The Creators Church, or Church of the Creators, was founded long before our arrival on Promise. Before I can discuss the church, I must explain the religion behind it. We are but an infant people. Our patrons, parents, and guides have existed for tens of thousands of their planet's cycles, and we are only approaching our first of dominion over our own world. As kind mothers and fathers, they have imparted in us ideals for living. They thought to condense all the wisdom of good living into one book, now called the First Text. It is our most holiest of documents. There is no scribe living who has not copied it at least once in their apprenticeship. It is not the end of the story.
There were six Creators who rose above the rest. We know them as the Creator Saints, and they hold a special place in the hearts of the people. They showed us wisdom through action, and remind us that we should always aspire to reach beyond our station and leave the world blazing with the mark of our good lives long after we have passed on.
Considered the highest of the Saints, Saint Erick was the genius who first discovered the method of our uplifting. His, blessed, hands dove deep into the fabric of the universe and pulled free the spark that would become all of us. He was paid little for his efforts, mocked and scorned by many of his peers, who believed his work futile and unworthy of his considerable talents. He would not be swayed. Though it drove him nearly to poverty, he brought forward the first of us, little Benna.
Benna was a canine, descended from a species that had long served the creators. She learned to walk and talk at Saint Erick's coaching, and was presented to his doubting fellows. In a first showing of his unwavering faith of what we would become, he refused to speak on her behalf. Little Benna made her speech alone, and begged for the acceptance of what she represented. This infuriated and confused many of the lesser blessed creators, but it burned into their minds this impossible thing, the dog who begged to serve and live and learn, who had a name she could speak and wore clothes as they did.
Saint Erick spent the rest of his days carefully molding other lineages. He rose those familiar with the creators first, then further and further afield. Into the seas, into the air, into the wild domains of their world he reached, gathering them and breathing new life and purpose into them. His contemporaries could not grasp his brilliance, but some could see some glimmer of potential, and he was supported in his efforts until the day that he passed on. Little Benna, who had aged more quickly than those who followed her, spoke at his passing ceremony before hurling herself into the void alongside him, refusing to leave him even for such small matters of life and death.
Patron saint of those who trace their lineage to all of plant kind, Saint Patricia was the blessed mind that saw fit to extend Saint Erick's touch to their lines. Plants had a farther journey to take before they could stand beside us. They were not only brute beasts, but immobile. They knew nothing of the struggle of the animal world, let alone the pleasures of an organized thought. Saint Patricia gave them their motion, and reshaped them. They became more as the creators, and joined their uplifted animal brothers and sisters. She wrote the words of kinship between us. No animal would hunt these plants, and no plant would deny an animal a ripe fruit or vegetable when it could be given without harm. Our plant kin were one of the reasons we survived at all in those first, harsh, years of our arrival on Promise. When the world was too wild to cultivate, and the prey too elusive for our hunters, our plant kin would sustain us. This 'Right of Meal' is less practiced in this day and age. We fish, farm, and hunt on our own, but we should never forget the kindness of our plant kin, or of their patron, Saint Patricia.
Patron of those who study the elements, Saint Leon was the mind behind the divine equations. He did not discover them, but it was he who blessed them upon our people and modified our lines, instilling our people with the raw potential to shape the elements with proper training. He showed us the divine equations that would become our magic, and spoke us our divine right, as written in the First Text, 'Our special children, you will dance in the air and hold fire in your hands. The water will be your ally and the earth will yield bounty and shelter.' It is said, because the Creators do not believe in the modifying of their own lines, that we have a greater potential for it then even they, but this is a dangerous thought. Let us be thankful for what they have given to us.
Saint Hiroshi is the high saint of purpose. It was his design that sent us into the stars. Much of our people were sent to places the Creators had interest, and we repaid our debts by taming the worlds for them. We were trail blazers, and proud of our divine task. Sailing on the winds of the cosmos, we ventured to places where no eyes had seen, until the Creators, at last, considered the price of our making paid in full.
Saint Alan is patron to kindness, rightful reward, and justice. It was he that pleaded our case with the other Creators, and it was at his urging that we earned our beloved Promise. A planet that would be ruled only by our people. A planet we would tame for no one but ourselves. Our people were given the choice for this grand journey. I am sure, gentle reader, that you could not envision any not wishing to come to Promise, to live on a land of our own, but you must consider their lives. They were quite accustomed to living at the Creators whims and needs. The very idea of independence was frightening. The very idea of being separate from them was terrifying. It was only through gentle encouragement, kin to kin, and Saint Alan's encouraging words, that filled our last ship with the beings that would become our forefathers and foremothers.
