Abode Village View, Monthly Update – Nov. 2016
Welcome to the inaugural Monthly Update edition of the Abode Village View! In this newsletter, we present updates and reports from around the Abode to provide our community with a comprehensive view of what’s occurring on and around campus each month.
This is a work in progress and we welcome both your feedback and contributions. Please feel free to contact me at [email protected].
– With love, Khaldun Mendel, Editor.
Update from our Executive Director – Al Bellenchia
Dear Friends of the Abode,
It is hard to believe that we have completed more than 10 months of our journey through 2016 and are now well into the Fall.
Just over 90 days have passed since I joined the Abode, and there is much to celebrate about our journey together as well. The days have been joyful ones, filled with conversation and collaboration and meaningful progress toward the renewal of our beautiful Abode. We have covered many of the highlights in our various communications, group meetings, video conferences and announcements, so I will focus this note on some newer updates. Please check the News tab on our website for more information on any announcements you may have missed.
As we grow closer to our quiet season, we should pause to remind ourselves that each day, month and season is part of the natural rhythm and is to be celebrated a fully as any other. In that spirit, we are welcoming winter with open arms and a warm sweater!
While our formal program season will draw to a close later this month, the Abode will be very much “open for business” during the winter. We will be focusing our activities in a few of our buildings (Rezak, the Meditation Hall, and perhaps one other), but will be hosting a regular schedule of events on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. As we have said, our goal is to bring more people onto campus more often, and we believe that by providing both spiritual and physical sustenance, we will do so!
Sundays will, of course, center on Universal Worship, and we are working to attract more worshipers for the service and build a continuum of activity that will entice them to stay on campus for the afternoon. These initiatives will include a revamped Sunday brunch that will focus on seasonal, locally sourced produce, and a new menu (more on that to come!) as well as après-brunch programs, events and activities that will have widespread appeal.
Tuesday and Thursday evenings will feature talks and activities lead by our Teacher-In-Residence Netanel Miles-Yepez and involving other spiritual teachers and leaders from within and outside the community.
Spiritual Training & Education
We have joyful news that Netanel has offered – and we have happily accepted – to extend his stay at the Abode through mid-Summer 2017, and increase his service to our community. He has been such a tremendous gift as the growing participation in his classes this fall attests. His commitment will allow us to build a firm foundation of spiritual programming
In addition to the classes Netanel will hold and lead, we are working with him on developing other programs and reaching out to other teachers and leaders to come to and add their thoughts and voices to the rich spiritual legacy of the Abode. Netanel has more to add below, and Ibrahím will provide an update on how our program calendar is already shaping up for next year.
As we announced early last month, we have moved to revamp our approach to fundraising by providing more options for friends and benefactors to support the Abode and target their giving. These new options are now live on our website! Please check them out here:
- The re:Vision Fund, which will support spiritual initiatives and activities
- The Elements Fund, which will help underwrite needed capital projects, and
- The Community Fund, to fund needed repairs or replacements of critical campus infrastructure.
Two examples of this are the new bed recently installed on our pick-up truck (an essential piece of equipment here) and the upgraded generator we installed at our Mountain Camp this Spring, which provided reliable energy complementary to that generated by our program participants.
Our main walk-in kitchen cooler in the basement of Rezak is one of the projects on our list, and will cost, at minimum, $20,000 to address, based on estimates we have received. If you would like to help defray that expense, please click here to donate.
In the months ahead, we will be announcing additional funds and initiatives, including a donor benefit program, which will give us a framework for giving back to our supporters. Stay tuned for the details to come in the New Year.
On October 26, we held a community conversation facilitated by Miki Kashtan, a noted organizational development and collaboration expert. Miki helped guide us through an assessment of individual and collective needs, goals, desired outcomes, and paths for productive collaboration between leadership and the community.
One immediate outcome of the meeting was the establishment of five working groups to consult on key needs and initiatives, some of which are already in progress. These groups are:
- Purpose / Vision: Defining and articulating a clear mission and vision for the Abode.
- Community Collaboration: Exploring how to foster better communications and engagement both within the residential community and with the larger Abode community.
- Living at the Abode: Defining the agreements and commitments that govern individual relationships with each other and the Abode community.
- Processes & Systems: Identifying and creating needed structures and processes for residents, staff and visitors.
- Community / Membership: Defining a membership structure that defines and encourages the participation of the many diverse “members” of our Abode community both near and far.
These groups are forming and beginning their work. If you’d like to join or provide input, please email me, Al, at [email protected] and I’ll happily connect you with the group leaders.
Through the first nine months of 2016, the Abode has been able to reach a level of financial stability, and overcome the large shortfall in this year’s expected contribution from fundraising. We have compensated for that decline in donations through greater facilities and programs revenue, and by closely managing expenses.
While prudent and necessary in the near term curtailing needed investments is not a viable long-term operating strategy. Growing the support of an expanded community, combined with a clear revenue-generation strategy driving new initiatives, will be critical success factors in the years ahead.
We are looking to finish 2016 with a renewed momentum, sense of purpose and a clear path forward. We look forward to sharing many more exciting updates and to seeing you here this winter!
A Message from our Teacher-In-Residence – Netanel Miles-Yépez
Dear friends —
Almost three months ago now, I arrived in New Lebanon from Boulder, Colorado, where I was a professor of Religious Studies at Naropa University. After first experiencing the Abode while teaching at the Inayati Order’s Season of the Rose summer school in 2015, and later as a guest teacher in the Fall of 2015, I was delighted to be invited back in the Fall of 2016 to take up a temporary post as the inaugural Teacher-In-Residence at the Abode of the Message.
