In 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic caused havoc in people’s lives. Infection rates and deaths resulting from the virus reached alarming figures. The world economy was affected, and recession was unavoidable. To contain the virus, countries had to close their borders and apply social restrictions.
The devastating conditions caused concern for the WSA officers, especially in relation to the safety and wellbeing of Subud members around the world. For those reasons, the WSA issued advisories to Subud members, recommending adherence to their respective governments’ health protocols and vigilance in facing the crisis.
Almost all WSA activities in 2020 had to adapt to the ‘new normal’, and the safety of WSA officers was our priority. However, the officers were able to maintain connectivity through online gatherings, supported by the International Helpers.
As conveyed by the WSA Chair, Nahum Harlap, in the WSA FYI Newsletter (March 2020 edition), “the extraordinary events around us touch us all and create opportunities to learn about ourselves and surrender that which needs surrendering.” He also advised us to look after one another, especially isolated Subud members.
Visiting the Australian National Congress
The WSA started the year by attending the Subud Australia National Congress from 11 to 18 January 2020 in Currimundi on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland. There were 15 WSA officers present: six International Helpers, three WSA team members, one Zone Representative, three WSA Archives team members, and two Wing / Affiliate Chairs.
Some of the officers were given opportunities to present their responsibilities and function to the congress delegates. The WSA Executive Chair, Suyono Sumohadiwidjojo, shared an overview of the participatory system of the Subud democracy, the WSA organizational structure, and the relationship between international Subud organizations. Suyono also shared the draft WSA financial accounts of 2019 and thanked Subud Australia for their consistent annual contribution. In the end, Suyono presented a short film about the next World Congress in Kalimantan.
At the Subud Australia National Congress, we witnessed the contribution of the latihan kejiwaan Subud to the harmony of the congress meetings and events.
WSA Archives in Canberra
After attending the Australian National Congress, the WSA Executive Chair, WSA Deputy Chair, WSA Archives Subcommittee Chair, and two International Helpers, flew to Canberra to visit the WSA Archives facility. The trip was part of an action plan recommended by the World Subud Council (WSC) during the 2019 WSC Meeting. The council requested that the WSA Executive Chair and the WSA Archive Subcommittee Chair visit the site and consider mid-and long-term solutions for the archives issue in Canberra, where the lease for the existing facilities is expiring soon, so an alternative is needed.
The group made several visits to the preservation unit where the WSA archival collections were safely managed and protected. We were astonished by the amount of good-quality archival materials in Canberra. Thank you to Amalijah Thompson, who has dedicated her time to taking care of these precious materials relating to the development of Subud. We also visited the location for the proposed permanent WSA Archives facility, located next to the Subud Canberra building.
The visit confirmed the importance of a permanent home for the archival collections in Canberra. The WSA Executive Chair brought back to Indonesia the archival backup set of the Linear Tape-Open (LTO) produced by the Memnon project, which contains the unedited digitized recordings of Bapak’s Talks, to be duplicated and stored at the WSA Archive in Cilandak.
At the Australian National Congress, the WSA Archives Subcommittee Chair presented the challenges the WSA Archives faced in Canberra. We greatly appreciated the USD 18,219 grant from Subud Australia for the initial architectural planning of the proposed permanent facility. The strong support of Subud Australia as the host country of the WSA Canberra Archive has been a major stimulus and source of encouragement for the WSA Archives Subcommittee, and we are very conscious of the responsibility and accountability this support confers on us.
The WSA Archives became the most discussed agenda item in WSA meetings. The topics discussed related to the proposed WSA Archive facility project in Canberra, the WSA Archives Subcommittee, the existing collection and current status of the WSA Canberra Archives, the resignation of the WSA Canberra archivist, and plan for a digital repository. The WSA Directors have shown great interest on the topic of preserving the archival collection as evidence of the development of Subud in the world. See pages 33-34 of this Annual Report for a more detailed report on WSA Archives by the Subcommittee Chair, Matthew Moir.
WSA Endowment Fund
In accordance with the Congress resolution of the 15th Subud World Congress in Freiburg in 2018, a major milestone was achieved. In 2020, the WSA legally established the WSA Endowment Fund, and lodged it with the Muhammad Subuh Foundation (MSF).
The WSA Endowment Fund will help to finance the work of the WSA into the future through its investment earnings.
After lengthy consideration of all options, the WSA Directors decided to entrust the Fund to MSF as it has the capacity to manage this Fund within its regular work, without the necessity of creating an additional WSA organizational structure to manage the Endowment Fund.
