Abode Village View—June 5, 2022
Dear Abode Friends,
As you may know by now, the Abode of the Message is in a transitional time. We are writing as murids* who make up the new Abode Board of Trustees. We’d like to introduce ourselves in this first of a series of weekly updates to keep our community informed about the Abode sale process and what to expect.
First, we’d like to introduce the current Abode Board: Sohrob Nabatian, a murid in Northern California who lived at the Abode for a year in 2001-2002; Jennifer Alia Wittman, Executive Director of the Inayatiyya and past Abode Executive Director, as well as a resident of the Abode from 2002 to 2017, and Basir Yasi, a murid in nearby Freehold, NJ. All three of us are Suluk graduates who have spent significant time at the Abode in deep Sufi study, as well as for retreats and other programs. This board of trustees was activated on May 2nd with the purpose of overseeing operations, preparing the property for sale, and seeing the process through to completion.
We are working closely with a devoted team on the ground caring for buildings, grounds, and operations during the transition: Steve Pause, Amir Bisio, Andy Bruce, and Adrianna Szyda, led by Abode Executive Director Kevin Carlon. We are profoundly grateful to this group for their dedication to keeping the Abode in beautiful condition. We are currently clarifying ongoing staffing arrangements through the summer and beyond.
For all of us who love the Abode, this transition brings uncertainty. We understand that there are many unanswered questions, and we will endeavor to provide weekly communications going forward, (even if it’s simply “no update”). For updates from the last month, see below. We will also share about opportunities to visit the Abode this summer as they are confirmed.
Thank you to all for holding the Abode in your hearts during this transition.
Toward the One,
Sohrob Nabatian, Chair
Basir Yasi, Vice Chair
Jennifer Alia Wittman, Secretary & Treasurer
*If you are new to the path of Sufism, murid means student. In this case we refer to students of the teachings of the Sufi mystic, Hazrat Inayat Khan (1882-1927).
- The Abode staff are currently occupied maintaining the building and grounds, cleaning and preparing the property, and getting financial and other records in order. This is a significant workload for our dedicated staff.
- We know that many of you wish to visit the Abode. We are currently getting many unexpected visitors. To honor our small staff and limit distractions, we ask that we all wait to visit the Abode until a list of Abode Visitor Days is set and shared via this email newsletter. Additional details about set times to visit will be shared within the next couple of weeks (with two initial dates shared below).
- We plan to hold two public events (so far) this summer, a Celebration of Pir Vilayat’s Birthday on Sunday, June 19th, including a Universal Worship Service & Special Brunchprepared by Donna and Shaheen. Details on how to register (we need to know our numbers) will be shared soon. Also, we will hold an Abode Community Day on Saturday, August 6th, with details forthcoming.
- Noor Amina Peterson, Chair of the Inayatiyya Board, visited the Abode for a week in May where she met with staff and local community members, toured and assessed the property, and assisted with financial due diligence.
- We have completed a professional appraisal of the property, which valued the Abode as a whole at $4,235,000.
- We have also completed a professional survey of the property, verifying property lines, acreage, building locations, etc.
- We have been interviewing realtors and expect to make our final decision about a realtor within the next week.
- We anticipate that the formal listing of the property will go up online by the end of June. It is impossible to say exactly how the process will unfold. What we do know is that we will make decisions in the light of the wider mission and transmission of the Inayatiyya, and that the Abode Board will seriously consider the social, ecological, and economic impacts of any offer.
ABODE OF THE MESSAGE BOARD OF TRUSTEES
Sohrob Nabatian (Chair) joined a zikr circle in Montreal in 2002 and has been hooked ever since. After living a year at the Abode and joining the first class of Suluk Academy, Sohrob pursued higher education at Harvard Divinity School, worked as a cook and hospital chaplain, and since 2008 has been serving at the Kalliopeia Foundation directing financial resources to organizations rooted in spirit. Sohrob loves nonprofit work, and finds great joy in seeing organizations move through developmental challenges to more fully inhabit their destiny. He lives north of San Francisco with his wife Hannah and children Isaiah and Alma, and for fun teaches a spin class, is learning to surf, and bakes too much bread.
Ted Basir Yasi (Vice Chair), after many years wandering as a self-described “tourist” of spiritual traditions, finally found his home in the Inayatiyya, and was initiated in 2008. He is a graduate of the Jabalqa Suluk class, and became a Healing Conductor in 2018. Conflict resolution and peacemaking have been central themes throughout his life and remain a focus of his work. Professionally, Basir is a freelance videographer with experiences including working with the documentary unit of the United Nations Peacekeeping Missions in Southeast Asia and Central America. Using his heart and lens to help people see and understand each other and the world around them continues to be his passion. Basir lives in Freehold, New Jersey.
Jennifer Alia Wittman (Secretary & Treasurer) has been a leader in the Inayatiyya for over 25 years and has an extensive background in founding, stabilizing, growing and advancing nonprofit organizations. Alia was deeply involved in the youth service movement of the 1990s, contributing to the creation of AmeriCorps and first hired as an Executive Director at the age of 26 to run Hands on Baltimore. After years of such service, Alia was guided to work with the Inayatiyya. She has served as General Manager of Suluk Press (2003-2006), the Inayatiyya’s publishing company, and Executive Director of Seven Pillars House of Wisdom (2006-2012), the Abode of the Message (2014-2016), and the Inayatiyya (2014-today). Alia lives in Richmond, Virginia.