“As Wicca and goddess worship grows in popularity in the culture, elements of the practice also are appearing in Christian churches,” reports the news magazine Insight (Dec. 6).
Media attention on goddess spirituality in churches has focused on such events as the Re-Imagining Conference in 1993, where participants invoked the feminine aspects of God and criticized traditional Christian teachings. But there are more undocumented forms of Wiccan practice “gaining currency in many churches,” reports Catherine Edwards. One such practice is known as the “Croning ritual,” which is a Wiccan rite of passage. The goddess is said to take on three forms: maiden, mother, and crone. Two articles are cited from the now defunct Methodist clergywomen journal Wellsprings where Croning rituals are explained.
The articles are written by Rev. Nancy Webb, minister of education at Foundry United Methodist Church in Washington– where the Clintons attend–and Rev. Mary Kraus, a United Methodist pastor in the same city. Webb and other clergy confirmed that they had either taken part in such rituals or knew of them taking place in other churches, according to Edwards. When distraught members notified their bishop about these practices, Webb and Kraus were called in for meetings last year.
They claimed that the croning ritual was just a birthday party and should not be scrutinized as a public church event. Webb maintains she was not practicing Wicca, and both clergywomen remain at their jobs. Edwards writes that while mainline denominations have withdrawn funding of the continuing ReImagining conferences, feminist churchwomen events regularly use goddess imagery — an issue that led to the formation of the Voice for Orthodox Women in the Presbyterian Church (USA) two years ago.