Despite popular belief, the Covenant was not found in a cabbage patch. Here's the real story of how we were born.
In 1990 a group of female Wiccans decided to start a legally recognised church in Alberta. For various reasons many of the founders drifted away. In 1991 one of them approached a new, mixed-gender group to discuss the possibility of continuing the project as an Eclectic, instead of Dianic, church.
We started with a small Board of Directors: President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer. Seven people were interested, so we decided that each office could be held jointly by two people. This rather unorthodox arrangement allowed everyone to participate. It has also proven useful when one person is unable to come to a meeting.
The original name was to be the Covenant of Gaia. The Alberta government had other ideas. They want a church to be called a church and they also asked for the "of Alberta." The resulting official name, the Covenant of Gaia Church of Alberta, is awkward so you will most often hear it called The Covenant or COGCOA. We tend not to use COG because that might confuse us with the Covenant of the Goddess, a U.S. church. COGCOA is not affiliated with COG.
Over the next months we wrote the Articles of Faith and By-Laws. Much of the preliminary work had already been done by the original group. The Articles of Faith were interesting to write because they had to define us, yet allow for the wide diversity present in the Craft because the Covenant does not have a specific tradition. It is composed of autonomous congregations, each of which worships as it sees fit within the framework of our Articles of Faith.
The Covenant is a congregational church, but we define a congregation as one or more people. This gives covens and solitaries equal status on the basis of "one person, one vote."
In 1991 we started holding sabbats in a member's living room. Fewer than a dozen people attended that first event.
One fine Bealtaine a year later we had over 30 people in the same living room with a cauldron fire in the centre. We decided that it was time to rent a hall before something or someone was barbecued.
This led to the question of how we would raise the rental money. It was decided that a donation jar would be left by the door and those who attended were asked to give $2-$3 toward the rent. This system survives to this day and seems to work fairly well, although rising prices have raised our suggested donations to $5.
The Covenant holds eight sabbats a year. Members submit bids to perform the sabbat rituals in whatever manner they wish. Some bids are submitted by covens, some by groups of solitaries. As a result each sabbat is different and participants receive exposure to a variety of traditions. When possible the dates are chosen to be at least one day off the official festivals so that people who wish to celebrate privately can do so. The average attendance is about 60 to 80 people.
In 2003 something happened that was (so far!) unique in the Covenant's history: We cancelled a circle. A snowstorm left a blanket of heavy, wet snow all over the city. One family couldn't leave their house becuase the snow had blocked the doors. Another ruined their vehicle while trying to get it out of a side street. Even major roads were all but impassible. Our ministers managed to leave a note on the door for anyone who could not be reached by telephone.
Around each Bealtaine the Covenant holds its annual general meeting. At that time the Directors resign and new Directors are elected. To help prevent burn out, no director can serve more than three consecutive terms. In addition to the officers there are also positions for up to 11 directors-at-large. These positions are usually filled by people who want to work on specific projects during the next year.
On February 12, 1997 our web site became active. It took a few months to be listed with the various search engines. Over the years the web site has changed its look several times. In March 2001 we registered our own domain, cogcoa.ab.ca.
We have several on-going projects from small to large. Each year we raise money and food donations for the Interfaith Food Bank. Since 2000 we have had a weekend summer camp. We also have a ministerial program. We have individuals and groups that provide religious training and initiation for mature, reasonable candidates. The Covenant does not presently offer services in prison ministry, or religious education by correspondence.
At the 2003 Annual General Meeting the members voted to adopt a new set of by-laws, the first ammendments since the Covenant began.
What will the future hold? We've started to get members in other cities. We'd like to hold a weekend festival and invite people from other areas to see what we do instead of us always going somewhere else.
Now you'll find out what the green oval is all about.
The original design is Babylonian-Assyrian and is called a moon tree. We first encountered it as a description in a novel, The Sword of Orley by Stewart Farrar. We modified the design a bit, added colours and presto! we have a distinctive logo.
The green background represents the Earth, the mother who contains us all. The three steps are in the colours of the Crone, Mother and Maiden, the three aspects of the Goddess. They also represent the three degrees common to many traditions.
The stem is silver, leading upward to the bowl (crescent moon, a Goddess symbol) cupping a golden solar disc (a God symbol).
Using the moontree as a graphic link
If you want to link to our site using our moontree as a graphic link, here's how to do it:
We prefer to meet with new people in person before inviting them to our circles to allow both parties the opportunity to get to know one another. We are happy to talk with people who just want to know more and/or do not wish to become members at this time.
First meetings are generally held in some neutral place such as a coffee shop. We appreciate that contacting an unknown religious group is an act of courage and we try to make our first meeting as safe as possible for all concerned. When we cannot fulfil a seeker's needs we may be able to direct the person to some other, related community that is more suited to them.
Minors are welcome to contact us for information but may not attend church events unless they have written parental consent. Parents have the right to know what organisations their children are joining. If you are truly interested you can study on your own until you are 18, or we would be glad to discuss our religion and church with your parents if you think it would help.
Welcome! We hope to offer you an opportunity to celebrate the passage of the seasons and honour the Sacred with other Wiccans in ways that will seem both new and familiar. There are many reasons why we hold community circles: to honour our Deities and lend some of our energy to the turning of the Wheel; to receive from our time in Sacred Space some energy for use in our own lives; to share the work of creating ritual and experiencing each other's magic so that we may all learn and grow, and to meet and work together in and out of circle so we can become friends and neighbours. Each circle is different and each takes on a life of its own, perhaps becoming more than its planners hoped, but always a little surprising after the Deities have joined us. We ask your cooperation in respecting Sacred Space and helping each other to enjoy these circles. The following points provide guidelines for us all. If you have questions, please ask one of the ritual presenters.
We try to make our events as safe and as comfortable as possible. For this reason we like to meet with new people before they attend their first event. These meetings are usually held at a mutually convenient coffee shop and allow us to get to know one another a bit to make sure that we are right for each other. Some seekers may be more comfortable with another group.
You do not need to be a member in order to attend church events. In fact, we encourage people not to join until they get to know us and vice versa. People's practises and beliefs differ and we believe that it is important for everyone to feel comfortable.
Minors (those under the age of 18) must be accompanied by a parent or guardian, or must provide a written, signed parental permission to attend our events and have an adult sponsor. We will meet with the parents before hand to ensure that any questions they have are answered. Minors may not bring guests.
If, after attending several events, you do decide to become a member then application forms are available from the Secretary who also receives the completed form. The application typically will be processed by the Board of Directors at their next business meeting (which usually occur once a month).
Everybody starts as an associate (non-voting) member for the first year. After that you may apply to become a full member which means that you get to vote and run for the board of directors. Full members must also swear before the congregation to uphold the by-laws and articles of faith of the Covenant.
The Covenant recognises that religious affiliation is a personal and private matter. For that reason all information about our members is confidential.
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