Notes from the Message Council

SOR Message Council Mission Statement – The primary purpose of the Message Council of the Sufi Order of Rochester is to provide leadership, in a manner that reflects our ideals and our responsibilities to the community at large, the Sufi Order and the planet, for the spiritual community dedicated to the Message of awakening of humanity to the divinity of all brought by Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan. This purpose is actualized by the following guiding principles:

  • Enhancing the qualities of Love, Harmony and Beauty in our community through the activities of the SOR;
  • Facilitating, engaging and inspiring the community through a strong attunement to the Message that is dynamic, strong and vibrant and focuses on Murshid’s teachings, along with Pir Vilayat, Pir Zia and others;
  • To develop visionary and practical suggestions for activities in the various concentrations for the consideration and ultimate implementation by the full community, including Foundation and Message Classes, Zikr Circle, Ziraat, Healing Circle/Class, Universal Worship Services, Sacred Dances, special events, advanced classes, and seminars with visiting teachers;
  • Collecting involvement, feedback and input from the community in order to address specific community needs;
  • Building and expanding community among our members and beyond;
  • Holding and expanding the vision for the development of the work of the Message locally through Center activities and nationally in support of the Sufi Order International and Pir Zia Inayat Khan;
  • Providing guidance and support to members and those who come to us for inspiration and collaboration;
  • Managing the finances, resources, insurance, lease commitment and other practical considerations;
  • Offering a presence in the larger community so that we may serve the needs of others beyond our membership;
  • Offering a structure for classes, events and spiritual guidance through appointed Representatives and others;
  • Developing and delivering training programs for specific leadership positions such as Cherags, Healing Conductors, Retreat Guides, Coordinators and Representatives;
  • Addressing the inevitable challenges, special needs and conflicts that arise and fostering growth in response to change; and
  • Planning how to sustain this organization into the future through collective faith, vision and guidance.
  • The Message Council is the keeper of the purpose.

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SOR Message Council Agenda

Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2015

Present: Amina, Basira, Husam, Inayat, Jabbar, Leelah, NurQalbia, Rahima, Wadud, Zaynab

Decisions:

  • Treasurer’s Report & Finances: Husam will print up the final end of the year figures so Basira will be able to send out the tax donation letters. Leelah will get things together for an annual report when Husam finishes the finances. Everyone who is the head of a concentration needs to write a report on what has happened this year with pictures if possible and send to Leelah by February 1.
  • AV Equipment for Center: It was agreed that we need new AV equipment for the Center. Wadud will contact Malika’s IT person for suggestions and report back at the next meeting.
  • Lease Renewal: The group unanimously agreed that we would renew the lease for three years when the lease runs out June 15. We should let them know and have them send us the lease for review. Wadud will contact them and ask them.
  • Shahabuddin Intensive: See minutes below for agreed upon activities and coordinators for this event.
  • Policy & Procedure Agreed upon: After discussion about this the group established a firm policy that Shakti and Akbar count as one person both in terms of their registration at everything at SOR events and in terms of numbers we give to the presenter. Presenters will be informed of this in advance. If only one attends they pay for one person.
  • Roc/ACTS Funding Issue: All agreed that Zaynab will go to the Roc/ACTS Board meeting raise the issue. 

Topics for Future Meetings:

  • AV Equipment for Center: Wadud’s report from Malika’s IT person.
  • See reports listed at the end of these minutes. They were tabled until the next meeting due to lack of time. 
  • Attunement (Wadud)
  • Welcome Nurqalbia! (all the seen and unseen Beings)Everyone welcomed her to her first meeting.
  • Message Council email addresses (Wadud) Wadud noted that his and Zaynab’s e-mail addresses have changed. WadudHenry@gmail.com and ZaynabKathleen@gmail.com and Nurqalbia’s is cae5754@gmail.com
  • New Website up (zaynab) There is a new website appearance which is similar to the old one that is more mobile friendly.
  • Finances and potential purchases/rental
    • Treasurer’s report (Husam, Basira, Jabbar) We have over $10,000 in the bank and are paid up through December on rent. Husam will print up the final end of the year figures so Basira will be able to send out the tax donation letters. Request for at least yearly updates to community re: finances, including general description of expenditures and collected fees (directed to Husam, Basira, Jabbar) There was a request that we send out a report on our finances, what we spent money on and what we made money on. Leelah will get things together for an annual report when Husam finishes the finances. Everyone who is the head of a concentration needs to write a report on what has happened this year with pictures if possible. It needs to be to Leelah by February 1 and she will put it together.
    • AV equipment for Center (Inayat) He is proposing that we get a good CD player, something that would play tapes, a monitor so we can show videos or have movie night, we may also want to update our sound system. Live stream, music, etc. We also need a router and a better internet connection. Wadud said that Malika Cheryl has a good IT person who can tell us what we need to do what we want. Leelah suggested that if you have tapes that are very precious and you want to save them, to have them digitized. The lavalier mic we have is pretty good. Leelah suggested getting a system where we can stream the sound through a computer program. Perhaps a cabinet we can move in and out of the room as needed. We might want recording equipment for guest speakers. We should get the whole thing done at once if we do it. We can get the information and decide what we are going to do about it. Wadud will contact Malika’s IT person.
    • New Pledges for lease renewal (Husam) Pretty much the same people who pledged before are pledging now. We have enough to pay the lease at the new rate of $1100 as well as $150 for the electric bill. People were asked to pledge for an additional 3 years.
    • Short term rental request(Zaynab and Wadud)
  • Dharma Refuge Request for Rental: NB: Received an e-mail from the Dharma Refuge after this meeting noting that they found another place. We (a few of the Dharma Refuge board members) met this evening to discuss this series of classes.  We have three possible venues.  But I like the Sufi space best. The projected start date is Jan. 9. I think this is for 11 weeks) So each class will be 2 & 3/4 hrs. long, give or take 15 minutes.  We’d start at 9:00 am and would have no problem being out before you start your activities. Wadud and Zaynab will bring up short term rental at meeting Wednesday.  Wadud will check how many people so we can alert AAUW so they can plan for parking. Because they are meeting for a longer time than the other group, we might want to increase the amount to $50 per session. Find out number of people and if $50 is okay. We can’t fit many more than 40 because of the number of chairs. If they have 20 or fewer people and they say yes, we’ll do it. If there are more than 20 people Wadud will come back to us.
  • Lease renewal: yes/no; when do we notify AAUW (Wadud, Husam; all of us) The group unanimously agreed that we would renew the lease for three years when the lease runs out June 15. We should let them know and have them send us the lease for review. Wadud will contact them and ask them.
  • Murshid Shahabuddin December seminar (all)
    • Registration: Amina didn’t have exact numbers yet.
    • Partial attendance? Gave $135 for partial but Shahabuddin doesn’t like doing that.
    • Food, coffee, tea: It’s three days to provide pot luck every day. Amina suggested having people attending bring something. Inayat will coordinate food and Jabbar will coordinate coffee/tea.
    • Cancelation of Class: Inayat suggested canceling his Thursday class that week. The group agreed.
    • Housing: there are a few people who have rooms and people already coming to stay with them.
    • Canadian Exchange Rate: the exchange rate makes an additional amount for Canadian. Amina suggested that for Iman and others who have difficulty with finances that we accept Canadian money at par and offer the rest considered as a scholarship. The group agreed. Amina will send out an e-mail.

Scholarships/work study – Jabbar’s understanding of financial arrangements that already exist is that Shakti and Akbar pay as a 2 for one. We have a 50% arrangement with Jelilah for doing the registration. Nizam has requested a 50% scholarship which Jabbar advocates for. We have an application request for Daniel Miller. Tara wants to pay out of proceeds of the sales. Jabbar has said it’s 50% and even if she doesn’t make that much she is responsible for the 50% amount. There’s a scholarship request from Shafi. Shahabuddin offers one scholarship per every 15 paid registration. Our total for our contributions to scholarships and Shahabuddin’s $787.50. Jabbar will confirm with scholarship applicants. Work Study will be coordinated by Jabbar and Inayat who will ask that the recipients will help with clean up after the event and Amina will confirm with Iman and send out limited e-mail to contact her about how we will deal with the exchange.

