"The prime purpose of SRF temples and centres is to bring devotees together to seek God. Self-Realization Fellowship was not brought into existence to give only glimpses of God through words, but to enable earnest aspirants to know Him through direct experience.
You should regularly attend all the SRF services and meetings. Always associate with those who are loyal to God and the great Gurus and you will find your life becoming the highest type of life.
In sacred joy, in divine communion, we forget all limitations and differences. I pray that such communion may reign over all the earth, that on the altar of unity mankind will express the vast kingdom of Spirit. By the pickaxe of holy fellowship and divine communion the rocks and useless crusts over our souls are broken; the Immortal Spring gushes forth and brings to us new purity, new joy, new love, new wisdom. The company of true devotees can thus help us attain the consciousness of God". — Paramahansa Yogananda, "Gather Together to Seek God"
The Sydney Centre Managing Council is responsible for the day-to-day operation of the Centre. The council plans all activities. Feel free to speak with any Managing Council member concerning any questions, comments, or recommendations about the Sydney Centre.
The Sydney Centre service readers conduct the weekly services for meditation and other services. All service readers are SRF Kriyabans (one who has received spiritual initiation) and spend many hours in preparation for their services.
(excerpt from Center Department Online Manual, Chapter V, page 3)
“Let God work through you; that is the best part of devotion. If He is walking through your feet, working through your hands, and feet, and will, then you will know Him.” - Paramahansa Yogananda
For those who are able to do so, serving in an SRF meditation group or center can be a gratifying way of connecting more of one’s life and activity with the search for God. Devotees who haven’t yet taken advantage of this opportunity may be surprised at how their consciousness is lifted in the company of other devotees working together to serve God. In such an environment one learns more easily how to work for God rather than self. Such practice helps the devotee to spiritualize his or her other activities, to perform business, household, and personal duties more and more with the thought of God.
One can serve in a group in two ways – in an elected capacity, or through volunteering one’s services….
(based on the Center Department Online Manual, Chapter VI, under “Duties of Managing Council Officers” and “Duties of Service Readers”.)
— to see that the centre function harmoniously and in accordance to Mother Center’s guidelines.
— to act as presiding officer (or to appoint one of the other officers to act in his stead) at all “business” or managing council meetings of the centre.
— liaise with Center Department.
— to appoint a devotee to schedule the service readers for the weekly services. Alternation of service readers from meeting to meeting is highly desirable.
— to take minutes of all managing council meetings.
— to be in charge of correspondence. to maintain the files of minutes and correspondence.
— to fill out the general report form after the annual elections, and send all necessary paperwork to Center Department.
— is responsible for the complete accounting of group funds.
— is responsible for all deposits to the group savings account and be one of the two signatories for withdrawal of funds.
— to keep an accurate account of all (large and small) amounts of debits and credits.
— to regularly keep the managing council informed of the financial status of the centre.
— to give an annual financial report to Center Department. to count collections (with the help of another devotee) received at the group services.
Council Members At Large
— to help the officers with the organizational duties involved in maintaining the centre.
— to serve in many different capacities, as needed to vote in all managing council decisions.
It is the duty of service readers to conduct the various worship services, i.e., the Inspirational Service, the Meditation Service, the Readings Service, Prayer Service, and the special commemorative services. All devotees serving in this capacity should be thoroughly acquainted with the Self-Realization Fellowship Manual of Services and follow it to the best of their ability.
The Manual of Services was originated to instruct our students and members how to conduct their services according to our guidelines. The service formats given in the Manual are based generally on the way Paramahansa Yogananda conducted services. Of course, this does not mean that commonsense adjustments to the service formats cannot be made, if they are necessary or desirable.
The time allocated to the various segments of the services is flexible. However, all changes made in the formats must be agreed upon by the managing council and submitted to the Center Department for approval. No changes should be initiated without prior permission. This is the only way we can offer needed guidance, which is based on many years of experience.
Service readers should give special attention to those sections of the Manual dealing with preparation and leading of services. Of all the various services, the Readings Service requires the most advance preparation and practice. In addition to individually studying and applying the principles given in the Manual, it is also a good idea for the service readers to meet as a group for the purpose of reviewing on a positive level the proper way to present the readings. One’s reading skills must be consciously developed, and in doing so it is helpful to listen to the general comments of others, and accept them in the right spirit. Such meetings should be presided over by the coordinator or someone appointed by him.
