CONSTITUTION AND BY-LAWS OF

Hawthorn Grove, Inc.

PO BOX 706

MONTICELLO, NEW YORK

 

(A Pagan religious congregation)

 

 

ARTICLE I - PREAMBLE

 

††††† A. The name of this religious society shall be Hawthorn Grove, Inc.

 

††††† B. This society is a congregation or confederation of sovereign and equal persons interested in engaging together in communal study, prayer, worship, meditation and exercise of spiritual practices common to the Neopaganism traditions known as Witchcraft or Wicca, Druidism, Deep Ecology, native Shamanism, and other nature-oriented systems of belief and practice. The society shall be referred to herein as the Congregation. It is incorporated and shall operate exclusively as a nonprofit religious organization under the laws of the State of New York and the U.S. Government.

 

††††† C. The purpose of this Congregation is to provide a forum and a context for sharing and mutual support within Neopaganism (a term sometimes used to distinguish Pagans of today from those who lived in ancient times). Subject to the provisions of these By-Laws, membership in Hawthorn Grove is open to any Neopagan for whom the Wiccan Rede serves as the basis for a personal ethical system, regardless of tradition, pantheon or liturgical language.

 

††††† D. Hawthorn Grove does not have a vertical hierarchy in the sense of being headed by a High Priestess, Grand Master, Prophetess or Pope, though traditions and faiths which have such structures are respected by Hawthorn Grove as legitimate and valid for their adherents. Members may also belong to other organizations, including those which are more "traditional" in nature, such as coverts or loosely-knit circles of friends who hold rituals in each others' homes. For administrative purposes, Hawthorn Grove has a Secretary to manage its affairs. However, neither the Secretary nor any of the other officers or clergy of Hawthorn Grove are permitted to attempt to exercise any power to speak on behalf of the Lady or Lord in a matter which is lawfully or spiritually binding upon the membership. Based on beliefs in democratic principles of universal human equality, the sisterhood of women and brotherhood of men, Hawthorn Grove opens the rites of a lawful Pagan clergy to all who would pursue that path in service of the community and for the betterment of themselves.

 

ARTICLE II - PURPOSES

 

The purposes for which this Congregation is formed are as follows:

 

††††† A. To promote daily prayer and study of the native and shamanistic religious which are indigenous to ancient and modern peoples;

 

††††† B. To assemble at regular intervals to celebrate the cycles of nature and honor the potent spirits of the divine Queen and King of the elements, honoring the community of all Deities, and to seek self-development through meditation and other spiritual techniques;

 

 

C. To train and ordain a Pagan clergy;

 

 

 

D. To educate the public and issue publications on matters of Pagan religion;

 

 

 

E. To engage in organized community service and to administer funds for Pagan and general charitable purposes.

 

ARTICLE III - MEETINGS

 

††††† A. The dates of regular meetings of Members shall be set by the Members themselves, or by any person or persons designated. Notice of regular meetings may be included in the Newsletter and/or by communication from the Summoner.

 

††††† B. The Annual Meeting of the Congregation shall convene each year in the month of October or November at any place designated in the notice. Notice of this meeting, which shall be contained in the Newsletter, together with a proposed annual budget, shall be sent by the Secretary to all Members at least two (2) weeks prior to the meeting.

 

††††† C.††† Special Meetings of the Board of Trustees may be called at any time by one (1) or more Members of the Council of Elders or Board of Trustees, by written request to the Secretary. A Special Meeting shall be called not more than ten (10) days after the request for the meeting has been received. Any call for a special meeting shall state the object for which the meeting is to be held and the time place of the proposed meeting.

 

††††† D. A quorum, consisting of more than one-half of the existing body, shall be required to convene any meeting of the Board of Trustees for the purpose of conducting business.

 

††††† E. A quorum of the general membership shall consist of those voting Members who are present at any duly called meeting of Members.

 

††††† F. A quorum of the Council of Elders shall consist of those Elders who are present at any meeting thereof.

 

††††† G. Any business meeting of the Board of Trustees, Council of Elders, or of the Congregation may be held in person or by telephone conference call.