  • Shakti & Akbar’s Permanent Arrangement After discussion about this the group established a firm policy that Shakti and Akbar count as one person both in terms of their registration at everything at SOR events and in terms of numbers we give to the presenter. Presenters will be informed of this in advance. If only one attends they pay for one person. This shows respect for our two beloved elderly members. Amina will tell Shahabuddin about having Akbar and Shakti count as one person attending.
  • Sales (Subhan Lloyd, Tara) upstairs? The group agreed it was okay. Ask Tara for help with the set up for the chairs.
  • UW on last day-open to public? Discussion about whether he would like to do a UW on Sunday. Most of the people who usually come to UW will probably come to the seminar. Having it open makes it possible for some unregistered people to attend a UW he does. Amina will discuss it with him.
  • Blessing of most recently ordained Cherags: He had intended to do this.
  • Any evening session: e.g. Murshid Sam stories, music, other: He did say he would do something with Murshid Sam stories—we don’t know when.
  • Expenses for travel: We will cover transportation from wherever they live except if they come from closer if it’s less. This is covered as an expense off the top for presenters. The group agreed this would be policy for whenever an out-of-town presenter comes.
  • Roc/Acts
    • Dues paid $300: Husam said they had been paid.
    • Need delegate, for a morning of first Wednesday of the month for board meeting for 1.5 hours. People asked to check their calendars. Because it’s during the day, it is difficult for many people to attend.
    • Wadud to attend the clergy caucus third Tuesday of the month. Any alternates or others who wish may attend
    • Discussion: re: their funding prohibiting open support of LGBT/Gay marriage (Wadud) Currently we don’t have all the information. The Chairman of the board said to Wadud in passing. We have a funding source that says that the organization cannot come out in support of Gay Marriage, or LGBT. This doesn’t mean we cannot individually as a person or as an organization separate from Roc ACTS. He said any decisions must be made as a consensus. If ROC Acts loses funding from this source, they can find other funding. The funding is from Catholic Campaign for Human Development as $50,000 a year for 6 years. They are in year two. Jabbar checked on the web about this organization and apparently there is an issue with other more conservative groups within the Catholic Community for them to be less liberal in their support of poverty in the US. Eventually ROC ACTS will have to explore additional funding anyway because this will run out in four more years. This is their only funding.   We are representing the Sufi Order of Rochester in joining this. We did not have the information when we joined. Zaynab suggested that she attend the December meeting and bring up the issue so we bring clarity into this. We don’t know whether ROC/Acts as a group isn’t dealing the issues of LGBT or abortion. They are working on a specific issue. We are Sufis in an order where if you agree with 99%, don’t argue with the 1%. Wadud suggested that we cannot be in a community group and still agree with everything. We can work in harmony where we agree which is pretty much the whole of Roc/Acts’ agenda. Amina agrees that Zaynab should raise the question that this imprimatur on the organization makes us uncomfortable. Zaynab will do this gently, with harmony explaining that this was something that made us uncomfortable. She mentioned that their current agenda will take at least four more years to finish. All agreed that Zaynab go to the meeting raise the issue.
    • Possible presentation re: Parliament and Rainbow Journey. Jon is interested in having attendees do this.
      • Also, possible presentation to Sufi community re: same.
    • Upcoming plans of Roc/Acts (Wadud)
  • Briefly review SOR and SOI updates, local concentrations and their activities and any national updates, plans, Rumi Café, miscellaneous subcommittees
    • SOI updates (Amina) Amina made a report of activities to the Message Council.
    • Esoteric (coordinators and reps)
      • Leelah officially appointed as Rep. in training (Wadud is her mentor) General congratulations!
    • Healing (Wadud)
    • UW     (Jabbar)
      • UW retreat next year in the Fall? (Wadud)
    • Kinship (Rahima, Basira)
      • Soup (Rahima, Basira) At the Kinship class attendees mentioned that a long time ago the group had prepared soup and donated it to an organization devoted to feeding those in need. This is an interesting idea and the Kinship Coordinators will confer to look at practical logistics for this activity.
      • Thanksgiving donation in process. Rahima will send out information on donations. We already have a family of 7 through Dimitri House.
      • Christmas donation – Last year’s recipient could still use help. We will collect monetary donations and give her a gift card. If we have money over and above, we could give a gift card to Spiritus. We could ask the recipient where they would like the gift card from.

The following reports were tabled until the next meeting due to lack of time:

  • Presentation to Roc/Acts (see above) (Wadud, travelers)
  • Inviting Native Americans to meet with us (zaynab)
  • Ziraat (Basira)
  • Dances (dance leaders)
  • Rumi Café (Leelah)
  • Whirling classes (Leelah)
  • Marketing (Wadud, zaynab, Basira, Leelah)
  • Schedules, upcoming events of note
  • Moineddin and Kainat for June 4-6. (Inayat) Option of doing it for 2 days.   What is their topic? Some variation of Emerald Earth and Ziraat. Question about whether they would do a UW. There are possibilities of parks in the area for a visit. This will be revisited at the next meeting.
    • Any interest is Poetry day/weekend in April? (Wadud)
    • Thanksgiving UW (Wadud and Cherags)
    • Aramaic Prayer on Jan1 (Inayat, Wadud)
    • Soul’s journey at end of January (Wadud and zaynab)
    • Mahdia April (dates)
    • Kismet in July (Wadud)
    • Ziraat day in Summer (Basira)
    • Devi interested in coming again in 2016 (Wadud, zaynab)

Next Meeting: Zaynab will facilitate. December 2 at 7 PM

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SOR Message Council Agenda

May 6, 2015

Present: Basira, Wadud, Amina, Husam, Inayat, zaynab, Leelah. Rahima calls in.

Attunement: Ya Salaam, to those present, to those in Rochester, to those in America and to all the world.

From Previous Meeting Agendas

· Tax Exempt Form (Inayat): The SOI does not have a NYS Tax Exempt number; the Abode does, but SOI will not undertake this project. We discussed whether someone might want to work on this. This is something that can be applied for online. It might be useful for the future. Basira and Leelah will look into this at some point, not right now.

· Use for $500 donation from Aramaic Lord’s Prayer – and other money raised for Kinship Activities (Basira): Rahima and Shafi have not been available to discuss this, but Basira is working on convening the group.

· Sandwich sign for out front (Zaynab): This would cost between $225 and 300 depending on how many extra Velcro additions we would like to have, which cost about $20/pr. We agree to go forward and zaynab will coordinate. Please send any copy you would like to consider.

· SOR Mureed Contact List Update (Inayat): Working on this. Needs to contact people who have not responded.

New Topics

· Financial Report Update (Husam): Rent is paid through June 15. Additional funds are expected to come in through May and June. We have about $11,000, including that. An updated report has not been completed, since 2014, which showed a $1,400 increase over 2013. We had discussed an annual report for an end of the year meeting or newsletter for those who contributed. We also discussed contributing copy for a print newsletter, which could be an annual thing. Basira will assist Husam in updating the data, which is currently on a very old computer with an out of date program.

