Shared Stewardship

Sweetwater Zen Center is organized around the principle of shared stewardship.  Shared stewardship is defined by two qualities: cooperative decision making and working together, or cooperative work. The governance, and day-to-day administration at Sweetwater Zen Center is organized around a collaborative circle structure. This circle structure is divided into four main areas— Governance (the Board and Teachers Circle), Temple Administration and policies, Practice Circles, and Service.  These main areas provide support for further circle development.  For questions about shared stewardship or navigating the circles structure contact the Circles Steward.


The governance of Sweetwater Zen Center is the shared responsibility of the SWZC Voting Membership, the SWZC Teachers Circle, and the Board of Directors. Together they work with the SWZC Sangha to create and define the overall vision and goals of the Zen center, and oversee the realization and implementation of these goals through shared stewardship circles.

The Board’s role is to steward the financial and legal health of SWZC. Board members have a responsibility to act in the best long-term interests of the Sangha, as responsible stewards of the SWZC’s shared resources.
This circle oversees Zen Practice, training and programming at SWZC. The Abbott or Head Teacher acts as Steward of the Teachers Circle, and oversees the practice life, and the needs of the practice community at SWZC. Inquiries regarding practice or the practice schedule should be directed to the Steward of the Teachers Circle.

Temple Administration:

This area is composed of four circles that collectively help manage the day-to-day tasks of the SWZC. Each circle has its own charge, but comes together to work out coordination of overlapping circle activities, and cooperation amongst the various circles. These are: 

The Membership Circle supports all members in practicing at SWZC. It acts as a guide to becoming a member of SWZC, and to helps members to embrace the various programs and training opportunities offered by SWZC, aiding each member to develop an autonomous practice of their own.

The Fundraising Circle coordinates fundraising activities at SWZC enrolling members in the process of resource development to support SWZC’s vision, programs and mission as common goals of membership.

For questions about membership, membership activities, or fundraising, please contact Ando, Membership and Fundraising Steward.

The Community Gateway Circle (CGC) supports residential practice at SWZC, helps guests navigate SWZC programs, and aids those who seek to utilize SWZC facilities for hosted events. As this circle often deals with confidential materials associated with the resident agreement this Circle is by invitation only.

For questions regarding residential practice or practicing with the community guidelines, please contact Doshin or Kozan, co-stewards of the Community Gateway Circle.

The Building and Grounds Circle (BGC) oversees the maintenance of SWZC buildings, the management of SWZC grounds and gardens, and the collective planning and care of SWZC’s spaces. Maintenance requests, and safety concerns regarding the Buildings and Grounds are directed through the BGC.

For questions about the Building and Grounds Circle, please contact Doshin and Kozan, Co-stewards of the BGC.

The Events helps to coordinate and promote all SWZC events, including sesshin, study councils, workshops, speakers and classes. This Circle maintains the SWZC calendar, and oversees management of the SWZC website. It cooperates with other circles to create SWZC media and advertisements.

For questions about events, please contact Ando, steward of the Events & Media Circle.


The practice area is composed of the various circles that make up the activities of members at SWZC.  In this area members come together to practice and train in various practice circles, to engage in the practice of shared stewardship, and cultivate fellowship through a variety of affinity circles and service circles, such as gardening groups, and study circles:

Ino Circle:

The Ino circle coordinates the practice of ceremony and ritual, including   training in the forms of service at SWZC.

Chiden Circle:

The Chiden circle trains chidens to coordinate and oversee the cleaning and care of altars, images, and instruments of ritual. This includes the weekly maintenance of the Zen Center altars, as well practice in support of the various SWZC ceremonies, and care for the Dokusan room.

Jikido Circle:

The Jikido circle supports the practice of the SWZC timekeepers.  The circle organizes the weekly schedule of timekeepers for the meditation schedule, and trains new members to be Jikido for meditation periods, events and intensive retreats.

Communication Circle:

The Communication circle coordinates training in communication practices, including Zen Council Practice and Non-violent communication.  The Communication circle maintains the weekly council schedule, coordinating facilitation and topics.

Samu Circle:

The Samu circle supports work-practice opportunities at SWZC, coordinating the care and maintenance of the Temple as a community resource, and refuge.

Priest Training Circle

Lay Training Circle