The Theosophical Society in Miami (TSM) was founded on February 9, 1919 (see history via past lodge President Carol Hurd). This Branch of The Theosophical Society in America (TSA) was incorporated in 1938 as an independent Florida not-for-profit corporation separate from but affiliated with TSA through common membership. As noted by past lodge President Seymour (Sy) B. Ginsburg, our affiliation with the Theosophical Society in America (TSA) remains, despite our differences — Episcopal versus Congregational (see history via Sy). Despite a TSA Bylaws revision made in 1996, we retain our congregational status reflecting the independence of TSM going back to its founding 105 years ago (download full pdf copy of TSM history by Sy).
Our physical location changed from Miami to Deerfield Beach in July, 1993. Choosing to sell this physical home of twenty-eight years as the world began to drastically change in 2020 was not an easy decision to make despite compelling and justifiable reasons. This decision was not rashly made but discussed over a period of numerous months during multiple meetings and after many in person, phone and email communications alerting current and past members along with more than 200 friends on our mailing list. As in previous years, synchronistic events coupled with facts led to this monumental decision. As the current Corresponding Secretary of TSM, I have taken it upon myself to document as thoroughly as possible how the decision was made.
It became very clear to me while consistently led to offer “Conscious Living In The Midst Of Chaos” classes in 2019 that both membership and participation continued to dwindle. Members meetings on February 9, 2020 and March 8, 2020 (held for the purposes of nominating potential Board members) were disappointing with merely two members attending in addition to current Board members—two of which stepped down due to illness and moving out of the state. Less than ten people attended classes discussing topics such as our true nature, living consciously, shifting realities, habits and beliefs, spiritual awakening, states of awareness, releasing fear, and dwelling in darkness (all topics that served to assist those attending to deal with vast changes brought forth in 2020).
The privilege to facilitate our last class at the Palm Plaza location in Deerfield Beach was mine. This class took place on the day that Broward County took steps to limit its residents by keeping them at home, and as someone without television and no longer interested in mass media I unknowingly motored past closed parks and beaches to the lodge.
First of all, my key did not seem to properly fit in the door lock, so it took longer to open the door to our space. Five people attended that class on May 20, 2020, and they alerted me to the ‘lock down’, but we decided to continue with the class. However, electronic glitches made it difficult to do so as all three remote controls for audio and visual equipment failed to work. Beyond the locked door leading to our back screened in porch, drunks from the area bar (gaining access through ripped screens) continued conversation with a homeless man who, despite several requests to leave, appeared to be living on our back porch. Numerous fluorescent lights began to flicker and go out one by one until only a few remained on by the time class ended. It was then, upon sensing stronger than the usual unseen energies, that I phoned current Board members to discuss putting classes on hold. The decision was made based on Broward County and global restrictions.
Rain began to pour from the sky and continued. Our dehumidifier consistently overflowed and days later on one of many trips to empty it we found extreme deterioration as white mildew covered all the chairs and some of the furniture leaving them unsalvageable. Wood shavings on the floor indicated termites, and new lights installed in the meeting room failed to work for some unknown reason. The air conditioner duct in the kitchen leaked onto the floor. The very next day our new neighbor (who had two weeks prior sent us a legal notice stating that he’d encroached upon space owned by us above the first floor of our building) asked if we would consider selling our space. Once again, it was almost the end of our Branch as our volunteer Board members were discouraged and several wanted to resign.
However, despite it all, we came together as a Board and conducted emergency meetings over the next five months. Several emails were sent to members during this period asking for participation and offering updates, but only one or two other members chose to attend meetings opened by our new Acting President, Brian Burns. Some of us now physically experiencing vastly dense global energy found it difficult to motor from home to the building as the mind-set of “lock down” continued. The ADT alarm began to malfunction during this time, and other building issues were documented in June, 2020, including:
– Decrease in participation and membership (from 100 in the latter 1990’s to only 21); decrease in public attendance and funding.
– High operating costs: Insurance (wind, storm, and liability), ADT security system, utilities, etc.
– Access: Road Construction on main road and flooding on side road making it difficult to enter the strip mall.
– Energetic Issues: Despite increased sageing, dense energy causing occasional nausea reported in meeting room. Conflict, disharmony, aggressive and belligerent behavior (unexplained by other causes) noted in otherwise harmonious people sitting in the Southwest corner.
– Declining area and unwanted visitors on unsecured back room.
– Cost of Impending Building Maintenance/Repair: Roof and electrical.
– Weather Related Issues: High humidity destroyed chairs and detrimentally affected bookshelves and books in meeting room.
– Covid Related Issues: Global shutdown and local meeting restrictions (masks required, limit on number of attendees, social distancing and curfew). These issues further decreased income.
Now facing major expenses to get the building functional during a time of global lock down, serious discussion on the decision to sell our building “As Is” began. A letter asking for suggestions and noting our intention was sent to members in August. The sale concluded on October 29, 2020 after eight Board meetings, and we sent members an update via postal mail shortly thereafter.
As our past Branch President Sy, I believe our Lodge can be at the forefront of a Theosophical renewal, as a source of metaphysical ideas, meeting the needs of spiritually minded people in our community in a non-dogmatic way. However, this reorganization can only be accomplished via responsible, free-thinking and dedicated members who are willing to expend efforts to make necessary changes, putting in the subsequent time and effort necessary to accomplish this task. The growth of membership in our Lodge remains vitally important for this purpose. Once again, we need to have a full complement of strong officers, directors, and advisory board members who will all help shoulder the load of a job that may in all respects be much bigger than perceived. Are you up to the task?
Sharon Ann Meyer (aka SAM)
Corresponding Secretary, TSM