Our Growing Children’s Program

Article by Marcia Kahn

Bright Way Zen’s Strategic Plan aims not only to deepen the engagement of current members (Goal One) but also to share the Dharma with more people (Goal Two) and our Children’s Program hits both of these targets. Plus it’s fun and rewarding for kids and adults alike.

The Children’s Program has been growing ever since it’s first Sunday morning class last September. Because it is so engaging, the program almost grows by itself — all it needs is the care of some dedicated and generous volunteers.

On the first Tuesday of every month, Zack Bartel is at the zendo to meet parents who want to introduce their kids to Buddhist practice. He is available to answer any of the parents’ questions.

On Wednesday mornings from 10 to 11, parents from around the neighboring community as well as Bright Way Zen bring their kids to Mindfulness for Preschoolers. They learn about integrating meditation and mindfulness practices into family life. As co-teacher, Shoketsu Ellen Carlin helps make the classes fun, flexible, and adapted to the children who attend that day.

Returning on Sunday, September 8 from 10:20 to 11:00, the Second Sunday classes for children rounds out the Children’s Program. Music, singing, and storytelling entertain the kids and offer them a child sized portion of the Dharma plus a cookie.

This program wouldn’t work at all without the help of many volunteers. Beyond those already mentioned are Domyo Burk, Sabrina Eveland, Marta Farris, Cameron Kidd, Jill Otermat, Janelle Schaffner, and Stephanie Valenti.

And then there’s you! As with all aspects of our Strategic Plan, the Children’s Program is always open to your ideas and your support.



Building a Culture of Gratitude

Article by Jinryu Janna Allgood

Remember the last time you received a hand written Thank You note in the mail? Maybe it was from a friend or relative, or possibly a four-year old, learning to write but thanking you nonetheless for a birthday gift. How did that expression of appreciation and gratitude feel?

That feeling strikes at the heart of the first strategy of Bright Way Zen’s new Strategic Plan. It’s a spirit of love and appreciation for each other that can be conveyed in so many ways: a quick announcement on Sunday morning, a short “Thank You” in the weekly newsletter, a social event centered on gratitude, or a Dharma talk investigating the meaning of danaparamita, the perfection of generosity.

Generosity isn’t strictly financial donations. Time freely given, work performed with love in the spirit of helping, and even presence – all of these can be received with gratitude and appreciation.

Building this kind of culture opens up our sangha to welcoming and appreciating attendees from all walks of life even if they don’t look like us or think like us. People who feel seen, welcomed and appreciated ultimately become members. They may bring their children some day. People who feel cared for in this way make pledges and donations. Notice how the first strategy links to everything else Bright Way Zen intends to do as outlined in the Strategic Plan.

Over the next few months I will be thinking of ways we can execute this strategy. But I can’t do this by myself. Success will involve the whole sangha. I am open to any ideas and suggestions you may have as well as your offers of help to follow through on them.


Bright Way Zen Creates Strategic Plan to Address Priorities

Article by Jeff Young, Chairman of the Board

Our mission is to help people find spiritual peace, deepen their wisdom and manifest compassion. Our vision states that we will offer a place of spiritual refuge for Washington County and we will be build a warm, vibrant and inclusive community that will manifest our bodhisattva vows beyond our Zen center. Click here to read the full mission and visions statements.

Our Strategic Plan is the product of several years of effort, and it has incorporated the ideas and input of many people. In 2017 a survey was conducted and about 80percent of the Sangha responded. Key concerns included a wish for BWZ to achieve long-term stability and for the zendo to support our teacher.   In early 2018 the strategic planning committee identified three key areas of focus to help us address these member concerns in a fashion that was consistent with our mission and vision: Sangha growth, member investment and enhancement of Sangha resources. Focusing our effort, we will produce among many outcomes, incremental and sustainable growth, which will insure the long-term success of our zendo and pay our teacher a fair amount for all of the time she devotes to BWZ. Volunteers were identified to work on addressing these areas while the Strategic Plan was refined and then adopted in April 2019. Click here to see the complete plan.

In the past year we have achieved a variety of wonderful successes in support of our Strategy including the development of the children’s program and a celebratory fundraising event.

In the coming months, Strategic Plan advocates and our Executive Director and BWZ teacher will share and discuss the plan in detail.



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