Broadly speaking, we might say there are two different models for a local religious group:
The “Church” method. In this configuration, members are an incorporated non-profit, public entity, often answering to a national organization. The local group takes whoever is willing to apply (and pay dues). Members usually cannot be expelled except for serious misbehavior. The point of the organization is to get people together for worship. While people in a local church may become close to each other, familiarity is not the point. The point is to get as many people together from the public to worship in a prescribed fashion, usually within a structure designated specifically for that purpose.
The “Tribe” or “Brotherhood” model. In this configuration, the local group is not a public entity and does not answer to a higher authority. Collective worship in a prescribed manner is performed, but that is only part of the story. Members are united by a deep, almost familial bond. It is this familiarity that defines the group. To that end, the group is selective about whom it allows within its ranks, and membership can theoretically be terminated any time if that familiarity is threatened. The emphasis for membership is on quality over quantity.
Great Valley Kindred adheres to the 2nd model. We are not a church. We answer to no higher authority. We are open to new members, but we don’t take everyone who expresses interest. We have certain standards in place.
We look for people who view Heathenry in terms of a peaceful, votive religion to the gods and spirits known to the Germanic people. We look for people who are gainfully employed, law abiding members of their local community. We look for people who are serious about this religion, but who have a sense of humor and who are fun to hang around. We look for people who know what commitment is, both to the gods they serve, and the friends who walk beside them.
Most of all, we look for people with good Wyrd. Wyrd is an important concept in Heathenry. It can be defined as the probable future resulting from the inertia of one’s past actions. An individual can have Wyrd, and so too can a group. If a person is immoral, lazy, unthoughtful and generally unpleasant and worthless, they will have a bad Wyrd. When you come into our group you signal your intent to mix your Wyrd with ours. If you have bad Wyrd, why do you think we would mix yours with ours?
There are three membership tiers, and at the highest level an oath of Frith is required. The concept of Frith is best described in the following passage:
“Frith is the state of things which exists between friends. And it means, first and foremost, reciprocal inviolability. However individual wills may clash in a conflict of kin against kin, however stubbornly individual heads may seek their own way according to their quota of wisdom, there can never be any question of conflict save in the sense of thoughts and feelings working their way toward an equipose in unity. We need have no doubt but that good kinsmen could disagree with fervor, but however the matter might stand, there could – should, must inevitably – be but one ending to it all; a settlement peaceable and making for peace – frith.”
Gronbech, Vilhelm. The Culture of the Teutons. Volumes 1 & 2. Liberty, MO: Jotun’s Bane Kindred (Temple of the Heathen Gods); 2010. Print.
The above is general information. For specifics on membership levels, please see http://greatvalleykindred.com/membership/membership-levels-and-offices/