As we all know, there are two kinds of students in the Order of the White Road: distance (remote) members and regency members. While remote membership is picking up steam, the OWR has traditionally expanded much more effectively through its regencies. So, if you are a member of the OWR, it’s likely that you’re a member of a local regency (if you’d like to know more about regencies in general, please see this blog here).
The OWR tries to open up as many regencies as it possibly can but as we’ll learn in this article, opening up regencies can be expensive, difficult, and filled with challenges that organizers may not have thought of before the fact. Because of this, there is still plenty of space within the United States and globally that the OWR hasn’t reached. This fact as well as the incidental relocation of individual members (due to career, family, schooling, etc) to locations where there’s not a regency has inspired many qualifying OWR members to start a new one.
This is a worthy dream and one that the worldwide OWR welcomes with abundant enthusiasm. However, once one decides to open up a regency, you have to understand that the challenges just begin. There is a whole range of hurdles that must be jumped both internally (registering with the OWR) and externally (government institutions) before one can actually start growing their new community.
Often, would-be regent masters (the registered leader of a regency) are simply either unaware of these challenges or optimistically convinced that they’re adequately prepared to meet them.
I want to outline some of the challenges that I faced in starting my own regency in order to temper the enthusiasm of would-be regent masters who approach with abandon the possibility of leading their own OWR communities.
It should be noted the things said here are not meant to stifle the hopes of anyone who wishes to start a regency but rather just to ensure that those who set it as their goal do so with a sober understanding of the realities.
Successful regencies take hard work and long term dedication while failed regencies are good for no one. The OWR wants all of its local regencies to succeed and for that to happen, regent masters and their organizing councils need to be fully aware of the maze of challenges they’ll need to navigate.
The Process In Overview
While we’ll go in more detail about each of these steps in subsequent sections, it would probably help to begin with the overview of the entire process of starting a regency. So in this section, we’ll give a brief run-down of everything you’ll need to do and dig into some ambiguities below.
In brief, the steps to start a regency are:
- Attain the rank of acolyte or higher (unless you have special dispensation or are operating as a satellite regency).
- Choose your officers.
- Write and prepare your constitution according to OWR norms.
- Submit your constitution via this form and wait for approval (if denied, it will explained why in your denial letter. If this occurs, change your constitution accordingly and resubmit).
- Form a non-profit organization (either religious or educational) according to the laws of your local government.
- Review the donation and tax laws of your local government.
- Set up financial infrastructure (DBA’s, bank accounts, PayPal, etc) in accordance with the laws of Step 6.
- Do the ongoing work of expansion: go to events, hold open-houses, run fundraisers, etc.
Attaining the Rank of Acolyte or Higher
We all know that there are five ranks (grades or degrees) in the OWR. These are Neophyte, Gate Proselyte, Proselyte, Acolyte, and Master. The first three are considered the Outer Order. Members of these ranks are primarily considered students and while they can serve as mentors and teachers’ aids, they aren’t considered ready to deal with entire classes on their own. It should go without saying that regency masters, especially in a budding community, would be almost solely responsible for handling instruction of what could be a very large number of people.
Attaining the rank of acolyte is incredibly important. Acolytes in the OWR are considered advanced students. To use a college analogy, these are students with a master’s degree working on their PhD. Therefore, they are more than capable of teaching on a range of subjects and only occasionally need to refer to those more experienced than themselves.
The main problem for most people who wish to start a regency in the OWR is that the OWR has a very thorough and holistic approach to mystical education. While other mystery schools dive you into the meat of their curriculum immediately, the OWR wants to thoroughly prepare you for the study of the occult. Context is key.
For this reason, reaching acolyte can take many years, even for gifted students. The sheer patience necessary to attain the minimum rank to start a regency is itself a major barrier to developing new communities. But this protection is necessary to ensure that new students are educated into the mysteries correctly.
The astute reader, for all of this, will note that there were some exceptions to this rule mentioned in the overview. To understand these exceptions, we need to deploy some definitions in order to aid our understanding.
These definitions are below:
- Diocese: a large OWR community possessing a brick-and-mortar temple capable of ministering to the liturgical needs of many surrounding regencies.
- Regency: a regional OWR chapter of any size but not possessing a temple.
- Satellite regency: a semi-independent group controlled by one central regent or council but which has grown regionally too difficult to handle for one leader.
