Minutes from Practice Committee Meeting, March 24, 2012
Present: Tim, Nancy, Talus, Bob, Marti, Edie
Excused: John, Karen
The practice committee (former shusos, Inos, registrar) meets quarterly to discuss and plan for our practice offerings and policies. At this meeting the committee discussed and made decisions about the following practice topics:
1. Reflections on the 2012 practice period:
2. General plan for 2013 practice period: Return to 3 zazen periods Wednesday evenings (rather than a seminar), have a shuso. Tim will select and guide the shuso (having consulted first with Norman and also the practice committee).
3. Norman's plans for leading Bellingham sesshins in future: March and June (Samish). He will be in Vancouver in November (Loon Lake) and May.
4. Ideas and plans for enriching our weekly/monthly schedule while maintaining enough zazen:
5. Noon zazen proposed change: Nancy needs to pull back from hosting on Mondays, so we are currently short on resources to adequately host all of the three noon zazen times. Tim expressed our appreciation for those who help out at the noon sits - opening the door, ringing the bells, and being available to visitors. However, he feels it is essential to have a host overseeing the practice who has at least had jukai. Lacking such a practice leader to replace Nancy, we decided to drop one noontime sit. Since our main weekday practice is Wednesday evenings (thus offering a meditation opportunity that day), we will drop Wednesday noon meditation and keep only Monday and Friday noons. Starting in April, Edie will move from Wednesday noon to Monday noon host, and Tim will continue with Friday noons. In order to more smoothly transition the Wednesday noon participants, Edie will also continue hosting Wednesday noons through April, but starting in May, we will move to the two noontime sits per week. When she can, Nancy will be available as a substitute noon host. Edie and Tim will also train other regular noontime participants in how to open the zendo, welcome people, and ring the bell to start and end zazen, so that in the event the host cannot be there, noon participants can still have a good experience.
6. Sesshin fee reductions for specific volunteer roles were explored by the committee. One idea was to look at a graduated fee reduction for roles such as registrar, tenzo, retreat manager, and perhaps other time consuming sangha roles such as membership chair. Before creating what would amount to an expanded scholarship program or partial pay for substantial volunteer work, we would need a financial analysis to see if we actually can afford to reduce fees; and/or if we would need and want to raise sesshin attendance fees, etc. The committee agreed that volunteering (rather than being paid) in sangha roles is an important principle of our practice, and also fairness an important goal in awarding fee reductions. Another important aspect of our volunteer structure is to recognize when individuals are becoming overburdened with too many roles and duties and then finding other, newer members to take on some responsibilities. We are working to do this in several areas now. As we grow, spreading the workload will continue to be an important practice committee and board responsibility. The committee will continue to consider and discuss this complex topic before agreeing on a policy.
7. New monthly public program: Tim reflected that the first two public programs (held on the first Saturday mornings of the month) went well, and the plans are in place to continue the program under Marti's leadership. He asked that we put the dates on our calendars and support the program. On April 7, Eido Frances Carney from the Olympia Zen Center will be the speaker.
NOTE: Tim will be gone for much of April-the first, third, and fourth weeks.
Minutes respectfully submitted,