Now, I am happy to announce that I will be continuing in an expanded version of that role through mid-Summer 2017. My experience thus far has been rewarding and educational: I will soon have given ten public talks on a variety of subjects (ranging from “The Story of Sufism” to “The Animal and Divine Souls”); taught ten private classes on aspects of Sufi practice for the Abode khadims (ranging from the dhikr to dreamwork); established three regular morning meditation sessions in the Meditation Hall after prayers; met with community members for spiritual guidance; worked with khadims (Emily Collins and John Gallagher) and the Khidmat program coordinator, Wahida Young, to create a new room dedicated to spiritual practice in Mughni called “Kimiya” (alchemy); participated in various guest programs and events at the Abode; taught meditation classes in other towns as a representative of the Abode; pulled-together with many volunteers to have one seriously fun All Hallow’s Eve dance party in the Fatah Conference Room (that began with trick-or-treating at Pir Zia’s house); and most recently, brought a documentary film crew here to film life at the Abode, interviewing visiting spiritual teachers, Abode staff and community members. It has been a full three months!
In the coming months, we will begin to build on the experiments of the last few months and the rhythms we have established so far to strengthen Sufi practice and culture at the Abode. Through the Abode, I will offer a new series of classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays called respectively, Traditions and Message classes. Traditions classes will focus on traditional Sufi practices, values, teachings, and aspects of Sufi culture and history in different lineages, while Message classes will focus on Inayati Sufi teachings and practices, drawn from the writings and oral teachings of Hazrat Inayat Khan and his successors. Special sessions and practice opportunities for the Abode khadims and residents will continue, as will spiritual guidance for and special programming for the community.
I am tremendously grateful to all of you who have offered me such a warm welcome.
— Netanel Miles-Yépez, Abode Teacher-in-Residence
Update from our Director of Programs – Ibrahím Pedriñán
The Programs Office has been quite busy – as I write this, 110 people from the Sufi Ruhaniat International are arriving for their leaders gathering. It is always lovely to have our Sufi “cousins” with us!
We have a few more weeks of programs and then we slow down substantially with programming focused on Tuesday dinner and class, Thursday dinner and class, and Sunday Universal Worship with brunch and class. We will hold a few longer programs during the off-season winter months and information will be forthcoming – keep your eyes open!
The Abode recently gathered with Western Massachusetts Retreat Association and will soon gather with not-for-profits in New Lebanon and Southern Berkshires to collaborate and engage with programming opportunities. There is a widening circle of beautiful beings who are being invited to and welcomed to the Abode. These are exciting times at the Abode and we are so thankful for friends old and new. My update next month will look back at 2016 and will give you a glimpse into 2017, which is already half-way booked!
Be on the lookout for a regular Programs email and many thrilling programs being announced over the course of the weeks and months to come!
And also check the Abode Programs page for more upcoming programs and early bird registration discounts.
Update from our Volunteer Coordinator – Wahida Young
Emily Colllins and John Gallagher are nearing the end of their very successful Khidmat session. John will be returning to England on November 20th, perhaps returning in the spring which would be wonderful. Emily will be staying on for the winter, so we will continue to enjoy her company and presence. John and Emily have made great contributions in several areas of our life here, most notably in Housekeeping and Grounds, but also in Programs service and Maintenance. They were also instrumental in setting up the new Khidmat meditation space named Kimiya, with Netanel at the fore. We have all appreciated their sincerity, smiling demeanor and hard work and wish them so many blessings as they continue on their path.
Abode Farm CSA – Evan Thaler-Null
2016-17 Winter CSA Shares are available from Abode Farm. Loads of delicious vegetables like sweet potatoes, potatoes, garlic, onions, squash, roots, and greens all winter long! Come to the farm once-a-month to pick-up your share of veggies and greens from our historic Shaker Root cellar–multiple share-size options. More information available on our website abodefarmcsa.com/
Thanksgiving at the Abode – Welcoming Friends, Family and You! – Debra-Sue Cope
Thursday, Nov 24 at 2:00pm
Please join the Abode of the Message for Thanksgiving Dinner — RSVP here.
The Meal: $25 adults, $5 children
Please bring a side dish or dessert to share
Cooks come FREE (donations welcome)
Proceeds to the Hope Project
This is a fundraiser for The Hope Project, Pir Vilayat’s visionary program in New Delhi to help the poor help themselves.
Your donation will be greatly appreciated and put to direct, practical use.
We need your help to make this a delicious and “perfect” Thanksgiving Event…
Needing advanced sign-ups for…
- Dinner preps on Wednesday
- Dinner preps on Thursday
- Turkey cookers (we supply the turkey, you supply the oven)
- Clean up
Sign up by clicking here, or look for the sign-up sheet next to the Chalkboard in Rezak
Join Our Community in the Festive Spirit of Thanksgiving!
Abode Weekly Village View – Week of 11/7
Tuesday November 8th
– No Netanel Miles-Yépez Class — U.S. Election Day
Thursday November 10th – Sunday Nov 13th
– Inayati Order Wisdom of the Prophets Program
Sunday November 13th
– 11:00am Universal Worship – Meditation Hall
– 12:30pm Sunday Brunch – Rezak Dining Room