The last saint was not a creator at all, but one of our own. He was Saint Theodore, and he was the creator of the clans. As he says in the Book of Promise, 'We, who are born of so many things, cannot and must not find isolation due to our forms. We are as brothers and sisters, and we must be able to find our kins hiding in the strange flesh of our neighbor. Let us carry proudly a mark of our standing and talents, so that others may find us. Let kinship know no lineage barrier, for we will create a new lineage. Warrior will love warrior, scholar will embrace scholar. let the swimmers share the waves and the artists sing of one another's grace. Let the meek dance together and the hardy share tales of their perseverance. We will know a kindred by their Clan, and we will know to embrace them, no matter how large or small, how much or little fur they have.' The clan system has stood, largely unchanged, since its founding and has served us well. If you want to know more about the clan system, I cannot more highly recommend 'The Clans of Promise', as written by Jo Patrick, Heavy Folk of Cliffside.
The six saints are often given individual shrines, separate of the primary church. When a being wishes to plead to a particular saint for guidance, they do so at one of these shrines. Quiet thought in their presence will calm troubled minds, and, sometimes, reveal the answer that eludes us. The practice of individual saint worship is considered deeply personal and informal. I will not go into further detail.
The Creators Church is a much more public entity. Bringing the combined words of wisdom of the six saints and of the Creators as a whole, they are a source of wisdom in these troubled times. Some cities have given the church full partnership with the local governance, some have not. The most extreme case of church rulership is the nation of Brightsand. It is ruled directly by the priests of the Creators Church, following the mandates of the Creators directly for day to day law making and justice.
Church holds proper congregation once a day at the tolling of noon bell. All beings are expected to attend at least once a week. However, even if not attending, all must turn and face the direction of the bell and have a moment of silence in thanks to those who have made us. It is a sign of great disrespect to continue business while the bells are ringing. One must be either walking to the church, or standing quietly.
Church mass usually begins with a quoting of a relevant passage from the First Text or other religious book, such as the Book of Promise. The selection is made by the high prophet, usually in relevance to current events in the community the church serves. The mass will then lead to an out loud prayer to each of the six saints, as lead by the prophet, and then to community discussion. From study, ours is an unusual church, compared to that of the Creators.
They worshipped eternal and undying beings whose will was largely unknown and capricious. We do not envy our Creators, who had to rise from the mud of only their own willpower, and had no father or mother to cling to. Our worship is of them, and their words are clear and documented. We know our origin, and we are blessed for it. We know our purpose, and we are driven by it. As a result, directly or not, our mass is taken up by shared discussion more than sermon. We discuss what troubles we face as a community, and how we can rise to face them while being true to the First Text. We discuss our joys and our pains. This is the time when deaths and marriages and illnesses and births are announced, to the shared applause or tears of our neighbors.
Marriages and funerals are both matters of church. When possible, they are done just after Mass. Many marriages may be combined, if the newlyweds consent, but funerals are typically kept separate, out of respect for the passed. Of notable exception, soldiers who die together who served together in life are often put to rest together and given communal burial as well, unless there is previous writing from them requesting otherwise. It is considered an honor to live and die together in this fashion, and to commemorate their communal spirit.
All beings are considered part of the church until misdeed or direct renouncement sets them apart from it. It is still considered proper to give formal welcome to young members. Youths who have finished studying the basics of the First Text are welcome to lead church mass once, to quote their favorite passage from the book and explain what it means to them. They are then welcomed to the church formally and are often given some token of the event. Some beings will wear this token always. Others are less attached to it. It is a personal affair.
The hierarchy of the church is a simple one. In every church there is one High Prophet, who is the leader. They are usually the eldest, but not always. Proven sincerity to the community goes a long way towards earning the position. A High Prophet may choose their successor. If one perishes or otherwise fails to select a successor, it falls to the church belonging to the capital of the nation to select another. If that is not possible, then it falls on the ruler of the nation to select one.
Under the High Prophet are one to five priests that assist in the upkeep of the church and the running of functions. Any being who is familiar with the holy texts can apply for the position, and the High Prophet may hire them or not. All priests and the High Prophet are housed within the church itself. Their food and needs are supplied by the community they serve. They do not make money, however. It is considered improper to offer or accept funds of any kind while serving as a priest of the Creators Church from any supplicant. Community members will often assist on a temporary basis when the need arises, but are not considered formal members of the church staff.