In 2009, the STO Organizing Committee began working to stabilize the Order by developing a sustaining institution based on its network of Sanghas. At this time STO's headquarters are located in Atlanta, Georgia, sharing facilities with the Atlanta Soto Zen Center, the largest of the Affiliate Sanghas of the Order, incorporated by Elliston-roshi in 1977. ASZC currently serves as the major training facility of STO.
The Order is organized upon a simple principle that allows Affiliate Practice Leaders (Disciples leading affiliate Sanghas) to serve as its training body (Practice Leader Council). The Council’s focus is on developing best practices for:
• Recruiting and training STO Disciples
• Establishing Affiliate Sanghas
• Providing on-going meditation and study programs to members
• Bringing the Dharma to the public
Senior Disciples and Priests of the Order may take on additional roles and responsibilities in the management and leadership of an Affiliate Sangha and Zen Center or sitting group, as representatives of the Order. These include, but are not limited to, service on the Board of Directors as officers and/or committee heads; leading and supporting outreach programs; membership and fundraising drives; recruitment of future Members of the Order; and acting as Affiliate Practice Leader and/or Affiliate Liaison to the STO.
Formal Affiliate Centers are led by a Priest or Senior Disciple of the Order in good standing. That person is designated Affiliate Practice Leader (APL) for the named affiliate with the approval of the Abbot and STO BOD. The APL oversees the practice program of the Affiliate Center, coordinating local Disciples’ participation on the rotation schedule, and new members and delegating responsibilities as needed. (Details of the APL role and responsibility are outlined elsewhere.)
The Affiliate Liaison (AL) serves as the primary local contact for other Priests and Disciples of the Order, and may or may not be the APL. The AL coordinates visits of Senior Members (e.g. to lead retreat), and communicates any special needs of the local Sangha to the leadership of STO. Conflicts in need of resolution are likewise reported to the leadership by the AL, acting in concert with the APL and Affiliate BOD.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
The Members of the board shall be constituted of Affiliate Sangha Practice Leaders and STO Members at large. There will be fifteen members including a Board chair and Board Vice Chair along with Subcommittee Chairs for (1) Disciple Training; (2) Affiliate Development (new and existing); (3) Finance; and (4) Fundraising and Special Events. Each committee shall consist of two board members who may invite volunteer assistance from STO members at large to address Subcommittee responsibilities. The Chair, Vice Chair, and Subcommittee Chairs will comprise the Executive Committee of the Board.
The Order will develop a Mission and By-Laws in anticipation of establishing a stand alone 501c(3) chartered in the State of Georgia. STO will establish a comprehensive website enabling interaction from a geographically dispersed Membership; develop a three-year business plan; and set annual schedules of events and board meetings. The Order will begin operating as described above as of January 1, 2011.