An Olive Branch Report on the Shambhala Listening Post

The impulse to believe the absurd when presented with the unknowable is called religion. Whether this is wise or unwise is the domain of doctrine. Once you understand someone's doctrine, you understand their rationale for believing the absurd. At that point, it may no longer seem absurd. You can get to both sides of this conondrum from here.

Re: An Olive Branch Report on the Shambhala Listening Post

Postby admin » Sun Mar 24, 2019 8:17 pm

Local Zen center offers help for congregations torn by scandal
by Ann Rodgers
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
March 28, 2011 1:00 AM

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Zen centers are supposed to epitomize calm, but there was anguish at a national Zen meeting last year as devotees reacted to sexual misconduct scandals involving prominent monks.

The Rev. Kyoki Roberts, head priest of the Zen Center of Pittsburgh, was as appalled by some of the responses as by the abuse itself. "I heard a Zen Buddhist teacher use the word 'vitriolic' to describe the victims," she said.

Rev. Roberts, who was a professional mediator before becoming a priest, knows that congregations of all faiths tear themselves apart after a scandal involving a trusted leader. Certain that there are ways to prevent that, she returned to Pittsburgh and founded An Olive Branch. It is dedicated to the prevention of misconduct in the wake of accusations.

The group doesn't attempt to reconcile victims with abusers but aims to help congregations and nonprofits prevent or cope with the aftermath of sexual or financial misconduct by their leaders.

When a beloved leader is accused of wrongdoing, "the entire system is thrown into turmoil. Rage, disbelief, shock, grief and departure are just some of the reactions," she said. In such a situation, she considers it imperative for a neutral third party -- not someone who has been part of the congregation or its related hierarchy -- to help people sort through the spiritual, emotional and legal difficulties.

"While sexual misconduct has the potential to rip apart a church, temple, mosque or other community, it also has the potential to lead the community in to a much deeper spiritual life," she wrote in a brochure for An Olive Branch.

Rev. Roberts was raised near the hilltop in Bell Acres where the Zen Center now offers a meditative retreat. She left to become an organic farmer in Nebraska and was there when countless family farms were foreclosed during the debt crisis of the 1980s.

After a farmer was shot to death resisting the seizure of land his family had farmed for 100 years, Nebraska church leaders started a mediation service that the state later hired. Rev. Roberts, who was just beginning to practice Zen, became a mediator and trained others.


"Our mediations were volatile. We were literally telling people to check their guns at the door. But we had a 98 percent success rate," she said.

Their success came from identifying and addressing deeper concerns behind the issue that people were fighting over, she said. If a group is torn over whether to keep a door opened or closed, they aren't really fighting about the door -- one group may have health concerns about an overheated building while another has safety concerns about who might walk through the door. Only when health and safety are addressed can a decision be made about the door.

"We don't really talk about the door. There is a shift, and that's why it works," she said.

She gave up professional mediation after her 1993 ordination, when she went to Japan. She founded the Zen Center of Pittsburgh in 1999. But she continued to help various nonprofits sort through difficult issues. She chaired the ethics committee of the Soto Zen Buddhist Association when the scandals erupted.

Those accusations concerned revered teachers who abused their authority over adult female disciples. One of her tasks was to make clear that these weren't consensual affairs between equals but involved dangerous abuse of spiritual authority and the crossing of strict ethical boundaries.

Sensing a need for more skilled intervention, she renewed her credentials, recruited nationwide for an interfaith team of skilled mediators as advisers, and trained local mediators.

An Olive Branch is a project of the Zen Center of Pittsburgh and draws on Buddhist principles, including respect for all people.

"I see in each person the awakened Buddha," she said.

Among those she recruited was a former colleague from Nebraska, the Rev. Judith Dye, a United Methodist pastor in Lincoln.

"Kyoki and I have gone different ways in faith, but we see this as a model that people of different faiths can work together to help each other resolve their conflicts," she said.


"We aren't there to come up with solutions for anyone. We are there to help them through the process, so that they come up with their own agreements."

Clergy sexual misconduct is not respectful of theology, Rev. Roberts said.

A 2009 Baylor University study that covered 17 religious traditions found that 3 percent of women who attend worship services have received inappropriate sexual advances from clergy.

Older studies found even higher rates. A 1990 study, primarily of Protestant pastors, found that 10 percent had been sexually active with a parishioner.

"The Catholics have the least abuse, even though they get the most press," Rev. Roberts said. "The most likely to offend are those in non-denominational congregations. It's because they have internal control, rather than external control, and they don't necessarily have the same training and background that you find among the mainline Protestants and the Catholics. And in some sense that's where Zen falls down as well. ... We have the same lack of central control."