· Beautification/Spring Cleaning the Center (Leelah): There are new brochure holders that are more streamlined. We could make a new donation box that is a little nicer. Should it be plain or more decorative? It should have a small footprint or be freestanding. This is approved.

o Consider the possibility of paying Kimberly to clean: Last year, there was a group cleaning in the spring, which went well in some ways. Kimberly has mentioned that the process could be more efficient. This is approved for $100.

o Outdoors: Husam raked the leaves. Zaynab will send Habiba an email asking her if she would like to have a work day for gardening. Habiba does not want to continue as coordinator and suggests that we set up a workday and she will assist.

o Taking down insulation on windows: Husam and Inayat will take down the insulation. This is accomplished at the end of the meeting.

o Ants: Seem to be coming from under the stove. We need to contact the maintenance person to follow up on this. Husam will follow up. Checked at the end of the meeting; seems OK.

· Calendar

o Retreat Day, May 9 (Amina and Inayat): Shaping up well, several people coming.

o Quiet Meadows Work Day, Saturday, June 6 (Basira): Shahid is hoping for people to come out and help with the spring clean up. He is organizing what needs to be done. We announce this to the list and Wadud’s reminders. We will set up a sign up sheet to try to encourage people to participate. With their permission, we could put something up on our main page about this event.

o Devi Tide Workshop, June 12, 13, 14 (Wadud): Wadud is talking to Devi Monday to firm up the schedule and pricing. It will probably start Friday evening through the weekend on Sunday. Rahima and Basira will help with food for Saturday and Sunday lunches.

o Advanced Healing Class Schedule (Wadud): Trying to avoid conflicts, which is getting hard to do. It won’t work to keep it on the second Saturday consistently. It will be scheduled as we go along.

o Ziraat Day, Saturday, August 1, at Quiet Meadows (Basira): All day with a potluck. Basira will get a save the date notice out and working on the topic.

o Kismet, Saturday, August 15 (Wadud): Probably 10 – 5, with a Turning Class the previous Wednesday starting at 7 pm. Double checking the agreement for last year, which we will do the same this year.

o Summer schedule: June and July are OK as usual. Eat, Dance and Pray will be cancelled for August. Other classes may be held at a leader’s discretion.

· A Memorial Day ceremony on Memorial Day at the Genesee Crossroads Park – the annual remembrance of those who have died in war facilitated by Rahima and Tom (Rahima): The inspiration is the Universal Worship, done in an accessible way for the public, as has been done for years. We will send this out to the list. There has been coverage by the press, some years more than others. Shahabuddin has suggested taking this to other cities.

· Discuss Mahdiah returning to continue Diamond Logos work (Zaynab): One possibility offered is early September, but there will be four people away on the 12th weekend who would otherwise participate. We need to consider how this would impact our scheduling. There might be potential for establishing an east coast presence for this work. Zaynab will follow up with Habiba and Madhiah on this.

· Pir Zia’s retreat in Toronto: Wadud, zaynab and Leelah shared about attending this excellent event.

· Set next meeting date and facilitator: Wednesday, June 24, 7 pm, Amina to facilitate.

Topics for June meeting:

· Should talk with AAUW about renewal of lease in the fall this year. So we can continue with the pledges. Message Council should talk about this June. *Wadud notes that he is concerned about taking on another 3 year lease, or go with a year to year lease, and this would be contingent on possible rent increases. We will follow up on this in September.

· Table for 2 months committee report of Zaynab, Wadud, Inayat and Leelah re: developing common themes in classes over 3 month period. They need to meet before the next meeting. Could postpone meeting until Wadud returns from retreat in May. Table until June. *June’s Message Class will demonstrate the application of a theme to the focuses of each of the four classes through the month.

· In 3 months we need to discuss evolving leadership, who leads classes and concentrations. *Approximately the June meeting.

Respectfully submitted,

zaynab

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SOR Message Council

Minutes

March 18, 2015

Facilitator: Inayat 

Present: Amina, Basira, Husam, Inayat, Leelah, Wadud (by phone)

Excused: Jabbar, Rahima, Zaynab

All Decisions in red below; major decisions summarized here:

  • Re: Tax Exempt form: Inayat will talk to Mahbood who is the new rep.
  • Re: UW on the Sunday on which Mahdiah is holding her workshop: Basira will talk to Jabbar, the head of Universal Worship to get his opinion about whether to hold UW at an earlier time or cancel it that weekend.
  • Re: Aramaic Lord’s Prayer $500 donation: We will seed a Kinship fund. Inayat will give money to Husam. Basira will informally keep track.
  • Re: Asking for money from attendees of regular classes at the door: Decision: ask at EDP and other events. Remind people occasionally that the basket is there.
  • Sandwich signs out front to announce our activities. Ellen Lewis is the one to talk to. Leelah and maybe Zaynab will contact her about this.
  • Schedule changes for April May and June – Advanced Healing Class not meeting in April and Moved to Sat May 30 1-3 PM. Cancelled June and July 11. For next couple months there will be changes. After that Wadud will try to get it into a rhythm. We discussed changing the June EDP because the Abode camp starts on Friday June 26 – Wednesday followed by the silent retreat. Agreed to move it to June 20th.
  • May 6 will be the next meeting. Basira will facilitate.

Topics for future meetings:

  • Should talk with AAUW about renewal of lease in the fall this year. So we can continue with the pledges. Message Council should talk about this June.
  • Table for 2 months committee report of Zaynab, Wadud, Inayat and Leelah re developing common themes in classes over 3 month period. They need to meet before the next meeting. Could postpone meeting until Wadud returns from retreat in May. Table until June.
  • In 3 months we need to discuss evolving leadership, who leads classes and concentrations. :Approximately the June meeting.

Attunement: Inayat

  1. Follow up on sales tax exemption form from SOI (Inayat): I called Cathy Klug and left a message.   He will be there and will meet with her on Friday. New subcommittee of the Board is working with National Board to find out the needs of the centers. Yaquin is the new esoteric secretary.   Job will come to him. SOI cannot get a NYS tax exempt or one for each state in which there is a center. If we spend $2000 a year we will only save $160 a year. Even saving that amount, given our budget, it is worth checking with the SOI to see if the Abode has a tax exempt Certificate or how they purchase things. Inayat will talk to Mahbood who is the new rep. NB: also Board is talking about how the SOI will interact with the Centers to meet their needs. Amina is not sure if that is on the agenda. Husam is concerned because we don’t know exactly what our formal fiscal connection is to be with the SOI. Perhaps we should wait until they determine what the relationship should be. Until we get the guidelines we don’t have anything to go on.
  2. Mahdiah workshop – April 24-26 – please pass the word to register promptly. Ellen is the Registrar
    1. Scheduling the April EDP and UW.   Moved EDP to 18th. Left it where we were going to check on whether mahdiah is willing to do UW or have a later time. Habiba doesn’t think mahdiah will change. Move UW on Sunday to 9:00 if Cherags want to do it. Might be easier to cancel UW. Put sign on the door and let people know. Maybe 8:30 AM would be fine. Basira will talk to Jabbar.
  3. Lords Prayer $500 donation – where shall it go? Amina’s recommendation was to send it to the SOI. They need the money and will use it to spread the Message which is our purpose. Wadud would rather think about a local Rochester based charity we could donate to so SOR could make a connection and become more visible as a local cause. For example the Homeless Shelter is up and going and Shafi is working on that. Could ask Kinship Coords to make a recommendation as to a nonprofit charity. Inayat said if we wanted to engage in local contributions, there are possibilities. Possibilities are the SOI, the SHO, local charities. Leelah felt that looking at splitting the money might be possible. Use some of the money within our community for scholarships or as a way to help someone in our community. Building a fund for kinship to use as a seed fund.  Perhaps we could do a seed fund and increase the money through fund raisers. Wadud said he is in favor of: Need to make a joint decision. Ideas about the recommendation coming from the Kinship coordinators for the use of the fund and setting up the fund. Need to be visible so we can be found and people know we walk our talk. This is not ego recognition. Decision: We will set up a Kinship fund seed fund. Money to Husam. Basira will informally keep track.
  4. Kinship – There are 2 opportunities at Third Presbyterian Church across the street. Inayat is proposing this as a suggestion. Consider it as a recommendation to the Kinship Committee. If it seems good have a member of the Kinship Committee to take responsibility to see if people are interested. Recommend that the Kinship Committee do a class on a 5th Thursday to see whether people are interested in volunteering. Kinship Committee could also do a healing class on the healing aspects of service.
    1. A meal for the hungry.  Do individuals want to participate, with the goal of SOR taking a shift to prepare a meal as a group sometime in the future?
    2. Overnight shelter for homeless families—as overnight caretakers or breakfast preparers.
  5. Annual report—after August (fiscal year Sept-Aug) or after December (Jan-Dec year). The following was discussed regarding an annual report.
    1. Include a financial report on what we have taken in and how it was spent and a review of the year’s events.  To show the SOR community how their donations have mattered. Use the spread sheet information. Could do on annual year basis. Jan-Dec.   Husam, Basira and Leelah will work on .this. Do it in February 2016 for 2015. Spread news that we will have an annual report. Send any text in word and any photos as .jpg to Leelah and do one this year. Ask Zaynab to do something about the Women’s group.
    2. Should talk with AAUW about renewal of lease in the fall this year. So we can continue with the pledges. Message Council should talk about this June.
  6. Sema retreat/workshop (Leelah) Leelah did a turning class series which went really well. The last class was a study and version of the Sama ceremony and the themes and parts. For our fifth Thursday in April, she would like to organize a Mevlevi Sama similar to how we did it. People bring things and do things as we usually do and fit into the format of the Sama. June 6 there will be a half day free retreat which includes pieces of the Sama and allow participants to go into depth about the ceremony. Lead in for the summer when Kismet does a turning class. This will keep up the energy.

