GBC Meeting Day Three And Four
Posted March 3, 2006
The day began with the traditional kirtana and reading from Srimad Bhagavatam (2.10.44).
The GBC were given updates on the French, German, and Moscow Yatras, Ambarisa Prabhu gave a personal update on the Mayapur Project, Tamohara Prabhu gave a report on the Child Protection Office, and there were some more presentations by the Deputies.
France (presented by Praghosa Das):
This year, the French Yatra, after nearly twenty years of struggle is on the upswing. In a strong show of cooperation that transcends boarders and zones, devotees from France, various parts of Europe, America and India came together to focus on reviving ISKCON's presence in France. They felt that Srila Prabhupada would have insisted on such an effort, and thus even though their aide comes with much personal sacrifice, they accepted it in deference to Srila Prabhupada's desires.
Sivarama Swami, Indradyumna Swami, and other senior devotees commited their time for rebuilding the French Yatra. Donations were raised to develop projects in France. These developments encouraged the local French devotees who volunteered services in fields such as fund development, communications, book distribution, and legal guidance.
Germany (presented by Dina Sharana-devi dasi, Euro GBC for Germany):
At the same meeting that brought devotees together to help the French Yatra, devotees met to create a new and brighter future for ISKCON Germany. The German temples have been plagued with debts for a long time, and creditors have been demanding their payments. During the meeting, individual householders, preachers, temples, and book distributors all pledged funds to help the situation. In addition to these funds, Bhaktivedanta Manor gave a loan that will be instrumental in saving the German yatra great sums.
Often when resources are limited, interpersonal relationships are strained. During the meetings and subsequent to them, much effort was successfully made-with the help of the meeting facilitators-to heal past wounds, and create a new mood of trust and unity.
Tangible results were reported such as increased book distribution, three new centers, and a new communications department
Dina Sharana thanked all the GBC's and leaders who gave their time to help Germany and appealed for more visits from senior devotees. In reciprocation, a number of GBC members offer appreciation for Dina Sharana's determined effort to revived the Germany yatra. Sivarama Swami mentioned that sometimes devotees question what the role of women should be in ISKCON. He said that Dina Sharana-devi dasi was a wonderful example of a woman leader. She saw a need and fulfilled it. He said that just as Srila Prabhupada was so proud of his grihasta disciples who went to London, he must be similarly proud of this daughter who is rendering such empowered service.
Moscow (Presentation by Bhakti Vijnana Goswami):
This was yet again, another example of devotees from various parts of the world coming together to help a yatra. The Moscow project is experiencing great challenges from the Russian Orthodox Church. By their influence, the Mayor of Moscow cancelled his approval for ISKCON to build a new temple there. Devotees in India-headed by Gopal Krishna Goswami, Krishna Candra dasa and Mahamantra dasa-helped Bhakti Vijnana Goswami to meet the top political and industrial leaders of India to request their support. Similarly, Gauri dasa, Romapada dasa, Srutidharma dasa and Pranabandhu dasa gathered support for the Moscow project from political and spiritual leaders in England.
Ambarisa dasa gave an impassioned talk about the vision for the Mayapura temple and Vedic Planetarium. He described his strong determination to start construction on the present ISKCON land as soon as is practical with the combined help of the international ISKCON devotees, and those serving in India.
Tamohara dasa, the director of ISKCON's Central Office of Child Protection provided a report on his service in the past year. There was a forty-eight percent increase in funding; twenty-nine new judges were trained, including some from South America; the ICOCP's website has expanded (childprotectionoffice.org), a statistical analysis of ISKCON's abuse cases has been developed, and there has been tremendous cooperation from temples and GBC's as the ICOCP strives to establish a child protection team in every ISKCON center.
Last year the CPO completed three cases, five cases are currently under judgement, and four are in investigation. This year at least four more training courses will be conducted by Tamohara and Hanuman dasa.
The day ended with a discussion about a GBC proposal to improve the ISKCON laws regarding disciplining of ISKCON officials who act inappropriately or no longer carry out their services effectively. On one hand we should appreciate the service of all devotees, and there is room for mistakes which naturally occur. But on the other hand, ISKCON needs standards and when the mistakes of one impact the lives of others, action is often needed. There was also a discussion on a proposal to encourage more of Srila Prabhupada's disciples to initiate.
Day Four consisted of a closed-door session about the Youth Fund. The
Sannyasa sub-committee and BBT Allocation Fund also met today.