Abode Village View, Monthly Update – Dec. 2016
As we move into the second monthly edition of the Abode Village View, we have received excellent and insightful feedback on our previous editions. In an effort to hear from more readers, we have launched an Abode Communications survey to garner information about your preferences and sentiments as they relate to our Communications strategy on email, social media, the Abode website, and in-person at the Abode.
We welcome both your feedback and comments. Thank you for your participation! If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at [email protected]
– With love, Khaldun Mendel, Editor.
Update from our Board of Trustees – Nasreen Linda Moayedi, Board Chair
This is the time when we take stock of the year that is ending and look forward to the New Year to come. Those of us on the board have known that a broad spectrum of areas would need to be addressed if we were to be effective in taking the responsibility of steering the Abode’s resurgence.
The entire board also recognized that hiring a capable director and staff team would be necessary to make our jobs tenable. We were fortunate that Al joined us, teamed up with Ibrahim, and welcomed Khaldun into the long sought after position of Communication and Outreach Coordinator. Without their help and that of the rest of the Abode staff and the community the Abode could not have made so much progress in all areas.
Identity – Following Pir Zia’s guidance as found in the Mysteries of the Five Elements the new Eco-Sufi initiative helps to express the Abode’s true nature within its spiritual core. To support this direction, a vision-mission statement is being developed with a lot of community input.
Community – The Abode’s stakeholders are continually informed and consulted through the Town Hall meeting (August), the Annual Meeting (October), and Miki Kashtan meeting with the local community (also in October). In addition, the residential community has elected a community liaison to the board.
Property Management – The board is thoughtfully reconsidering the wisdom of accepting money for a public easement that will constrain further development of the land. We are reviewing leases and buy-back options.
Heritage – The board is giving attention to the preservation of the Abode’s sacred sites on the mountain top, and its archives going back to its founding.
Financial Management – The board has taken on the important task of raising and managing the Abode’s financial resources by consulting with a volunteer Revenue Generation Task Force on future direction, keeping expenditures within or below budget limits, and conducting our first independent Summer Appeal fundraising effort.
Governance – A board committee has been established to consider board composition, terms and qualifications. Through its Charter, it coordinates with the Inayati Order in defining roles and relationships.
We are looking towards 2017 in very practical ways such as the establishment of a 2017 budget and in inspiring ways to consider programs that support the Abode’s spiritual core, which will be guided by our new Spiritual Director, Netanel.
We value the warm support and genuine contributions of all the Abode’s stakeholders. We hope you will communicate your hopes and concerns with us at [email protected]
Update from our Executive Director – Al Bellenchia
As the tide of outside programs at the Abode’s campus has ebbed, its flow has been replenished by a high level of activity focused on solidifying our activities and initiatives for 2017.
As we have mentioned in earlier notes, the Abode will be sustaining a regular rhythm of activity over the “quiet” months, designed to set the course we will follow to provide an opportunity for community and guests to attend Sufi education classes, worship, enjoy the output of our wonderful kitchen, and take time away through retreat.
Rebuilding the spiritual core and activities at the Abode is the cornerstone of our renewal strategy, and we are very happy to announce that Netanel Miles-Yepez has accepted our offer to become the Abode’s inaugural Spiritual Director. Netanel’s tenure as our initial Teacher-in-Residence has been a successful one. Netanel has brought a focus and energy to the Abode community, which has been evidenced by the growing attendance at his classes. He enjoys strong support from the Inayati Order and Pir Zia and is uniquely positioned to complement Pir Zia’s continued presence and programs, and to provide continuity for and commitment to the teachings of the Inayati lineage at the Abode. Netanel’s message follows below.
In December, we will be transitioning the kitchen management to Evan Young, who has been our program chef and “kitchen manager in training.” We are fortunate to be able to have someone as capable as Evan takes over from Donna Wentzel, who has served the Abode so ably across many years. We won’t be losing Donna completely, though, as she will continue to cook and support the kitchen and staff as she has throughout her tenure here. And while we honor Donna, we are excited to support the fresh ideas that Evan is raring to put to work. Please make a point to come visit and get a taste of what’s to come. More on our kitchen plans will come from the Chef himself.
With the New Year will come other initiatives designed to further upgrade the Abode “experience” for all: residents, guests, visitors, volunteers, and financial supporters. We will keep you updated through our robust Abode communications network, and always appreciate your comments and feedback.
Thanks for all of your love and support. Peace to all.