Carryovers

  1. Collecting donations at the door like RTI. Wadud told us how they do this at Rising Tide. Several of us do not like the idea. Husam gets contributions in the basket each week. It feels like an overask at this point. Keep this as an option if we run low. We might say that we appreciate donations in the basket if people feel moved to contribute. Remind everyone that we should say that. We used to put the basket by the coffee pot. Amina felt that nothing should be in your way to coming so it sounds like we are requiring money. People were happy to mention it at EDP or at meetings where non-regulars are in attendance. Leelah suggested using more streamlined ways to display brochures, etc. to make the basket more visible. We could mention that we know people are donating regularly and if there is extra or you would like to make a donation the basket is there. Every little bit helps and is appreciated. Wadud would get in the habit of saying it. Rather than aving someone ask at the door and letting people in whether they can donate or not, these ideas sound better.. Decision: ask at EDP and other events. Remind people occasionally.
  2. Sandwich signs out front to announce our activities. Ellen Lewis is the one to talk to. Leelah and maybe Zaynab will contact her about this.
  3. Table for 2 months committee report of Zaynab, Wadud, Inayat and Leelah re developing common themes in classes over 3 month period. They need to meet before the next meeting. Could postpone meeting until Wadud returns from retreat in May. Table until June.
  4. In 3 months evolving leadership who leads classes and oncentrations:Approximately June.
  5. Intro to Sufism class 1 day or ½ day: Discussed. Not just Sufism but also what we have to offer. Wait until we have an idea of how we are offering things. Amina thought we might want to work with Pir Zia’s material or do both. Pir Zia’s May presentation may be on line. He will be doing an Introduction to the History and Philosophy of Sufism.
  6. Schedule for April May and June – Advanced Healing Class is not meeting in April and moved to Saturday, May 30, 1-3 PM. Cancelled June and July 11. For next couple months there will be changes. After that Wadud will try to get it into a rhythm. We discussed the date of the June EDP because the Abode camp starts on Friday June 26 – Wednesday followed by the silent retreat. It was agreed to do it on June 20th.
  7. Jabbar will plan to do UW on the 12th of April .
  8. Grandma and Grampa Husam and Amina are gone Saturday 28th and back on the 10th.
  9. Next meeting and facilitator –  May 6 for next meeting. Basira will facilitate.

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SOR Message Council

Minutes

January 28, 2015, 7:00 PM

Zaynab, Facilitator

Present: Amina, Basira, Husam, Inayat, Jabbar (by phone), Leelah, Rahima (by phone), Wadud, Zaynab

All Decisions in red below; major decisions summarized here:

  • MC members felt that we should have Moineddin and Sharifa come and still continue our Ziraat Day separately because we have our own tradition and community interest and it is a free event. Consensus was to ask them if they would again concentrate on Ziraat because they are the Ziraat leaders.
  • Decision: Potential local workshop leaders can check the calendar and find a space and send out an e-mail to the MC so everyone knows. There should be a reply from the MC within five days. If the leader can’t find a date, they should bring it to the MC. … Everyone welcomes the inclusion of other local leaders giving retreats/workshops.
  • It was agreed that we should do a donation of $100 to the CISD to support their event for young people. Rahima will get the information to Husam who will send the money out.
  • It was agreed decisions about changes in concentration heads should come to the Message Council for this or any similar kind of appointment.
  • Decision: Basira is appointed as leader of the Ziraat concentration. Appreciation and thanks to Zaynab for a wonderful job over the years.
  • Decision: Approved to do City Newspaper annual ad.

Decision Reminders:

Ø  Changing UW for seminars will be done on a case by case basis

Ø  Schedule adjustments

Ø  EDP moved to April 18 to accommodate Mahdiah’s event

Ø  Mureeds Class on hiatus

Attunement:  Zaynab

  1. Financial Report:  Husam
    1. For 2014: $15,775 income. Expenses $14,313. And we have about $800 in petty cash so we are ahead about $2,000. Most of the pledges are still coming in. A cushion of about $2,000 is good.
    2. Reports: It is our responsibility to tell the SOI what we are doing and they report appropriate tax forms, if necessary. SOI filed their own 501c 3 and have a group number in which we are included. There was a discussion about whether we have to file on our own because we have our own EIN. There are only three or four centers our size. It would be good to have the SOI look into it about whether we should file separately. We should send a letter to the Secretariat with a follow up date six months hence. Basira will draft the letter for Message Council review. Leelah will talk with an attorney about what happens. Leelah would like us to get a tax exempt certificate.
    3. Events:
      • Report:  Anna Less event/Amina – It was well attended and built a beautiful atmosphere. The things we did made for a great seminar. We made food and studied which food was sacred in various cultures throughout the world. We had a ceremony which built through the workshop. The two scholarships were with the standard agreements to work. They were SOI scholarships. We got about $50 actual cash back from the seminar.
      • Report:  Pachamama Alliance Symposium/Zaynab- It was very successful and brought in about 60 people. While it was a Pachamama event, we did have an opportunity to share our space and information about us.
      • Upcoming:  UW retreat, Feb. 22/Wadud – Wadud tore his Achilles tendon and will be out of commission that time. He would like to postpone it. Everyone is okay with postponing the UW retreat and Wadud will e-mail the cherags and come up with a new date after he recovers.
      • Upcoming:  Mahdiah/Zaynab – Mahdiah is coming April 24-26. Habiba is in charge of that event. A group is meeting to read the book, Essence, in preparation for that. There are fliers here. The cost is $225 early bird and $300 regular. We are getting 20% from the workshop. Zaynab will talk to Habiba about the SOR share.
      • Schedule Change:  Shahabuddin/Amina – Because Pir Zia is in Toronto the week prior to when he was planning to come in May, he is cancelling the workshop. There is no other option for this year. He will look at the second or third week in January 2016.   Even though we felt we did not want to schedule a teacher in January through March because of the weather, he feels he has the time to commit for that. Wadud suggested that we send out a note saying that because it is winter, registrants need to provide contact information and we will provide a name of someone for registrants to contact if they have questions.
      • Scheduling:  Emerald Earth / Inayat – It would be more convenient for them to come in August. Inayat is proposing that they would be to have them come instead of doing our own Ziraat Day. MC members felt that we should have Moineddin and Sharifa come and still continue our Ziraat Day separately because we have our own tradition and community interest and it is a free event. Consensus was to ask them if they would again concentrate on Ziraat because they are the Ziraat leaders.
      • Scheduling:  Devi/Wadud – Devi has been coming every other year. Devi would like to come in June, potentially June 12-14. Wadud would have to confirm that and nail down the date. It was agreed that the MC would love to have Devi come in June.
      • Parking issue in lot next door:  update – Ellen, the Facility/Event director is trying to make sure we don’t have a problem with too many people trying to park here at the same time. Wadud will add Ellen from AAUW to the e-mail list. Amina will give him Ellen’s e-mail. Amina asked if there was a need for special attention for reserving handicapped parking.
      • Pir Zia in Toronto / April 30 – May 3 – FYI that is when he will be in Toronto. There doesn’t seem to be a flier yet.
      • Follow up to Seven Ways of Knowing/Amina – Amina had requests to do a follow up to that. This will be open to people who did not take the previous series. She would like to have a time period to teach this.   Amina will schedule in the time slot when Shahabuddin had been scheduled on May 9. Wadud will move the Advanced Healing Class to May 2. Leelah liked the idea of SOR committing to one retreat per season, but she suggested that we not limit ourselves to four a year if there is interest in doing additional ones and there is room on the calendar. A discussion ensued about how to handle instances when the calendar gets crowded.   Decision: It was suggested that potential workshop leaders check the calendar and find a space and send out an e-mail to the MC so everyone knows. There should be a reply from the MC within five days. If the leader can’t find a date, they should bring it to the MC. Wadud and Zaynab are interested in doing a number of retreats, probably four a year. Everyone welcomes the inclusion of other local leaders giving retreats/workshops.
      • Kismet – Wadud – August 15 was scheduled for the workshop.   It was always in July or August. She found her niche. There was a discussion about scheduling Kismet and conflicting with Moineddin and Sharifa. Wadud will check with Kismet about the possibility of different date.
  1. Projects:

