Looking around the social hall at Tifereth Israel, seeing all the smiling faces gathered at the big tables, I felt as though I were at a family reunion, a family dinner.
More than 80 people were enjoying lunch and talking about old times – how they came to Columbus Karma Thegsum Chöling, what benefits they gained from coming there, why they stayed – or why they came back.
I was reminded of another gathering, many years before, in the living room shrine hall at the home of Jerry and Kay Adams in suburban Linworth, just north of Columbus, where a group of about 15 dharma students crammed into the shrine room to bid farewell to the 16th Gyalwang Karmapa.
Sitting on the throne (covered in cloths sewn by Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche – the same ones we had in our old building on Grubb Street), His Holiness looked out over the tiny crowd, and made a prediction.
“It’s funny,” he said. “In most places I go, [other dharma centers] are much bigger than the KTC centers,” he said. “But here, the KTC is bigger. This is good. In the future, the KTC here will be a really large center.”
That was 1980. Now, many years later, we are celebrating our 40th Anniversary, and, looking over that room full of people who love KTC and its mission, I feel as though His Holiness’ words are coming true.
The 40th Anniversary Celebration commemorated the founding of Columbus KTC in September 1977 by Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche. We invited friends past and present to have lunch and share their stories about the KTC and what it’s meant to them.
During the lunch, we showed a beautiful slide show prepared by KTC Director Kim Miracle, and heard from several early KTC members – Art Chambers and Winie Wirth, among them – and from Eric Weinberg, a more recent member and KTC Board volunteer.
Art shared his feeling of “being home” when he attended a Chenrezig chant back in the late 1970s, and Winie spoke about how KTC was instrumental in the creation of a network of Columbus Buddhist centers. Eric shared how he met KTC through the visit of His Eminence Tai Situ Rinpoche (the guru of His Holiness the 17th Karmapa) at Columbus KTC in 1994, and how he returned years later to receive teachings and connect deeply with the dharma.
All spoke about how the KTC’s warmth and friendliness made them feel welcome, and how our education and practice programs “brought them up” in Buddhism.
We also heard about the amazing work being done since an arson fire destroyed the KTC building on Grubb Street in January 2016 and how the KTC is getting ready to rebuild a new center on the site of the old one at Grubb and Rich streets in Columbus’ Franklinton Neighborhood on the Near West Side.
Director Kim explained the process of surveying the sangha for ideas about the new building, conversations with our first architect, Keith Spruce of Wisconsin, and how we got permission from the City of Columbus’ East Franklinton Review Board to rebuild on our old site.
We also discussed the hiring of our contractors, Centerpoint Construction, and our new architects, Peter Lenz and Pete Macrae, and the timeline for both fundraising and completion of the project.
We will see the first drawings from our new architects later this fall, and start getting more information about the materials and methods that will be used to give us a brand-new center.
Meanwhile, we’re working with a goal of $1.4 million for the building, architecture, and basic furnishings (tables, chairs, etc.). Of that, we have raised $887,000, which includes our insurance settlement. That leaves $513,000 to raise.
We reviewed ongoing fundraising efforts, and announced a “challenge matching grant” from the Hummingbird Fund of the Columbus Foundation.
Hummingbird Fund representative Christina Grote then spoke, talking about her connections with KTC going back into the center’s earliest days, and about how she and her husband Jim Grote believe in the mission of the center and want to inspire others to give to help us rebuild.
Their foundation will match gifts given to KTC up to a total of $100,000. What an amazing start to our campaign!
During the 40th Anniversary lunch, folks had an opportunity to pledge funds toward the matching grant. By the end of the event, those in attendance had given (or pledged!) $31,416 for the campaign. They received gold Karmapa pins and entries in a drawing; Rose Spencer won the top prize, a beautiful cast metal statue of the Buddha.
Even after the event, people lingered behind to share stories and fellowship; the dharma family filled that hall with love, and the love is giving us all the strength we need for this amazing Journey Home.
Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche on His Wish for Columbus KTC
Not everyone was able to attend our 40th Anniversary Celebration. If you’d like to participate in the project, there are lots of ways to help.