Posted inGeneral News & Announcements

Sangha Meeting Minutes: January 14

January 15, 2023

Teacher’s Reports

Valerie Forstman, Guiding Teacher

The residents program is launched, under the guidance of Scott Thornton, and we can look forward to it growing over the next few months.

The listening session in December was well attended and received. Members expressed interest in volunteering, community building, eco-dharma/climate care, and social justice. Members continue to offer useful input and we plan to periodically have much such sessions.

Christian Casillas will lead a volunteer social outreach program collaborating with Upaya. Upaya has invited MCZC to join them in some of their outreach programs, ie. homeless shelter and prison. MC will announce this opportunity in the newsletter.

A new Introduction to Meditation Class will start in February, in person only on Sunday Mornings 10-11am.  This class will follow the Sunday morning onsite sit and tea, making for a morning of community connection, meditation and learning. 

The hybrid Wisdom Wednesday classes will continue.

We are upgrading the tech system in the zendo so it will be more reliable and less intrusive.

First ever hybrid Zazenkai is on January 21.

Upcoming guest speakers include Ruben Habito, Natalie Goldberg and Nancy Mujo Baker

In person dokusan begins Tuesdays from 4:30-6pm, offered by Valerie. Sign up online or just show up. 

Four-day online sesshin March 23-26 

Online Zen programming, led by Sarah Giffin, will continue. Two 30-days of Zen will be offered this year as well as another 10-day Koan course. Stay tuned for dates and details.

Henry Shukman, Spiritual Director Emeritus

Henry explains his ongoing health issues (from a head injury) which stopped his ability to do dokusan. This led him to quickly adapt his teaching style and program offerings in order to accommodate his current abilities. Original Love came out of this. OL offers, to a wide audience, some of the teaching he offered in dokusan. 

Henry recognizes that this change (along with the restrictions of COVID) has been difficult, especially for some long term students who “grew up with him at MCZC over the past 12 years.”  

Henry will be on sabbatical for the next six months from MCZC. He is also setting up OL as its own organizational entity which administratively will work better for both MCZC and OL.

Financial Report, Bryan Baldwin

This report is about MCZC’s finances only and does not include OL or RGMI. Year end 2022, MCZC is 26K in the black.

Income streams:

Donations:  2022 was a great year for donations, over $157K

Program Fees: $107K
Memberships: $66K

We plan to drive and better define membership this year.

The majority of our expenses goes to paying teachers, inside consultant staff and outside consultants. We are a human resources driven enterprise. The rest of our expenses include facilities maintenance and other misc expenses. 

We did a good deal of deferred maintenance in 2022: new furnace and hot water heater, extensive roof repair, and upgraded septic system, kitchen and pantry as well as some cosmetic upgrades. 

Our insurance policy, due to increased fire hazard, doubled in 2022 and will probably increase again in 2023. Fire insurance has become a significant expense that we have no control over.

Technology has expanded but we are still learning how to use and integrate these new technologies: 

  • A/V in the zendo (we want it to be simpler and less intrusive)
  • Tech tools to integrate teachers with students
  • Backend systems need fewer redundancies and to efficiently communicate
  • Platforms such as the website to raise awareness. 

MCZC has been prudent with its finances. Bryan found no questionable expenses for 2022, which is great news. Members can have confidence in the way MCZC has been managed. 

New Board Members

Bryan Baldwin and August Staas

Twenty-eight dues-paying/voting sangha members who were present at the meeting voted unanimously to approve adding Bryan Baldwin and August Staas to the Board of Directors.

Closing Messages (Mark Petrick, President, Board of Directors)

Despite MCZC organizational changes, nothing has really changed for members and participants. Daily sits, dokusan, retreats and Zazenkais will continue, and the tech (audio and visual) will improve.

Although MC and OL are now separate organizations, we are affiliated and working together. Much of what Henry taught individually through dokusan is being conveyed in Original Love teachings and Q&A. Though the format is different the teachings are the same and are reaching a greater number of people.  We encourage participation in OL. Their 2023 courses are being launched and promoted on our website and newsletter. 

Henry is still very much our Spiritual Director, though emeritus. He is not retired, but his role has changed. 

We realize that a lot of people want to volunteer. Joe Cronemeyer our caretaker and facilities manager is our volunteer point person. Sometimes volunteers, though well-meaning, cause Joe to work harder because volunteers need direction and managing. He has made it clear that we should wait until our residency program has a few more people and we have a foundation of committed onsite workers that can guide and direct the volunteers who want to help. So be patient as we develop our residency program with the understanding that more onsite activity with volunteers will soon occur. 

Mark stresses that MCZC is a very small organization; with a small staff, we are constrained on how much we can actually do, and how fast we can do it. We are working on streamlining our organization, our staff rolls and we desire to make membership more participatory and fluid. 

Minutes submitted by Johanna Sindelar

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