Ø                    Community Peace Circle:  pending

Ø                    Service of Remembrance:  Baber AME – possible connection with another group/zaynab: This is not happening right now.

Ø                    A Gathering for Women: Next meeting:  Feb. 21; Zaynab is facilitating. Scheduled on an ad hoc basis with whoever is there.

Ø                    Rumi Café:  Continues – Leelah – Getting more of a base of people in their 20s, 30s and 40s. Developing a sense of community around this event and there is a depth in the material and discussion. People are having fun. Both word of mouth and posters are drawing people.

Ø                    Donation to a CISD sponsored event for teenagers in Rochester – Rahima The Center for Independent Study and Discussion holds an event. Topics discussed around diversity, different religions and fostering understanding. Students pay $3 a session. The group has asked local groups to support them. Rahima would like us to answer that request for support. It was agreed that we should do a donation of $100 to the CISD to support this event. Rahima will get the information to Husam who will send the money out.

  1. Mureeds Class and monthly classes:  Let’s discuss our ideas going forward / Wadud Move to next agenda
  2. Ziraat:  Zaynab has resigned as coordinator of Ziraat and has asked Basira to take this role.  Discuss and agree. It was agreed that it should be a Farmer. Are these handing over of concentration leadership type appointments made under Message Council authority or are they individual discussions? It was agreed decisions about changes in concentration heads should come to the Message Council for this or any similar kind of appointment. As a process, this is something that should be discussed in the Message Council This is really the first change of leadership since the concentration leadership positions were originally set up. We have become more complex as an organization and we are in a growth/shift process. We have been experimenting with shared leadership of a concentration in Kinship. This works, even with people who are not on the MC. We have opportunities to share and mentor for this. We can have the model that there could be one person who can invite other eligible people to have the opportunity to lead Ziraat or another concentration. It was suggested that concentration leaders encourage others who might be interested to grow and perhaps move into leadership positions in an area. Their guides are also people who should be encouraging their mureeds to move into more depth in an area for which they might have an interest. If the opportunities are more explicitly available to people, they may come forward a little. Decision: Basira is appointed as leader of the Ziraat concentration. Appreciation and thanks to Zaynab for a wonderful job over the years.
  1. Planning for next year:  Further Action (tabled from previous two meetings)

Ø                    Visiting teachers Forward to next meeting agenda

Ø                    Other methods to get feedback from SOR community; requests and discussions as above / Wadud Forward to next meeting agenda

Ø                    Community Directory of everyone who regularly attends and wants to be on the list.  Inayat will contact Mureeds to determine what information they would like published.  All Message Council will correct list and send to Inayat. Forward to next meeting agenda.

Ø                    Online storage of our documents, i.e. single draft of email list. Leelah will e-mail everyone about her findings on this.

  1. Additions:
  • City Newspaper annual ad. The cost was about $80-$100. Inayat will ask her to send the old ad and Inayat will forward to the MC. Leelah offered to do any kind of revision. Decision: Approved to do City Newspaper annual ad.

Closing

Next meeting 2/25. Leelah facilitating. Agenda will be limited to those things that have been tabled for several meetings.

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Dear Message Council colleagues,
zaynab and I are pleased to announce that Leelah Adena Shoshan has been appointed as a Coordinator in our Center. Basira Maryanne Karpinski is now appointed as a Representative and is able to guide. We will soon send an announcement to the community and reflect the changes on the website. Leelah worked with Wadud as her mentor, Basira with zaynab. As guides, we also were jointly involved. Karima Milgram was advisor to both and strongly recommended their appointment.

They worked diligently and with great perseverance in all phases: studying the written Message, attending and leading classes, doing spiritual practice, working with others including with our own Message Council, meeting regularly with their guide and mentor and more. You all know how dedicated and active they are in our community in all aspects, and they are beginning to work at the national level as well.

Again, congratulations! Now, the work for them increases even more. Alhumdulillah!
Love,
Wadud and zaynab

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SOR Message Council Minutes, October 22, 2014

Present: Basira, Husam, Inayat, Leelah, Rahima (arrived 8:10 PM), Wadud, Zaynab

Excused: Amina, Jabbar

All Decisions below; major decisions summarized here:

  • Decision: the Message Council will discuss and decide what to do about Universal Worship service on a case by case basis when a seminar is scheduled and be as flexible as possible.
  • Decision: It was decided that we will move classes down one week in January and in December Zikr will replace Foundation Class on December 11. There will be no November Zikr. The calendar will be adjusted to reflect this.
  • Decision: We will move EDP and Mureeds class ahead one weekend to April 18 to accommodate Mahdia’s class.

