The Annual General Meeting of the Rudolf Steiner Branch (NC)
Of the Anthroposophical Society in America
March, 27, 2021 2:00-3:30 pm
At the Home of Eve Olive
OPENING VERSE: The American Verse
May our feeling reach
To our heart’s inmost core,
And seek to unite in love
With human beings of like aim,
With those Spirits, who full of grace
Look down on our earnest heartfelt striving,
Sending strength out of regions of light,
Bringing light into our love.
~ Rudolf Steiner
WELCOME: by RSB-NC President, Kathleen Wright
Attendance: Eve Olive, Robert Mays, Kathleen Wright, Viorica Comaniciu, Kelly Dipietro, Ben Bingham, Buddy Smiley, Bride McWilliams,
REMEMBRANCE OF THOSE WHO HAVE DIED IN THE LAST YEAR:
Roger Schultz – December 31, 2019-January 1, 2020
Margaret Chambers – March 5, 2020
Herbert Slapo – April 21, 2020
Margaretta Bornhorst – June 2, 2020
Phyllis Morris – November 13, 2020
Gene Golloghly – January 7, 2021
Jo Leeds – February 24, 2021
VERSE FOR THE DEAD:
Feel now how we gaze lovingly
Into heights that now
Call you to other work.
May your power reach out
From Spirit realms
To the friends you left behind.
Hear our soul’s request
Sent to you in confidence.
We need here, for our earthly work,
Strong power from Spirit lands –
We thank our friends now dead for this.
PRESIDENT: (Kathleen Wright)
Last year on the fourth Saturday of March 2020, we gathered at the home of our Treasurer, Robert Mays and although the Pandemic’s quarantine’s and meeting restrictions had not yet gone into effect, we had heard the rumors that they were coming, and we hoped that if it occurred, it would pass quickly as we had so many plans: We had a long list of proposed guest speakers; one member was wanting to start a Mystery Drama group; there were plans for more Eurythmy performances for the public and Eurythmy classes for adults; we hoped to continue our bi-monthly Branch Meetings with their artistic offerings and branch discussions and we hoped to create workshops and activities that would attract younger folks.
Instead, the restrictions began, and our hands have been tied for over a year now. This turned out to be a very difficult year. While the Board felt obliged to comply with the government and CDC regulations, many members urged us to defy them. Our list-serve has been flooded all year with articles and editorials on both side of the issues concerning masks, meeting-in-person, vaccinations, etc. While half the membership enjoyed their postings, the other half urged us to not allow such postings and even to ban some from posting at all because of their inflammatory messages. Our Board felt very caught in the middle. When a community is so polarized, it is difficult, if not impossible, to please anyone. We felt the only choice was to take a stand in the middle. We would abide by the government and CDC’s meeting restrictions, but would not stand in the way of those who wanted to continue meeting in person, as we felt that consenting adults should have the right to do as they see fit.
Many groups carried on as usual; others chose to go on hiatus, meet on Zoom, or other media. As for the Board, we met on Zoom bi-monthly and we kept quite busy. We did give financial support to some of the festivals when it was requested. As far as the virus itself affecting our community, from what I have gathered, we lost two former members who lived in other states, who died horribly painful and lonely deaths in nursing homes. To our knowledge, about 5 or 6 local people from our branch have had the virus and virtually all said it was just like a bad flu. There some who became ill, l but never got tested, so they remain question marks.. We are so grateful that our situation here was relatively mild compared to so many other parts of the country and the world.
We are especially grateful to Joanna Carey for offering in-person festivals for those who wished to gather in person. The Board posted every online Zoom or podcast activity we could find so the homebound would have plenty of options to stay connected with Anthroposophy and other Anthroposophists. We are especially grateful to the Chicago Branch’s offerings and that of the Sophia Group of women (Angela Foster, Hazel Archer Ginsberg and a few others), who had Zoom offerings virtually every day of the week. There were many well-known anthroposophists (such as Peter Selg and Dr. Michaela Glockler) who drew in over 200 guests. These Zoom meetings were more populous and popular than most AGMs. They became more and more creative too; I was especially enthused to see a “Six Exercises” group began meeting every day at noon. It was wonderful to see and be able to communicate with our anthroposophical family all over the country and the world. At the “virtual” national AGM last October, Peter Selg said that he hoped that because of the success of the Zoom meetings, the AGM in Basel would become a world-wide Zoom meeting, and that my dear friends, actually happened today. I can’t help but wonder how much different the Anthroposophical Society would be if this were the case back on April 14, 1935, when the infamous meeting that banned over 2,000 members as well as two of the women on the Vorstand (Executive Council). At that dread meeting, 1700 persons were in attendance. That may sound like a lot to you, but it represented only one-tenth of the total membership. Also it was mostly local people who had been coerced in many ways by the adversarial forces in Switzerland. With greater communication today, those of us in America will hopefully no longer feel like we are in the dark as to what is happening in Dornach. We can feel like we are truly a part of an international brotherhood, not just an American or North Carolina one. One other way Zoom has helped is that it has helped our local members communicate. For the past couple of months, one of our elderly members who is in a nursing home has been receiving weekly Zoom meetings with friends from our community.
