Monday, May 21, 2007

North American Temple Presidents/GBC Meetings in Houston

North American Temple presidents and GBC (Governing Board Commission) meetings were held in Houston Thursday thru Saturday. I went to the first day and a half.Shyamsunder Das (Hasmukh Patel) is the President of a community of householders who are building a very large temple. The new temple is literally arising above over and around the present smallish structure. Because it holds the Deities this building cannot be torn down at present. Opening is expected some time next year.The meetings were held in Gauranga Hall, which is a large cultural and meeting hall on the couple of acres land.

Featured the first day was a temple Presidents meeting without the GBC (unless they were also TPs like Anuttama (Washington) and Ravindra Svarup (Philadelphia). Not having met separately as a body for many years it took quite a while to elect a chair (Svavas (Los Angeles) and decide an agenda.In the end the agenda was pretty much going around the room and hearing from each of the 35 Presidents of their successes. The session was an eye opener for me, as there is a lot more going on than I thought. Most inspiring was Nanda Suta of Seattle, another young Gujarati man, who is building a 12,000 square foot temple in Issaquah, an exclusive suburb of Seattle. Nanda Suta is a brilliantly competent person with whom I spent a lot of time. His efforts in jumping through all the municipal hoops to get a building permit were nothing short of Herculean. Our permit for the temple in Spanish Fork, being in Utah County, took five minutes and cost $ 20.00. Nothing is as simple or cheap as that in a big city. I believe Nanda Suta had to put up around $ 800,000 in bonds among other requirements. According to him the temple will be completed in 8 months.Other exciting temple construction projects just beginning are with Badrinarayana (San Diego), Madhupati and Samik Rishi, both in New Jersey.

Now that the domes are finished for our temple here, Vaibhavi and I are thinking of giving the manufacturers the nod to continue making them, and our putting them up for sale to anyone who would like to incorporate them into their own temple design. We believe we can make the same offer for the arches and columns. We simply need to talk to the manufacturers about prices. As Kalakantha (he is thinking of a smaller version of our temple for Gainesville) said on a recent visit. “It’s a lot easier to raise funds for the domes, arches etc., than it is to start from scratch.”

Though I enjoyed hearing from all the TPs of their programs and successes, I would hope next time to have less of laundry lists than each President describe in detail just one or two “best practices” which could then be discussed in depth. This would be far more instructional to the body, but what transpired was certainly inspiring and a good start. We arranged to stay in touch through an e-mail group and agreed to the principle of conference calls to keep the fires burning.Friday morning Amarendra, the attorney, explained the drafting of bylaws in progress designed to protect temple properties. That occasioned a lot of discussion, but I think most devotees saw the wisdom.By the time Ramabhadra (New York) made a fund raising appeal for the youth fund and Kuladri (New Vrndavan, W. Va.) did the same for a temple support office, I had to leave for my flight to SLC. My hat is off to those sincere souls who can sit through three whole days of meetings.

Posted by: Caru das Utah Krishnas