Thursday, October 18, 2012

Sacred Soup Community Gathering


October 11, 2012
Present: Allen Grothe, Adam Hasz, Janet Katzenberger, Kathy O’Leary, and Mark Lee Robinson

Gathering began and ended with silent meditation

Agenda was to review a number of structural changes in Sacred Soup and to consider the implications of those changes.  Here is a review of the conclusions of these changes.


Types of Programmatic Offerings

There are three kinds of programs that we offer.  These are spelled out on the blog.  They are Gatherings, the School for Contemplative Practices, and the School for Living.

Gatherings

This is a kind of catch-all for whatever we do that doesn’t really fit into either of the schools.  It includes gatherings like what we used to do in Danforth Chapel (and may do again) as well as meetings for business like the one that this documents.  It may also include events to experience and discuss relevant music and videos.  For example, Kathy mentioned a documentary video of conversations with spiritual leaders called, “In One Voice.”  That is something we might plan to meet to view and discuss.  We might also begin a tradition of meeting once a month to view the monthly offering from the Spiritual Cinema Circle.  These events will either be at Pilgrim or Center for Creative Conflict Resolution depending on the size of the crowd we expect.

School for Contemplative Practices

These are events held at Pilgrim on a Saturday for from two to six hours depending on the nature of the event.  They will be spaced out to meet not more than one a month with sensitivity to other events at Pilgrim and in the larger community.  We will cycle through a series of topics but then may repeat ones we have done before seeking to deepen our experience and to reach out to others.  Each event will focus on a contemplative practice or group of similar practices.  These will include meditation, chant, contemplative prayer (like Centering Prayer), lectio divina (a way of using scripture as a focus for contemplation), embodied practices (like yoga, qigong, or walking a labyrinth), as well as consideration of how intentional intimacy can be a spiritual practice.

School for Living

These are events held at the Center for Creative Conflict Resolution at least until they grow too large for the space.  They will be twice a month (something like second and fourth Wednesdays).  Each event will have a topic from the canon of Creative Conflict Resolution and will invite reflection and conversation from those who gather.  We expect there will develop and fairly consistent community but this will remain an event anyone can comfortable join.


Finances

Sacred Soup is a collaboration by Pilgrim and the Center.  The administrative connection is through Mark as the Minister of Reconciliation and Evangelism at Pilgrim and as the Executive Director of the Center for Creative Conflict Resolution.  Each institution needs to get income from the activities of Sacred Soup in order to maintain its support for the program.

There will be significant costs to putting on the offerings in the School for Contemplative Practices and indeed these will be the signature offerings.  Pilgrim will be the site and we will use at least the chapel and the dining room and kitchen.  We will need a custodian for the day.

To develop the financial backing we will charge a registration fee for all events for which we have fixed costs.  We will need the hourly for the custodian and rent for the use of the space and for the utility costs.  Some events will include a meal. We will calculate in advance what these costs will be and will set the registration fee accordingly.  We want to keep the costs low so anyone can attend and yet have neither institution lose money on the venture.

We will also need to support the Center (primarily Mark’s time) as well as provide an honorarium for teachers we bring in for specific events.  We will cover this by an offering we will collect at the event.  Promotion for the event will make it clear that the registration fee only covers fixed costs and that the teaching itself will be honored by a donation collected at the end of the event.  Those who are not able to pay will not be expected to.  Those who can pay will likely honor the effort and support the program.
Donations will be payable to the Center for Creative Conflict Resolution which is a 501.c.3 and those donations will be tax deductible.  The registration fee will be payable to Pilgrim Church.  As it is a fee for services received, it will not be deductible.  The Center will track the donations and generate tax letters for donations which exceed $100 a year.


Marketing

Web based marketing will be the norm.  We have a web site at http://sacredsoupstl.blogspot.com/ which we will upgrade soon to a dedicated site (SacredSoup.org) using WordPress to power it.  It will be the central source for information, but, as Kathy pointed out so eloquently, having a Web Site is a bit like having a billboard in your basement.  There will have to be ways to drive people to the site.  These will include:

Handbills

We will construct a simple handout on card stock which gives enough information to invite folks to go to the web site to find out more.  It will mention the two schools but will emphasize the School for Contemplative Practices and may include topics and dates for the coming year.  This will date it and will make it necessary to reprint every six months or so.  We will hand these out at Association and Conference events and make them available to other judicatories and to people who attend a Sacred Soup event and want to promote it within their own faith community.

Social Networking

We have a Facebook account and will also be on Google+.  People will be invited to joining the group and to “like” it so that their friends learn about it.  Each of the events in the School for Contemplative Practices will be promoted separately as a Facebook event.  Once we are generating income we may also purchase ads on Facebook and Google Ads.

Web-based events calendars

We will get listed on the Conference newsletter but also with community events calendars on radio and TV sites and with other denominations.

Email outreach

We will continue to develop an email list of those who have attended a prior event for promoting future events.  There are several ways that this list may be structured including the Facebook or Google+ groups, a dedicated group like a Yahoo or Google group (like the one Pilgrim uses), a dedicated social networking site (like Ning), or a commercial email service (like Vertical Response or Constant Contact).  We have yet to choose a route and will need to do that soon.

There is no reason to not get the School for Living up and running right away.  It takes very little work to create and it gives us a bit of momentum.  The School for Contemplative Practices will take a bit more planning.  We will have to develop a contract with Pilgrim so we know what the fixed fees will be and will have to set dates and find the teachers for each event.  We can do a public launch of Sacred Soup to coincide with a Service of Installation for Mark in late January.

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