Attunement: Wadud 

Quick items: further actions from last meeting (quick updates : 15 minutes)

  1. 1.    Update on Anna Less workshop: According to Husam, officially there are only eight people signed up, but a few others are planning to attend from the Message Council. Because of the low registration we should let Anna know but she may not be back from New Zealand yet. Inayat put the workshop on Spirit Net.  Decision: The group reiterated that Shakti and Akbar may continue on their usual two for one scholarship fund when both of them are attending; if only one attends, that one may request a scholarship. Anna is taking care of lunch on Saturday. Further Action: Inayat will coordinate food for a potluck on Sunday.
  2. Quick Treasurer’s report We have $9,414 in the bank and have already paid the next two months’ rent. Pledges are continuing to come in. RG&E was $1108 for the last ten months. Further Actions: Husam will put the figures on a spreadsheet for a year-end statement in January. That will include expenses and income and balance. The Board should review this at least yearly as part of our fiduciary responsibilities. The current program Husam uses is outdated and will only run on an old computer. We will work toward getting a new program starting January first. Decision: Husam and Leelah will work on getting and installing a new financial program. SOR will buy something like Quicken or a similar program. Basira will be helper for Husam for reports.
  3. One-Day retreats:  Wadud and Zaynab have been doing some of these and are considering doing one each quarter and will put that on the calendar when the dates are finalized.  Further Actions: tentative dates are set:  Saturdays, January 10, March 7, and June 6.
  4. Projects on deck from last meeting(zaynab):
  5. Kimberly is interested in creating a Community Peace Circle where people can come and talk and share their feelings.  Zaynab will work with her on that. There needs to be some kind of structure but Kimberly’s idea is that people who need help can come.
  6. Further Actions. Panchamama Alliance.  On December 7, we will host a five hour presentation by Sue Starpoli. We are inviting them so we are not charging them for use of the space. The presentation is free. NB: Pir Zia is asking for input on what we are doing for the earth. This is a possibility to integrate this.
  7. Womens’ gathering.  The next one is set for Saturday, Dec. 6 (all day).  The first one was held Oct. 4. It was really good. There was no charge. The group decided to make a donation to a charity. Future Action: It was suggested that we ask participants to put money in the basket if they also wish to make a contribution to the Center for Sufi Studies.
  8. Sharifa and Moineddin will come in 2015. Future Action: Inayat will check on dates with them.
  9. Universal Worship schedule when seminar is scheduled. The Message Council should discuss and decide what to do about Universal Worship service on a case by case basis when a seminar is scheduled. Let seminar leaders know in advance that the possibility is there for them to include a Universal Worship on Sunday or we can do it upstairs if we decide that is best. Zaynab has talked to Habiba about talking to Mahadia about the Universal Worship service. We schedule so far in advance, what do we do if the opportunity to have a seminar? Decision: the Message Council will discuss and decide what to do about Universal Worship service on a case by case basis when a seminar is scheduled and be as flexible as possible.

Newer items for quick review: (10 minutes)

  1. Shahabuddin intensive: May 6-10.  Topic?  More details?  Nothing further has been sent yet.
  2. Schedules:
  3. Zikr in November falls on Thanksgiving Day and on Christmas in December. Amina suggested skipping November. We will be doing a Universal Worship service at 9:30 AM instead on Thanksgiving Day. In December she suggested that we consider holding a December celebration and not doing Zikr on Christmas day. Inayat offered that we do the December zikr on December 11 instead of Foundation class.   There are five Thursdays in January. We will not be doing a class on Jan 1 but doing the Lord’s Prayer in Aramaic during the day. Decision: It was decided that we will move classes down one week in January and in December Zikr will replace Foundation Class on December 11. There will be no November Zikr. The calendar will be adjusted to reflect this.
  4. Mahdia in April conflicts with mureeds class (if we are still doing it) and Eat Dance and Pray (EDP). Decision: We will move EDP and Mureeds class ahead one weekend to April 18 to accommodate Mahdia’s class.   She is definitely coming. We will charge 20% of whatever she takes in. Diamond logos is not a Sufi class. Because we are sponsoring it there is no difficulty on her coming here as far as our lease.
  5. Plans for UW retreat February 22 as previously announced. (Wadud) this will be for the entire community not just cherags. We will explore UW in more depth and get more magnetism so we hope to have more people coming to the weekly service.
  6. Adding a Thanksgiving Morning UW at the Center. (Wadud). There will be a service at 9:30 AM Thanksgiving morning. This is early enough to give people time to cook their dinners after.
  7. Fall Ziraat evening:  Nov. 11, 7:30-9 PM at the Center (Zaynab) Any farmers who want to do anything let Zaynab know.
  8. Postponement of poetry festival possibility until April 2016: Wadud will be away most of this April.
  9. Healing Conductor Meeting: December 3, 7-8:30 PM as previously planned. All Healing Conductors will be invited to participate.
  10. Maintaining UW during seminar times if UW is not part of the seminar:  e.g. doing it upstairs; discussing before cancelling (when we began our weekly Sunday service it was expected that it might need to be cancelled if a seminar occurred, but we expect discussion and an attempt to incorporate it into the seminar if it fits.  An alternative is to hold it upstairs but a problem may be the traffic pattern and people feeling conflicted about what to attend). See item 4.3. above for decision on this.
  11. Winter Turning Class. Leelah is doing a trial of 4 classes once a month from December through March on the third Tuesday. She will be charging $10 class.
  12. Continue Mureeds class at the end of this cycle. This was touched on but was not fully discussed. For further Action: add to the next meeting agenda.
  13. Rental policy review:  We already decided in the past to review requests for ongoing rentals on a case by case basis.  To rent to others regularly, they must be non-profit or be sponsored by SOR.   Though we are presently not actively looking for rentals, we are open to consider requests, as below:
  14. So far, we have one rental, the Bruno Groening group which is going well.  They come once every three weeks Sunday from 2:30 – 4 PM. They know that they need to adjust if we have a workshop.
  15. We have a request from Priscilla and her continuum group, but they are for profit and may use heavy equipment.  Because Priscilla is for-profit, we cannot rent ongoing to her.
  16. SOR will “sponsor” Mahdia Jacobs for her Intro to the Diamond Logos Approach being organized by Habiba.  It is close to Shahabuddin (April 24-26) but Habiba and Mahdia expect to draw from a different group.
  17. Updated mission/purpose statement of the Message Council: (Zaynab )

SOR Message Council Mission Statement – Draft Revision This includes suggestions noted in the Discussion Points below as well as material from the previous Mission Statement provided by Amina and discussions at the retreat.

The primary purpose of the Message Council of the Sufi Order of Rochester is to provide leadership, in a manner that reflects our ideals and our responsibilities to the community at large, the Sufi Order and the planet, for the spiritual community dedicated to the Message of awakening of humanity to the divinity of all brought by Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan. This purpose is actualized by the following guiding principles:

  • Enhancing the qualities of Love, Harmony and Beauty in our community through the activities of the SOR;
  • Facilitating, engaging and inspiring the community through a strong attunement to the Message that is dynamic, strong and vibrant and focuses on Murshid’s teachings, along with Pir Vilayat, Pir Zia and others;
  • To develop visionary and practical suggestions for activities in the various concentrations for the consideration and ultimate implementation by the full community, including Foundation and Message Classes, Zikr Circle, Ziraat, Healing Circle/Class, Universal Worship Services, Sacred Dances, special events, advanced classes, and seminars with visiting teachers;
  • Collecting involvement, feedback and input from the community in order to address specific community needs;
  • Building and expanding community among our members and beyond;
  • Holding and expanding the vision for the development of the work of the Message locally through Center activities and nationally in support of the Sufi Order International and Pir Zia Inayat Khan;
  • Providing guidance and support to members and those who come to us for inspiration and collaboration;
  • Managing the finances, resources, insurance, lease commitment and other practical considerations;
  • Offering a presence in the larger community so that we may serve the needs of others beyond our membership;
  • Offering a structure for classes, events and spiritual guidance through appointed Representatives and others;
  • Developing and delivering training programs for specific leadership positions such as Cherags, Healing Conductors, Retreat Guides, Coordinators and Representatives;
  • Addressing the inevitable challenges, special needs and conflicts that arise and fostering growth in response to change; and
  • Planning how to sustain this organization into the future through collective faith, vision and guidance.

Discussion points re: above statement (these have already been incorporated into the above statement:

  1. The main purpose is to provide leadership.  We do this by holding the attunement in order to spread the Message of awakening of humanity of the divinity of all; promoting understanding and goodwill, broadly conceived, through our activities; commitment to Murshid’s teachings and building community; providing guidance and support; providing a structure for classes, and building community; providing guidance and support; providing a structure for classes,  events and spiritual guidance through appointed Representatives; and addressing community needs (growth and challenges).  Some points:
  2. Helping to engage the community in these kinds of activities.  To engage the community directly rather than directing the community from our agenda.
  3. The willingness to take on the commitment.  There’s a strong desire to participate and it’s important to find the way to offer the opportunities for people to engage.   
  • The Message Council is the keeper of the purpose.
  1. Keep an attunement to the Message as a whole and let it guide us as we proceed.