Clergy misconduct cases differ from typical mediation cases because the goal isn't to mend the relationship between the offender and the victim, but to mend the congregation torn apart by the scandal, Rev. Roberts said.

"You have a community that is divided between those who see the beloved pastor and those who see the scoundrel who misled us. You help the parties see that they are both correct," she said. "And there are multiple parties and multiple views."

An Olive Branch will offer its services on a sliding scale. Its abuse prevention training can be done in a day. But Rev. Roberts warns that mediation after abuse is expensive because team members must make multiple visits over at least a year. She believes, however, that ignoring the wound is far more costly.

Without intervention, "any new clergy who come to a church where this has happened will be gone in three years," she said. "They need a neutral party or they get pulled into it. The attitude of people in the congregation is 'You're either with us or against us. ... Studies show that you can go back into the church 20 years later and the people are still stuck in these positions."

Even congregations that experienced devastating crises can find renewal, she said.

"They come out the other side and are strengthened in their own mission," she said.

An Olive Branch can be reached at http://www.an-olive-branch.org or 412-996-5483.
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Re: An Olive Branch Report on the Shambhala Listening Post

Postby admin » Sun Mar 24, 2019 8:34 pm

An Olive Branch Report on the Rigpa Listening Post
by Katheryn Wiedman, Ph.D. Project Director
An Olive Branch: A Project of the Zen Center of Pittsburgh
December 10, 2017

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To: Whom it may concern

From: Katheryn Wiedman, Ph.D. Project Director

The Rigpa US board has asked An Olive Branch to provide this introduction and overview of our proposed project with your sangha -- the need for which has resulted from allegations of abuse and misconduct on the part of Sogyal Rinpoche.

An Olive Branch was formed in 2011 as a project of the Zen Center of Pittsburgh. Growing out of the need for greater understanding and reduction of ethical misconduct on the part of religious leaders, we provide services to organizations in conflict. We promote understanding and healing and work to strengthen organizations’ boards and policies to reduce the likelihood of future misconduct. We have expertise, knowledge of best practices, and standards of excellence for our services. Our consultants have varied skills related to training, facilitation, governance, and intervention.

On October 18, 2017 Richard Snow, Treasurer of the Rigpa US Board of Directors, contacted An Olive Branch on behalf of the board. He inquired about our services and asked how we could help with a situation precipitated by the July 14, 2017 letter from eight former and current Rigpa members alleging misconduct on the part of Rigpa’s founder and spiritual leader, Sogyal Rinpoche.

In Ventura, CA on November 29, 2017 the Rigpa US Board of Directors met with Co-directors of An Olive Branch: Rev. Kyoki Roberts, Dr. Katheryn Wiedman, and Leslie Hospodar. The purpose of the meeting was two-fold: 1) for the Rigpa US board to describe their needs and to ask questions about our services and 2) for An Olive Branch to learn about the situation in Rigpa and to determine the elements of a project proposal. Subsequently, on December 6 An Olive Branch submitted a draft proposal which is currently under review by the Rigpa US Board of Directors.

We recognize the chaos that ensues when a trusted spiritual leader is accused of ethical misconduct. We have developed a process that includes listening, reconciliation, and healing along with strengthening the organization’s board governance. The elements of our proposal are described briefly below.

Communication with the Sangha

We propose to collaborate with the board on communications to the sangha. Two letters are envisioned at this point: 1) announcing the project, introducing An Olive Branch, and inviting recipients to contact us if they have experienced abuse, feel harmed, or have information related to misconduct and 2) inviting sangha members to attend the Community Reconciliation and Healing meeting.

Code of Conduct and Grievance Procedure

An Olive Branch will review and provide advice on the development of Rigpa US’s ethics statement and grievance procedure.

Listening Post

The Listening Post is a way for individuals who have been harmed to tell their story to a neutral third party and to be heard in a safe, confidential manner. Information collected via the Listening Post will be summarized and reported to the board and later to the sangha during the Community Reconciliation and Healing meeting. Participants’ names and identifying details will be carefully omitted, unless otherwise requested.

Community Reconciliation and Healing

Rigpa US board and An Olive Branch will collaborate on the design of a two-day, face-to-face Community Reconciliation and Healing meeting. Members of the US sangha and leaders of Rigpa sanghas in other nations will be invited. We currently envision the following components:

Led by An Olive Branch, there will be opportunities at the meeting for attendees to:

 Hear the summarized information gathered in the Listening Post
 Process the events (raise additional concerns, share residual feelings, etc.)
 Learn about the new Code of Conduct and Grievance Procedure
 Receive training on sexualized spiritual relationships and misuse of power.

