We, the Trustees of the Sufi Order International North America (“SOINA”) are writing to you following our September 2015 Board retreat at the Abode of the Message (the “Abode”). This retreat has been substantial in terms of decision-making regarding the way forward for our Order. As Pir Zia has stated, an outcome of the retreat is the unanimous support of the Board for his vision of moving the headquarters of our Order and the residence of our Pir from the Abode to a metropolitan location while maintaining the Abode as a Sufi residential retreat center in alignment with its original purpose.
This decision is the culmination of an intensive year-long process of dialogue and in-depth study on the part of the Board. Some of the steps that were taken to prepare us for this decision include:
- Completion of a comprehensive information-gathering process, including a due diligence review, to inform our deliberations regarding possible future reconfigurations of our organization.
- Creation of a transition blog to provide information regarding the Board’s process and create an additional means of providing input to the Board.
- A thorough upgrade of accounting systems and processes which provided the Board with accurate financial data for both the SOINA and the Abode.
- A summer program, including a 40th year reunion at the Abode, with a day-long conversation regarding the past, present and future of the Abode.
- Two online surveys of our membership.
- Several in-person and online town-hall meetings with the Abode community.
- Submission of a proposal to the Board by the Committee for a Sustainable Abode.
- Countless hours of dialogue, both formal and informal, between Board members and members and friends of our Order.
Upon consideration of all factors, the Board’s unanimous consensus is that the current model for the SOINA and the Abode is unsustainable. We also unanimously agree that we want to see both entities prosper, and that relocating the SOINA headquarters and revitalizing the Abode is the best option for securing the long-term sustainability of both entities. Making this change will enable the SOINA to shift its focus beyond the Abode to its mission throughout North America and the world. This decision will simultaneously allow the Abode to flourish, and over a transition period of several years, to become independent as a Sufi residential and retreat center, with its own governing Board, that supports the Message in its own unique way consistent with its original purpose.
It is further envisioned that Abode and the metropolitan center will mutually support and nourish each other. In our new metropolitan center, the Message will be more accessible both to local residents and visitors from afar. At the Abode, seekers will continue to have the opportunity to live the Sufi Message in a rural, residential setting.
The Board recognizes that realizing this vision will require considerable resources and may take several years to complete. In order to ensure the sustainability of both entities, the transition will be carefully and conscientiously managed. Two key factors for consideration are finance and governance:
The intention of the Board is to finance the transition by utilizing our resources in a most conscientious manner. Below are the sources of funding we intend to consider in the following order of preference:
1. Donor contributions to a targeted campaign.
2. A restructuring of SOINA/Abode resources to effectuate an equitable allocation between the organizations to make them both sustainable, which would potentially include:
A) An equitable distribution of potential funding from any proceeds of a conservation easement on the property located in New York and Massachusetts, based on recent investments of the SOINA in the Abode.
B) A partial sale of real estate on the property located in New York and Massachusetts as a source of funding with priority given to spiritually minded and ecologically-attuned organizations or individuals.
Throughout this year, there have been many advocates for more autonomy in terms of the Abode’s leadership. In the near future, the SOINA Board of Trustees will form a new committee which will be charged with creating a plan for a sustainable Abode in New Lebanon, NY. Based upon the achievement of certain milestones as set forth in the plan, managerial and operational responsibility for the New Lebanon campus will be transitioned to this committee. Provided the operational plan is realized, leadership and managerial control will be fully transferred to this committee, which thereafter will serve as the independent governing body of the Abode. Consistent with the process of appointing other trustee positions in our organization, committee members will be nominated by the the SOINA Board and confirmed by the Pir.
Here is a link to the full Board Resolution which authorizes the implementation of the plan described above.
We pledge to continue to be in open dialogue as we implement these changes. Please email any comments or questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We commit ourselves in service as we collectively proceed in an atmosphere of love, harmony and beauty to create the most effective container for the work of our Pir and for spreading the Message far and wide.
With Great Love,
The Sufi Order North America Board of Trustees
Pir Zia Inayat-Khan, President
Taj Inayat, Vice President (not in attendance)
Amina Linda Hall, Chair
Bayazid Jonathan Ware, Vice Chair
Roshan Anne Peay, Secretary
Huzur Nawaz German, Treasurer
Sura Gilbert-Miller, Trustee (not in attendance)
Hadi Reinhertz, Trustee
Fazl Peay, Trustee
Siddiq Bill Singler, Trustee (not in attendance)
Mahbood Seligman, Trustee