2018 has been a year of growth, steady deepening of practice, and many important accomplishments. Here is a summary of the report I gave to the members in attendance at the recent membership meeting. Please give yourself (and any other members or friends you encounter) a warm pat on the back!
Growth in Membership and Friends
We began the year with a membership drive from January to March.
We now have 130 members and we communicate with over two thousand people who have come through, supported, practiced here.
Judson served as the membership coordinator, connecting with new members as they join and with existing members.
The Abbot and Judson maintained the website, revamped in 2018 to be more accessible for the larger community, putting out notices in Sangha News.
Judson and the Abbot also sent notices to the members and friends for news items from the year-end appeal to membership outreach notices
Ino Vicki organized the doan ryo to maintain the bells, chants, and forms.
Weekly sewing classes were led by Vicki for those preparing to receive the precepts. We also hosted a group from Mid City Zen in New Orleans to guide them in sewing rakusus (the lay ordination robe).
Dharma en Espanol built up a thriving group that attends its meetings and other sangha events, with the plan to purchase an audio device for simultaneous translations on the Sunday program.
The Practice Committee, led by the Abbot and the Tantos, planned ceremonies, watched over the sangha, and ensured the maintenance of the tradition of Zen forms and ceremonies.
The LGBT Meditation group met monthly, ensuring the dharma doors are open for all members of our community.
The Ango or Practice Period began with the invitation of the new Shuso or Head Student, Dave Rutschman, who kept in contact through email and classes, adding the Zoom feature for remote attendees.
Entering the Path of Practice, led by Tim and Audrey, began its first term of this two-year program with a core group of Zen students dedicated to entering the Path.
The Ikebana (Zen flower arranging) group expanded from Gayle and Audrey to the welcome addition of Rita and Sally.
15 classes were offered (last year 13)—from Social and Communal Harmony to the Bendowa, from the First Five Chinese Ancestors to Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, from the Art of the Bodhisattva to Four Foundations of Mindfulness. A new group of teachers (14 in all) joined long-time class leaders in offering these classes—all on a volunteer basis.
Introduction to Zen classes ran continuously, led by the Abbot and assisted by Joy, Daniel, and Royce.
First Wednesday introductions were offered by a new group of leaders following Cathy Crouch’s lead—Gayle, Louise, and Judson.
One-day sittings were offered almost every month, including one dedicated to People of Color.
The deep practice of Sesshin was offered—four in 2018—Tenshin Roshi in February, the first Wildflower retreat in April, Summer Sesshin in June, and Rohatsu sesshin in December.
An ordination of two sangha members and a jukai ceremony (receiving the Bodhisattva Precepts) demonstrated the depth of practice in our sangha.
The invitation was made and accepted by a new Co-Tanto, Gayle Klaybor, to join Louise Dreyfus as Co-Head of Practice.
Buildings and Grounds
Mary Carol, Head Gardener and Resident, oversaw the design and maintenance of the grounds.
Forbes (outgoing as member-at-large) provided Buildings and Grounds reports to the Board.
A new garden altar was crafted by Robert Emery and installed near the vegetable garden.
A new refrigerator and freezer along with new cabinets were purchased thanks to the generosity of the sangha, their installation facilitated by the new design of the kitchen by Tim and Gayle Schorre, ensuring a more efficient and safer use of the kitchen especially during sesshins.
The Abbot kept a close eye on the maintenance of the irrigation system.
The Abbot oversaw the maintenance of the buildings and grounds—repair of roof, plumbing repair in residences, installation of iron gate for condo, mulching in the gardens, a birdbath added to parking garden, trees removed, a new Jizo.
The Design committee began the careful process of planning for a new building.
Samu (Work Practice ) days were held every six weeks.
A Steward—often Eileen—stayed after every Sunday program to clean up the kitchen and ensure the temple was in order.
Connections to the Larger Sangha
The Abbot took on the national and international role as Director of Soto Zen Buddhism International Center—the first woman and the first non-Japanese person to assume that leadership role.
The American Zen Teachers Association (AZTA) group was hosted in the summer, a process facilitated by the dedication of the Abbot and Ino and aided by a group of volunteers who transported visitors to and from the airport and hosted them in their homes.
A group from Houston joined others to form a sangha led by the Abbot at Tassajara for Sangha Week in June.
HZC continued the Harvey relief efforts begun in 2017, the Abbot volunteering with the Red Cross, the Ino and others organizing gifts and donations to be distributed to classrooms, work projects, and other groups in need.
The Prison Sangha continued to thrive with the Abbot, Tim, Royce, and Brandon attending on most Mondays.
Jessica led the organization of the Walk to Feed the Hungry.
Daniel and Laura and others hosted Film nights at HZC.
The Kaleidoscope Group through Eileen began the Act Against Suffering posting of action opportunities for the sangha.
The Prison Correspondence program continued its correspondence with twenty or more people living in prison.
Parmita, aided by Andrew, maintained the weekly bookkeeping, information used in the monthly review of HZC’s finances at Finance and Board meetings.
The Abbot, Parmita, Vicki, and Joy maintained the Center’s finances weekly.
Gary reviewed the finances for the Finance Committee and the Board.
The Finance Committee, led by Cathy Crouch until October, then Leo Golub, reviewed the finances and envisioned future needs, making recommendations to the Board (members: Leo, Gary, Parmita, Abbot, Carter, and Tricia).
Board Meetings monthly ensured that we oversaw the finances of the Center and reviewed ways to invite the membership and larger community to participate and feel welcome.
The Maitreya Society, the Planned Giving group, led by Laura, got underway with more than 15 members so far pledging to leave a legacy to the Zen Center.
Running the Campus
The Abbot managed all aspects of the campus from contracting with repair companies to overseeing projects.
Joy worked in the office, taking care of every conceivable kind of task from ordering supplies to notifying students of classes to coordinating volunteers.
The residents—the Abbot, Vicki (Head Resident), Daniel, Laura, Mary Carol, and Royce—watched over the building and grounds with great care and attention, taking care of small and large tasks, attending and maintaining the zazen schedule, greeting guests, taking care of the buildings and grounds, helping with classes, and much more.
Daniel served as Jika, ensuring that overnight guests were comfortable and extending the warm hand of hospitality to everyone.
Royce arrived to fulfill the duties of a new resident and new associate priest to help the Abbot and Joy with the daily and weekly running of the Center.
As you can see, we have the great blessing of a thriving and dynamic Dharma center. We are so grateful to all of those—near and far—who supported these efforts over the year. The benefits of this practice are boundless.
Thank you all very much for your participation and support,
Tricia McFarlin, Outgoing President