2021 Membership Drive

  • 14 Nov 2020
  • 31 Dec 2020
  • Ten Directions, Three Times

Registration


Register

November 15, 2020

Click on "Register" to renew your pledge!


Your Sangha Needs You

This time last year, none of us could have imagined that we would be launching our annual membership drive in such strange times. Even though we haven’t been able to be together in person since March, we hope that Red Clay Sangha has continued to support your practice in meaningful ways. For many of us, being able to take refuge in the sangha as our spiritual home, and relying on our practice with the sangha’s support, has been more important than ever over the past year. Sangha members and leaders have been creative and proactive, finding new ways to sustain our sense of fellowship and offer opportunities to deepen our individual experience of Dharma. We hope that in the midst of uncertainty, your commitment to the sangha remains steady. Will you become a member or renew your membership and support of Red Clay Sangha? Please read on for some reflections on this past year and exciting plans for 2021...but if you're ready to jump on this call to action, just click on the "Register" button to renew your pledge. (In considering the amount of your pledge, please do read the sections below titled, "Your Sangha Needs Your Financial Support" and "How Much to Pledge".) Thank you!

The Value of Sangha

Once the Buddha’s disciple Ananda asked him about friendship. Ananda knew that having good and encouraging friends was very important for the path. He even wondered whether having good friends is half the path.

“No, Ananda,” the Buddha told him, “having good friends isn’t half of the Holy Life. Having good friends is the whole of the Holy Life.”

As a secular Buddhist community with no central teacher, Red Clay Sangha provides not just meditation, chanting, and study, but also a strong focus on community, friendship, and simply being there for each other. We invite you to join in whenever you want (mostly via Zoom, for now) and to bring your own tradition and culture to share.

2020 in Review

We recognized the impact of the pandemic early on, responded quickly, and made the decision to suspend almost all in-person gatherings for the well-being of everyone. Nevertheless, Red Clay Sangha provided a rich program of activities and events in 2020. (After March, all events moved to a virtual space, unless otherwise noted.)

  • A four-day virtual retreat with guest teacher Lisa Ernst;
  • A five-day virtual retreat with guest teacher Ben Connelly, planned for early December, 2020;
  • Three Saturday in-town retreats, led by guest teachers Shodo Spring (last one in our space) and Ayya Dhammadipa, as well as by sangha member Gareth Young;
  • A Dharma talk and discussion with Therese Fitzgerald in April (even though we had to cancel our planned residential retreat in the mountains);
  • Three popular Dharma Study Sessions;
  • Regular weekly Sunday service, weekly Wednesday Reading Group, monthly Women’s Circle and monthly Equity and Justice discussion group;
  • Several outdoor gatherings for physically distanced picnics and meditation in Historic Oakland Cemetery.

Our Plans for 2021

We’ll continue to monitor the pandemic and plan for a safe re-opening of our physical space. While we believe that suspending in-person gatherings was the right decision, we recognize that we may have lost something essential for many of our members and friends, and that many of you find Zoom meetings unsatisfactory. We intend to explore safe ways to meet in person, at a safe distance, for those who are comfortable doing so. And whether we meet virtually, face-to-face, or create a hybrid meeting space, we have exciting plans for 2021!

In addition to our regular Sunday and Wednesday events, we will continue with monthly meetings of our Women's Circle and Justice and Equity discussion group. We plan on holding quarterly Dharma Study Sessions led by sangha members as well as several retreats throughout the year.

We will also continue to sharpen our focus on community- and compassion-building activities, including justice and equity, and explore how we might better care for each other as members and community.

Your Sangha Needs Your Financial Support

We are a volunteer organization, but Red Clay Sangha has real costs of operation. Our visiting teachers depend on dana for their livelihood, and we want to treat them fairly. Our retreats are affordable in large part because Red Clay Sangha subsidizes them. Although we aren’t meeting in our space, we continue to pay rent so that we have a space to which we can return; we also have ongoing expenses such as insurance and a website, and Zoom. Since we’re not meeting in our space, we no longer have a dana box by the door for extra cash. So far, we’ve been able to support our activities and provide the dharma free, or at low cost, based heavily on the generous support of a small number of generous members. This model, though, has major flaws:

  1. It places undue pressure on a small number of people;
  2. It creates imbalance and risk in the sangha's finances; and
  3. It unintentionally serves to create a perceived dual system.

The potential higher cost of a new residential retreat space in 2021, and of a larger long-term in-town space as our sangha grows, call for a broader and more stable support base. We ask you, therefore, as you reflect on your 2020 priorities not just to make a small year-end donation, but to commit to support us financially in a manner that is meaningful to you.

How Much To Pledge?

The amount you pledge is a personal decision. We’re mindful that some of our members have experienced pandemic-related loss of jobs or income during the last months; therefore, if you are able, please consider increasing your yearly pledge to support our sangha as a whole. Perhaps reflect on what the sangha has meant for you this past year. For me personally, my sangha is more important than ever.

A donation or pledge at any level brings with it membership privileges such as early sign up for retreats. While we have no set dues for members, please remember what your financial support can offer both you and the sangha. We are seeking $20,000 in 2021 pledges to meet our targets. With 40 supporting members (an ambitious but realistic goal), this would be $500 each. Most of us are not going out to restaurants right now, so please consider giving the cost of a restaurant meal each month, or even $10 per week - the cost of a modest take-out meal. Have you given up visits to the barber or salon?! Could that amount go to Red Clay? This would not defray entirely the generosity of the small few, but would certainly help.

While we must consider these practical matters, it is important to remember that dana - generosity - is the first of the paramitas. It is not measured, but offered for the benefits both you and the Sangha receive, and in turn for countless beings that they may turn toward a path of peace and harmony.

I miss seeing you face to face, but I’m confident that our sangha ties remain strong. Thank you all for your support.

If you have any questions please let me know.

Bowing to all of you,

Sally

256-525-8660, landrumsarah@gmail.com

- on behalf of the Red Clay Sangha Board:

Chad Crowley, Sally Landrum,  Ben Tolbert,  Charli Vogt, Gareth Young)

Red Clay Sangha, Atlanta, GA



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