The launch of the ‘Year of the Congregation’ went well last weekend. Around 75 of our congregational leaders and preachers came to the event, held at a conference centre run by local Catholic nuns. We chose a venue outside the temple because the Manor is bursting at the seams on a Sunday, and this particular spot has proven to be a good, quiet space that helps the devotees to think.
The sun was shining and the mood was light, but with serious commitment expressed to improving ISKCON’s services to its growing membership. Eight teams presented their carefully thought- out goals using a combination of straight speaking skills and engaging powerpoint slideshows. I didn’t see anyone yawn.
After a great ekadasi lunch, the assembled Vaishnavas got a chance to put their questions or suggestions to the presenters, now sitting in eight different parts of the building. The networking resulted in a few extra ideas and connections between devotees with similar interests.
At one point, it became very apparent that there is a distance between the various constituencies of our community, one of the problems when a community grows to a certain size. And London and the south-east of England has been growing ever since Srila Prabhupada first set foot here on September 11th, 1969, almost 40 years ago.
For a community to actually function there must, by simple definition, be communing of some kind, and a certain amount of our goal setting for the year reflected the need to make better connections across the huge metropolis that the city and its environs has become.
Bringing experts in certain professional fields together with each other, so that they can contribute more to growth, was another theme. So too was the care of the individual lives of our devotees, and making sure that we don’t stop caring just because we get big.
We concluded with reports of recent outreach successes, and a report on the recent and very welcome growth of the brahmacari ashram. I look forward to the year ahead.