 

††††† H. In general (except for meetings by telephone), meetings of the Council of Elders shall be open to all Members of the Congregation, who shall be entitled to participate in discussion. In its discretion, under extraordinary circumstances, the Council of Elders may withdraw into executive session and limit any such meeting only to Elders of the Congregation or such others as they may invite. Any meeting Of the Congregation, of the Council of Elders, or of the Board of Trustees may be closed to anyone who is not a Member of such respective body.

 

††††† I. Any member of the Congregation may inspect the Minute Book and financial records of the Congregation, provided reasonable advance notice is provided to the custodian of such books and records.

 

††††† J. Every Member entitled to vote at a meeting, or to express consent or dissent without a meeting, may authorize another Member or Members to act by proxy.

 

ARTICLE IV - MEMBERSHIP

 

††††† A. Any person may become a voting Member of this Congregation who is in sympathy with its purposes, submits a completed Application for Membership to the Secretary, and makes art annual contribution of record. The Board of Trustees may reject any Application for Membership without stating reasons for such action. The Congregation and Board of Trustees shall not discriminate on the basis of race, color, gender, affectional or sexual orientation, handicap, old age, national origin, or other religious affiliation.

 

††††† B. No person under the age of eighteen (18) may be a Member of the Congregation unless at least one of her or his parents or legal guardians are also a Member and consents thereto.

 

††††† C. Incarceration shall not, in itself, bar a person from becoming a Member of the Congregation, except that incarcerated Members may not vote at any meeting, including by proxy. Incarcerated Members shall be exempt from any requirement that they contribute financially to the Congregation, and shall also be not entitled to clergy status while incarcerated.

 

ARTICLE V - BOARD OF TRUSTEES

 

††††† The policy direction of this Congregation shall be vested in a Board of Trustees, which shall be comprised of not less than three (3) nor more than thirteen (13) Members of the Congregation who have been elected by the Board of Trustees to serve for a term of one (1) year and until their successors shall qualify for office. Members of the Board of Trustees may serve consecutive terms without restrictions and may also serve concurrently on the Council of Elders.

 

ARTICLE VI - COUNCIL OF ELDERS

 

††††† The Clergy powers and authority vested in this Congregation under the laws of the State of New York, and any other civil jurisdiction, shall rest with a Council of Elders, comprised of not less than three (3) nor more than thirty-nine (39) Members of the Congregation. Elders may be elected by the Council, or appointed by the Board of Trustees, for a term of three (3) years. Elders may serve consecutive terms without restrictions Except as specifically empowered by these By-Laws, votes taken by the Council of Elders will be given due respect and consideration by the Board of Trustees, but shall be advisory in nature. In order to remain active oil the Council of Elders, current membership status in the Congregation is required.

 

ARTICLE VII - OFFICERS

 

††††† A. In general, the Congregation, Council and Board shall attempt to function by consensus. The Elders, Trustees and officers are delegated as little authority by the membership as possible in order for the Congregation to operate and remain organized and viable as a corporate body.

 

††††† B. Counselor - The Counselor shall preside in all ritual and liturgical matters, but have no power of compulsion over the Will of the Congregation or Members. The position of Counselor shall not be a standing office, but shall rotate among any and all Members of the Congregation. When the Congregation meets at the home of one or more of its Members, the hostess or host shall be or appoint the Counselor for that meeting.

 

††††† C. Consort - A Consort may be designated by the Counselor, whether or [lot they are regular working partners and irrespective of gender. The Consort shall co-lead in ritual and liturgical matters, with the Congregation, but neither shall have any power of compulsion over the Will of the Congregation or any of its Members. The position of Consort shall not be a standing office, but shall rotate among any and all Members of the Congregation.

 

††††† D. Summoner - The Summoner, who shall be elected by the membership at the Annual Meeting of the Congregation, to serve for a term of one (1) year. The Summoner shall maintain the Congregation's calendar, attendance records, and provide oral, telephonic or written notice to all appropriate persons of any meetings, rituals or religious celebrations. The Summoner should also serve as art informal social networker, keeping Members informed and mindful of significant life events and changes within the Congregation.