Newspeople are forecasting a “back to normal” in the Fall and we hope that is the case. We welcome suggestions from our members as to what you would like to see happen in the coming year. The one positive thing that came from this pandemic is based on the old adage that “Absence makes the heart grow fonder”. I think I can safely say that we are all very anxious to get back to meeting in person sans masks ASAP.
TREASURER’S REPORT: (Robert Mays) Financial statements for 2020 were made available to everyone.
WEBSITE UPDATE: (Robert Mays) Brief status on the move of the website to a new server and plans to move the Listservs to a new server.
SCHOOL OF SPIRITUAL SCIENCE: (Judy Frey)
The School of Spiritual Science offers dedicated members of the Anthroposophical Society a means of having a “living experience” in their souls of what has for the most part already been given in the body of Anthroposophical studies. Rudolf Steiner stressed that, “The subject matter was less important than how the soul relates to the spiritual currents which there flow toward it—this is what matters. The mood of soul must be very different before and after an esoteric lesson. And it is not at all important for the soul to continue to have the living experience of an esoteric lesson immediately before it, but the individuals must feel that they have lived through something and taken something with them.”
If any member of the Anthroposophical Society feels ready to cultivate this living experience spoken of above, you may apply for membership in the School of Spiritual Science, called the First Class, by contacting Ben Bingham, Suzanne Mays or Judy Frey. The Class usually meets one Sunday morning a month from September through May or June.
In the past Class members have reported on their studies, seminars, talks, workshops and other endeavors. This year we like everyone else have stayed pretty much at home. Early in 2020, Eve Olive blessed the world with her beautiful poetic offering on the Heavenly Hierarchies, accompanied in places by Joanna Carey on the lyre. Martha Kelder has worked to keep the ideas of Anthroposophy alive in three different phone studies with friends from different states who have been restricted in their movements. Robert and Suzanne Mays have continued their work on the study of consciousness and with IAMS. Ben Bingham is weaving Anthroposophical thought into his financial advisory company. Sandy LaGrega and Jenny Bingham help families when their loved ones make the transition from this life to the next. Members of the Class work at the Waldorf School, in the Christian Community, on the Anthroposophical Board, in biodynamic farming, in musical and artistic endeavors and in festival offerings.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we were no longer able to meet in the Eurythmy Room at EWS. Classes were held monthly at Judy’s home in its very large living room where Social Distancing was possible. There was a Blue pure air filter on at all times. This state of the art filtering system kills viruses and bacteria, so members felt very safe..
FESTIVALS (Joanna Carey):
Festival celebrations since our last AGM included: a St. John’s Day Festival at Eve Olive’s home. We had singing and lyre music from Joanna Carey, a talk about the Archangel Uriel by Kathleen Wright and conversation.
Michaelmas included 3 events over a three-day period. First was at the home of Marlene Joyce with the theme of Goethe’s fairy tale of “The Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily: an Alchemical Path for the Soul”. It was presented by Jenny Bingham and Marlene. It was a wonderful study in human awareness and choice. Next was an offering by Edward Schuldt entitled: “Approaching Michael: The Rejecting Gesture and Confirming Gaze of the Archangel”. Conversation followed. The final day Joanna Carey presented poetry and a viewing of David Newbatt’s “12 Aspects of Michael” paintings with the text by Christof -Andreas Lindenberg. The theme was “Facing the Darkness Within”. We engaged in an exercise of each working with one of the paintings in writing and drawing and sharing our thoughts. Thanks to Kathleen Wright for her assistance and insights during this presentation. Each day was followed by a potluck supper meal for those who chose to stay. Each day included time to converse together. These last two days we met at Camp New Hope in Chapel Hill. Many thanks to all who participated and supported in these events.
Advent Sundays were held at members’ homes. Sadly, there were no Holy Nights this year due to the pandemic.
Currently a small group of us are preparing a Holy Week offering which will span a week of study and thought around the 8-fold Path and the planets in their relationship to the days of the week. We will also be reading Emil Bock’s chapter on Holy Week from his The Three Years book. Music, Eurythmy and verses will accompany our time together.
