In times past the Wicca/Pagan title of High Priest/Priestess meant. "a person who has achieved a level of training in the Craft and is capable of running a group of practitioners." This was when the faith was propagated by covens, clans, or groups. One achieved this title through an initiation process and training and therefore was respected by members of the OLD RELIGION. There were no certificates, ordination papers, High Priests/Priestesses were acknowledge, as such, by their Words, Actions and Deeds.
To be a High Priest/Priestess was to take on a lot of responsiblilty, not only did they lead circles; but they were the counselors, guides, healers, and over-all governors to the group. They willingly fulfilled the role of Clergy to the group. To do this took a great amount of commitment. And in so doing they gained a great deal of respect.
In these modern times groups of Coven structures are still active and very much an intricate part of the faith, however as any religion grows and evolves there has been a need for the development of a broader base function to the true seeker. This is where Wiccan/Pagan Churches fulfill that need.
This of course moves modern Paganism into a category of being LEGALIZED. Our society and culture is based on a system of Paperwork. To be recognized and protected by Law, a corporation has to be registered and have the necessary paperwork recorded with in the framework of the system. Pagan Churches have a lot of PAPERWORK. Such as ,articles of incorporation, ordains, by-laws, tax-exempt numbers, etc... All this makes it possible for the High Priesthood to be legal and able to sign marriage license, death certificates, perform funerals in public funeral homes, etc.. in all to make them equal in the eyes of the law to the other major Faiths of the world. Something the Coven structure could not do.
The problem with this, that I've noticed in the past recent years, is that this Legalization seems to bring more focus on the Paperwork and less on the Spirituality of the Faith. There are a lot of organizations who hand out ordinations and certificates over the Internet for fees. I've seen and experienced more and more people coming into the faith who are more concerned with getting ordination or the TITLE, without doing the internal growth or spiritual work. This is the reason why we have only ordained 7 people to 3rd Degree in the past nineteen years in SDCW-ATC.
The essence of modern Wicca/Paganism is, that individual connection to Deity one achieves through the process of personal application of Spiritual concepts based on the rites, meditations, rituals and philosophies of Pre-Christain Faiths, around the world. I just don't want us to loose sight of that. Blessed Be!