Led by Rigpa, there will be essential components such as:

 Spiritually-based opening and closing ceremonies
 Traditional ceremonies of reconciliation, forgiveness, and peace-making.

Board Development

The Rigpa US Board of Directors recognizes the need for strengthening their organizational structure and governance. Such work often includes a review of the bylaws, policies, self-assessment, and strategic planning.

Project Management

An Olive Branch will serve as an overall adviser on the project elements. In our experience, an undertaking of this scale requires an organized and coordinated approach. Project Management consists of monitoring and coordinating the work, communicating with the Rigpa US board, facilitating and documenting meetings, and providing reports.

Underlying our proposal is the intent to help return the Rigpa US sangha to health and balance. Our wish also is to “...see Buddhism flourish in the West.”

Katheryn D. Wiedman, Ph.D.
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Re: An Olive Branch Report on the Shambhala Listening Post

Postby admin » Sun Mar 24, 2019 8:41 pm

Kyoki Roberts
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 3/24/19

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Rev. Kyōki Roberts (OPW) is a retired American Sōtō Zen priest. The single Dharma heir of Nonin Chowaney-roshi, Roberts received Dharma transmission in June 2001 and was a founding member of an organization of Sōtō priests known as the Order of the Prairie Wind (OPW), which is now defunct. Having studied Zen in Japan at the Zuiō-ji (瑞応寺) and Shōgo-ji (聖護寺) monasteries and in the United States at Minnesota Zen Center, San Francisco Zen Center, and Green Gulch Farm, Roberts was certified by the Sōtō School of Japan.

Roberts blended her practice of Zen Buddhism with art during the 2003 exhibition Gestures: An Exhibition of Small Site-Specific Works at The Mattress Factory Museum in Pittsburgh. Her installation exhibit, No where to go; nothing to do: Just Sitting, invited visitors to experience aspects of Zazen (seated meditation)."[1]

In March 2006, Roberts served as a member of the Plenary Panel of Venerable Women: Women Living the Dharma in the 21st Century during the first Buddhist Women's Conference held at DePaul University and sponsored by the Buddhist Council of the Midwest. During the conference, she blended her Zen training and her 10 years of experience as a mediator for the State of Nebraska to present a workshop on Difficult Conversations as Practice."[2]

See also

• Buddhism in the United States
• Timeline of Zen Buddhism in the United States

References

• "Zen Center of Pittsburgh". Retrieved 2009-02-06.
• "Soto Zen Buddhist Association". Retrieved 2009-02-09.
• "WQED Board of Directors". Retrieved 2009-02-06.
• "Mattress Factory Museum". Retrieved 2009-02-10.
• "Jikoji". Retrieved 2009-02-10.
• "Dharma Women". Retrieved 2009-02-10.
• "Huffington Post". 2009-02-14. Retrieved 2009-02-23.
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Re: An Olive Branch Report on the Shambhala Listening Post

Postby admin » Sun Mar 24, 2019 8:56 pm

Meet Us
by An Olive Branch: A Project of the Zen Center of Pittsburgh
Accessed: 3/24/19

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Rev. Kyoki Roberts

Rev. Kyoki Roberts serves on the Executive Team of An Olive Branch. She is our lead mediator as well as our intake person. Kyoki served as Head Priest of the Zen Center of Pittsburgh, a Soto Zen Buddhist temple, for eighteen years stepping down in 2016. She now resides in Omaha, Nebraska.

Kyoki has been mediating disputes and facilitating non-profit boards for more than 35 years. She has offered her Difficult Conversations workshop across the country.
She served as vice-chair of the Soto Zen Buddhist Association as well as the chair of the Ethics Committee and was the lead author of the SZBA Ethics and Code of Conduct document.
She was a mediator and trainer for the State of Nebraska and Interchurch Ministries of Nebraska for 10 years.
Kyoki is certified in church, business, farmer/creditor, family, interpersonal, transformative, community, restorative justice, and multi-cultural mediations.
She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Science/Biochemistry from Colorado State University.
Kyoki pursued Zen Buddhist training in Nebraska, Minnesota, California, and Japan. She is certified to teach by the Soto Shu of Japan.

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Dr. Katheryn D. Wiedman

Dr. Katheryn D. Wiedman is a founding member of An Olive Branch, serves on the Executive Team, and is our lead facilitation consultant. She is President of CenterPoint Institute, a consulting firm providing capacity building services to nonprofit organizations and foundations since 1988.

