Please take a few minutes to read this important message about upcoming AZC events and organizational changes planned for the second half of this year.
Firstly, the AZC Board of Directors is very pleased to announce that a ceremony and celebration will be held in Autumn to formally install Rev. Mako Voelkel as the Head Teacher of our temple. Mako has been serving in the role as Head Priest for over a year. Throughout this time her service has been exemplary, and she has gained the trust and confidence of the AZC Board and community.
Secondly, I want to thank all those who attended the Right Use of Power workshop led by Peg Syverson in early June. Participants found the workshop to be informative, thought-provoking, personally challenging and, at times, even amusing as it exposed common misconceptions about power relationships. Above all, the workshop provided insights into how we can improve communication at AZC. We are in the process of planning additional workshops for the fall and will announce the dates and topics later in the summer. We plan to ask Peg to return to AZC on a regular basis to assist with our efforts to improve communication and trust within the AZC community. I encourage all members to attend these workshops.
I would also like to take this opportunity to thank all of the many members of the Safe Sangha Working Group lead by Bruce Smith who spent so much time and careful effort working with Faith Trust Institute to develop the report concerning the difficult events that occurred several years ago. Board members Maureen Milligan, Dave Pietruszynski and Leslie Kuykendall, and AZC Director Tim Kroll are now undertaking a systematic review of the AZC bylaws, procedures, and overall governance. This work will implement some of the recommendations from the recent Faith Trust Institute report, and reflects our commitment to updating and strengthening AZC governance. We will also be working with an Austin-based consultant, Juli Fellows, who specializes in working with nonprofit organizations to strengthen their governance, personnel management, and administrative operations.
Last but not least, I would like to alert the community to the current status of AZC’s finances. During the annual meeting, I informed you that we used $45,000 from our savings last year to cover the costs of Robert Thomas’s monthly visits, the foundation repairs on the temple building, and a modest retirement payment to Kosho McCall, our former Abbot. For the current year, we set a smaller budget, premised on conservative assumptions about building and maintenance costs and revenue from membership and donations. Even with these modest assumptions, our expected revenue has fallen below what we budgeted, and unanticipated expenditures were required on the carriage house to enable us to continue to use it for residential housing. This combination of unmet revenue and added expenses resulted in about a $20,000 shortfall during the first six months of 2018.
In response, the members of the AZC Board and several long-term practitioners at AZC have substantially increased their donations through the end of the year. Thank you to everyone for their generosity! I would like to ask all members of AZC to consider increasing their membership donations, or to consider making an additional one-time donation. The Board is also reviewing and applying for other sources of grant income from foundations that regularly support Buddhist organizations, as well as from local businesses in the Austin area.
With many bows!
AZC Board of Directors