Discussion at Message Council Meeting: All the members here as well as Amina are in agreement. Tentatively approved with the request that Jabbar has an opportunity to comment. Future Action: Add it on the agenda for next time for final approval.

  1. Answering the Cry of Humanity (Tabled from the retreat) (zaynab): Having greater clarity and greater magnetism will continue to draw people. Discussion points made:
  • We have something very valuable but are not getting it into the community. We have the heart but we are not grounded. We are missing the commitment to act. Pachemama and the Mankind project were cited as examples of groups that call for action.
  • Younger people are needed to keep the work going. We are growing now but slowly. Given our current demographic and rate of growth there may not be any young people to replace us, both in the Message Council and the Sufi community at large, as we age.
    • Younger people can be inspired by people who become part of a working group and realize that we individually have something to offer. They are attracted by the work commitment and the magnetism of the teachers. Are we missing something practical for attracting younger people?
    • Some of the essential things for younger people are community and a commitment to action. We are slow when it comes to action. Shafi goes out into the community, but we seldom do so.
    • It seems we are more attractive to people over 50. Younger people seldom visit and if they do, rarely return.
    • Younger people in their 20s don’t want to be told what to do and what to believe. They want compelling reasons to connect into a group and something that answers in a real way their questions of who they are, what will happen and what they will do in the world.
    • People with children want community around children.
    • Also if they don’t have a community and a life crisis occurs, they want somewhere they can go.
  • The entire Sufi Order is permeated by an impression that we are financially poor. That is not an attitude conducive to growth and survival in our current time period.
  • We have grown slowly but we are building a foundation to transmit the message. If we are clear enough and develop greater magnetism, it will attract those who are meant for it. We can go out into the world, but we must embody the message in whatever we do.
  • Perhaps our particular role is as a wisdom holder; we have built depth and that has taken years. While we have involved ourselves in some activities over the years but only sporadically.
    • It was suggested that we meet after the Pachemama presentation and discuss ways the Sufi group can get involved.
  • It also helps to let people know the Sufi community is here and this is an option and that we are available.

This is a good opening and we need to continue discussing this. Further Action: Continue the discussion on this at the next meeting.

  1. Consider these questions:
  2. Do we change our schedule?
  3. Change our offerings?
  • Class content? (Inayat) – Inayat noted that he had an issue with the new format of the Message Class; he felt that the change in format had not been discussed with the Message Council before the class was started and this did not follow what he thought was the previous process in which any proposed changes in class format were discussed in the Message Council.  Other members disagreed that Message Council review was needed, as no substantive change in class content occurred.  Wadud pointed out that the Message Council had discussed the fact that there would be new teachers and new formats long ago when newer teachers were first beginning their training.  A discussion ensued about previous ideas and class formats.
  1. Are we offering what people want? Are we doing this and when we are doing this, what is happening. Zaynab wants to have a collaborative discussion on this point. It’s an ongoing concern. For Further Action: Tabled for a later meeting.
  2. How do we know what people want?
  • Wadud has been working with people on their stories and realized he was telling himself a story that we do not have enough feedback partly because we have only received one note in the feedback box. He then realized that we have more good input than we think such as formal and informal requests and discussions. For example in the Healing Conductor meetings followed up by emails which lead to changes in healing class and to the advanced healing class; personal discussions including with mureeds and their guides; planning for new content with existing class participants(as has happened and is happening in the Canandaigua study group, Advanced Healing Class, New Message class, Mureeds class); informal Cherag meetings; email requests and discussions which affected drumming initiatives, healing classes, new class offerings. All this is already being gathered, acknowledged, discussed and shared by some. Upon reflection, this is rich, has been rather longstanding (years) and clearly more effective than asking for written input or scheduling community meetings.  He suggested that class leaders and concentration heads focus on this approach more intensively regarding their own areas of responsibility and interest. He suggests just talking to people in the class to see what they think. Husam asked about how we incorporate that feedback into what we are doing. The group talked about the advanced healing class in the Message Council meetings for several months. Inayat noted that the way the process was done was outside the norm. Further Action: This discussion should be continued. There is a need to ensure that we coordinate.
  1. Planning for next year Further Action (tabled from previous two meetings)
  2. Visiting teachers
  3. Other methods to get feedback from SOR community
  4. Requests and discussions as above (Wadud)
  5. Community Directory of everyone who regularly attends and wants to be on the list.  Inayat will contact Mureeds to determine what information they would like published.  All Message Council will correct list and send to Inayat.
  6. Online storage of our documents i.e.single draft of email list. Leelah will e-mail everyone about her findings on this.  Further Actions.

Next meeting: Wednesday December 10, 7:00 PM. Zaynab will facilitate.

The agenda will include anything with further actions noted. We must make a final decision about mission statement, #10 and continuing discussion on the topic of are we meeting needs.

_____________________________________________________________________________

There are many opportunities to participate in the Sufi Order of Rochester Center for Sufi Studies.  Now that we have our new full-time space, more activities can take place in addition to our regular classes and gatherings.  Please contact the Message Council if you have ideas to share.  The Center needs ongoing care and maintenance.  Please let us know if you would like to help.  The Cherags plan to offer weekly Universal Worship services, including a Children’s UW once a month.  The Beautification Committee has all but completed the work needed to make the space beautiful, functional and comfortable and the Gardening Committee continues to work with the little plot of land in the back.  An Autumn Ziraat Retreat Evening will be scheduled as soon as summer officially ends.  Eat, Dance and Pray returns with our Grand Opening on September 21 and will continue monthly.  We hope you will join us for these and other new activities.

_________________________________________________________________________

We are moved in to our new Center and holding all our regular activities there!  The energy is great and we are thrilled with the space.  There’s a lot of work to do.  Please see the Newsletter page for a list of things that are needed, in case you have something to donate.  We also welcome your work to help paint and garden.  Please contact Leelah, Malika and Habiba for more information.  Now that we have a full time dedicated space, we hope to expand our activities and offerings.  We hope you will join us soon!

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We expect to be able to move into the Carriage House, 492 East Ave (behind the AAUW Mansion) around June 15th!

_________________________________________________________________________

Dear Ones;

This is an exciting and quick update on the carriage house space at the AAUW on East Ave. We have spoken with the Chair of the Board  and the new administrator and they are very excited about the prospect of renting  the space for a long term (3 year) lease to SOR. They are working on drafting a lease for our review and the message council will review early next week. We are looking at renting the whole space, which has the whole downstairs with kitchen and bathroom as well as a full attic with two open, full peak ceiling rooms.

Once we have a lease in hand , we will update with a plan including the timeframe for moving in!!

Stay tuned for next steps!!

Love

The SOR Message Council

_________________________________________________________________________

Below is a letter from Tara Ruh, the National Delegate to the Board of the Sufi Order International, NA:

Dear Friends,

I am writing today with a report from the Sufi Order Board of Trustees most
recent Board Retreat April 19th-21st as part of our commitment to be in
greater ongoing communication with our entire Mureed body.  Our desire is
to keep you informed regarding the scope and content of work currently
underway from our Heart/Headquarters.

We began the retreat Friday noon by meeting informally over lunch with
members of the Sufi Order and Abode staff, residents and community members.
We then all adjourned to the Meditation Hall to attune together, share
practices and listen as Pir Zia shared with us once again, the vision for
the Abode.  A  link to the video of this attunement can be found on The
Sufi Order International website.

