Buddhists to Make Church New Home

By Jacqueline L. Salmon, Washington Post, December 27, 2007

Tzu Chi Group Buys Building From Lutherans

Rockville, Maryland (USA) -- A Taiwanese Buddhist organization has purchased Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Reston for use as a regional headquarters.

The Tzu Chi Foundation, a religious organization that performs charitable work worldwide, scooped up Good Shepherd's facility for $4.2 million and will move in after the church settles into its new building, under construction farther north in Reston.

One of the largest Buddhist congregations in the United States, the Tzu Chi Foundation has 50 chapters in the United States and more than 5 million followers worldwide.

Its regional chapter has operated for more than a decade out of an office suite in downtown Rockville, according to director Clara Cheng, who said the group has been looking for the past five years for a religious facility to purchase.

"We finally found it in Reston," she said. "There's not many churches on the market. To find the right size, the right location, was not an easy job."

The foundation plans to hold its religious services in the church's 224-seat sanctuary and to use the church's eight classrooms for its Saturday Chinese culture program.

Many of the foundation's followers have ties to mainland China and to Taiwan.

The organization also might establish a weekday community preschool, Cheng said.

Most of its work is charitable, and the group plans to expand that work in Fairfax County, she said.

Among other activities, many of the group's 250 volunteers work in homeless shelters, help out in schools, work with community groups and set up free medical clinics.

Good Shepherd pastor William Flammann said the church's new building, for which members raised $3 million, will be ready around Easter and will allow the church to consolidate.

Currently, he said, many Sunday school classes are held at Forest Edge Elementary School and in a restaurant in nearby Lake Anne Plaza because of space constraints.

The sanctuary in the new building can seat 474 people, about double the size of its current facility, and the number of classrooms will more than triple, to 28 from the eight that are in its current facility.

We Need Your Help to Train the
Buddhist AI Chat Bot
(Neural Omniscient Robotic-Being for Buddhist Understanding)

For Malaysians who wants to donate in MYR, please use the following account:

Account Name: Bodhi Vision
Account No:. 2122 00000 44661
Bank: RHB
Note: Please indicate your name in the payment slip. Thank you.

Dear Friends in the Dharma,

We seek your generous support to help us train NORBU, the word's first Buddhist AI Chat Bot.

Here are some ways you can contribute to this noble cause:

One-time Donation or Loan: A single contribution, regardless of its size, will go a long way in helping us reach our goal and make the Buddhist LLM a beacon of wisdom for all.

How will your donation / loan be used? Download the NORBU White Paper for details.

For Malaysians who wants to donate in MYR, please use the following account:

Account Name: Bodhi Vision
Account No:. 2122 00000 44661
Bank: RHB
Note: Please indicate your purpose of payment (loan or donation) in the payment slip. Thank you.

Once payment is banked in, please send the payment slip via email to: editor@buddhistchannel.tv. Your donation/loan will be published and publicly acknowledged on the Buddhist Channel.

Spread the Word: Share this initiative with your friends, family and fellow Dharma enthusiasts. Join "Friends of Norbu" at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/norbuchatbot. Together, we can build a stronger community and create a positive impact on a global scale.

Volunteer: If you possess expertise in AI, natural language processing, Dharma knowledge in terms of Buddhist sutras in various languages or related fields, and wish to lend your skills, please contact us. Your knowledge and passion could be invaluable to our project's success.

Your support is part of a collective effort to preserve and disseminate the profound teachings of Buddhism. By contributing to the NORBU, you become a "virtual Bodhisattva" to make Buddhist wisdom more accessible to seekers worldwide.

Thank you for helping to make NORBU a wise and compassionate Buddhist Chatbot!

May you be blessed with inner peace and wisdom,

With deepest gratitude,

Kooi F. Lim
On behalf of The Buddhist Channel Team

Note: To date, we have received the following contributions for NORBU:
US$ 75 from Gary Gach (Loan)
US$ 50 from Chong Sim Keong
MYR 300 from Wilson Tee
MYR 500 from Lim Yan Pok
MYR 50 from Oon Yeoh
MYR 200 from Ooi Poh Tin
MYR 300 from Lai Swee Pin
MYR 100 from Ong Hooi Sian
MYR 1,000 from Fam Sin Nin
MYR 500 from Oh teik Bin
MYR 300 from Yeoh Ai Guat
MYR 300 from Yong Lily
MYR 50 from Bandar Utama Buddhist Society
MYR 1,000 from Chiam Swee Ann
MYR 1,000 from Lye Veei Chiew
MYR 1,000 from Por Yong Tong
MYR 80 from Lee Wai Yee
MYR 500 from Pek Chee Hen
MYR 300 from Hor Tuck Loon
MYR 1,000 from Wise Payments Malaysia Sdn Bhd
MYR 200 from Teo Yen Hua
MYR 500 from Ng Wee Keat
MYR 10,000 from Chang Quai Hung, Jackie (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from K. C. Lim & Agnes (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from Juin & Jooky Tan (Loan)
MYR 100 from Poh Boon Fong (on behalf of SXI Buddhist Students Society)
MYR 10,000 from Fam Shan-Shan (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from John Fam (Loan)
MYR 500 from Phang Cheng Kar
MYR 100 from Lee Suat Yee
MYR 500 from Teo Chwee Hoon (on behalf of Lai Siow Kee)
MYR 200 from Mak Yuen Chau

We express our deep gratitude for the support and generosity.

If you have any enquiries, please write to: editor@buddhistchannel.tv