As a consultant, facilitator, and thinking partner, Wiedman developed a client list of over 160 nonprofit organizations. Wiedman’s areas of professional expertise include strategic planning, facilitation, research, board development, project management, and volunteerism.
She has facilitated 32 strategic planning processes and eight other capacity building projects; planned and executed 21 national and international conferences; and conducted and reported on 23 studies and research projects.
Wiedman (formerly Heidrich) authored a book and several articles that were published in professional and scholarly journals.
In addition to training over 40 boards of directors, she developed training curricula for boards and nominating committees for two national nonprofit organizations. She is a BoardSource Certified Governance Trainer.
Katheryn earned the Ph.D. degree from the University of Illinois; her research focused on market segmentation of volunteers based on their values and lifestyles

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Katheryn Wiedman, Ph.D.

Self-development gurus and coaches tell us that we need to have a mission in life. But as often as I have guided organizations in writing or revising their mission statements, I was uncertain about my own mission -- until the day I realized that mine is to be of service. Plain and simple, I like to do things for people -- my clients, my family, and organizations I belong to. When people ask me for help with a project, I throw my energy, imagination, and experience into the work and it brings meaning to my life.

So it is natural that I’ve been in the nonprofit sector one way or another most of my career – as volunteer, staff, executive director, board member, student, writer, researcher, and consultant. Among the services Centerpoint provides, my particular specialties are governance, strategic planning, mission and vision development, facilitation, project management, and coaching.

Over the years, I have established credibility and developed productive relationships with many different groups of people, including teens, residents of low-income neighborhoods, local leaders of community-based organizations, foundation leaders, academicians/researchers, CEOs of national nonprofits, and leaders of NGOs in other nations -- each is as much fun as the next.

I earned the Ph.D. from the University of Illinois and have regularly invested in seminars to increase my professional capacity. In addition to extensive training in a number of facilitation methods, I am a BoardSource Certified Governance Trainer, hold a certificate in mediation from the Nebraska Office of Dispute Resolution; have attended sessions understanding and healing racism; and attended seminars on fundraising at The Fund Raising School, Indiana University Center on Philanthropy.

I live near Chicago and am able to travel easily to client locations. Except when I’m gardening.

-- Centerpoint Institute Leadership Team


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Leslie Hospodar

Ms. Leslie Hospodar is certified mediator and a founding and Executive Team member of An Olive Branch.

She is a long-time Soto Zen Practitioner, served as President of the Board of Directors of the Zen Center of Pittsburgh and is currently an Advisory Board Member.
Ms. Hospodar’s professional career as a Project Manager has focused on process improvement, product delivery and team building in the Healthcare Information Technology arena as a director and as a consultant.
Leslie has attained Project Management Professional (PMP) certification, and has managed successful teams drawing on her 30+ years of facilitation and training expertise.

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Dr. Barbara Gray

Dr. Barbara Gray is a founding member and mediator for An Olive Branch. She is an Emerita Professor of Organizational Sociology at Pennsylvania State University and has 40 years of experience studying, intervening in and writing about conflict, negotiation, and collaboration. She also holds lay entrustment as a Soto Zen teacher.

Barbara has conducted mediation, team building, facilitation and conflict assessment for over 30 business, government, educational, non-profit and religious organizations including facilitating an e-conference on biodiversity for the European Union.
She has provided negotiation and conflict management training to a variety of public and private sector organizations worldwide including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Federal Highway Administration, US Steel Corp., Mellon Bank, Greenpeace International, Boer & Croon Executive Managers (the Netherlands), The MacArthur Foundation, Hershey Hospital and at several non-US universities in Hong Kong, Belgium, the Netherlands and Ecuador as well as Penn State.

She has published over 100 articles and 4 books, including “Collaborating for our future: Multistakeholder partnerships for solving complex problems” (Oxford U. Press, 2018) and has received two-lifetime achievements awards for her research on conflict and collaboration.

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Pastor Judith Sanders Dye

Pastor Judith Sanders Dye is a founding member and mediator for An Olive Branch. She is a United Methodist Clergy (Retired) of Nebraska Annual Conference, and is a trained and experienced mediator/facilitator in basic, church, multicultural (Hispanic/Native American) and community conflict management.

Judith advocated for conflict resolution legislation in Nebraska and was the founding chair of the Nebraska Justice Center board of directors, a community conflict management center for 24 counties in northeast Nebraska.
She was trained in Family Systems Theory by the Center for Pastoral Studies of the Rockies.
Judith is an active participant in a United Methodist Church contemplative covenant community.

