U.S. Zen Institute
(Chinese Chan Buddhism)
19225 Liberty Mill Road
Germantown, MD 20874
301-353-9780 (Chinese) / 703-365-9023 (English)
In the fall of 1986, three young nuns from different temples in Taiwan bade farewell to their beloved teachers and temple brothers and sisters, and set out for Toronto, Canada. Filled with faith and conviction, they were determined to sow seeds of Buddhism in that affluent, though spiritually lacking, land. The language barrier, cultural differences, unfamiliar surroundings, and frigid weather did not shake their faith or determination. Nevertheless, the Toronto congregation experienced limited growth. In 1988, on a trip to Washington DC, local Buddhist devotees found an old wooden church for sale in Germantown, Maryland, and invited the nuns to relocate there. With encouragement and financial support from the greater DC Chinese Buddhist community, the church was purchased for use as a Buddhist temple, and the US Zen Institute was born.
In October 1992, an electrical fire ravaged the building. Miraculously, the large golden Buddha image stood gleaming in the ashes, untouched by flame. Because no insurer would carry the 85 year old building, the temple was a total loss. The Buddha image was relocated to the adjacent Abbot's dormitory, which has since served as temporary home to the US Zen Institute. Despite the catastrophe, the USZI congregation continued to grow. Small Sunday gatherings and weekly Dharma meetings were held in the Abbott's dormitory, and festival gatherings were held at Stone Mill Elementary School in North Potomac, MD. The need for a new temple was clear and pressing.
Due to the tireless efforts of the USZI Temple Reconstruction Committee, unshakeable faith of Reverend Yong Hui, Abbott of the temple, and Reverend Guo Chun, nun in residence, and endless generosity of Buddhists everywhere, construction of a new temple began in September 1999. Today, a new 10,300 s.f. temple stands on the site where the old temple burned, and opened in May 2001. All are cordially invited to visit USZI, meet Hui Shifu ("HWEI SHIH-fu") and Chun Shifu ("CHUN SHIH-fu"), share a delicious vegetarian lunch, and take part in completing the new temple -- a merit worthy of a Bodhisattva.