 

††††† E. Secretary - The Secretary, who shall be elected by the Board of Trustees at the Annual Meeting of the Congregation, shall:

 

††††† 1. Have custody of a record of the proceedings or minutes of all meetings ill a book or books established and contentiously maintained for such purpose;

 

††††† 2. Facilitate all meetings by ensuring that each Member present is treated fairly and courteously and has a chance to fully express themselves, ill the course of making decisions affecting the management of the Congregation;

 

†††† 3. Have custody of the seal of the Corporation;

 

††††† 4. Execute of any written instruments oil behalf of the Corporation when so authorized by the Board of Trustees;

 

††††† 5. Edit a Newsletter, published by the Congregation at least four (4) times per year, known as The Hawthorn Spinner, and have freedom of the press and pulpit in all expressions thereof and to exercise absolute editorial discretion, indemnified by the Congregation, with a disclaimer that any opinions expressed thereof do not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of anyone other than the writer;

 

††††† 6. Provide the day-to-day management of the Congregation, including issue of correspondence, publications, and other matters.

 

††††† F. Assistants - Assistants may be appointed by the Secretary or Summoner for ally purpose in completing their respective tasks.

 

††††† G. Pursewarden - The Pursewarden shall be elected from among the Council of Elders at the Annual Meeting of the Congregation, to serve for a term of one year and until a successor shall qualify for office. The Pursewarden shall perform such duties as generally pertain to the office of Treasurer, shall be responsible for keeping the financial books of the Congregation, and shall issue checks oil behalf of the Corporation. Expenditure of Congregation funds shall be reviewed by the Council of Elders and membership at least once per year.

 

VIII - REMUNERATION

 

††††† Members of the Board of Trustees shall not be paid for serving in this capacity. However, the Board may appoint whatever assistants or employees it deems necessary, and financially or otherwise remunerate such assistants. This does not prohibit ally individual member or members of the Council or Board from being paid for services rendered to the Congregation in some other capacity.

 

ARTICLE IX - CLERGY

 

††††† A. Ministers - Members may serve as ordained Ministers to the Congregation in furtherance of Pagan religion when appointed by the Board of Trustees. Order of ceremonies or rituals may be solemnized by the Council of Elders, or by such proxy or proxies as the individual may select and be approved by said Council.

 

††††† B. Credentials - In order to receive lawful ministerial credentials from this Congregation, a person shall:

 

††††† 1. Be a Member of the Congregation for at least a year and a day, participating in a full cycle of annual celebrations, including: Samhain, Yule, Imbolc, Ostara, Beltane, Litha, Lughnassad and Mabon (or their equivalents);

 

††††† 2. Serve as Counselor, as described in Article VII, Section B of these By-Laws, at a regular meeting of the Congregation oil at least one occasion;

 

††††† 3. Be formally accepted into a program of training in a manner which entails committing one's self to the requirements of one or more Pagan paths or traditions, and file her or his credentials and continuing education plan with the Secretary;

 

††††† 4. Pledge to endeavor to abide by personal ethics rooted in the Wiccan Rede in all intentional acts spiritual and mundane; and

 

††††† 5. Be mindful of decisions and policies of the Congregation, its Council of Elders and Board of Trustees in magickal intention when working with the Congregation and when representing the Congregation to the outside world.

 

††††† C. Relation to Membership - No member of the Clergy shall have authority or power to exert any degree of compulsion over ally Member in any spiritual or mundane matter, or to maintain any undue power or influence by virtue of their position. Members shall sustain the clergy and Council of Elders by providing moral support and not speaking ill of them, though honest dissent and dialogue are encouraged.

 

ARTICLE X - CONFIDENTIALITY

 

††††† No information about any person associated with the Congregation, or about ally person or group who has ever applied for membership in the Congregation, may be communicated by any Member to anyone outside the Congregation, except:

 

††††† A. When specific permission, verbal or written, has been obtained by the subject of the information to be disclosed;

 

††††† B. In the case of the Newsletter, when written communication has been received by the Secretary or Editor.

