By His Grace Svavasa Dasa (ISKCON L.A. Temple President)
In the Los Angeles yatra we had a plan which started about ten years ago where we were going to just develop friends. We are not so much concerned with people giving donations, but our focus is on making friends. In the last ten years that program has really fructified. We’ve made many friends, and many of these devotees have taken initiation.
The congregational members are absolutely necessary for so many projects that we do in the temple, for instance, festivals. Without the congregation, our festival program would decrease considerably. In other words, every major festival that New Dwaraka has, they finance. Not only do they finance it, but they also participate with their time, effort and energy.
We find that the congregation members have their own programs in their own homes, and not only on the weekends. They hold classes on Caitanyacaritamrta and Bhagavad-gita. They bring their friends and the program has expanded to where we have several homes where they have several different types of classes once, twice and sometimes three times a month.
Also, we find that the people from the congregation step forward with their particular skills, such as financial and management skills. We’re able to implement those skills within the structure of the management of the New Dwaraka temple.
Developing congregational preaching is essential in order for a temple to become strongly established within the community. It’s essential because what it does is expand the field of the participants in the temple and increase the temple programs, projects and activities. It’s essential to become an established institution, a religion. It’s also essential because what congregational development does is help you become integrated with the next generation.
The children of these congregational members are a bit more westernized, but they actually love Krsna. We find that their youthful energy, their eagerness to assist us in the temple is insurmountable. Their talents and desires have helped New Dwaraka come to a new level, especially when it comes to festivals. Without their assistance, it’s very difficult to do anything.
We’ve developed committees from our congregational members who are actually expert, some being professors, and from their association and input we’ve been able to institute a lot of helpful management principles within the Los Angeles temple. The congregation devotees often offer their support with government activities. The congregation members become very significant in helping us resolve these issues. Because they are educated and professional people, they raise the bar on the kind of individual we want to attract and bring into our community.
(Excerpt from the book ‘The Nectar of Congregational Preaching’ by ISKCON Congregational Development Ministry)
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