From: Nick Perch
Subject: [GREYTALK] Gran March Religions Document part 5 (last part)
I lied, I only split it into 5 parts. Parts 2 and 3 are somewhat large.
Gran March Triad
-----Begin Part 5
The Harvest Church:
The Harvest Church is dedicated to the worship of the Oeridian agricultural Powers. The church worships Merikka and Velnius as the primary agricultural Powers, and pays homage to Atroa, Sotillon and Wenta according to the season. (Wenta is honored in all seasons in his aspect as the god of brewing.) Telchur is not worshiped, but services to appease him, and seek a gentle winter are held every Sunsebb, and services thanking the Power for his mercy are held every Readying.
In addition to the above-mentioned Powers, the Harvest Church venerates Saint Gwen, patron saint of the land and planting. The honoring of this saint is unique to the Harvest Church of Gran March, however it seems clear that this veneration is not some misguided cult, as priests who claim to follow Saint Gwen have been observed to invoke miracles in his/her name.
The Harvest Church is broadly worshipped in Gran March, encompassing a greater number of worshippers than any other single faith. This is a church of the common man, and while less politically influential than the churches of Heironeous or even Zilchus, the leaders of the Harvest Church are still well heeded by those in seats of power.
The Harvest Church was established by a group of like-minded priests in the earliest days of the settlement of Gran March. Though the idea of a multi-Power church may seem odd to outsiders, it has been a part of the fabric of Gran March for so long that it is accepted as the normal order of things. In the days when the Knights of the Watch were bringing order to Gran March, they made a decision to support and defend the Harvest Church.
This decision was based on the view that the Church would be an influence likely to avoid the petty squabbles between followers of different agricultural traditions that might otherwise have plagued the land. That alliance continues to this day, to the benefit of both parties.
Centers of Worship:
Chapels of the Harvest Church are found throughout Gran March, in villages and hamlets and towns. They are typically simple wooden structures, but adorned with a wealth of trappings to reflect each of the Powers venerated by the church. Such chapels are almost always attended by a priest, and serve both the host community and the surrounding villages. The center of the Harvest Church is the Golden Temple in Barony Bullette. This temple, constructed of yellow stone imported from quarries in the Hellfurnaces, is home to the High Harvestmaster and a large congregation. The remains of Saint Gwen are also said to be interred here.
The Temple of Merikka in Orlane is unusual in the Harvest Church, in that it is primarily devoted to a single Power. It was brought into the Harvest Church only within the last 10 years or so, and retained the trappings of a dedicated temple of Merikka until very recently. In 589 CY, the temple suffered extensive damage during a raid from the Rushmoors. While the main structure is still intact, many of the trappings (particularly the gold statues that were the pride of the church) were carted off into the Rushmoors. The temple has been partly refurbished, and there are currently negotiations between the leaders of the Harvest Church and those of the Orlane temple regarding the inclusion of the trappings of other Powers when the temple in Orlane is fully restored.
Activities of the Priesthood:
While each priest receives spells from a single Power, they consider themselves to be priests of the Harvest Church, and perform the rituals of the Harvest Church rather than of any individual Power. The priests of the Harvest Church are charged to aid those who work the land of Gran March. To this end they heal the sick, use their magics to enhance crop growth and prevent crop failure, carry news or messages as they make their rounds from village to village, and spread the word of new agricultural advances.
The priests of the Harvest Church are valued counselors as well. As with the Zilcherans and Cuthbertians, the Harvestors are frequently called upon to mediate disputes. Their advice is frequently sought by those in authority on matters concerning the common folk of Gran March. Additionally, Harvestors are considered, as a group, to be diplomats second in skill only to the Zilcherans, and priests of the Harvest Church fill not a few ambassadorial posts. As with the Zilcherans, Harvestors are frequently paired with a more military minded deputy ambassador. Reyla Hyttaska (priest 12, Merikka), the current ambassador to Keoland is one such. She is paired with deputy ambassador Lieutenant Deskar Vaggarel, (0-level human) a retired army supply officer.
About 24% of the adult population are members of the Harvest Church. They do not follow any single Power. The nearly exclusive majority of the members of the church are farmers or those in related jobs (such as millers or brewers). All the human races of Gran March are represented in the congregation, though a majority of the followers have Oeridian blood.
Females out number males about 11 to 9. The congregation comprises all alignments common to Gran March, as well as a significant number of Chaotic Good and Neutral Good followers.
The priesthood of the Harvest Church comprises priests of each of the Powers venerated by that church. The distribution is roughly 40% priests of Merikka, 20% priests of Velnius, 15% priests of Wenta, 10% priests of Atroa, 10% priests of Sotillon, and 5% priests of Saint Gwen. There are no priests of Telchur in the Harvest Church. All told, there are about 970 priests of the Harvest Church, and they tend to follow similar distribution patterns as the congregation.
The church is led by a High Vestry made up of nine leading priests. The nine offices of the High Vestry are each selected by different methods, and for different terms. The office of the Youngest is held by the youngest full priest in the church at the time that the office becomes open. The Youngest serves for 5 years, at which point a new Youngest is automatically selected.
The office of the Eldest is fairly self-explanatory. The remaining 6 offices are undefined at this time. The office of the High Priest is held for 10 years at a time, and the office holder is selected during the Richfest celebrations every ten years by voting among all Harvest Church priests. The current High Priest, who began her second term in 590 CY is Gabriella Consannis (priest 14, Merikka). Gabriella is currently using her office to smooth the integration of refugees into Gran March society and the Harvest Church. She is well respected and heeded by those in authority, and her counsel is valued even by Magnus Vridanian, Commandant of the March and a priest of Heironeous. She splits her time between the Golden Temple attending to the business of the church, and Hookhill where she makes sure the concerns of the common folk are respected.
Relationships with other Faiths:
The Harvest Church gets along well with its fellow churches in Gran March. The Church has an extremely close relationship with the churches of Phyton and St. Cuthbert, and the priests of the Harvest Church will usually not hesitate to help a follower of Phyton or St. Cuthbert in need. This warmth is reciprocated, and the three churches enjoy an informal alliance to serve the needs of the people of Gran March.
The priests of the Harvest Church are on cordial but distant terms with the Zilcherans. They are suspicious of the Pholtites, whom they regard as slightly dangerous zealots, and because of the extremely strained relationships between the Pholtites and both the Cutbertians and the followers of Phyton. They are suspicious of the followers of the Shalm, but largely ignore them, and they have a rapidly cooling relationship with the Heironean church, as a result of the proselytizing currently in progress.
The Church has a friendly but distant relationship with the church of Fharlanghn.
-----End Part 5 - This is the last part. There is no part 6.