Red Cedar Zen Community, 1021 N Forest, Bellingham Washington

Practice Committee October 2019

Practice Committee Minutes June 7, 2019 and August 8th combined minutes

Present: Edie Norton, Judith Koontz, Tim Burnett, Bob Rose, Bob Penny, Chris Burkhart

Agenda with Notes from Tim (see below for the notes from the discussion)

Sunday Program updates

  •       See report Tim put together for the Board based on Chris’s minutes from Sangha Leaders meetings and other conversations he’s had.
  •       Pilot program for 2020: first Sunday of the month. Chris will coordinate.
  • o   test out schedules
  • o   rough gauge of interest
  • o   see how we feel
  •       Board has approved letting BIMS know that we cannot guarantee them that time slot in the weekends they otherwise have priority scheduling.
  • Incense Use Report
  •       First trial of the most minimal option: doshi extinguishes it as she offers it. Main altar only.
  •       New use announced in dharma talk, in newsletter, will request feedback during announcements on Weds nights.
  •       So far no concerns expressed to Tim – anyone else hear of any?
  •       Tim curious about letting it burn a few more seconds as initial form feels a little funny with putting it out in the middle of the overall altar offering process.
    • o   offer it still burning
    • o   do cedar spring offering
    • o   bow to finish offering
    • o   jisha puts it out
  •       Proposed: keep with the super minimal initial form for a month and see if any health concerns arise. If not try this slightly longer burning time and see.
  •       NOTED: if anyone with very strong allergies/sensitivities is present we won’t offer incense when they are present in the zendo.
  • o   Need to announce that too which Tim forgot but he did invite feedback

Retreat Manager invitation

  •       ongoing or shorter terms (1-off? a few in a row?)
  •       look at membership list together
  •       need at least temporary RM for Jukai Retreat & Rohatsu

Upcoming Events

  •       Oct 18-20 Sangha Trip to Seattle: 7 people going, financially broke even, Rei as Sangha Trip Coordinator working well.
  •       Oct 26 Jukai Retreat – Bob Penny is tenzo – schedule organizers’ meeting: Weds Oct 23rd 5:30pm?
  •       Nov 6th – Spirit Settling Ceremony
  •       Dec 4-8 – Rohatsu
  •       Dec 31 New Year’s eve (need to check with BIMS!)

2020 Schedule Notes and call for proposals

  •       1st Sunday pilot program: in progress, building is booked
  •       3rd Sunday programming: interest in offering Zazenkai/Simple Sit type programs
  •       Question: will Edie’s (1pm 1st Sunday) and John’s (3pm 3rd Sunday) study groups continue in 2020?
  •       How should ongoing study groups and the desire for a simple zazen retreat monthly interact? Should we consider asking for all of Sunday every week 2021+ on to have more Sunday slots available? [might be non-issue as BIMS rarely does anything on Sunday afternoon on their weekends so could do study groups on 2nd or 4th Sundays too]
  •       Wilderness Dharma Program: same as recent years?
  •       2020 Practice Period: no shuso. 6pm Dharma Class by Tim this year.
  • o   Jan 15 – opening
  • o   Feb 1 – one-day sesshin [or skip?]
  • o   March 4-8 – closing sesshin
  • o   March 11 – closing [note this is also Nancy Welch’s 1 year memorial day]
  •       Request from finance committee, approved by the Board: increase all retreat fees 10%

Possibly Add new Tanto position

  •       “Head of Practice”- typically supervises the Ino and “reports to” the Abbot
  •       Research from other sanghas – let’s consider which of these points are more or less applicable to our situation.
  • o   Teaching position so must have been shuso, most places is  transmitted priest.
  • o   Gives interviews and works with students frequently
  • o   Teaches classes and supports/supervises senior students giving classes and talks
  • o   Chairs the practice committee Organizes monthly temple officers meeting (“kind of an executive committee / quick hitting troubleshooting sort of thing”)
  • o   Invites visiting speakers
  • o   coordinates dharma talks (incl. inviting student talks)
  • o   schedules doshis & is regularly a doshi
  • o   tracks attendance
  • o   Supervises zazen instruction (who gives orientations and what they say)
  • o   Checking in with newer students (how’s it going so far?)
  • o   Help Ino and Head Doan learn the forms and how to train people in them
  • o   Opens the zendo in the morning (ooh: Saturday mornings!)
  • o   tracks and disseminates changes in the forms to Ino, jikos, etc.
  •       Specific ideas we’ve had
  • o   Do regular forms teaching: brief explanations/demonstrations on Weds night in the zendo before everyone leave – a kind of week by week training program – many sitters don’t have some of the basic forms.
  • o   Works with Ino closely
  • o   Reduces need for Guiding Teacher to give forms refinements (as can be more loaded coming from him)

