Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Future of the Fellowship

October 11th Pre-Discussion
We had a good crowd for the future of the fellowship discussion at the Int'l House coffee shop, and the surrounding garden looked great as usual.

Peggy, Stan, Vivek, Bonnie, Ella, Elaine, and Chuck were there to figure out how we can continue to enjoy examining the world's religions, philosophies and ideas by listening and questioning invited speakers or talking among ourselves.

Searching for a Home
Eventually (after March) we will probably need to find a new home as the sustaining membership in I House will run out - unless we can convince them that our goals are similar enough that it would benefit them for us to continue meeting there. Our current room on the fourth floor has a great view of the garden, but if more than a dozen show up, it will be standing room only. And some of our speakers - authors, professors, scholars - perhaps deserve a larger audience. The modest size of the group, which makes it so easy for everyone to participate is also one of our strengths (and weaknesses). But we are looking to grow to see if we can attract even more interesting people in Tokyo looking for some thought provoking talk. There were several ideas of where to meet from mid next year, but we could use more.

Speakers We talked about ways to continue to attract new English language lecturers willing to join us for our 3 p.m. Sunday meetings to discuss topics of interest. Scholars (young and old) wishing to polish off papers just finished or in progress have been welcome and we will pump our university contacts for more. Some of us are connected to the Asian Society of Japan and other organizations, while the ecumunical society and Dojin Kyokai continue to be sources of interesting speakers. Anyone reading this blog who would like to speak, please contact Peggy at unitarianfellowshipoftokyo(At Mark)
In the last year we have had talks on the Heart Sutra (by a Catholic scholar), the Jewish view of death, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (by a priest in Tokyo), the Church of Latter Day Saints, Bahai, Buddhism and Nuclear Disarmament, and enjoyed music sung by a visiting Unitarian minister, a tour of India, and a slide show of photos of the American Southwest.

Currently we struggle to pay the room rent and dinner + transportation for the speaker with our voluntary 1000 contribution each week. Some of us, who can't make it every month, but don't want to leave Peggy dipping into her pocket to cover for us, would like to contribute Y10,000 or so/year to make this a little more stable. And keep it voluntary and weekly contribution for anyone else so that students and retirees are always welcome. Stan agreed to be treasurer. Chuck owes him some advice.

Everyone agreed with the content of the proposed purpose statement - and that it was too long winded.

To develop an intellectually stimulating community based on a creedーfree examination of spiritual、moral、and existential aspects of religious、 philosophical、and cultural traditions and ideas through interaction with a broad range of interesting speakers in English.

We will work on making this "purpose" a little punchier. While enjoying our selves being stimulated. Everyone felt good after the discussion and the feeling carried through the speaker to the discussion and delicious food at Moti's, spiced up with Vivek's culinary commentary and tour of the kitchen.

We look forward to putting our ideas to work and expanding our little thoughtful English speaking community in Tokyo.

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