Update from our new Spiritual Director – Netanel Miles-Yépez
Dear friends —
Last month I was happy to announce that I would be staying on at the Abode in an expanded role into 2017. Now, with the approval of the Board of Trustees, I can tell you that that expanded role will be as the inaugural Spiritual Director of the Abode of the Message. As such—in consultation with Pir Zia, and working closely with Al and Ibrahim—I hope to do what I can to help strengthen the study and practice of Inayati Sufism at the Abode of the Message, cultivating a specifically eco-Sufi expression of the teachings suited to life here in “the village” and the original intentions of the founders of the Abode on this land sacred to so many for generations.
This month, as we head into the holiday season, I will be teaching three Thursday night classes before traveling for a month, returning to Boulder, Colorado, to teach an intensive Sufism Retreat Course at Naropa University in January. These three classes—December 1st, 8th, and 15th—will be on different aspects of the Sufi Message of Hazrat Inayat Khan, drawn from The Inner Life, volume one of the new Sufi Message series published by Suluk Press.
I continue to be tremendously grateful to all of you who have offered me such a warm welcome. More and more, I am finding myself at home here with you.
Update from our Director of Programs – Ibrahím Pedriñán
It is astounding to be sitting in my office on a quiet, rainy day as November closes and December begins – what a season it has been! At the end of March, I transitioned from Property Rentals Manager to Director of Programs and this year has seen immense activity. We served over 800 people on our Main Campus and over 350 on our Mountain Camp over the course of more than 20 programs.
We had wonderful work from a robust team of housekeeping help, kitchen crew, scullery stars, awesome operations, and fantastic front office support. The Abode is blessed to have such stellar workers for not only programs but really for the Message. Our khadims worked hard from gardens and grounds to mountain to every nook and cranny of these old Shaker buildings, leading songs, sharing poems, creating a spiritual gathering place, and making a difference for the Abode. What a joy!
As I look over 2016, I am proud of all that everyone has accomplished and each contribution toward the ideal of love, harmony, and beauty.
As I look toward 2017, it is like surveying a new uncharted territory from a high precipice. The Abode, for the first time since my arrival, will not simply rent space to other programs but will create and facilitate our own programs. We will bring in Sufi teachers from our Inayati lineage and beyond, we will revivify our Khidmat (spiritual work-study) program, we will partner with Behold! New Lebanon and neighbouring organziations, and we will create new eco-Sufi programs in collaboration with our kitchen, the Abode Farm CSA and other local farms, Flying Deer Nature Center, and environmental groups.
Our commitment to providing an exceptional customer service experience, coupled with our intention to strive toward our Ideal, makes 2017 an exciting prospect. But before we get too far ahead of ourselves, we still have 4 more programs here at the Abode:
Each event will prove to be a particularly delightful time in the Meditation Hall, which will remain open. Sign up today!
And don’t forget that we will contine classes on Tuesday and Thursday preceded by dinner along with Universal Worship on Sunday followed by brunch – all in collaboration with our newly announced Kitchen Manager, Evan Young, and our new Spiritual Director, Netanel Miles-Yépez.
Thanks again for your participation and support in 2016 and be on the look out for our 2017 Programs Preview coming out in 2 weeks!
Update from our Kitchen Manager – Evan Young
Following a successful programs season that included approximately 20,500 plates of food served and a joyous Abode Family thanksgiving, the kitchen crew is looking forward to the winter months as a time for growth, renewal and continued nourishment of the community.
In the coming months we will be busy improving kitchen infrastructure, redesigning our offerings and strengthening our partnership with Abode Farm and other local growers. Through 2017 we will be deepening our participation in the local, sustainable food system and look forward to continuing to better showcasing the Abode as a leader in this movement.
We would like to extend a special invitation to the greater community to join us for special weekly dinners Tuesday and Thursday night evening at 6:00pm before classes at 7:00pm and Sunday brunch at 12:30pm.
Finally, a dear THANK YOU to my many friends and teachers at the Abode for your support and for welcoming me into a new role on the Abode staff. I’m honored to be serving as kitchen manager in 2017.
Abode Weekly Village View
Tuesday December 6th
– 7:00pm Class TBD
Thursday December 8th
– 7:00pm Message Class with Netanel Miles-Yépez – Meditation Hall
“Part II of a discussion and commentary on the ‘Ten Sufi Thoughts’ and Hazrat Inayat Khan’s reflections on them in the new Message volume, The Inner Life. “
Sunday December 11th
– 11:00am Universal Worship – Meditation Hall
– 12:30pm Sunday Brunch – Rezak Dining Room