Minutes from the WMC Community Gathering, March 13, 2005

by Joe Toole

The WMC Community Gathering for Spring 2005 was held on the afternoon of March 13 prior to the evening practice. Members of the Board and the Practice Council were present. Items were suggested by the group and discussed. The following were the topics covered:

1. Change Your Mind Day - Plans are underway for another program this year; however, it will not be as extensive as 2004. Date to be announced. The Buddhist Peace Fellowship is involved. The WMC may wish to consider doing something that weekend (e.g., provide literature, information).

2. Fall Visit by the Dalai Lama - It appears that the Dalai Lama will be visiting Washington, D.C. this Fall and there will be a number of events associated with the visit. The WMC has a number of opportunities to support this program, both as a Sangha and as individuals. Jackie is the representative to the Steering Committee and we will work through her to see what can be done. Some suggestions that were offered included (1) advertising the events, (2) helping house out of town attendees, (3) holding a special meditation program that week, and (4) providing ushers for the events.

3. "Touching the Earth" Practice - This practice has just been started, but has been well received. The ceremony was held prior to the Sunday evening meditations, and although relatively few attended, it was enriching. Future ceremonies may be scheduled.

4. Half Days of Mindfulness - The Practice Council is exploring possible half days of mindfulness built around the DVD set of Thay's talks. Susan Hadler indicated she would be looking into it further.

5. Committee Reports:

Treasurer's Report - The current balance in the WMC bank account is $5106. Expenses have been relatively low and included $230 for library purchases, and $2000 donated to the Vihara. The Charter Hall Retreats are basically breaking even, and income over the year in donations is covering expenses.

Special collections were made over the recent years for the rebuilding of the Vihara bathroom, support for Sister Barbara Newell, and purchase of a server for Plum Village. These have seemed to work well for funding special projects. No projects are planned at this time, although it was suggested that we may want to have a targeted drive in the future for a monastery restoration project in Viet Nam.

Funds are available for scholarships (i.e., to assist WMC members in attending retreats in Plum Village or other locations). Although funds were set aside for these purposes, there have been very few requests. It was suggested that an effort should be made to make Sangha members aware of these funds.

There was also some discussion regarding how much should be donated to Plum Village in the coming years. This should be discussed further by the Board.

Communications Committee - Things have been going well with the website and the list serve; a special thanks to Joseph and Mary Hillebrand.

It was noted that the new program for the computer downloaded "mindfulness bell" is not working well; it was recommended that it be taken off the server until it can be fixed.

On May 1, there will be a presentation of those who visited Viet Nam with Thay.

Operations Committee - The retreats to Charter Hall have been pretty full and successful; the most recent was April 22-24, 2005. There appears to be a good supply of trained bell inviters; new members are being encouraged to serve as Greeters.

Community Care Committee - this committee has been very engaged and Steve Sidley provided an overview of their activities:

  • Lisa F. has headed a reading group that has met to discuss Thay's book, Living Buddha, Living Christ. It was noted that some people had had a hard time meeting with the group. 

  • The Couple's Group is still active. It includes 5 couples that meet every two weeks in Friendship Heights. Recently they were discussing Getting the Love You Want.

  • The Second Body Practice continues, ending in April. It has been hard for some partners to schedule meetings this round. There were 4 couples this past session. The next session begins in May.

  • Lisa F. has also initiated a volunteer clearinghouse where members of the Sangha can let others know of volunteer opportunities, and try to connect with other interested members. Lisa has circulated a flyer if anyone is interested.

  • Dharma Discussions are being held once a month for an hour before the meditation. The discussions are an opportunity to discuss some aspect of the practice more deeply. The last topic was "Bringing Practice to the Workplace."

  • The Clearness Committee has not been used but is still available.

5. Calendar - It was recognized that we needed to clarify the schedule of activities in the Sangha and publish that in the newsletter. The following were noted:

1st Sunday - "Touching the Earth" Ceremony (starts at 6 pm)

2nd Sunday - Pot Luck Dinner (starts at 5:15pm); live Dharma Teacher

3rd Sunday - Dharma Discussion (Starts at 6 pm)

4th Sunday - New Comers Orientation (Starts at 6 pm)

Throughout the year:

Retreat at Claymont Court - each quarter organized by the Fairfax Mindfulness Community

Days of Mindfulness - once monthly organized by Fairfax Mindfulness Community

Charter Hall Retreat - held in September, January and April by the WMC

Meeting adjourned for the voting of new officers for the Board and the Practice Council.