 

ARTICLE XI - SEVERANCE OF MEMBERSHIP AND EXCOMMUNICATION

 

††††† By a two-thirds vote of the Council of Elders, or by unanimous vote of the Board of Trustees, any Member of the Congregation may be removed from the rolls for:

 

††††† A. Making a written request to be severed from membership;

 

††††† B. Within a period of one (1) calendar year, failure to either: (1) attend at least one meeting of the Congregation, Council or Board, or to (2) make an actual contribution of record.

 

††††† 3. Violating the "Confidentiality" section of these By-Laws.

 

††††† 4. Willfully acting in a matter injurious to the Congregation.

 

††††† 5. Filing a false written statement with the Secretary, such as oil all Application for Membership or Application for Clergy Status.

 

††††† 6. Committing any violent crime, or any crime of a sexual nature, or being found guilty of any offense against a child (including an adjudication of child abuse, neglect or maltreatment in Family Court or the equivalent), or being the subject of art "indicated" report of child abuse or maltreatment.

 

††††† 7. Committing any act which, if it were adjudicated, would constitute a violation of the NYS Penal Law against another Member, or Member's family member, or against the Congregation itself.

 

ARTICLE XII - ETHICS GRIEVANCES

 

††††† The intent of this section is to aid in support of the Wiccan Rede, "'Aní it harm none, do as ye will."

 

††††† Ethics Grievances within the Congregation shall proceed as follows:

 

††††† A. An action may be initiated against any Member or affiliate group by any person who writes a letter to the Secretary alleging that any of the infractions enumerated in Article XI above may have been committed by said Member or group; or may be initiated by the Secretary when such information appears to give reasonable cause to suspect that such art event may have occurred. The Secretary shall call a hearing of the Council of Elders within ten (10) days of receiving any such complaint, causing it to be held within thirty (30) days thereafter.

 

††††† B. The subject(s) of any such action shall be informed in writing, by the Secretary, of the nature of the grievance at least tell (10) days prior to any scheduled hearing before the Council of Elders. If the Member does not object to being severed from the Congregation, or does not appear at the scheduled hearing, the Elders present may act in the Member's absence. The subject of a grievance has the right to invite a representative to represent or accompany her or him, provided the representative is a Member of Hawthorn Grove. Because art ethics grievance under this section is art ecclesiastical function, and not a legal proceedings there is Ito right to be represented by an attorney, unless the attorney is a member of the Congregation. The subject has the right to be presented with and to answer ally evidence, and to question any witnesses. All discussion in proceedings of this nature is to remain strictly confidential within the group physically present at the hearing, although the final disposition or outcome, charge(s) and nature of evidence may be announced in the Newsletter or other public forum, if a majority of the Council of Elders so recommends. A record of the proceedings shall be kept and maintained by the Secretary.

 

††††† C. After receiving all evidence and testimony, and deliberating in secret, the Council of Elders may take any of the following actions: (1) Ito action; (2) disfellowshipment, which shall result in temporary suspension of all privileges of membership, until a time specified; (3) removal from the Council of Elders and/or Board of Trustees (including revocation of Clergy credentials), as applicable; (4) termination of membership; or (5) disaffiliation (in the case of affiliate groups).

 

††††† D. Within ten (10) days following disposition by the Council of Elders, the subject of the proceeding shall be notified in writing of the Councilís decision, along with any actions necessary for possible reinstatement if desired.

 

††††† E. The subject shall have the right to appeal any decision of the Council of Elders to the Board of Trustees. The Board of Trustees, if acting unanimously, may also take initiative to overturn a decision by the Council of Elders if in its judgment it appears art injustice has been done.

 

ARTICLE XIII - AFFILIATE GROUPS

 

††††† A. Spiritual or religious groups in any location consisting of three or more persons who ascribe to any recognized Pagan path or tradition may petition the Board of Trustees for affiliate status with Hawthorn Grove, provided the following conditions are met:

 

††††† 1. A unique name for the group and a designated group contact or spokesperson is identified, with her or his address and phone number.