The Board then gathered in our beautifully remodeled Family Room and got
right to work. Inspired by Pir Zias vision we engaged in focused and
extensive discussion of many of the elements integral to his vision for the
development of a School of Sufi Studies at the Abode.  Topics included the
researching of accreditation and credentialing, relationship of Suluk
Academy and Khidmet work/study program to the Sufi School and the
exploration of potential partnerships with established Institutes of study.
A significant focus for discussion was the poignant and immediate need for
archiving work, especially of Pir Vilayats audio and texts.

We reviewed and situated ourselves in relation to our 2007 Strategic Plan
and developed the framework of a plan for our work for the next three
years. This included prioritizing those areas requiring our most immediate
attention and focus as well as defining those targeted for longer term
planning and development.

We authorized the chartering of a new sub-committee dedicated to increasing
support and communications with Leaders, Centers, and Mureeds.  This will
extend our capacity to better assess and respond to unmet needs and enhance
the dissemination of resources.

We looked at the complexity of our Organizational structure and reviewed
the organizational work that has been accomplished over recent years. We
then identified areas still requiring evaluation, restructuring ,
streamlining, and clarification. Areas of priority include completion of
revisions to our By-laws and determination of legal parameters by which we
operate in relation to our international partners (our sister Sufi National
Organizations). We also discussed urgent staffing needs, technological
progress and further technological goals, development of the Abode campus
and program development towards manifestation of next steps for the School
of Sufi Studies.

We identified areas for further Board development, with an emphasis on
professionalism, discipline in action and bringing more consideration to
the longer term affects of our decisions and their potential consequences.
In addition, we continued ongoing discussions on the Boards role in Fund
development with a particular view towards progress that has been made in
recent years and the need for implementation of a Capital Campaign. We plan
to evaluate the relevance and charter each sub-committee of the Board and
ensure adequate membership. This becomes increasingly possible as we add
new and talented member to our Board. The twice-yearly Retreat is an
important opportunity to welcome new Board members and develop the capacity
for teamwork and we spent dedicated time developing our kinship as a group
with deep personal sharing and fun dinner outings. As we each shared
personal stories of our spiritual path there was a clear theme of the
guidance that manifest through each life and brought each of us together at
this particular time in service. There was a palpable sense of the blessing
this opportunity to work together brings.

During each of our Board retreats we cover much ground and take very few
breaks. There is often a head spinning pace as we endeavor to encompass the
complexity and scope of our organization. There is the exhilaration,
challenge and responsibility of working together to hear and respond to the
Spirit of Guidance in these rapidly changing and challenging times. To
balance realism and optimism as we strive to lay a strong foundation for
years to come. Our Board Chair and Board Effectiveness Committee Chair keep
us on task and moving swiftly.  Subjects discussed bring forth everything
from matter of fact planning to heightened emotional and heated dialogue.  This
was all in all one of the best retreats to date!

Toward the One,
Tara Inayat Chishti
Sufi Order National Delegate

_______________________________________________________________________

Below is a letter from the Message Council of the Sufi Order International:

Dear Ones,

Greetings on behalf of the Worldwide Message Council of the Sufi Order International (SOI).  Attached to this email is a letter from the Message Council that we hope you will read and share with other mureeds and members who may not have received this email.  There are four version of the letter: English, Francais, Deutsch and Espanol.  The English version is given below in this email.  (I apologize in advance that many of you may receive this email multiple times because you are on two or more email lists.)

We encourage you to share and discuss this letter in your centers and in other SOI groups in which you may be involved, and to respond back to the Message Council with any ideas you may have and/or actions you may take in response to the letter.  We hope your discussions are deep, heartfelt and open and that they lead to new ideas and actions to improve our shared work for the furtherance of the Message in our world.  We look forward to hearing from you!

May the Message of God spread far and wide, illuminating and making the whole humanity as one single family in the parenthood of God.

With love and appreciation,

Wahhab

LETTER FROM THE WORLDWIDE MESSAGE COUNCIL

Dear Friends Far and Wide,

We are writing to provide you with an update from the Sufi Order International’s World Wide Message Council.  The Message Council is comprised of the vice presidents of each of the five Activities (Esoteric School, Universal Worship, Healing Order, Ziraat, Kinship) from North America and Europe, as well as Pir Zia (president) and the international Secretary General.  The Message Council meets in person once a year, and a smaller group of five of its members, called the Delegation, meets by phone every month.  The purpose of the Message Council is to foster harmony and coordination among the various Activities, and to channel in a cooperative manner the dedication, creative energy, and inspiration arising from the five Activities.

We recently held our annual meeting in January at Fazl Manzil in Suresnes, France.  In addition to annual reports from each Activity, a primary focus for our meeting was to consider the recommendations we had solicited from mureeds and members from all of the Activities and from across the world.  We have summarized these recommendations and would like to share them with all of you as our international community.

KEY THEMES

* Need to build a stronger sense of community, caring for one another, supporting those in need;

* Perception that the SOI has a culture of hierarchy and rigidity that can be discouraging to mureeds;

* Desire for increased access to Pir Zia;

* Concern for the environmental crisis and how we can best respond to this;

* Desire to spread the Message, opening wider to the world;

* Need to become more inclusive of all populations in our membership, all ages, all ethnic and religious groups, etc.;

* Need to increase our use of technology to make Pir Zia and our teachings more widely available and accessible;

* Need for increased communication and information among the wider SOI community.

During our meeting we discussed ways that we can begin to address some of these concerns, including:

* The introduction of a European Coordinator to enhance communication and collaboration;

* Improvements to and increased links between various Sufi Order websites to ensure easier access to information;

* More regular personalized communications from Pir Zia Inayat-Khan to the international community, and easy access to his travel schedule through a website for Pir Zia.

Perhaps you recognize yourselves or your community in these themes? Or perhaps you have found your own resolutions to these concerns?  We welcome your thoughts, particularly if you are inspired to share how your community overcame a similar challenge or if you would like to spearhead an initiative to create positive change.

Our meeting also included a lively and generative ongoing conversation around emerging models of organization and communication in the Sufi Order International.  As part of this, we, the members of the Message Council, affirmed our commitment to transparency, vulnerability, acceptance, and accountability and our willingness to make personal and organizational changes in order to live more in alignment with such values. We welcome you to join us in this!

If you wish to be in touch with the Message Council, please contact the head of any of the SOI Activities or any of the members of the Delegation listed below.

In Service,

The Delegation on behalf of the World Wide Message Council:

Wahhab Sheets                International Secretary General                               wahhab@sufiorder.org

Sarida Brown                     First Vice President, Healing Order                          sufi@caduceus.info

Aziza Scott                          First Vice President, Esoteric School                       azizascott@aol.com

Sharifa Norton                  Second Vice President, Ziraat                                   sharifanur@earthlink.net

Zumurrud Butta                Second Vice President, Universal Worship         zamrada@chello.at

____________________________________________________________________

The Sufi Order of Rochester is directed by the Message Council, which is comprised of the Representatives, Coordinator and heads of activities:

Inayat Jim Leff:  Representative, Esoteric School

Wadud Henry Cretella:  Representative, Esoteric School, head of SOR Healing Order

zaynab FitzPatrick:  Representative, Esoteric School, head of SOR Ziraat

Amina Linda Hall:  Representative, Esoteric School, Zakir

Husam Richard Bachner:  Treasurer, Zakir

Basira Maryanne Karpinski, Coordinator

Jabbar Richard Briggs, head of SOR Universal Worship

Rahima Karen Keenan:  head of SOR Kinship Activity

The Message Council meets regularly to plan Center activities.  We represent our community and welcome community input and participation.

The Sufi Order of Rochester Center for Sufi Studies, 494 East Avenue, Rochester, NY 14607, the Carriage House behind the AAUW mansion (Carriage House is 492).