She authors a weekly column titled “Ponderings.”
She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Education and a Master of Arts in Teaching degree.
Judith is an educator, former farm woman, farm crisis hotline staffer, rural missionary, and a rural and multicultural justice advocate.
She has three children, six grandchildren, and two Hispanic sons-in-law.
Her avocations include writing, traveling the blue roads, and old movies.
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Re: An Olive Branch Report on the Shambhala Listening Post

Postby admin » Sun Mar 24, 2019 9:07 pm

Interchurch Ministries of Nebraska: A Statewide Ecumenical Council of Churches
by imneb.org
Accessed: 3/24/19

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IMN DENOMINATIONAL PARTNERS

Christian Church (DOC) in Nebraska
Church of the Brethren in Nebraska
Episcopal Diocese of Nebraska
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Nebraska
The Presbyterian Church, USA
Homestead Presbytery
Central Presbytery
Missouri River Valley Presbytery
Great Plains United Methodist Church (Kansas/Nebraska)
United Church of Christ in Nebraska

Observers:

American Baptist Churches in Nebraska
Roman Catholic Dioceses of Nebraska

IMN OFFICERS

Rev. Duane Westing, President (DOC & Presbyterian)
Rev. Karen Moritz (DOC)
Mr. Alex Curry, Treasurer (Presbyterian)

INTERCHURCH MINISTRIES OF NEBRASKA

IMN is a statewide ecumenical agency that provides planning and program support to cooperating denominations in Nebraska.

IMN was designed for Christian communions in Nebraska, in order that churches might come together for worship, teaching, service, and common witness to the faith. IMN is both ecumenical and evangelical in its vision. As it calls the churches to work together in service to the world, so it also calls the churches to their common mission of proclaiming the good news of God in Jesus Christ.

IMN began its ministries in 1971 as the realization of the churches’ longing to live out the vision of Christ’s prayer “that they may all be one” (John 17:22). The purpose is to be an instrument of the churches, individually and together, as they carry out their programs of ministry and mission.


IMN is actively engaged in the “Life and Work” dimensions of ecumenism. Witness to our unity in Christ is given through a variety of programs. IMN programs involve many more groups than the ten members. As each program begins, many Nebraska denominational groups are invited to join the design committee – as full participants or in observer status.

Ecumenical Communions joined together to show forth the Unity of Christ’s Body on Earth.

# # #

If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Jerry Albright at (402)476-3391 or email at jerry@imneb.org.

contact Information:
212 Centennial Mall South; Suite 512
Lincoln, NE 68508 (402)476-3391
Rev. Jerry D. Albright, Exec. Director
jerry@imneb.org info.imneb@gmail.com
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Re: An Olive Branch Report on the Shambhala Listening Post

Postby admin » Sun Mar 24, 2019 9:26 pm

Nebraska Interfaith Power & Light
Facilitating the faith community’s response to climate change.
402-212-3737|kwinston@inebraska.com
Accessed: 3/24/19

NOTICE: THIS WORK MAY BE PROTECTED BY COPYRIGHT

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IMN Programs

Interchurch Ministries of Nebraska administers a number of important programs. These Include: Nebraska Interfaith Power and Light

-- Interchurch Ministries of Nebraska: A Statewide Ecumenical Council of Churches, by imneb.org


Facilitating the faith community’s response to climate change.

Climate change is an ever-increasing threat in Nebraska and across the globe. As the impacts of an altered climate continually come to be better understood, the need to act becomes more urgent. Today, many Nebraskans remain uninformed about the facts of climate change, and about its implications for Nebraska’s water supply, agricultural production, economy and public health. There is a great need to communicate, educate and inspire Nebraska citizens to take action on climate change mitigation and adaptation.

The faith community is a vibrant sector of life in Nebraska. Within Nebraska, 90% of residents identify as Christian and worship attendance is high. Jewish, Unitarian, Buddhist and Muslim communities are represented in the state as well. The faith leaders who are committed to revitalizing Nebraska Interfaith Power and Light believe that climate change is the most pressing moral issue of our time. We know that the faith community is uniquely well-suited to respond to the challenges of climate change on human civilization, and we know that the faith community is a powerful voice in our state.

All faith traditions remind us that creation is a gift from God, and that we have been entrusted from the beginning with its care and keeping. Interfaith Power and Light is bringing the considerable resources of faith to the table in response to the moral challenge presented by the climate crisis.
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