Aquarian Tabernacle Church

From: http://aquatabch.org/about/atc/info/pagantree.shtml

"The Aquarian Tabernacle Church, the "ATC," or sometimes just "The Tab" is the creation of Pete Pathfinder Davis, who serves as Archpriest along with Deborah K. Hudson, who is Archpriestess of the tradition worldwide. ATC is based on English Traditional Wicca, with a focus of serving the larger Pagan communities by providing open worship opportunities to the public, education, interfaith liaison, and in general, providing the infrastructure available to the followers of most faiths, but previously just not available to Wiccans and Pagans. Things like major Sabbat festivals, full and new moon worship, a place to gather, a lending library, and many other services associated with faith communities.

This all started on October 31 of 1979, when Pete and a few friends decided to form a formal church organization, and established the ATC. It was their intention to establish a quiet place in the countryside outside of Seattle where Wiccans and Pagans could gather for worship without being hassled by ignorant neighbors or suspicious authorities who did not understand their benevolent nature worship practices. The "Tab," where the church facilities are located, is about 50 miles from downtown Seattle, in the Cascade mountains of Washington, on the banks of the Skykomish river, one of the nation’s last "wild rivers". Less than a mile away, two twin peaks, Mt. Index and Mt. Persis rise 5,000 feet above the river valley floor. Bald eagles and ospreys nest nearby and soar in the rising wind currents from the nearby hills and mountains. It is truly a natural site in every sense. Out to the rear of the main residence building that houses the library, office, kitchen and dining areas, is the MoonStone Circle, the actual place of worship.

The MoonStone Circle is a circle of tall standing stones or menhirs, on a small rise within a stand of old stately cedar trees. This circle was constructed by Seattle area Pagans over a period of two years, using slabs of local granite found along an 1,800 foot high cliff that defines the northern edge of the valley. The circle was dedicated in the evening of December 29th, 1984, in a blinding snow storm. The area was blanketed in new snowfall, and illuminated by literally hundreds of candle stubs, set in the snow. The boughs of the cedars were bending low in their white mantle. The circle dedication was performed by 29 Pagans, some of whom had driven from as far away as eastern Washington, Oregon and Canada. Everyone there had a part in the ceremony. It was a memorable occasion on several counts (it was 2 days before the cars could be dug out of the snow and people could make their return trip home!)

With the participation of many like-minded Pagans, the ATC grew and flourished. Most noticeable was the absence of the customary frictions and infighting common to many Pagan enterprises, to the puzzlement of many observers. Later, we discovered it was due to the fact that we did not define ourselves by who we would not let join in. From the very beginning, ATC was an open attendance Pagan group, where anyone who wanted to attend could, without the usual need for someone to "vouch" for them. Everyone was given a chance to have their say, their ten minutes in the spotlight on their soap box to present their ideas. Certainly, not everyone agreed with everything said, but ATC soon became known as a "safe place" for everyone and their ideas, conventional or unconventional. We believe it is that original concept of Pete's that is the major force in building the resulting community that ATC has become.

The ATC is a hierarchic organization, though you'd seldom notice that from the way things are done. There is a large core group of about 40 people who are deeply immersed in the activities, outreaches and events of the church, and an overall membership in the Pacific Northwest of in excess of 300. The Archpriestess and Archpriest oversee the overall activities of the church, both locally and on an international basis, through Archpriestesses and Archpriests of the church in each foreign nation where ATC has an official presence (ATC has recognition as a legal church tradition from the governments of USA, Canada, Australia, Ireland and South Africa at the moment. France does not recognize any church.). The Archpriesthood works with an advisory group, the Red Cord Council (or just "the Board") and virtually all decisions are arrived at through discussion and compromise in the best interests of the mission of the church, by consensus. Rarely, if ever, has a vote been taken on anything. The Archpriesthood, however, retains the right of veto if they believe an action is not in the long run going to be in the best interests of the church or Paganism in general.

Annually at the Hekatee's Sickle Festival held each Samh'ain, the efforts of the members of the church are recognized by the awarding of beads for their cords, each bead having a particular significance. While every member is considered a priestess or priest, to be ATC clergy, one must attend a 4 year college level seminary program culminating in the award of a Bachelor of Ministry degree from our own Woolston-Steen Theological Seminary, with recognized religious education status by the Higher Education Coordinating Board of state of Washington. The Seminary also has Masters' and Doctorate programs available. ATC does not intend to try to tell anyone how they should conduct their own clergy training, but we are fully committed to the professionalizing of the clergy of our own tradition if they are to undertake matters as serious and delicate as pastoral counseling in the areas of life strategies, marital problems, and psychological and childhood trauma.

This is just a basic outline of the ATC's history and accomplishments. No less than noted author Raymond Buckland, the man credited with bringing Gardnerian Wicca to the shores of the USA, has said in his encyclopedic Witch Book "...the ATC has grown by leaps and bounds to become one of the most respected Wiccan institutions in the country, if not the world."