Tu Vien Kim Cang

This profile was last updated in 2005

History

Abbot Thich Hanh Dat came to Atlanta from Florida in 1993 to serve the local Vietnamese community. The temple was built the same year. Rev. Quang came to the temple in 1998 from Houston, Texas. The temple is located in a largely African-American area and has faced some opposition when trying to obtain permits from the county to continue construction on their site.

Demographics

The Buddhist temple Tu Vien Kim Cang is located east of Atlanta. This temple, serves the Vietnamese community, though they are open to having other visitors. The weekly services are held in Vietnamese and English. The temple has no formal membership, but the Reverend Quang believes that there are about seventy to eighty in attendance for their weekly services. There appeared to be more females than males in attendance. Of these, about eighty percent are of younger generations. Reverend Quang is hopeful for the future of the temple, because the attendance of younger generations implies that the community is growing. There are two monks on site at the temple. They reside there for their own practice, and to help others in their personal search. One thing that makes the temple particularly interesting is the fact that there are two different Buddhist traditions represented in the clergy within the temple. The abbot was trained according to the Pure Land tradition and Rev. Quang was trained according to the Zen tradition. Both have adopted some of the teaching and methods of the other’s tradition in order to better serve the community.

Activities and Schedule

“Renewal” ceremonies are held on the 15th and 30th of each lunar month signifying the full and new moons as well as a time of renewal for the practitioners. Public services are held on Sundays, and there are two-day retreats on the third weekend of every month. The temple provides funeral services for the community. The temple also has a young people’s group which meets every Sunday, and offers Vietnamese language classes for children.

Description

The Temple is a medium-sized, two story, unpainted cinderblock building situated on two wooded acres. The roof and woodwork on the building reflect an Asian-influence in the design (upon approaching the building, one sees obvious signs of construction including a massive pit in the ground, large sections of concrete, sewer pipe, as well as pieces of a disassembled Buddha statue). Dotting the woods nearest the parking lot are a handful of small icons. The front of the building includes two raised lotus pools, a censer, and a large, wooden double door, flanked by two deity statues. To the right of the structure, one sees the two temple buses and the garden, as well as a walkway leading to the side entrance to the temple. The interior of the temple consists of a large, main hall containing a large image of the Buddha flanked by images of Avalokiteshvara and Kirstagarbha. Below the image is a raised speaking platform as well as a large “singing bowl” and a fish drum. To the left of the main alter is a small shrine to the dead. The other parts of the temple include a small kitchen, a multiuse dinning and meeting area, as well as a bathroom. Upstairs are presumably the monastics’ personal areas as well as the abbot’s office. The temple was constructed using volunteer labor and according to a more traditional Vietnamese use of space.