EN32 Sep 2014   Return to cover-page


Developments from the international working conferences

When the TOS organised its first international working conference at the HQ of the TS in America in July 2007, an ecologically conscious member from the South Pacific pointed out that we weren’t doing much for the planet in terms of carbon footprint by flying people from all around the world to Wheaton. 

The organising team was set back on its heels by this home truth and decided then and there that TOS conferences should take place as rarely as possible and be principally working ones. They pledged that conferences would be designed for active members, committed to the TOS, to come together to involve themselves in serious planning, ideas sharing, resource production, etc.

A five year international plan was developed at the 2007 conference and in 2013 another conference was held in the same location to review and update the plan.  (There are surely no more professional and obliging hosts than the staff and volunteers at the National Centre of the TS in America – the TOS is deeply grateful to them.) The updated plan was published in March this year and can be consulted here

At the 2013 conference, delegates drafted their own national plans drawing ideas from the sharing at international level.  It is interesting to see how each is adapted to local circumstances.  One such example is the national plan and July 2014 update of the TOS in America. You can read it here.

The photo to the right shows members of the Board of the TOS in America with two international guests, Carolyn Harrod and Diana Dunningham Chapotin (in black and red). Nancy Secrest, the President of the TOS in America, is second from the left.

Planning and review sessions are useful tools for moving an organisation forward and we rejoice in the progress that has arisen from our working conferences to date.  There is no doubt that the TOS is growing quietly and steadily.  In 1984 there were active sections in fewer than ten countries.  In 2014 we have close to triple the number.

A significant number of participants say that some of their most productive exchanges at our two working conferences took place spontaneously, outside official working hours.  The shining, smiling faces we saw gave witness to the value of simply bringing committed, dynamic people together in a meeting of minds and hearts.


Bonds of friendship have strengthened at our conferences, giving rise directly to more effective, joyful collaboration.

TOS/TS friendships lead to a visit to Rome

It is heart-warming to see what arises from these friendly links.  At the TOS conference held in July 2013, Nancy Secrest, the head of the TOS in America, met Patrizia Calvi, delegate from the TOS in Italy.  Less than a year later, Nancy had the joy of meeting Patrizia again in Rome after a journey by boat across the Atlantic.

Well before she and her husband Morry set off for Italy, Nancy inquired about the possibility of attending a TS branch meeting in the capital. She was overjoyed to learn that not only was a visit possible, but that the Romans would be celebrating White Lotus Day at that meeting, AND that the TS General Secretary, Antonio Girardi, would be speaking and Patrizia herself would be there. What could be better?  It did get better though because Nancy and Morry also enjoyed lunch with Antonio, Patrizia and others before the meeting.

“It was wonderful to meet members of the TS from Rome and bring greetings from Tim Boyd and others,” writes Nancy.  “They were all so welcoming and kind.  I feel a definite bond with Patrizia, Antonio and their fellow members.  I don’t believe that meeting Theosophists in this way is a purely social thing.  When there is a common ground of dedication to the TS and its work, doors open.  I am inspired to see how the TS and the TOS in Italy act as one.  At encounters like the one in Rome and at our conferences, I feel that we are building toward a time when the TOS and TS in all countries will also act as one.”

(From left to right) Morry Secrest, Antonio Girardi, Nancy Secrest and Patrizia Calvi


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