As I mentioned here, a Diocese of Montreal parish is renting space in its rectory to witches. The original article, published in a pagan news site, The Wild Hunt, was taken down but has now been reinstated.
The diocese has now asked the two witches to leave the rectory belonging to St. Thomas’ Anglican Church, a parish which declares itself to be a welcoming, inclusive church. This can only mean that, even in Canadian Anglicanism, there is such a thing as too much inclusion. This is from the original article:
It is uncommon for Pagan groups to be operating out of an Anglican church facility, which begs the question: how are the Pagans and Anglicans getting along as neighbours?
Jory cannot say enough about how accommodating and cooperative the relationship has been. “They are fine with us doing our Pagan stuff indoors, they just say please don’t do rituals outside, because not everybody will understand. So, that’s our respect for them, we are on their ground.”
This relationship has provided opportunity for both sides to work together on interfaith projects. “They do a bunch of interfaith stuff. They wanted to do something that would help build community,” Jory explains.
Here is the update:
MONTREAL — On Jan. 11, T. Scarlet Jory, co-founder of Crescent Moon School of Magic and Paganism, announced that The Rectory would be closing down as of February 2017. “This past Friday, January 6, 2017, we were given notice that we will need to leave our stay at the Rectory, due to some very awful miscommunications that led to a lot of anger on the part of the Anglican Diocese of Montreal.”
On Jan 5., TWH reported on a story about the birth of The Rectory, a new facility serving the Montreal Pagan community. According to the founders, Robyn and T. Scarlet Jory, the space was imagined as a place of inclusivity for a very diverse Pagan world, as a well as a proponent of interfaith community support. They had a successful soft opening in the fall, and were preparing for the full launch in January. What happened?
The trouble began after the TWH article was published and members of the greater Anglican community alerted the Diocese to the activities going on in the church. The Diocese and the church were under the impression that the space was being rented for a tutoring program, and neither organization knew of The Rectory founders’ full plans. After the Diocese learned about the scope of programming through internet reports, it immediately contacted the Reverend, who then called Robyn and Jory. In response, the two women asked us to temporarily remove our article in order to allow them to ascertain what exactly was happening. We agreed to do so, but the information was already public. Within hours, the founders had to remove all references to The Rectory in social media, as well as take down the new Rectory website.
In her Jan. 11 announcement Jory states that, after consideration, the Diocese asked them to leave, but it was not the church’s decision. Jory added, “We would like to be clear that the matter of our leaving is not a case of Christians vs Pagans. It is a matter of human error. […]. Rather than fight to stay where we are not welcome, we would like to move forward peacefully, with dignity, and respect for our present hosts who have been perfectly lovely with us to this point.” Robyn agreed, saying that they are not blaming anyone for what has happened and that they are trying to just move forward.
Our article is available again, and we are currently in touch with the founders to learn more specifically where and how the communication broke down, as well as where the two women are going from here. Tomorrow, we’ll bring you their candid responses and what they have learned from this incident.
And there is yet more information here. One comment in particular from the witch who contacted me caught my eye. The rector of the church is her mother-in-law and knows her daughter-in-law is a “Pagan and deeply spiritual.” The rector ought to know better – much better: being “deeply spiritual” can easily be a recipe for disaster if the spirits in question are less than wholesome. But, as is so often the case with watered down Anglicanism, spirituality seems to have replaced truth.
We spoke with founders T. Scarlet Jory and Robyn about what happened in order to clarify the situation.
“Prior to [publication of The Wild Hunt article], there was nothing to suggest that we needed to hide who and what we were. We were not concerned about the diocese finding out that we were renting the rectory space,” said Robyn, who is co-founder and the daughter-in-law of the church’s reverend.
The women originally located the available church space through this family connection, and Robyn added that her mother-in-law is open-minded and knows that she and Jory “are Pagan and deeply spiritual.” However, the reverend reportedly did not know the full plans for the rectory space, nor did the diocese.
Robyn explained, “When we signed our rental agreement with the church, to rent space within their rectory, it was with the understanding that we were opening and running a tutoring centre, and that we would also run some workshops on the side.”
When asked why they didn’t reveal the full scope of the project from the get-go, she said, “We didn’t know that things would take the direction that they did, or that the workshops and community events would become such a focus for us, until suddenly there was no tutoring happening, but lots of very excited Pagans and others who were interested in coming out.”
As we noted yesterday, it was a TWH article, which is published and available unedited, that led to confusion among the organizations involved. Members read our article and alerted the Anglican Diocese of Montreal, who reportedly became angry and immediately contacted the church.
The reverend, who was at the time on her way to India, contacted Robyn and Jory about the news. The very next day, the women contacted us about misinformation and the anger coming from the church community. Additionally, Robyn reported to an Anglican blog site that we had taken quotes “out of context,” reiterating that the space was only for tutoring. She said:
“Yes, I am a witch by faith, and yes, I rent an office space at the Rectory. What I do there is tutoring, and offer some small spiritual services to a small group of people. We are an interfaith group. The Church itself is Anglican, and friendly, but not involved in my personal activities, or that of my business partner Scarlet. Further, a lot of what Scarlet is quoted as saying in the original article, was taken out of context from a conversation between her and the writer.”
When we recently asked exactly what was out of context and wrong in our report, Robyn simply said, “That is difficult to answer. I think Scarlet said some things casually that she did not realize would go on the record. She was also distracted and caring for her baby while doing the interview, which I was also told.”