Lama Michael Conklin had this to say about this momentous time: “fasten your seat belts. Here we go again!” Teacher Bill Spangle added: “we are at an inflection point. We have accomplished so much in the last years with the construction of SCOL and the completion of the first One Year Retreat, but the energy of the moment is not restful. We have both the Three Year Retreat coming up with key volunteers and one teacher going on retreat and now we also need to prepare to serve a growing community at our new urban center. Our hand is being forced. But fortunately along with all the work invested in SCOL, we have also quietly invested in our practices. So we can now harvest the
fruits of this practice to nourish the sangha as we grow in our new urban center.”
The selection criteria for a new urban center have been honed over many years of discussion, although there will be opportunities for additional input. To evaluate and recommend potential sites, the Urban Center Planning Team has been formed. The team is co-chaired by John Jennings and Sandy Pollock, both current board members. Also serving on the team are Linda Logan, Chuck Kangas, Suvansh Kapur, Bill Spangle and Dora DeCoursey. The Planning Team will communicate regularly with the sangha to keep everyone engaged in the search and development process.
While the news of a new urban center received the most acclaim, sangha members also discussed other important goals. KCC is also at an inflection point with respect to its human resources. It is with great celebration that the sangha prepares for a number of its key volunteers and one of its teachers to depart in March for three-year retreat. This is the culmination of one of KCC’s major goals—to support deep practice of the dharma.
Board president, Tim Campbell, reminded the sangha that it is full of people with extraordinary talent and commitment. He exhorted everyone to “offer what they could to support KCC,” particularly as long-time volunteers leave for retreat. Linda Besant, board member and chair of the Volunteer Support Committee (VSC), explained that the VSC was working to make it easier and more efficient to volunteer. For example, volunteers are gathering together important resources, such as texts, graphics and processes, so they can be found in one place. They are also developing job descriptions and a volunteer handbook so that potential volunteers will have a clear understanding
of what is expected in their volunteer roles.
Linda also provided a list of volunteer opportunities. One key role that needs to be filled is for a communications coordinator. This person will coordinate among all of the volunteers who produce KCC’s many communications, such as the website, Facebook and e-newsletter, to help them function in concert with each other.
Another of KCC’s primary goals is to strengthen the financial base so it can support the entire scope of operations. Barbara Bell explained that it is essential not to lose sight of the fact that KCC has not yet fully funded the 2014 operating budget, also known as the general fund. Approximately $30,000 more needs to come in during the next three months. Many sangha supporters make their contribution at year end, and it is important that this continue; but whenever it is possible for a sangha member to make monthly pledges, it is extremely helpful to ensure sustainable funding. In this way, KCC knows what funds are available to pay bills on a monthly basis. Eighteen people are now
making three-year pledges.
Barbara also said that the development committee and board of directors are hopeful that the funds raised to build the staff housing at SCOL will be adequate, but do not consider SCOL capital fundraising complete until the last nail has been pounded and all the building are in good shape. Additional fundraising for the new urban center beyond the marvelous $1,000,000 seed gift will not begin immediately.
While important news was shared, the annual meeting was also a time for eating delicious food and catching up with other sangha members. As a special treat, sangha members sang along with a new KCC singing group. John Prine’s hilarious “Dear Abby” song was augmented with Buddhist aspirations. All in all, this annual meeting will be long remembered by those in attendance.
Upcoming Retreats and Seminars
The KCC community offers plenty of opportunity for study and retreat in the coming months—in Portland, at Ser Chö Ösel Ling, KCC’s retreat-land in eastern Washington—and in India.
Before listing it all, we want to offer a huge thank you to Galen Doucette for his four years of service and onsite management of SCOL. He is stepping down in order to, hopefully, participate in the upcoming Three Year Retreat. He is currently in the process of securing the funds through scholarship, donation and support from friends and the community. We appreciate all he has done and his deep commitment to the KCC community. Without him, this retreat land would not be what it is today.
Teri Duffy, an active KCC member since 2010, will take the helm. She will overlap Galen’s service and has already begun some of her duties. With her years of experience in non-profit management in Portland and abroad, Teri will bring new ideas and ways of seeing to KCC—at a time of great change.
“I appreciate the opportunity of service to integrate my daily work with my meditation practice,” Teri says of her decision to apply for this position. She also looks forward to strengthening connections with KCC sangha members; deepening the practice of her Refuge and Bodhisattva vows; beginning the Mahamudra program; and furthering her study of Buddhism and the Tibetan language.
The Mahamudra Seminar, a ten-day retreat from October 7-18, will be the final formal retreat of the season at SCOL.
The Seminar was developed several years ago by Kyabje Bokar Rinpoche and Khenpo Lodro Donyo Rinpoche to allow lay Westerners to remain involved with family and community while nourishing Dharma practice. Participants commit to formal practice of an hour or more each day (some first-timers may arrange for a lesser daily commitment).
Bokar Rinpoche offered the first Mahamudra seminar in Portland, Oregon in 1996. It has been an annual event ever since. In 2001, he asked Lama Michael and Lama Tara of Victoria, BC, to co-host the seminar for practitioners in North America.
The deadline has passed to register for this retreat. However anyone interested in participating may contact retreat registrar David McWherter to inquire of possible openings. For questions regarding content, please contact Bill Spangle.
The 2014 International Combined Mahamudra and Yidam Seminar in Bodhgaya, India, happens from December 12-23. Khenpo Lodro Donyo Rinpoche will also offer Empowerment for the Three Year Retreat. According to Lama Michael, this empowerment is open to anyone who is considering the possibility of someday taking a Three Year Retreat—and not only those who will begin their retreat in
For questions regarding the seminar content, please contact Bill Spangle and Dora DeCoursey; for questions about registration, contact Liza Baer and Ryan Fitz.
A final SCOL opportunity you might want to put on your 2015 calendar is a Personal Retreat: It is not too early to begin planning for days, weeks or even an entire month of personal retreat between January 17 and February 14. Although some previous retreat experience is preferred and beneficial, all students are welcome. Before
acceptance, participants are asked to work with a KCC teacher or another teacher to develop a plan for how to make the most of retreat time. To learn more, please contact Bill Spangle.
At KCC’s Urban Center, the Ngondro Quarterly Session - Guru Yoga happens on Saturday, October 4, 9:00am-3:00pm. Bill Spangle will lead this class and welcomes all students interested in furthering this practice. More information is available on KCC’s website, or contact Bill Spangle. He asks that you bring your Ngondro text—or borrow one.
As always, please find more info on the KCC website. Please do not hesitate to ask questions of event leaders or the Retreat Committee chair, David McWherter.