The Annual Meeting for 2013 was called to order at 10:10 am at Red Cedar Dharma Hall, board president Jeff McKenna presiding.
1. Financial Report. Talus Latona, board treasurer, passed out copies of the 2012 Profit and Loss report and the 2013 Budget, both of which had been approved by the board on January 2, 2013. Talus explained that our profit and loss figures for 2012 are almost the same as those for 2011 and that our margin (income divided by expense) for 2012 was 5%, one point higher than 2011’s margin. He also reported that we have just under $50,000 cash on hand in our savings account.
Talus explained that the 2013 budget projects levels of income and expenses to be at about the same levels as 2012’s numbers. In our discussion, sangha members noted that our financials seem to be more stable than what we worry may be happening as our attendance numbers continue to remain pretty low.
A question was raised about what our plan is for the future. Tim Burnett, our priest and spiritual director, and Talus clarified that in October 2012 we completed our first 5-year lease agreement and started a new, three-year lease in which we are paying a bit less per month than in the 5-year lease; and BIMS is paying a bit more than they did during the first 5 years, so we are hoping that our 2013 margin will be as much as 8 percent. As part of their sublease, BIMS agreed to continue sharing the hall for these current 3 years (until 2016). Prior to the end of this current lease, the board will be looking at our options into the future and getting input from the sangha.
2. Volunteer Needs. Tim handed out copies of our updated volunteer organization chart and list of the current volunteer needs and opportunities. He noted that several major volunteer roles are or will be open in 2013 as people who have been doing them need to rotate out. He said that rotations are to be encouraged so that more people get new volunteer opportunities. He noted that while some roles are challenging, by their very difficulty, they offer us good opportunities for our zen practice of patience, concentration, discernment, and emptiness.
We spent time going over the list of open volunteer positions and filled quite a number of them during the meeting. Roles that will open this year are Bookkeeper, Tenzo, Registrar, Membership workgroup. We are also looking for a board Vice President and a board Secretary. Two members tentatively expressed interest in these positions, but the board warmly invites volu nteers and nominations from the sangha for these central roles. Especially we extend these opportunities to the broader sangha and members who were not at the annual meeting. The volunteer role list will be posted downstairs by the office downstairs (and the big organization chart). Please consider and sign up for a role. Current volunteers in the open roles will be happy to answer questions about their roles.
3. Break for Tea and Cookies. We took 20 minutes to have refreshments and talk informally. Thanks, Dave Lynch, for the terrific cookies!
4. Sangha Topics and/or Observations. We went around the room, inviting individuals to bring up any topics they wished to share, as follows:
· Several people noted how much we do as an organization, how smoothly it seems to run, and how grateful they are for everyone’s efforts and participation
--for example, Bob Penney said he would not have been able to organize and lead the wilderness retreats without the help of our infrastructure (registration, finance), so he is very grateful. Also, he noted that our sangha is becoming known more broadly for these wilderness retreats, which is great to hear.
· Valerie Davenport told us she will continue as Clerk (in the Finance workgroup) through 2013, but after that she needs to step down because she and her husband plan to travel extensively.
· Several people noted how surprised and grateful they are that our financials continue to be positive and stable. It was noted that the board has kept a frugal eye on our operations and needs to continue to do so.
· Connie Martin noted that she has not been around the hall a lot this past year but that it means a lot to her that we are here.
Jeff closed this segment of the meeting with sincere thank you’s to everyone who practices with us and who helps to keep our organization going.
5. Conflict Communications. Tim told the group that the board wants to develop some guidelines and structures for improving communications within the sangha. He noted that numbers of zen centers and sanghas have been developing systems for addressing conflicts when they arise within the sangha, and that the American Soto Zen Association also is supporting these efforts.
Tim and Jeff have done some thinking about an approach we might take as a sangha, and they recommend that we develop a two-part approach in resolving conflicts:
(1) Inside Support: when a problem between people comes up, it is good to reflect first on what is going on for us individually—to observe our behavior, our feelings, our history with the issues and people involved—before trying to talk with the other person(s) involved. In other words, to use our zazen mind to examine what we’re doing and thinking before attempting to talk with other parties. As a sangha we want and need to support each other in this effort and plan to figure out together how to encourage thisinside support step.
(2) Outside Support: We want also to develop some guidelines or a process we can use to help us talk about our disagreements or problems in a way that is compassionate, helps us all grow and also resolves differences. There is the possibility of designating a senior practitioner to whom people could go for support and coaching about how to have a discussion with the person with whom one is in conflict. We want other suggestions from sangha members about what they think would be helpful for resolving conflicts when they occur.
As we didn’t have time for any group discussion, we concluded this segment of the meeting with the plan for each of us (and sangha members not able to attend the annual meeting) to reflect on our individual past experiences with conflict—times when we have successfully resolved conflicts and times when we have not been able to do so. We will dedicate the next few Fifth Wednesday evenings (our usual time for Sangha Conversations) to this topic.
The next such date is January 30, 2013. In the meantime, the joint Northwest and BC sangha leaders group (priests and shusos from both sanghas) will be discussing their communications and conflict resolution needs and approaches at their January 12 meeting. Our sangha leaders will share their insights and plans with our RCZC sangha.
With bows to the Buddha, the meeting was adjourned at 12 noon.