May 3, 2019
A Brief Report from the Spring Meetings at the Goetheanum

Dear Members and Friends,
Spring greetings. As I did last year, I am writing this brief report following the spring meetings at the Goetheanum in Dornach, Switzerland. Most public of those meetings is the Annual General Meeting at which business of the General Anthroposophical Society is conducted. It is both a legal meeting and a time to hear about significant work from around the world. This year was focused on the next 100 years of Waldorf education and of Threefolding given this year’s centenary of their respective initial impulses. There was also the premiere of an extraordinary performance entitled, Heartbeat, by the Goetheanum Eurythmy Ensemble. I hope that you are subscribed to the newly designed Anthroposophy Worldwide. The last issue included interviews and images from the gathering and can give you a better sense of the content of the presentations than I can encapsulate here. If you are not subscribed, here is the link: https://anthroposophie.org/en/pdf-archive

First a few key business aspects of the Annual General Meeting: via secret paper ballot Justus Wittich was renewed as a member of the Executive Council of the Goetheanum by a wide margin. He had the unanimous support of the General Secretaries and Country Representatives as well as that of the Goetheanum Leadership, which is composed of the Executive Council and Section Leaders.

Another key topic presented was a progress report on broadening participation in the AGM voting to those interested but not able to physically attend the meeting. As was widely discussed after last year’s meeting, this is a complicated issue that presents legal and technical challenges. The first stage of the research focused on Swiss law as that is the governing jurisdiction; the second part is the mechanics of participation, whether paper or digitally. There was one question as to whether there could be a process within each country Society, but fortunately that was dismissed for two reasons. In the US for example, we do not have a democratic voting system and therefore no way to tally the individual views of US members. Other, usually smaller, societies do have representational meetings at which a meaningful vote could be taken. There are also members of the Society who join through the Goetheanum because there simply is no country Society. So, the complexity carries on. For me the living issue is that we are a world Society. But who has the financial resources and time to be able to travel to Dornach to be physically present to vote? If membership’s connection to life and research at the Goetheanum is essential to the long-term health of the General Anthroposophical Society, and I believe it is, then finding an increasing number of ways to participate and engage with activities there, including the AGM, is essential for the future.

Prior to the AGM, there are always meetings of General Secretaries and Country Representatives. In the past Country Representatives attended only the spring gathering. As of this year it was decided that Country Representatives would be invited to both meetings held each year, and further that the distinction between General Secretaries and Country Representatives based upon the size of the membership in each country would be dropped. Each country was of course left free to use whichever title was either required by by-laws or simply continue a tradition.

In preparation for this meeting, the following verse by Rudolf Steiner was circulated by Ute Craemer, General Secretary of Brazil. While the source is still being researched, each participant was asked to translate it into their own language. These translations were read at various times through the meetings. Hearing the different voices and languages brought the quality of a woven vessel and unity to the field of the meeting:

We are a bridge
Between what is past
And Future existence;
The present is an instant;
Is momentary bridge.
Spirit become soul
In enfolding matter
Is from the past;
Soul becoming spirit
In germinal vessels
Is on the path to the future.
Grasp what is to come
Through what is past;
Have hope of what is growing
Through what has emerged.
And so apprehend
Existence in growing;
And so apprehend
What is growing in what is.

A second highlight of the meeting was a second conversation with the leaders of the Youth Section. After the 2018 meeting, they reflected back to us their surprise at how conflicted the meeting was. Instead of just leaving the Society, they instead took up a study of the proceedings of the Christmas Foundation Meeting from 1923. This raised important questions for them and they wanted to offer their interest and support to the Society leadership groups in finding a healthier path forward. Needless to say, it was an engaged and informative dialogue. In addition, each night after this year’s AGM, they hosted an open space conversation where any member was welcome to share what was on their heart or mind. I experienced this gesture of support and engagement as the foundation of a positive and transformative future for the Society.

The third topic was whether or not the circle of Country Representatives (including General Secretaries) would be considered a decision-making or a consultative body. This is still an open question to be taken up again as it would require presentation and conversation at the AGM once a clear recommendation is made. My view, as General Secretary for the US, is that it makes most sense to serve as a consultative body. I could not participate in actual decision making based upon the notion that I represent a unified view of our members. Even though I am mindful that I cannot represent in this way, I am not sure it would be perceived in that way.

The meeting of Country Representatives is not without profound spiritual content as well. We continue to deepen and share our work with the Foundation Stone Meditation and how it connects to and flows into a true Michaelmas Festival. It is amazing to me how rich and deep my colleagues’ experiences are with the material, how much there is to learn, and at the same time how different the visions and practices are. Of course, national character is a part of it, but so too are the universal qualities. Both are important to the future of the Michaelmas Festival, and why we are working with this content in preparation for 2023.

John Bloom

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