Great Plains Zen Center
Stewardship Circles

Stewardship Circles

Great Plains Zen Center Stewardship Circles

Tenzo Circle members working in the kitchen

Great Plains Zen Center runs through the efforts of volunteer stewardship circles. We invite you, the members of our community, to share your time, talent, and creativity to help us in serving all who wish to practice the Buddha Way. We need volunteers for planning and putting on specific events, developing policies and procedures, and providing ongoing logistical support. We may sometimes be looking for volunteers with specific skills but more often are just looking for folks to contribute their creative ideas and their time and effort to getting needed tasks done. Some tasks can be done at home. We know that many of our members have full-time jobs and families, so it is our intention to make these volunteer opportunities available to you in a way that works for you.

Working together is a powerful practice. We get to know other members of the GPZC community, we have a chance to grow our interpersonal and work-related skills and have the opportunity to truly make a difference in the broader community by making Zen Center programs and teaching available to others. In our work at GPZC, we are intentionally taking responsibility for our own thoughts, words, and actions rather than looking to place blame outside of ourselves. We are guided, to the best of our abilities, by the Buddhist Precepts in our work attitudes, relationships, and decisions, an intention that is both empowering and challenging. Members often say that they feel more like a part of GPZC when they help out with events and activities.

Here is an introduction to our current stewardship circles. If being a part of one of these circles in an ongoing way or simply helping out occasionally appeals to you, please use the Contact page.  Select “Stewardship Circles” in the drop down menu and then select the circle you wish to reach in the next drop down menu.

Adaptation Circle

Stewards: Michael Greenker, Nance Klehm

The Adaptation Circle has formed to explore and develop immediate and long term responses to the climate crisis.  It has several aims: first,  updating and expanding our list of local food resources.  The focus is on genuinely sustainable outfits with an ethical economic structure and also learning and then teaching how to understand and navigate the various stamps and certifications on foods, from rainforest alliance to organic to fair trade, and how to avoid “greenwashed” products.  Additionally, we’re interested in mapping out a skill-sharing network, figuring out what skills people have and setting up opportunities for barter or instruction. This includes felting, knitting, any of the fabric arts, as well as canning, foraging, woodworking, you name it. Planning future projects to develop Great Plains Zen Center’s prairie, orchard, garden, and other resources will be in the works as well. The long-term goal is to build and strengthen the knowledge and self-reliance of our community, to make sure we know what connections we all have and how best to use them.

Administrative Circle (Board of Directors)

Steward: Myoyu Roshi
This circle is our non-profit corporate board of directors, overseeing the administrative function of GPZC. Members of this circle are nominated and elected by the board for a term of three years. Elections typically take place in June of each year. The board meets four times per year and additionally to resolve pressing issues that arise between meetings. Most business is conducted online, as most Board Members live at a distance from each other.  If you are interested in being on the board, please let Roshi know. Current projects include on-going review of COVID protocols and revision of retreat fee structure.

Cleaning Circle

Steward: Sherry Shozan Lira
This circle manages the care and cleaning of our two buildings as well as aesthetic and functional improvements. Some of the roles for volunteers include coming early before retreats or other events to do cleaning, staying after events to clean up, supervising cleaning during work practice at retreats when Shozan can’t or participating in work days or weekends to accomplish a major cleaning task. If you have interest in becoming a member of or a volunteer for the Cleaning Circle, we would welcome your support. Current projects include: new carpeting in library and back door entryway and new futon covers.

Community Development Circle

Interim Steward: Jeff Ryuzan Slepak
This circle seeks to grow and support our community members. Circle members can help with developing member policies and activities in close coordination with Myoyu Roshi. Current projects include: The Community development circle authored the GPZC Sangha Community Handbook and assisted with the Member’s meeting in 2020.

Fundraising Circle

Steward: Jeff Ryuzan Slepak
This circle manages fundraising campaigns, coordinates volunteers for fundraising events, and handles donor acknowledgment. Current projects include: The fundraising circle managed the 2021 Capital Fundraising Campaign.

Harmony Circle

Shared stewardship: Genshin, Shinko & David Schultz
This circle is a group of trained sangha members authorized by the Great Plains Zen Center Board of Directors. The Harmony Circle is responsible for managing the formal grievance procedure, should it become necessary and for providing ongoing training for all members (students), instructors, teachers, and board members about power dynamics, conflict resolution and professional boundaries and misconduct. Current projects include: Updating and Expanding the Conflict Resolution and Grievance Policy. The document describes both informal conflict resolution and a formal grievance procedure to be administered by the Harmony Circle.

Instructor Circle

Steward: Myoyu Roshi
This circle is for those senior students who are zendo monitors, instructors of Introductory Workshops and/or Aspects classes, or other instruction (pre-sesshin oryoki instruction or zendo procedures). Current projects include: Re-starting in-person workshops and classes interrupted by the pandemic and expanding offerings of classes.

Liturgy Circle

Steward: Myoyu Roshi
This circle meets periodically, to engage in a project related to liturgy, for example, creating a new translation of the Four Bodhisattva Vows, revising service dedications, or developing ceremonies. We welcome new members to this circle to take part in projects. This circle is not currently active but will accept new members when a new project is begun.

Interfaith Circle

Co-stewards: Chris Jishin Wellington and Chuck Tenshin Wellington
This circle promotes interfaith interaction and programs within the community. Please contact Tenshin or Jishin if you have ideas or would like to help with events.

Racial Justice Circle

Steward: shared stewardship
Contact: Myoyu Roshi
This circle is committed to listening, learning and taking action to dismantle racism and promote racial equity. The circle makes resources and opportunities for action available to the community. Current projects include: Updating and maintaining the anti-racism resource list, planning a series of presentations on Zen teachers of color, and beginning a service of providing action alerts.

Service Circle

Steward: John Genshin Knewitz
One of the basic principles of our sangha is a vow to serve all beings through socially engaged activities. The GPZC Service Circle focuses on supporting sangha participation in social justice and service activities in our communities. Current projects include: Collecting ongoing donations of non-perishable goods for the Palatine Food Pantry and coordinating with Countryside Church’s Chalice House Project.

Tenzo Circle

Interim steward: Myoyu Roshi
This circle is responsible for preparation of food for retreats and events and for promoting sustainable practices in the kitchen that promote health, support community agriculture, and protect the earth. Current projects include: compiling recipes, developing a sustainable practices manual, and coordinating with GPZC vegetable garden to plan meals centering on local, in-season produce.

Treasurer Circle

Steward: Matt Shingetsu Hellige

Webmaster Circle

Steward: Sherod Eubanks
Updates and maintains information on the GPZC website and social media.
Current projects: This circle maintains and updates our new website. If you’d like to volunteer your expertise (experience with WordPress preferred) please contact us.