About Us

July 2014 Sangha Photo

We are an all-volunteer Sangha


Our doors open at 10:00 AM on Sunday. The Sunday Morning Services start at 10:30 AM, and are primarily in English. Children go to Dharma School at about 10:40 AM. After our service, we meet in the basement for light refreshments. Everyone is welcome at our services.

Currently, our services are conducted by one of our three Minister Assistants, under the supervision of Rinban Katsuya Kusunoki of the Seattle Betsuin (Temple). Sensei Melissa Opel (at right) has received her Tokudo Ordination at the Nishi Hongwanji Temple in Kyoto, Japan. On Buddhist holidays, we usually have a service hosted by a visiting minister. Please check the newsletter, calendar or our Facebook page for more details about our upcoming services and activities. Visiting Ministers often provide workshops or lectures during their stay in Spokane. (Photo: MA Eric Kerkove, MA Chad Donoho, Rinban Katsu Kusunoki, Reverend Melissa Opel)


Our main temple hall is called a Hondo*. It is here that we gather for services. It is a typical church like setting with pews and a service book. The shrine – Gohonzon* – is located in the front center.

The ringing of the Kansho* (calling bell) signifies the beginning of our service. We begin with a moment of quiet meditation while it rings.

During the service, we are led in the chanting of the Sutras*. We chant aloud in unison in the traditional style. The chants are based on Chinese translations of the Sutras, but spoken with Japanese pronunciations of the characters. Chants are not spoken for comprehension, rather they are spoken to help quiet the mind. Nevertheless, each chant has an English translation available on the page, and chanting instructions are available in the front of the service book. We recite the Nembutsu after chanting the Sutras.

We also recite The Three Treasures.

We end our service with O-Shoko*, the burning of incense. This is an opportunity to show respect and gratitude for the Dharma* (Buddhist teachings) and the Buddha. It is a symbolic act which represents the transience of existence. We bow in Gassho*, putting the hands together to signify the oneness of Buddha and all beings. It is customary to use an O-juzu* around your hands at this offering.

Intro to Buddhism is an informal gathering held occasionally either before or after service, often after an Open House. It is an opportunity for people to gather, to ask questions, share their insights, and share each other’s company.

We also get together for informal dharma discussions (called Dharma Exchanges), usually after service downstairs. We sit around a large table and discuss the Dharma. We also have other study and social activities throughout the month. Please check the newsletter or calendar on this website, or our Facebook page for details.

*See About Jodo Shinshu for definitions of service terms


Greeter – This is easy.  Meet everyone at the front door with a friendly greeting and hand them a printed notice. Please arrive by 10 am. Ask for a copy of the Greeter Instructions.

Ring the Kansho – This does need a little instruction.  If you are interested in doing this, one of the Minister Assistants will show you how to ring the Kansho bell.

Short Meditation – This can be a short poem, a verse from a song or a passage from any book – whether it is from a novel, a philosophy book or a book on Buddhism.  The choice is yours; something that you find thoughtful and that you think others might find thoughtful as well.  There is no need for explanations about the passage or why you have chosen it.  Simply acknowledge the author and then read it. It should express only one Buddhist principle.

Flowers/Rice/Fruit Offering – Try to arrive to the temple around 10:00 am so that you can put your flowers in the vase and the rice in the Buppan-Ki (rice offering container).  Unless it is a holiday or we have a visiting minister, a piece of fruit is also allowed, instead of rice. Roses are not appropriate because of the thorns.  White flowers are appropriate only for Shotsuki-hoyo or Memorial Sundays.  A multioke fruit offering is needed on special service days and when we have a visiting minister. The fruit is placed in the Kesoku’s (fruit stands) which are placed on each side of the altar.  Please remember to remove the rice and flowers after service.

Snack – This should be a simple affair.  Remember we are not providing lunch, just a little something to go with the coffee and tea.   It is helpful to do this with someone so you have help with the washing of dishes and sweeping up. Please come early to make tea water and coffee.

Dharma School – Please speak with the Minister Assistants if you would like to become involved with the Dharma school as a teacher.

Dharma Talk – Every Sunday, either one of our Minister Assistants or a visiting minister gives the Dharma Talk.

Thanks to all of our volunteers each and every week, we couldn’t do it without you!

Other Information:

Membership: $20.00/month per adult (See the Membership/Pledge Page).

We do not print or mail out our monthly newsletter. It is emailed out to those who request it and it is posted on this website (see the Newsletter page). A one-page list of the month’s activities is usually handed out at each Sunday Sangha service. For current events, see our Facebook page (above right), the Current Events Page, and the Calendar page.