The National Council Weekend and Priorities

There was a warm and friendly welcome awaiting the 22 souls who arrived at the Kairos centre on Friday afternoon from all over the country to meditate, exchange ideas, and discuss how WCCM in the UK might go forward and put names to those faces they had only ever seen online.

Image: WCCM in the UK

After the formal welcome and introduction we reflected on progress against the priorities set at last years meeting when we were still finding our feet after Covid. In 2023 our main priority was to reach out in new ways which we did, not only through social media but also in more traditional ways through the new literature and postcards. We have started to gain some momentum in making contact with young adults having committed to following up the suggestions of the international coordinator for young people. And there was also significant activity in taking forward meditation with children in schools, in prisons, with those on the margins, with learning disabilities and contemplative church, while maintaining our focus on the environment.

There was much to be joyful about in the regional reports with new groups forming, introductory days and courses being organised as well as quiet days, study days, social events, retreats, a day for anglican clergy and regional group meetings. After a 20% drop in the number of local groups following Covid, things have now stabilised and we have just under 300 groups including physical, hybrid and online meeting across England, Scotland and Wales.

Other priorities for 2023 were looking at how we are organised, to make it easier for people to step up to new roles and encouraging and empowering our community members. The outcome of this was a proposal on ‘how the UK might look going forward’, put together over the last 9 months by the Action group with suggested changes to all aspects of the way we manage ourselves. The ideas underpinning the proposal are:

  1. Shared working – working in teams across the community to make it more likely roles will be fulfilled and reduce isolation.
  2. Empowering Group Leaders – enabling Group Leaders to get involved and feel more connected and supported.
  3. Going back to basics – ensuring our attention is on nurturing and sharing the practice.
  4. Focusing on local and regional activities – directing our resources to support local and regional events.
  5. Simplifying how we are organised – more effective organisational systems.
  6. Using the technology – not only supporting online groups but making best use of all resources.

There was a lengthy discussion on the implications and the implementation of the proposal with a number of amendments being agreed . You can see the key points listed under National Council Priorities 2023-24 below.

We also heard from Special Interest Coordinators, Celia Heneage (Adults with Learning Disabilities) and Pat Hay (Children in Schools) and Shelagh Layet (Group Leader) about their experiences developing groups. (See Shelagh’s article on this topic.)  This was followed by small group discussions to share ideas on what we could do. Hopefully some of the insights will feature in a future newsletter.

As always on these occasions as Saturday draws to an end it seems you have barely settled in when you are packing to leave, but after dinner we had a quiz evening. It is great to have social time together and having shared a few glasses of wine and enjoyed the challenges set by Roger Layet, our quiz master, this was a great way to end a very full day.

On Sunday morning we heard about plans for 2024:

  • changes to the distribution of the UK newsletter;
  • the School;
  • the UK gathering at Minsteracres;
  • changes at the Meditatio centre;
  • offerings by WCCM International (the Academy program and new online courses).

Information and updates on all of these are in, or will appear in future newsletters.

Having completed my 2 year term of office I formally stepped down as the National Coordinator knowing that there is much to do to bring about the changes proposed. I will be still be around in the new role of National Liaison and am grateful to Birgit Duncan ( NE London Region) and Pat Higgins (South Manchester, Cheshire & Merseyside Region) who volunteered to work with me.

After all the preparation that goes into organising a weekend event, as often happens everything fell into place and we enjoyed another wonderful community weekend. And as always one leaves thinking there is nothing to compare with meeting and meditating together in person.

Love to you all
Julie Roberts

National Council Priorities 2023-24

1) Implement the Proposal on how the UK might look going forward with some amendments. The key points agreed are listed below:

  1. The National Coordinator role to be replaced for the time being by a National Coordinating Team.
  2. A new role of National Liaison accepted to work with the Trustees, International and the office.
  3. Two new roles of Area Liaison accepted to provide continuity of the Coordinator meetings and represent regions.
  4. These three new roles would join Communications, Office, and School representatives as members of the new National Coordinating Team.
  5. Existing Regional coordinators would be asked to consider how they could best be organised into areas to work with adjoining regions ( 11 areas proposed subject to discussion).
  6. In consultation with existing Regional Coordinators /Contacts the three new roles would work together to implement changes to the current regions.
  7. A new role description of Area Team Member to be introduced in areas where there is no Regional Coordinator and to support current Regional Coordinators where there is.
  8. Special Interest Coordinators would be invited to be Area Team members.
  9. All Group Leaders would be connected with an existing Regional Coordinator or Area Team member for support and advice.
  10. Group Leaders would have direct communication with the office who together would ensure the database/ website information is up to date.
  11. With there being no National Coordinator the office will be the first point of contact for all enquiries. The office would redirect both people and information received.
  12. The UK website along with the office would be at the centre of how we communicate as we make more use of online and social media opportunities.
  13. There will be a renewed emphasis of The School being at the heart of our teaching and formation of all leaders and potential leaders.
  14. The Meditatio Country Coordinator and Oblate team while working independently to support the Special Interest Coordinators and Oblates would be closely connected to the National Coordinating Team.
  15. The UK would encourage members to support international events, with the UK conference possibly organised jointly with a partner organisation in future, not necessarily taking place annually, the focus being on regional and local events.

2) A renewed emphasis on developing groups by encouraging

  • groups to offer Introductory courses
  • everyone to attend an Essential Teaching workshop
  • Group Leaders to complete the new online Formation Training course
  • shared group leadership
  • flexibility in how courses are offered

3) Support further development of outreach by offering formation training to help connect with people who may be different to ourselves eg those on the margins, with mental health problems etc.

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