Meeting Minutes with Discussion

2020 Sunday Program (AKA Pilot Program)

The intention of having this “First Sunday” is to have a pilot program in 2020 with an eye towards weekly Sunday morning practice in 2021. It will give us an opportunity to learn more about our potential participants and the needs of the community. Tim reported on his conversation with our building partner BIMS about the possibility of RCZC doing a Sunday morning program beginning in 2020. It appears at this time that BIMS is open to this. The following items were brought up or discussed:

 a)   Do surveys for participants of the Sunday programs to find out more about our audience.

 b)   Conversations about the schedule continue.

 c)   There is agreement about the following: orientation at 9:30 am, zazen beginning at 10:00 am, program end at noon.

 d)   The length of zazen periods remains under discussion 1x40 min., 1x30 min., 2x20 min.

 e)   We may try out different schedules, overall the schedule remains fluid.

 f)    Service also remains under discussion, the choices are Wednesday evening service and Saturday morning being possibilities. The majority seemed to think that the Wednesday evening service is more suitable until we know more about the audience.

 g)   We want to heavily advertise the launch of the new program and will be looking for a person to take the lead on the advertising. We discussed posters at the Food Coop and the university, Facebook, etc.

 h)   Sundays would allow us to invite outside teachers. The outside teacher would be in charge of the amount of time for the talk and how much for tea and dharma conversation.

 i)    Bob Penny wondered if we should have child care or a kids' program concurrently.

 j)    What would be the measure of success that we use at the end of the year? Attendance? Formation of a dedicated core group?

Incense Use

Tim suggested to continue the super-brief incense for one month. After, he would like to consider expanding the use for a short time so the incense is lit throughout the offering.

Retreat Manager

The possibility was brought up to have one retreat manager for the June Samish retreat and having a different retreat manager(s) for the other retreats. Tim brought up a few possibilities for Rohatsu. We might also reconsider changing the title to retreat facilitator or host since the job is not so much managing the retreat but coordinating between the roles.

October Sangha Conversation

The goal is to introduce the sangha to the different roles and jobs that make the sangha work as a whole and how these ctivities extend lovingkindness not only to the community but also the space. This will go beyond the doan ryo and describe what individuals do and also if they are seeking support. Tim will invite specific individuals to speak about their roles.

We will also begin to recruit for the Sunday doan ryo. The goal is to have at least one person in the doan ryo (combined doan/kokyo/time keeper). If a second person is available we can do the mokugyo.

There will be an extended forms training event on December 13 from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm.

Upcoming Events and Meetings

Six people will go to Seattle to visit various Buddhist groups. Tim asked for registration to be re-opened since 2 more spots could be available.

Bob Penny will be tenzo for the jukai retreat.

Hannah, Judith, and Bob will have an organizers' meeting on October 23.

2020 Schedule

    Bob Penny spoke of low attendance for the Sunday morning sits on his farm. If we should decide on a weekly Sunday program at the hall, he will rethink the concept.

    Bob will continue Wilderness Dharma and may structure a class around that.

    Chris Burkhart would like to do a Wednesday 6:00 pm class after the Practice Period.

    Tim will do the Practice Period classes / teachings.

    Tim will ask Norman to come for the March retreat. Current thought is to hold the sesshin at the hall and have a public talk at the YWCA across the street. Tim will check if Norman is available, if yes, he will book the YWCA.

Tea during Retreats

We determined that tea during Bellingham retreats is very close to dinner. Also it adversely impacts the serving crew. Therefore, we should drop tea service for the Bellingham retreats. Tea service at Samish will continue unchanged.

Tanto Position

We will discuss specific duties /job description at the next meeting.

Next Practice Committee Meeting

   Prior discussion made it clear that leading the Sunday program is open to all sangha leaders (post-shuso). Whoever runs the program is responsible for set-up, orientation, closing up.


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