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A New Home for Columbus KTC

$1,558,660 of $2.3M goal

Raised by 97 people in 7 months
Created October 31, 2018
Completing the Vision: A New Home for Columbus KTC


What began as a tragic loss has now developed into an inspiring vision, as the Columbus Karma Thegsum Chöling begins the next phase of fundraising for its new home in the heart of the capital city.


When an arson fire destroyed our small wooden church in January 2016, our founding teacher, Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche, started the project by encouraging us: “Don’t be sad – rebuild!”


So, our little 50-family congregation dug deep, and manifested an emergency fundraising campaign raising $100,000, and amassed resources that helped us design a 10,000-square-foot temple that would satisfy our center’s needs for the next decade and beyond.

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The “little congregation that could” made friends along the way – local business owners, government representatives and townspeople admired our 40-year commitment to Columbus and our 30-year history of offering free weekly meditation instruction to the public.


Donors supported our work in Ohio’s prisons, including teaching meditation to inmates on Death Row, and helped us expand our Free Meditation Instruction to a second weekly meeting – at an Episcopal church located downtown in the shadow of the Ohio Statehouse.

Meanwhile, friends overseas heard about our plight, and sent donations to help us rebuild our shrine hall better than ever, with traditional shrine furnishings and plenty of cushions and prayer book tables for retreats and regular practices. On top of $600,000 in insurance proceeds, the center collected $700,000 from donors around the corner and around the world.


After raising $1.3 million and making arrangements for a $200,000 loan, the KTC rejoiced at having funded its initial construction estimate. 

But then, in early 2018, the final construction budget – including some items required by city code but unexpected by the construction team - came in at $2.3 million. A quick review cut some costs, but the revised budget was still $2.1 million. This figure is much higher than the $1.5 million KTC had on hand for the project.


After consulting with friends and advisors, the KTC Board and Capital Campaign Committee met and decided to move forward with the project, setting a fundraising goal of $800,000, which covers both the shortfall and an expected increase in construction costs due to a delayed construction start date.


To rally our friends and supporters for this last part of our project, we have organized a “last push” campaign with a goal of $800,000. This will allow us to start construction and complete our vision for a new home in the coming year.


Our teacher, Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche, who turns 95 this year, believes in the project so much that he already has purchased our Buddha statue – a stunning 10-foot-tall masterpiece of bronze depicting the primordial Buddha Vajradhara, a powerful reminder of the awakened potential that exists within all of us.
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Khenpo Rinpoche also has donated the last of his personal practice items to a charity auction that raised $43,000, and says he is ready to come to Columbus in the company of His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa, Orgyen Trinley Dorje, to oversee our dedication, when it occurs.


This is where you come in.


If you believe in the power of meditation; if you believe that a beautiful meditation hall can help transform a bustling city; if you believe that donating to create spiritual environments accumulates positive virtuous merit and decreases ignorance in the world, we ask you to donate to the Columbus KTC Rebuilding Fund and fulfill the vision of the congregation and its founder, Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche.


All donations will be acknowledged. Donors of $1,000 or more will qualify for special gifts and donors of $10,000 or more will qualify for naming opportunities at the new center.


Donate today, and help us re-create our center of love and compassion in the center of the city.

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Your prayers reach far and wide

One of the remarkable things that has happened since the fire destroyed Columbus KTC's building is that large numbers of people have sent good thoughts and prayers our way.

While many folks are providing material support to our rebuilding project, a much larger group is giving us the energy of good wishes and prayer.

If you have a few minutes right now, please take a look at the comments of people who have donated. They tell a story of gratitude for the KTC‘s presence in their lives, and for our commitment to being a center of peace and kindness in the center of the city.

One person recalls a visit long ago to our meditation hall; another says that while years have passed, we still occupy a place in their heart. These comments warm our hearts, and remind us that even small gestures of kindness can be remembered years later and still provide benefits.

The Buddha taught that we all have the same inner nature - a mind that is possessed of limitlessness and clarity and has the capacity to awaken to its own nature and become liberated from suffering. So, in a way, we all partake of the same nature, and in that way we are all related to one another, at least at the deepest level of mind.