Other benefits of MSF holding the Fund include:
- Ensuring continuity of sound investment practices and ongoing consistent management from one WSA administration to another
- Providing an extra measure of security for the principal amount so that it is not accidentally expended
- Guaranteeing all legal requirements in managing and reporting the Fund will be carried out in a professional manner year after year
- Allowing donations to the Fund to be received by both the WSA and MSF – donations received by the WSA will then be transferred to MSF to add to the Fund
- Providing extra consultative support for members who would like to make a provision in their Will to benefit the WSA
- Donations to the WSA Endowment Fund will strengthen both MSF and the WSA
- Offering tax benefits to USA donors
More than USD 50,000 has been collected to transfer to MSF to launch the WSA Endowment Fund. The more the Fund grows, the better the investment returns will be to assist WSA with funding its activities.
A copy of the WSA Endowment Fund Agreement between WSA and MSF is available upon request.
World Congress Organizing Team activities
In the first quarter of 2020, the World Congress Organizing Team (WCOT) managed to conduct meetings with stakeholders in and around Rungan Sari, Palangka Raya, to assess the World Congress resources. A competition for the World Congress logo was launched in March 2020, just before the Covid-19 pandemic spread worldwide. The WCOT marketing team had already discussed plans for a website to share the World Congress preparation information with members. WCOT’s research had begun to assess options of venues and facilities.
In March, a letter was issued by the International Helper dewan, the WSA Chair, and the WSA Executive Chair, alerting members of travel and meeting restrictions due to the pandemic. In August, with no sign of the pandemic slowing down, Ibu Siti Rahayu conveyed that we should not feel pressured to have the World Congress in 2022 and directed us to move the congress dates by one year. Consequently, WCOT issued new dates for the World Congress, 4 – 15 January 2024, which were announced by the WSA Executive Chair at the WSC Zoom meeting (29 August 2020).
The condition of the world
Early in March 2020, the WSA Executive Committee was already concerned about the International Helpers traveling to Africa between January and March. In April 2020, Ibu Siti Rahayu requested a visit from the WSA Executive Chair, Suyono Sumohadiwidjojo, who went with Area 1 International Helper, Suryadi Sumohadiwidjojo. Ibu Siti Rahayu conveyed the state of the world caused by the coronavirus.
Ibu Siti Rahayu also responded to a letter from Suyono and Isti da Siva, Area 1 International Helper. In her letter of 8 April, she advised us to postpone the next World Congress by one year. However, we have to continue working while observing the rhythm of and restrictions in the countries that have suffered from the virus and respect the government policies of each country, including Indonesia, where the next World Congress will be held.
In search of an ideal national constitution
Faced with a dilemma involving a member country’s organization, the WSA Chair, Nahum Harlap, asked the Executive Committee to work on a constitution template that member countries can use for their organization. The Executive Committee is still working to create a model that considers existing founding documents of other established Subud national organizations, World Congress recommendations, and resolutions and guidelines from the (draft) White Book.
Gran Salón, Amanecer
In 2019 the WSA Board of Directors supported MSF’s intention to receive bids for the Gran Salón in Amanecer. Throughout 2020 the WSA issued supporting letters endorsing MSF’s bid process and trust in MSF’s choice of bidder. The WSA Executive Committee facilitated the presentation by SDIA and the Guerrand-Hermès Foundation for Peace (GHFP) and discussion of their bid, prior to MSF’s decision to accept a private bidders offer.
Attending Zone meetings
After the first quarter of 2020, it was apparent that the global condition due to the Covid-19 pandemic was not showing any significant improvement. The joint Zone 3 and 4 gathering in Assisi had to be canceled. Zonal gatherings, national congresses, and annual general meetings were conducted online through Zoom or other meeting platforms. Despite the pandemic, more individual members attended international Subud organization meetings, and gatherings organized online, bringing members closer together than before the pandemic.
The WSA Executive Committee attended the Zone 4 Annual Meeting 2020 late in the year, bringing the WSA closer to its member countries, and this was replicated in other Zones.
Working relationship with MSF
Continuing a harmonious relationship is more challenging than forging the first steps towards it. In 2019, MSF and the WSA established a working group for the selection process of MSF Trustees and were successful in the process. Both organizations have continued to work together in 2020 through meetings involving financial and organizational matters. The WSA Endowment Fund agreement between WSA and MSF is a product of such collaboration. At the joint meeting in 2020, both organizations agreed to form a working committee to work on the MSF and WSA Memorandum of Understanding (a mandate of the 2018 World Congress) to cover essential issues between the two organizations. The WSA hopes that the harmonious relationship will continue and grow.
Early in the year, when the pandemic started, WSA initiated periodical kejiwaan gatherings by Zoom for the WSC members. In these Zoom gatherings, members voluntarily shared their thoughts and experiences around work and personal matters, and so did the International Helpers. This activity is aimed at keeping everyone connected and feeling each other’s support during difficult times. We intend to continue organizing such gatherings periodically to provide support to the international Subud organization members.