- Annual Meeting of the Society for Buddhist-Christian StudiesConcurrent with the American Academy of Religion's Annual Meeting in Denver, November 2018
Every year the SBCS, as a "Related Scholarly Organization" of the American Academy of Religion (AAR), holds its annual meeting concurrently with AAR's annual meeting. For many years the pattern has been to hold our board meeting on Friday morning and early afternoon and then host a paper session late that afternoon. Often we meet for dinner after this Friday session and visit a local Buddhist or Christian community, which sometimes hosts us for dinner. We also organize at least one other session, sometimes in conjunction with other scholarly organizations. When possible, we schedule one of these sessions for Saturday morning and hold our annual members' meeting immediately following that session in the same room.
Some highlights of this year's meeting were:
*. the election of four new board members and a new book review editor for our journal,
*. the board's amplification of our mission statement,
*. a visit to the Tri State/Denver Buddhist Temple,
*. Vice President Leo Lefebure's report on the Society's significant contributions to the 2018 Toronto Parliament of the World's Religions,
*. the presentation of the Streng Award to Massimo Rondolino
friday board of directors' meeting
Joint Social Media and Website Committee and Membership Committee Report
President Kristin Largen called the meeting to order at 9:00 a.m., and the board approved her agenda and the minutes of last year's meeting. Because of a schedule conflict, the first report was from Judith Simmer-Brown, chair of the Social Media [End Page 291] and Website Committee and a member of the Membership Committee. Our membership is still growing, and our website's traffic has stabilized. Because it was redesigned specifically to draw younger viewers, she exhorted everyone to encourage their students to join, noting that the Society has the lowest membership fee ($10) of any scholarly organization she knows about, and this includes our journal Buddhist-Christian Studies. Board member Mark Unno was unanimously appointed to the Social Media and Website committee in light of his experience conversing with students seeking online community support for contemplative practice.
New Welcome Added to Our Mission Statement
As part of a discussion about the content of our website, newsletter, and Facebook page, we discussed our overall goals and hopes for the Society. One factor that we kept in mind, as we considered whom we seek as conversation partners and what conversations we want to foster, is that the Society's membership has included, since its founding, monastic and lay practitioners who are not academics. Another factor we considered carefully was the lack of resources for people who practice within, and/or identify with, both a Buddhist and a Christian tradition. Our membership includes a significant number of such "multiple belongers."
The board agreed that, while the Society can't provide an online spiritual home for people interested in Buddhist-Christian dialogue and interaction, including multiple belongers, we can indeed be more intentional about providing anyone who visits our website with examples of, resources about, and information for contacting groups who host Buddhist-Christian conversations. Board members committed themselves to adding at least one article per year to the blog. Ruben Habito volunteered to write a practice-focused piece for people who come to our website wondering if and how Buddhist and Christian practices can support each other. We also decided to add to our mission statement a clarifying and expansively inclusive welcome, crafted by Thomas Cattoi. It reads:
The Society of Buddhist-Christian Studies welcomes scholars and practitioners who are grounded in different expressions of Buddhism and Christianity, as well as individuals who claim multiple religious belonging or do not identify with any specific tradition.
Jonathan Seitz, newsletter editor, reported that the use of Mail Chimp software, and the decision to publish only an online newsletter, has reduced the time he spends on the newsletter's production and distribution. He suggested that we ask formerly involved members who shaped the SBCS to write personal reflections about the Society's work, especially about members who made major contributions...