(based on Election Guidelines in the Center Department Online Manual – Guidelines and other Materials)
Our guru, Paramahansa Yogananda, said: "Life must be chiefly service." The life of a Self-Realization Fellowship member should be a balanced one of meditation plus constructive, God-reminding activity. Those who participate in the activities of an SRF meditation group or center are given a unique opportunity to serve God and Gurus. It was Paramahansaji's wish that devotees share in the responsibility of maintaining SRF groups and centers. This may be done by serving as an officer, managing council member, service reader, or Sunday school teacher or assistant. It was also Gurudeva's wish that the devotees take turns serving in these various capacities. In order to insure that the duties are regularly rotated and all qualified and
willing devotees in a group or center have an opportunity to serve, an annual election should be held.
Who can vote and/or serve at Sydney Centre?
To be eligible for election to an official position in our Centre, or to vote in the election, one should be an SRF Lessons student and have attended our services for at least six months prior to the elections, or have been a regular supporter of our Centre or another SRF Centre or Group in the past.
Further requirements for those wishing to serve as officers, council members, or service readers are as follows:
1. Anyone wishing to serve in an official capacity must have chosen Self-Realization
Fellowship as his or her spiritual path, be wholeheartedly striving to apply the teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda in his or her life, and should reflect loyalty and devotion to the Gurus and to their society, Self-Realization Fellowship.
2. In order to be an officer, council member, or Sunday school teacher or assistant, one must be a Kriyaban member of Self-Realization Fellowship.
3. Service readers should be Kriyabans also.
4. All SRF Lessons students are welcome to vote in the election, whether they have received Kriya or not.
5. It is asked that all officers, council members, service readers, and Sunday school personnel in SRF meditation groups and centers either be receiving the SRF Lessons or have already received the entire series. In addition, it is desirable that those who serve in these positions be regular subscribers to Self-Realization magazine, and have all the Self-Realization Fellowship publications, particularly the writings of Paramahansa Yogananda.
6. As meditation is the cornerstone of the Self-Realization teachings, it is also important that individuals serving in official capacities in meditation groups and centers be striving to the best of their ability to perfect themselves in the practice of the SRF techniques of meditation. Those serving in groups as officers, managing council members, service readers, and Sunday school teachers and assistants should be firmly established in a daily spiritual routine of regular morning and evening meditation, including practice of all the basic SRF techniques --
the Energization Exercises, Hong-Sau and Aum techniques, and Kriya Yoga (if they have received this technique).
7. Further, we ask that all devotees who serve in any elected capacity (who have studied through Lesson 52) let the Mother Center know how they are doing in their practice of the meditation techniques by submitting the personal report enclosed with Lesson 52/1, if they have not already done so.
8. Devotees wishing to serve should also possess or be striving to manifest good qualities and should be:
b) Considerate of others,
c) Well mannered,
e) Faithful to spiritual and traditional moral ideals.
9. Devotees who wish to serve should dress in a respectful, dignified way, avoiding extremes in attire.
10. Members of the same family (e.g. husband and wife, brother and sister, etc.) may not serve concurrently as Managing Council members. If one member of a family serves on the Council the other family member is eligible for serving in any position except a member of the Council.
11. It is hoped that those devotees wishing to serve will, as an expression of their loyalty and dedication to the work of Self-Realization Fellowship, help to support this divine work through monetary donations as they are able to do so.
There will not be any electioneering, campaigning, or discussion about the qualifications of different persons. Gurudeva always wished to avoid the usual "political atmosphere" that surrounds other types of elections. All elected personnels cannot begin serving until approved by the Center Department to do so. To insure Gurudeva's wish that all qualified and willing devotees be given an opportunity to serve, no devotee should serve more than three consecutive years in the same capacity, unless there are extenuating circumstances.
In keeping with Paramahansa Yogananda's wishes, it is expected that all who serve in SRF centers and groups uphold the traditional values of society and live according to high moral standards. Gurudeva respected the holy vows of marriage, and we look for that same respect and understanding in devotees who serve. As for single devotees, Master advised them to lead an exemplary life by striving to live up to the highest moral and spiritual ideals. Though they may serve in unofficial ways, unmarried members of the opposite sex who are living together may not serve in any official or elected capacity within an SRF meditation group or center. Of course, everyone who is harmonious and sincere may attend the services.
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