Members are extremely important to our Zen community, our Sangha. While no one needs to formally join the Forest City Zen Group in order to share in our zendo practice, FCZG is only able to exist through voluntary contributions of time and money by committed supporters. FCZG offers two kinds of membership to people who wish to be more involved in the Sangha.
General Membership is for those who want to support the Group at the most basic level. The term "support" here is understood to mean any kind of contribution which promotes the continued functioning and well-being of the group. This contribution can be either in the form of activity (time and energy) or money. Anyone, regardless of where they live or how often they are able to come to the zendo, can become a General Member by printing and filling out the membership form and bringing it to the zendo. Frequently, a person who is new to the group, and has not yet decided how involved he or she wishes to be, becomes a General Member.
Participating Membership is more formal in nature because the person requesting membership makes a certain minimum level of commitment. For instance, Participating Members are asked to attend regularly for three months before applying. They fill out a membership form, have a private meeting with the Priest to introduce themselves and discuss their meditation practice. A membership pledge has no fixed amount, and is also discussed with the Priest.
Participating Members are those who want to assume more responsibility for sustaining and nurturing the practice on a regular, week-to-week, basis by doing things such as ringing bells for service, leading the chanting, cleaning, providing flowers for the altar, making tea, bringing refreshments, etc. Participating Members receive discounts on meditation retreats and workshops sponsored by the group.
Participating Members also play a legal role. Participating members are voting members of the community and their input is solicited regarding questions of special importance to the Group. In short, these members help create the future of FCZG by their voting choices.