Reading to the Dead (Joanna Carey)
Our group has continued to meet every Tuesday in person from 7:00-9:00 pm. We have been working with a particular set of lectures given in Dornach in December 1917. The topics are wide-ranging, but all centered around life after death. As a result, they are a wonderful resource for the study of the spiritual world and its activities and Beings.
Our group is consistent and committed to this work. We work with music, a verse, conversation and reading. We are in our 11th year of working together. Anyone is welcome to attend. It’s appreciated if people RSVP if and when they plan to attend.
Rose Cross: (Judy Frey)
Rose Cross Study Group has about 8 dedicated members on this side of the Threshold and 3 others and perhaps more who attend from their home in the Spiritual World. We have been on an indefinite hiatus since the unexpected and unwelcome guest invaded the world spreading fear, illness, separation, discord and often death. Suzanne Mays regularly read our material alone every week at the hour of our usual meeting to keep the spark of our group alive. We look forward to being reunited and choosing a new book to study, as Rudolf Steiner has said many times the study of Anthroposophy is the foundation from which an active interest in the Spiritual World can begin to grow in our hearts. We will notify the list serve when we resume weekly meetings. You are invited to attend. Judy Frey
EMERSON WALDORF SCHOOL: Viorica Comaniciu
Emerson Waldorf continues to thrive while providing education to 216 students. The number of students continues to increase since last summer when we had only 160 reenrolled. We are hoping to reach the number we had before the pandemic – 245.
The faculty and staff have adapted to the new conditions and work together in full support and collaboration. Ms. Colleen Everhart was hired as the Director of Pedagogy and Administration. She brought a wealth of experience and knowledge. She began to work for the EWS before the pandemic. She taught “History through Architecture” to the 12th grade, helped Peter Moyers with the 10 and 12-grade plays, and oversaw the re-accreditation process with the Southern Association of Independent Schools (SAIS) and the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America (AWNSA). Prior to this, she was a faculty member of Chicago Waldorf School for 26 years and served on AWSNA’s Leadership Council for the Great Lakes Region for 9 years.
Given the small number of enrolled students, many teachers offered to take a sabbatical year, reduce their work hours or volunteer without getting paid. The grades were divided into cohorts – every two grades were taught by three or four teachers: two class teachers and one or two subject teachers. Two new teachers joined our faculty: Jordan Brown, EWS Athletics Director and William Davis – poet laureate of Hillsborough.
The school continues to be a hive of activities and initiatives. Open Houses, Parent-Teacher Conferences, faculty meetings and community talks were held online. The Parent Organization arranged a drive-through Winter Faire and provided warm lunches every Wednesday for the teachers and staff.
The work of reaccreditation that was postponed due to the pandemic will resume. We will pursue two reaccreditations: the Southern Association of Independent Schools (SAIS) and the Association of Waldorf Schools of NA (AWNSA).
The school made huge financial investments to make both on-campus and parallel learning possible. They bought tents, outdoor blackboards, electronic devices for synchronistic learning and recording, sound amplification devices, etc. They also rented outdoor bathrooms. The teachers are devoting meeting time to the study of Not Light, But Fire: How to Lead Meaningful Race Conversations in the Classroom by Matthew R. Kay. The Faculty, College of Teachers, the Parent Organization and the Board revised the school’s Mission, Vision and Values. AWSNA offered amazing support to Waldorf teachers, administration and school boards. Various topics include: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Reimagining Waldorf Pedagogy, Inner Meditative Life of the Teacher, Marketing and Communications, Community Development, etc. The teachers and staff members are grateful for one another’s work and hopeful that their commitment will help the school continue to thrive.
NEW WALDORF INITIATIVE SCHOOL : The Unity School (Leni Covington, Kathleen Wright)
A new Waldorf initiative has started in Raleigh that has been named The Unity School. It is a private school founded by parents who were dissatisfied with the Waldorf Public School that was founded two years ago called The Raleigh Oak Charter School. The Unity School has a Waldorf-trained male First Grade teacher and a Kindergarten Teacher who had some training in Waldorf education. The Raleigh Oak Charter School has become more and more public school-oriented and there are hardly any Waldorf principles that are adhered to any more. All of the trained Waldorf teachers that were there quit.
BIODYNAMIC GROUP: No report has been received; however we know from Jon Lyerly’s emails that the Biodynamic group meets regularly to prepare and spray the BD preps. Their latest meeting was on March 20 at the home of Marlene Joyce. They had a potluck and then worked on the horn manure prep and sprayed it.
CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY (Kathleen Wright)
Rev. Carol Kelly visited us for the last time on Whitsun Monday for the Act of Consecration. She has moved on to serve the CC Affiliate in Hillsdale, NY. Our new priest is Matthias Giles from the Washington D.C. Church. Matthias has visited us in November, January and March so far this year, and is planning to visit us again in May. On St. John’s Day Matthias will celebrate the Act of Consecration with us and will be accompanied by his wife, the Reverend Emma Heirman. The Christian Community services have been held at Camp New Hope this year in the Fleming Oak Lodge. The last service had about 24 people in attendance. This year’s new seminarians consist of 8 women and no men. This is the first time this has happened. This year is the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Christian Community. One new thing that began this year is weekly Lay Services on Zoom. A seminary student from Canada hosts and several people from our local affiliate have been attending regularly. A number of priests have been offering Zoom talks on line. Patrick Kennedy and another priest (usually Jonah Evans, but others have joined him as well) hold conversations in stead of the usual sermons one would expect. They are very impressive and inspiring. These are offered weekly and sponsored through a website known as “Patreon” which supports the work of the CC Seminary in Toronto. Daniel Hafner has offered some excellent talks from his Church in Germany.
REACHING OUT THROUGH THE ARTS: Eve Olive
On January 30, 2020 I gave a performance of “Cosmic Journey” in the Schreinerei in Dornach, Switzerland for the 200 plus members of the International Youth Group at their annual conference. This was followed by Poetry Writing Sessions on the next two days.
This group of original poems “Cosmic Journey: Poems of Birth, Poems of Earth and a Fairy Tale for our Time” came together gradually over several years and I have been fortunate in being able to share it in a number of countries — England, Scotland, Ireland, Switzerland, and closer to home, in Harlemville, Florida, Oregon and North Carolina.
It was particularly meaningful to be able to present it in the Schreinerei in Dornach where Rudolf Steiner gave so many of his lectures. My audiences have included both Anthroposophists and lay people. My object in writing the piece was to make the lofty ideas we love accessible to a wide variety of people. Fortunately, the Arts stand ready to assist us.
For those who are interested the piece has been videoed and is accessible on You Tube — as a whole or in sections. Type in: ‘eve olive cosmic journey’ to find it. You can also enjoy Joanna Carey’s beautiful lyre music specially composed for the piece.
SANDY LaGREGA’S Initiatives in Greensboro and around the Country:
Activities with Anthroposophical Society of America:
-Sacred Gateway Conference April 2020; year long planning group and presenter
-Planning committee and holding group for Sophia Conference scheduled for April 2022
-participated in Holy Nights offering hosted by Sophia Conference planning group 2020-2021
-”attended” AGM Oct. 2020, “Willing the Good, Love, Action, Healing” Oct. 2020
-participated in “Five Good Words; Whitsun Festival” May 2020
– participated in “The Spiritual Origins of Conspiracy” Feb. 2021
-Participating in ”Die and Become”, in process now
Center for Anthroposophy:
-Participated in the Renewal course July 2020 (biography and social art)
-Will co-teach in this year’s Renewal Course “The Journey Held by Love” July 2021
Star House/All Seasons Chalice (Lila and David Tresemer)
-participated in “Goddess of America” class Sept,. 2020
-participated in “Star Wisdom and the Destiny of America” , fall of 2020
-participated in “12 Senses” class, fall of 2020
Still active with Sophia Center for Life Studies/Crossing Care non-profit
-ongoing consultation and support for natural death care/threshold work
-cared for Jo Leeds recently, caring for her body and having a three day vigil. Miracles happened every step of the way.
And whenever, which is every chance I get, I am in Asheville I join in the “Rosary Group” at the home of Carole Shoaf, Janet and John Hampton’s daughter. (Carole has heaters on porch and we wear masks.)
I am part of a monthly meeting of conversation/meditation/bio and social art with the “Golden Thread Group”. We traveled in Ireland before Covid and visited sacred sites.
I have my own spiritual practice of daily noting Zodiac, Planetary influence, tree of the day, Imbolc question of the day, Foundation Stone meditation of day, Calendar of the Soul for the week, dreams etc….
And probably the most spiritual work I am doing is caring for my 90- year-old mother since last May.
BEN BINGHAM reported that his wife, Jenny recently completed the anthroposophical Psychology Counseling Training program. We hope that she will do a Workshop for us in the coming year.
VOTING FOR NEW CANDIDATES FOR THE BOARD;
Break with refreshments while votes are counted.
VOTING RESULTS Kelly DiPietro was elected to the Board and Kathleen Wright was re-elected to the Board.
CLOSING VERSE: “The Motto of the Social Ethic”
The healthy social life is found
When in the mirror of each human soul
The whole community finds its reflection,
And when in the community
The virtue of each one is living.