An Update from our Chair
Since the Centre has been closed . . .
Silabodhi has written to Manchester Buddhist Centre’s community about what’s been happening since the Centre was forced to close by the coronavirus pandemic
Dear Manchester Buddhist Centre friends,
I know that many of you have a deep connection with our Centre, and therefore, in this long and challenging time of lockdown you will wish to know how the Centre is faring. There are many ways one could look at this question: from the point of view of Sangha members’ health and welfare, how the team is doing, how the finances are holding up and so on.
First, the Centre Team
Perhaps I will start with the team because this has a bearing on the other topics. Soon after closing the Centre we realised that almost all the activities associated with it would immediately cease, the building would close, and that this would have enormous consequences for what the team would be able to do, and also a rapid impact on the Centre’s finances. As a result we were forced to take up the government’s offer of financial support for all those team roles that couldn’t readily be carried out any more. Thus we furloughed Kevin, our bookshop manager; Steve our maintenance man; and Sal our fundraising and dana specialist. Of course this is not something any of us have ever experienced before and it proved quite an emotional process for them and for those who implemented the action.
As time went on and we worked with a financial expert at the London Buddhist Centre, it became apparent that yet further cost-saving measures would very quickly be needed as income from courses, drop-in meditations and the bookshop, rent from Earth Café, and some from vacant places in our communities dropped away. So, with a heavy heart, the Centre was forced into another round of furloughing from 1st May, and Chandana our Centre Manager; Vishangka the Men’s Mitra Convenor; Acharashraddha the Women’s Mitra Convenor; and Amaradaya the School Visits Leader all put aside their much-valued roles.
So, now only I as Chair; Sundeep as Programme Manager; Vidyapala in communications; and Moksavadini working on finances are left working, with of course the fantastic support of our trustees, to maintain the Centre and to bring it through this troubled period for us all to benefit from and share in the future.
Moving our Events Online
It’s been impressive to see how quickly the team moved to transfer as many activities as possible online primarily as Zoom meetings, and to plan how we can continue to adapt events to work on this medium with further ideas for YouTube live broadcasts. Ratnaguna’s Friday night talks have been a great success, building a really warm Sangha atmosphere with anywhere from 45 to 89 participants. Lunchtime led meditations and Tools for Living are thriving and a full Buddha Day programme has come together for this coming Saturday. Meanwhile Chapters, Training for Ordination and Study groups are all functioning well online. In some cases, Sangha members, who for various reasons are rarely able to attend the centre, are loving being able to be at many weekly online events. Though virtual meetings will never have all the nuances and connections of face to face gatherings, a certain aspect has been brought to life that has been highly beneficial, and this is primarily amazing geographical accessibility.
Donations for meditations and Tools have proved quite strong, for which we are very grateful, and as far as I know standing orders are so far steady. These have been augmented by several increases and some really generous one-off donations. Thank you all and Sadhu!
Keeping our Practice Strong
From the reports coming in especially to the Mitra convenors, Sangha members on the whole are faring pretty well so far given the stressful circumstances both in physical and mental health terms; I can’t help reflecting on how our practice of the Dharma puts us in a much stronger place than many to work with the obvious fears and anxieties that can arise.
I do hope this gives you some flavour of what has been going on at the Centre and in the wider Sangha and look forward to sharing Buddha Day with as many of you as possible this coming Saturday ,9th May, at the Manchester Centres get togethers in the programme. Do also look out for a Sangha Night gathering on Friday 23rd May in between the end of Ratnaguna’s series of talks and the upcoming ones by Taravandana. The more the merrier, and a good chance to share a virtual space together, and find out more about how the centre and its true essence, yourselves, are taking on the challenge.
With metta to all beings.