- These groups will have sub-leaders called auxiliary regents. These leaders still function under the authority of the primary regent or council for that area but have some semblance of independence.
In the situation in which you can manage to become an auxiliary regent in a satellite regency, the need for you to obtain acolyte in your own right is less necessary and it is easy to see why.
Regencies are self-contained and need to be as self-sufficient as possible. It sometimes occurs that regencies find themselves with the ability to expand into new areas but with no ready members of acolyte rank on hand. It can also be that major cities, such as New York City and Chicago, prove simply too big for one regent to handle. The final scenario could be envisioned where a regent finds desperate communities within a state but these communities are spread out and not well connected. In my own case, an example of this can be seen between St. Louis and Columbia, MO. There are no regencies that cover that area and so it is easier for the OWR to open up a satellite regency in Columbia than it would be to attempt to spend many years to train an acolyte in the hopes that they might pursue starting a regency on their own.
Serving as an auxiliary regent can be great for a dedicated member who has yet to attain acolyte to gain the experience needed to open up their own regency. But it can’t be stressed enough that auxiliary regents must take their guidance from their primary regents or their regency councils. To do otherwise is to risk miring a regency in strife.
Choosing Your Officers and Constructing Your Constitution
One of the things that makes the OWR’s regency system so versatile and thus successful is its ability to be everything to everyone. No two regencies are run exactly the same. The mysteries are always preserved and passed down faithfully no matter what OWR regency you’re in. But how you receive those mysteries, in what order, and under what form of government differs widely depending on each regency’s constitution.
The constitution of a regency is a document drawn up by the founders of said regency during the planning phase of their communities. This document is sent to the HQ of the worldwide OWR and is considered for approval by the OWR’s leadership (see this form). The document sets out key points of the regency’s governance which hopefully, will keep leaders accountable to membership and everyone knowing the rules of the game before they start.
The constitution should lay out a few basic things:
- What is the seal (official emblem) of the regency?
- Who are the officers and how do they function or what are their roles?
- How long are the officers’ terms and how are they elected?
- How is the money handled and how are dues set?
- What powers does any central council have and are all members of a regency on that council or is it elected from the regency’s membership?
This document helps the worldwide OWR manage any disputes that may arise within that individual community according to the norms and customs that are outlined in said constitution. It also helps determine the rules of the road for that regency’s own internal governance.
By the time that you have written the constitution, you should’ve already picked out your officers. And to any member who desires to be a regent, it can’t be stressed enough the importance of this choice.
A regency should possess a minimum of three officers: a regent, a secretary, and a treasurer. It should at some point or another incorporate a regency council to ensure that decision-making is dispersed among the whole of a regency’s membership. What powers each of these offices hold, how they are appointed or elected, their terms of service and their level of supervision over individual members are all decisions that will determine the eventual success or failure of a regency.
The majority of the day-to-day operations of the regency will be handled by the regent and secretary working as a team (in our case, Kala and me). These two people should be able to work for long hours together without conflict and they should also be individually self-motivated, given that these positions are the work-horses of the regency. If these two positions cannot motivate themselves, the regency will flounder. This is especially true in the beginning.
The treasurer is the position of less daily work but is nonetheless crucially important. How the regency’s money is handled is often the primary factor in how individual members feel about belonging to that regency. Having a regency treasurer which is honest, litigious, and hardworking lies therefore at the center of a successful regency. The treasurer should be someone you trust and should stand for election regularly to ensure that the membership trusts them as well.
Finally, we come to you, the reader. Most likely, the would-be regent themselves. Understand that to be a regent is not at all to wear one hat. You will be to your members simultaneously doctor, therapist, priest, professor, prophet, and friend. You will spend the free time of your life preparing classes and events, settling disputes, consoling students, convincing council members to act on the regency’s behalf (despite how they feel as paying customers), and generally going without one day where you are not trying to build the regency up or keep it from falling down.
It is one of the biggest challenges and responsibilities an OWR member can take on, as wearing the regent’s ring makes you the sole arbiter of the intellectual and spiritual development of many as well as the spokesperson for the reputation of the worldwide OWR as a whole. To say the least, you should think very carefully about whether or not you possess the qualities needed to be the regent at all.
(For the 2nd part of this two-part series, see Part 2 here).