Center Profile

Midwest Buddhist Meditation Center (2003)

Theravada Buddhist (Buddhism)

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Description

Research conducted by the University of Michigan-Dearborn Pluralism Project.
History and Leadership
The Midwest Buddhist Meditation Center was established in 1992 as the Midwest Buddhist Association in the state of Ohio. The status of the Association was raised to that of the Midwest Buddhist Meditation Center in 1996 and relocated to its present site in Warren, Michigan. The center is a member of the Buddhist Council of the Midwest and the Council of Thai Bhikkhus in the U.S.A. (1991). Venerable Dr. Achahn Chuen Pangcham, the founder of the Center and its abbot entered the monastic life in Thailand in 1961. Before coming to the United States in 1986, he studied Buddhism and meditation practice for more than 20 years, including meditation at Wat Paknam Bhastrichareon, Bangkok, Thailand from 1963-76, and as a meditation student of Ajahn Kruang Subhaddho. For 10 years, he served as meditation instructor at the Vipassana (Insight) Meditation Center of Chicago. He is on the Board of Trustees of the Parliament of World Religions, was president of the Buddhist Council of the Midwest for 2 terms, and is co-president of the American Buddhist Congress.

Description

The Midwest Buddhist Meditation Center occupies a structure that had been built as a home in the 1970s in Warren, Michigan, a Macomb County suburb of Detroit. Its location is between a car wash and another private residence, the owner of which has complained about the number of cars that have to be parked around the center, especially on special occasions. The only action taken by the Warren City Hall has been to suggest that the center buy the home when it comes up for sale and use the land for parking. The center is also close to shopping malls and office buildings. Some minor renovations were made to the structure, including converting the garage into a multi-purpose hall used for Sunday school for children and retreats through the year. The front room is the Buddha hall. In addition, there is an office, meeting room, and kitchen. Upstairs are bedrooms for the resident monks and a meditation room.

Demographics and Activities

The Midwest Buddhist Meditation Center has approximately 50 regularly attending members and another 50 who attend less regularly. It was started for people from Thailand coming into the area seeking employment, but had no place for meditation. Therefore, approximately seventy-five percent of those attending the center are Thai immigrants to metropolitan Detroit. Many are professionals, including physicians and engineers. The other twenty-five percent is made up of mostly white Americans, but there are other Asians, including Cambodians and Vietnamese. In terms of changing participation at the center, more Americans and Canadians have been becoming involved over the past few years. Daily practice includes morning chanting and meditation from 6:00-7:00 a.m. and evening chanting and meditation from 6:00-8:00 p.m. Thai is most commonly used language in the center for both services and informal conversation, however on Fridays and Sundays, there is chanting and meditation practice from 7:00-9:00 p.m. for speakers of English Special services and events at the center include the celebration of the Buddha's Enlightenment in May and bimonthly weekend retreats for discussion and meditation.

In the Community

Under the leadership of Venerable Dr. Achahn Chuen Pangcham, the Midwest Buddhist Meditation Center has become involved in a number of local activities. The center has assisted the Birmingham, Michigan Board of Education curriculum committee to plan and coordinate the study of Buddhist teachings and Eastern culture in the Birmingham high schools. Dr. Achahn Chuen Pangcham has lectured on Buddhism and Eastern culture at local colleges and universities . He has given Dharma talks and meditation instruction regularly at the Indiana State prison in Michigan City, Indiana and the Michigan State Prison in Adrian, Michigan. The center has participated in interfaith activities sponsored by the National Conference for Community and Justice and the World Sabbath.

Date Center Founded
1992

Membership
about 100 members, 50 who attend regularly and 50 not as often

Ethnic Composition
75% are Thai and the other 25% is mostly white Americans, but also other Asians, including Cambodians and Vietnamese.

Affiliation with Other Communities/Organizations
Birmingham, Michigan Board of Education, Buddhist Council of the Midwest and the Council of Thai Bhikkhus in the U.S.A.