be considered a gift to the Church.
A Novice may retain ownership of real property acquired prior to their membership in the Community of Service, or may receive inheritance, legacy or gift from family or persons who knew the Novice prior to their living under this Rule; provided that they do not personally receive any benefit in a way that would distinguish them from any other member of the Community; and that the Novice is not required to provide any substantial form of support or supervision that would diminish their labor on behalf of the Community.
A Novice may be nominated by the Council of Dedicants to the Board of Directors for acceptance as a Dedicant to the Community of Service, such nomination occurring twice and acceptance occurring twice within a period of three lunar cycles. It is best that at least one year and preferably three years of service and training prepare a Novice to make a knowledgeable decision to dedicate themselves as a Member of the Community of Service.
The Dedicant shall be received into the Community at a public Full Moon Service, that includes a laying on of hands by the Council of Dedicants, Church and Four Quarters Members.
An explicit compact exists between the Church and the Dedicant of mutual responsibility and obligation. The Church is accepting of its obligation to provide for the daily needs of the Dedicant and that persons dependant children, from the common treasury as equally shared among the Members of the Community. The Dedicant accepts the direction and decisions of the Church, even when these extend to matters of directing day to day activities of the Dedicant, work outside of the Church for wage, that persons long term personal development and their spiritual responsibilities to the Church and the people. For both parties the expectation is that these reciprocal responsibilities are for life.
The compact can only be sundered on the part of the Church after its third loving and written censure has gone unheeded on the part of the Dedicant, and after both the Council of Dedicants and the Board of Directors have twice reached the decision to sunder the compact within three Lunar cycles. The compact may be sundered by the Dedicant upon request made of the Board of Directors and the Council of Dedicants, and followed by a public Full Moon Ceremony of Sundering. In the event that the compact is sundered, the Dedicant retains their personal movable property and such real property as they have not yet disposed of.
A Dedicant should retain only such movable personal property as can be neatly stored in their personal living quarters. Any tools, equipment or other articles that they may make available for the use of the Community shall be considered a gift to the Church.
A Dedicant may retain ownership of real property acquired prior to their membership in the Community of Service, or may receive inheritance, legacy or gift from family or persons who knew the Dedicant prior to their living under this Rule; provided that they do not personally receive any benefit in a way that would distinguish them from any other member of the Community; and that the Dedicant is not required to provide any substantial form of support or supervision that would diminish their labor on behalf of the Church.
Over time, it is expected that a Dedicant may choose to release their real property to their own family or a non-profit institution of their choice, or assign the income of such property to the Church, observing the formalities of civil law.
A dedicant must execute a will providing for the disposal of their goods upon their death.
Work and Service
Work is a gift and to work is a grace. Daily work is our livelihood and an opportunity to serve ourselves, our Gods and our neighbors. While leisure, recreation and personal contemplation are all important parts of the Ceremonial Life of Service, they cannot replace the Blessings and Grace of regular labor. Members of the Community are expected to freely give of themselves to the physical, religious and spiritual work of the Church, in the manner deemed best by the Council of Dedicants and the Board of Directors. It must be understood that this can be demanding and hard work, requiring material and spiritual sacrifice. Often challenging of our strengths and even more challenging of our weaknesses, it is through this process of accepting challenge that we grow.|
Especially important is work within the context of worship and ceremony; privately, within our Moon Service Circles and within the larger religious gatherings and festivals that constitute an integral part of the religious life of our greater community. It is great sacrifice to forego the joys of private worship and participation in ceremony, and take on the burdens of planning and leading public ceremony, but this is necessary work and shall not to be avoided when requested by the Community of Service or the Church.
Work among the people, sharing their pleasures and their hurts, and offering such succor and guidance as we may possess, is the most demanding of tasks. It is also that which carries within it the greatest potential for our own emotional growth. When we say no to the appeals of others, we say no to the appeals of our own hearts.
Work within the organization of the Church, unseen, sometimes unknown and unthanked, is vital to the health of the body of Community. It is here that we learn humility, to see that which was hidden and too easily taken for granted.
The physical work of our bodies upon the land, in Stewardship of the living body of the Earth, is both the simplest and most profound form of worship that we have open to us. Never doubt that Spirit dwells in a clod of earth.|
The work and burdens of leadership are the hardest to bear and the easiest to forego. Show understanding and compassion to those who have taken up this work, because you walk in their footsteps and may be called to walk in their stead.
The Community of Service at Four Quarters is outward reaching and of the world, our rule requires that we work with the people both in common labor and in celebrating the worship and religious festivals of the Old Gods. As you labor, be mindful that all eyes are upon you; your own, those of the people and those who came before. Your behavior stands warrant in your own stead, and stands to others as representing our ways and worth.|
Show respect for the other traditions of EarthReligion, even if they are not of your own understanding, for they are all expressions of the Earth's understanding of herself and of her children.
When standing as Priestess or Priest in ceremony, remember that you are a vessel, not the source. If asked to teach, remember that your knowledge comes from beyond yourself. Be mindful that when doing these things you do not represent yourself, but rather are seen by others as representing our Church, our Community and our Traditions.
Speak out against the injustice that you see, person-to-person and without prejudice. Leave the work of public politics to those who have chosen it as their own way.|
Keep to the simple in your needs and wants, and in those physical things that you keep about you. A mind uncluttered by the need of these things is all the more open to receive wisdom.
If you find your mind wandering to condemnation of those who live in physical excess, remember that this is their free choice, just as to live under this Rule is yours. Do not take pride or separate yourself from others on account of the material poverty that is also your free choice.|
Welcome the constructive criticism that is lovingly offered to you, bearing in mind how differently are our actions as seen by the actor and by the audience. Speak with kindness and consideration when offering criticism to others, remembering that you have walked that road and you will walk it again.|
It is our nature to desire belonging to a group, and we sometimes attempt to deny belonging in others, as a way of feeding that desire in ourselves. Although you live under this Rule, do not allow the illusion to enter your mind that you are different or better than those who do not. Be instead thankful for the Blessings that have manifested this Rule in your life.|
Show honor to all of the stations of life, as they mirror the stations of the Great Wheel. To the Sons and Daughters, the Maids and Gallants, to the Mothers and Fathers, the Aunts and Uncles and to the Elders and Ancestors, show respect and seek understanding of their experience. To the children especially, give of your time and of yourself. For they are beloved of and a gift from the Old Gods, still warm from the embrace of the Great Goddess.
We are the sum of all that has come before, both the consequences of our own choices and of those things that came to us unlooked for. This day, we are allowed to choose again from a horizon of limitless complexity. Do not ever pretend to claim that another is responsible for your present life. To live under this Rule is your free choice and you may make another choice at any time. Think well upon your choices, both the great and the small, for they are a future of your own creation.