Pagans of Manchester Emphasize Community, Spirituality

James Walsh

During Focus on Faith Week the student organization Pagans of Manchester had a presence. Paganism, which is most easily defined as any unfamiliar religion, or one that is not as widely accepted as others, means that pagans cannot be classified into one specific set of beliefs, as they all may have different viewpoints.

“Not everyone in the group identifies as pagan,” said Sebastian Kalmbach, president of the Pagans of Manchester. “Some are agnostic, atheist, are searching, or don’t care. We are basically a chill group of people who don’t fit in with the Christian ideas and are happy to have a space that we can talk and learn more.”

The meetings themselves are focused on increasing the knowledge of its members, rather than enforcing a set of religious beliefs. “Generally we pick a subject and have a group discussion, often following a more educated presentation on the topic,” Kalmbach said. “This can be a topic someone is interested in, a specific pagan belief, etc.”

The organization, like many other clubs here on campus, has faced its own fair share of COVID obstacles. Due to the discussion-based format the meetings follow, a physical gathering has proved a challenge for the organization. However, the club still hopes to do some of their more important events. “Depending on the future of Covid-19 restrictions we may have a campus-wide meeting on the May Pole, the origin, what it means, and a small celebration (May Day weekend),” Kalmbach said. “Other than that there will be a spring equinox meeting (it’s March 20).”

Kalmbach recognized a need for the Pagans of Manchester after seeing a common thread among the clubs on campus. “All the stuff I saw around the clubs was Christian based, and since Christianity isn’t the only religion, I thought people needed a space to be themselves,” he said. “It gives a community to people who may not feel comfortable in other religious life clubs.” The organization acts as a home to people who want not only to be accepted in spite of their beliefs but also appreciated for the people their beliefs have made them today.

And “home” is the right word. Indeed, Kalmbach’s favorite part of the Pagans of Manchester is that it’s a very open and accepting environment. “Starting the club I was unsure exactly what environment it would foster,” he said. “We have become a small friend group and it’s amazing to have multiple people to discuss different religious or spiritual beliefs with.”

The Pagans of Manchester allow people to be different in their faiths together.