Hello & Welcome!
Welcome to the first newsletter, of what we hope will be many interesting items from us, Sakyadhita UK.
We are a small group of women comprising both ordained and lay members of various Buddhist communities, who came together in July 2020 following a call-out to see the efforts of the UK branch of Sakyadhita International to be revived.
Here's a quick overview of what we are bringing to you today:
- History of Sakyadhita UK
- Upcoming 'launch' event
- How you could be more involved
- Meet the Development Team
History of Sakyadhita UK 1987 - 2021
In the summer of 2020, an effort began to revive the Sakyadhita UK chapter, which had been dormant since 2010. Prompted by a social media thread about Buddhist women teachers and with input from Sakyadhita International, a meeting was organised of women interested in reviving Sakyadhita UK.
The first meeting included Karma Lekshe Tsomo of Sakyadhita International, Jack Wicks of Sakyadhita Australia, as well as a dozen UK women, most of whom now form Sakyadhita UK’s ‘development group’. In subsequent meetings, we’ve developed processes and platforms, from a website and Facebook page to a GDPR policy and GDPR-compliant mailing list. We’ve looked at organisational structure, ultimately deciding to adapt the previous constitution, which positions us as a constituted group (not a registered charity) as well as a chapter of Sakyadhita International. We’ve also explored a membership structure, receiving funding from external sources, and more.
These six months of behind-the-scenes work have prepared us to move forward with purpose and clarity. At the same time, it’s useful to look back at the roots of Sakyadhita UK to understand how and when it came to be, as well as key aspects of its history.
Following on from the First ever International Conference on Buddhist Nuns held in Bodhgaya India in 1987, committees for implementing the goals of Sakyadhita were set up and national representatives were appointed. Wendy Barzetovic was nominated to become the national representative and founder of Sakyadhita for England by Ven Karma Lekshe Tsomo.
Ven Ayya Khema introduced her to Jacquetta Gomes (Bodhicarani Upasika Jayasili), whose advice enabled a London Venue and a mailing list to begin and which was developed with the help of Ven Karma Lekshe Tsomo. Wendy maintained and developed Sakyadhita in England for eight years and was an executive member of Sakyadhita International for one year. Wendy networked and connected different people depending on their needs, sent out the Sakyadhita newsletter, fundraised and held meetings with invited guests such as Ven Ayya Khema and female speakers of different traditions to teach and speak at meetings. Sakyadhita England also acted as a signatory to invite HH The Dalai Lama to visit and teach in England, as part of the Network of Buddhist Organisations.
Wendy stood down as representative before the birth of her second child, when another representative was appointed.
On November 10, 2007, Sakyadhita UK was set up through the work of new committee of members' Bhikshuni Könchog Jinpa Khandro (Beatrice Jutta Gassner), Wendy Barzetovic and Sue Bloy.
They attended various functions, held 'Council' meetings to see what women in the UK wanted from Sakyadhita UK or what they could contribute. They held a fundraiser and regular meetings around the country. They held AGM's appointing new members to the committee including Venerable Tsultrim Tenzin Choesang who conducted a number Tsa Tsa workshops and teachings. They also raised donations for two Buddhist Nunneries.
Venerable Tsuiltrim Tenzin Choesang, an international member of Sakyadhita, joined Sakyadhita UK and became the membership secretary on the committee soon after, at an AGM held at Jamyang Buddhist Centre in London. Venerable became Co-Chairman along with Sister Acharya Modgala who represented Sakyadhita UK at the 11th Sakyadhita International Conference in Vietnam December 28th 2009 - January 3rd 2010 and presented a paper to conference members. Caroline Starkey also joined the committee and represented the group at a Sakyadhita International conference, giving a paper on the current state of Buddhist Nuns in the UK.
Venerable Tsultrim Tenzin Choesang has remained as the main contact for Sakyadhita until the recent interest in reviving Sakyadhita UK. Sue Bloy still remains as Treasurer to Sakyadhita UK . Lama Choesang, Wendy, Sue and Jacquetta Gomes are supporting the reformation of Sakyadhita UK as members of the development group, with a new group of committed Buddhist women, with the support of Karma Lekshe Tsomo.
After many months of meetings and putting essential foundations in place, we are pleased to be offering our first SUK event to coincide with International Women's Day.
You are invited to join us online via Zoom on Sunday 07 March from 2pm until 4pm, where we will hold an opening ceremony and meditation.
We shall also be using this as an opportunity to hear from you and would welcome your input on the kind of social events and activities that you would like to see.
Please register your interest in this free event via this link: SUK Launch Event
Following registration, Zoom joining details will be sent nearer the time.
Do you have skills & time to spare?
As mentioned previously, we are a small team which relies on everyone giving of their time voluntarily. If you have skills you would like to share and are willing to be an active member of our development team, then please do get in touch.
We hold our meetings online approximately once-a-month, usually on a Saturday morning at 9am.
Depending on what skills you bring, it would require 1-2 hours of your time outside of each meeting.
We look forward to hearing how you can help us grow!
We thought it would be lovely for you to get to know us - the Development Group.
This is the first in a series of articles about members of the Sakyadhita UK development group and other women involved in the area of women and Buddhism. We chose Jacquetta Gomes (Bodhicarini Upasika Jayasili) to be first, as she is acknowledged as the first female Buddhist Fire Chaplain in the world and consequently is a First Woman. She describes below some key events in her Buddhist life.
I assisted Sakyadhita UK development group member Wendy Barzetovic to develop Sakyadhita UK in the 1980s. I gave an Introduction to Sakyadhita talk at the Sakyadhita UK meeting at Conway Hall, London, on 9 September 1989. I also gave a talk, and led Metta [Loving Kindness] meditation at the Sakyadhita UK meeting at Fellside Centre Kendal on 18 July 2009. [Read more]
Thank you for your interest in Sakyadhita UK. We look forward very much to meeting you virtually and getting to know you all a little more as our activities develop.
with warm wishes
on behalf of Sakyadhita UK