 

††††† 2. The group ascribes to the non-hierarchical structure of Hawthorn Grove, and agrees to abide by the nondiscrimination and ethical provisions set forth in these By-Laws.

 

††††† 3. The group has met at least once per month, for purposes of religious observance, celebration, and/or spiritual practice for a year and a day prior to filing the Petition for Affiliation.

 

††††† 4. Other supporting documents accompanying the Petition shall include a minimum of the following items:

 

††††† a. Completed applications for individual membership from each member of the applicant group;

 

††††† b. Articles of incorporation or association, or similar document, if any;

 

††††† c. By-laws or other written rules of the group, if any;

 

††††† d. A written record of each meeting of the group for one year prior, describing the occasion for each meeting, number of persons present, and a brief account of proceedings and any decisions made;

 

††††† e. Other items considered relevant by the applicants including but not limited to brochures or other published literature, press clippings, etc., which describe the group's purposes, goals, beliefs and public and private activities.

 

††††† 5. Each member of the affiliating group shall sign the Petition in agreement to abide by the By-Laws of Hawthorn Grove, as well as any applicable State and Federal laws and regulations governing the conduct of religious organizations and nonprofit institutions.

 

††††† B. Affiliate groups shall submit art Annual Report to the Secretary no later than September 30th of each year describing their activities, providing a financial statement for the past year, and a meeting/activity plan for the coming year. Failure to submit art Annual Report prior to October 31st may be cause for disaffiliation of the group, in the discretion of the Board of Trustees.

 

††††† C. Affiliate groups shall be free to formulate their own specific Pagan religious doctrines and practices, even as individual members of the Congregation and of respective affiliate groups are free to do so. Some groups may choose to identify themselves as following one or more specific Pagan traditions, pantheon or orientation, or they may be as eclectic and divers in nature as is Hawthorn Grove as a whole. Either option is in keeping with the spirit and intent of these By-Laws.

 

††††† D. Any officer of Hawthorn Grove, or any member of the Board of Trustees or Council of Elders, may attend any meeting of any affiliate group, but without privilege of voting on any local issue.

 

††††† E. Each and every affiliate group shall have the option and right to designate a representative to serve oil the Council of Elders of the Congregation. Once accepted, s/he shall be equal in all respects to previously sitting members of the Council.

 

††††† F. Immediately upon acceptance as an affiliate group, all individual members thereof shall be and become Members of Hawthorn Grove, entitled to all rights and privileges of membership. Affiliate groups shall promptly provide the Secretary with such up-to-date individual identifying data and such other personal information as may be requested by the Secretary, whenever art individual member is added to or dropped from the membership of the affiliate group and/or Hawthorn Grove.

 

††††† G. Each affiliate group will keep the Secretary on its mailing list(s) and provide copies of all publications and other written communications which are sent to members or others. Likewise, Hawthorn Grove will provide exchange subscriptions of The Hawthorn Spinner to each member of affiliate groups, and will keep group contact-persons informed of matters affecting the Congregation as a whole.

 

††††† H. Annual dues for affiliate groups shall be five-hundred dollars ($500.00) per year, or ten dollars ($10.00) per individual member thereof, whichever is less. Payment of such dues shall accompany the Petition for Affiliation and each subsequent Annual Report to the Secretary. The first full, such amount submitted shall constitute a nonrefundable Petition Fee.

 

††††† I. If art affiliate group does not honor its commitments to the Congregation, either by virtue of ethical issues or in failing to provide necessary information or dues in a timely fashion, by majority vote the Board of Trustees may withdraw affiliation. In such cases, any annual dues on account will not be refunded.

 

††††† J. If a majority of members of art affiliate group voluntarily determine to disaffiliate, they may do so by providing thirty (30) days written notice to the Secretary setting forth the reason(s) therefor and the date the vote was taken, as well as the specific tally of such vote. In such cases, any annual dues oil account may be pro-rated and be refunded if requested by the group. However, if three or more individual members of the group wish to retain their group affiliation with Hawthorn Grove, they may do so by submitting a new unique group name by which they propose to be known. Under such circumstances a new Petition and Petition Fee shall not be required.

 

††††† K. Title to any and all assets, whether real or personal, of groups and individual members thereof seeking affiliation with the Congregation shall be unaffected by affiliation, any subsequent disaffiliation or re-affiliation.

 

ARTICLE XIV - FISCAL YEAR

 

††††† The fiscal year shall end on October 31st at midnight.

 

ARTICLE XV - OFFICES

 

††††† The principal office of the Congregation shall be located in Monticello, New York. The Board of Trustees may designate such other places of worship or for conducting business, within or without the State of New York, as deemed appropriate.

 

ARTICLE XVI - SEAL

 

††††† The seal of the Corporation shall be as follows:

 

ARTICLE XVII - CONSTRUCTION

 

††††† If there is any conflict between the provisions of the Certificate of Incorporation and these By-Laws, the former shall govern.

 

ARTICLE XVIII - INDEMNIFICATION

 

††††† Every person who shall serve as a Trustee, officer or Elder of this Congregation shall be entitled to indemnification for all costs incurred by such Trustee, officer or Elder for the amount of any judgment, fines, amounts paid in settlement, court costs, and reasonable expenses, including attorneys' fees actually and necessarily incurred as a result of such pending or threatened action or proceedings or any appeals therein. Such fees and expenses authorized to be paid herein may be advanced (prior to entry of any judgment or order or settlement) to any such Trustee, officer or Elder in such manner as the Board of Trustees shall determine or by agreement. No indemnification shall be paid to any Trustee, officer or Elder if a judgment or other final adjudication adverse to the director or officer establishes that the acts were committed in bad faith or were the result of active and deliberate dishonesty and were material to the cause of action so adjudicated, or that such director or officer personally gained in fact a financial profit or other advantage to which such a director or officer was not legally entitled. The termination of a civil or criminal action by judgment, settlement, plea, conviction or otherwise shall not create a presumption that such Trustee, officer or Elder acted in such a manner as to deny indemnification under this provision. Payments shall not be required to be made hereunder if any insurance proceeds are paid under any liability, homeowner's, or similar policy.

 

ARTICLE XX - NOT-FOR-PROFIT STATUS

 

††††† A. No part of the earnings of the Corporation shall inure to the benefit, or be distributable to, its members, directors, officers, or other private person except that the Corporation shall be authorized and empowered to pay reasonable compensation for services Tendered and to make such payments and distributions ill furtherance of the purposes set forth in Articles I and II of these By-Laws.

 

††††† B. No substantial part of the activities of the Corporation shall be the carrying on of propaganda, or otherwise attempting, to influence legislation, and the Corporation shall not participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distribution of statements) any political campaign oil behalf of any candidate for public office.

 

††††† C. Notwithstanding any other provisions of the Articles of Incorporation or these By-Laws, this Corporation, except to art insubstantial degree, shall not engage in any activities or exercise any powers that are not in furtherance of the purposes of this Corporation.

 

††††† D. Upon the dissolution of this Corporation, the Board of Trustees shall, after paying or making provision for the payment of all the liabilities of the Corporation, dispose of all the assets of the Corporation exclusively for the purposes of the Corporation in such manner, or to such organization or organizations organized and operated exclusively for Pagan religious, educational or charitable purposes as shall at that time qualify as all exempt organization or organizations under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954 as revised (or the corresponding provision of any future United States Internal Revenue Law), as the Board of Trustees may determine.

 

††††† E. Any such assets not so disposed of shall be disposed of by the Court of Common Pleas of the county in which the principal office of the Corporation is theft located, exclusively for such purposes or to such Pagan organization or organizations, as said Court shall determine, which are organized and operated exclusively for such purposes.

 

ARTICLE XXI - AMENDMENTS

 

††††† A. These By-Laws may be amended, repealed or replaced at any meeting of the Board of Trustees, by a two-thirds vote of those present and voting.

 

††††† B. These By-Laws supercede any and all others previously adopted.

 

 

First adopted: October 31, 1992

Last amended: June, 1994

at Monticello, New York