Also, the Buddha taught that all things are interdependent, so when you wish us well, it benefits us in a real and profound way.

There are folks among our rebuilding supporters who are saying prayers and mantras for us every day. For folks who have a lot of heart but more modest financial means, it's a great way to participate in our project from a distance. We've come to call this informal collection of well-wishers our "rebuilding prayer team,"

Here are two examples of recent "prayer team" activity:

In January KTC friend Tim Wagner made a pilgrimage to Bodhgaya, the place in India where the Buddha attained enlightenment, where he lit lamps and prayed for the success of our project.

And in February, Julie Henderson, pictured below in the second row from the front, kneeling on the far right, dedicated her Nyungne Retreat at KTD Monastery in Woodstock NY to the completion of our new home.

We have been hearing more and more good news lately, and we think all of these prayers might have had something to do with it. Thanks for everything, and keep those prayers coming. May all beings benefit!
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Picking Out Furniture – Dharma Style!

It might seem strange for a Dharma Center that is still trying to raise enough money to raise its new walls, but the KTC is already picking out its furniture.

The arson fire that destroyed our meditation center in January 2016 also destroyed all of our thangka (scroll) paintings, all of our meditation cushions and all of our shrine and puja furniture.

Through a successful GoFundMe campaign in 2016, we raised $100,000 to pay for the unexpected $75,000 demolition costs associated with tearing down and removing what was left of our old center, and to buy new meditation cushions, prayer books, portable folding prayer text tables and other needed materials.

But when The Idea Foundry, a maker’s space in our Franklinton neighborhood, offered to help us out after the fire, the first thing we thought of was, “Hey, could they build us some furniture???”

Don’t get us wrong; we LOVE the portable prayer text tables we got from Costco; they’re made of high-impact plastic and steel and while they were originally intended to be portable picnic table benches, we found them perfect for holding our puja (prayer) texts. AND they fold up and have built-in carrying handles – perfect for those times when we, well, have to “go nomad” and take our programs outside our temporary home at Congregation Tifereth Israel.

But to be honest, we wanted wood. Lots of beautiful, polished, wonderful wood. Having new wooden puja tables was a psychological step toward re-establishing our sangha. It gave us a sense that, yes, there *would* be a new center someday, because, well, we were buying furniture for it.

So we asked The Idea Foundry to make us some puja tables. Using dimensions from the fire and smoke-damaged tables from the old KTC, we drew pictures, approved schematics, and so forth, and the woodworking elves at TIF delivered us six brand-new beautiful wood tables. Our new center, in our minds at least, was on its way.

After moving into Tifereth Israel, we got the furniture-building bug again. We needed temporary shrine shelves to display the statues rescued from the burned building.

Our teacher, Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche, had encouraged us to keep the fire and smoke-damaged statues as a reminder of what we lost and a continuity toward our future. And when KTC friend Don Fortner offered to make us shrine shelves – and later to work with Bill Miracle to create canvas-covered standing screen panels to evoke the lovely yellow walls of our former center – we felt we were getting closer to our future home.

New Furnishings from the Woodworker Lama, Tsultrim Yeshe

That was almost three years ago, and we think we’re ready to buy our next pieces of furniture now.

Specifically, we’re looking at a set of handmade walnut “teaching tables” made by our friend and benefactor, Lama Tsultrim Yeshe of Hay River KTC in Wisconsin. Lama Yeshe is a retired prison chaplain, but before entering three-year-retreat Lama Yeshe also was a bit of a farmer and woodworker, and owned his own woodworking and upholstery business.

These tables are super-special – they are not just handmade; they are handmade from lumber cut from venerable walnut trees harvested from Lama Yeshe’s own farmland and milled in his own sawmill. It’s the furniture equivalent – quite literally – of the “farm-to-table” movement.

Lama Tsultrim had offered us two teaching tables as a fundraiser for the center, saying we could sell them and raise money for rebuilding. But … well, we fell in love with the tables, and our shrine-keeping staff just doesn’t want to part with them. It’s a dilemma, if you know what we mean.

So, could you folks help us buy our first pieces of fine wood furniture?

Lama Yeshe said we should ask $700 apiece for the tables. So we are hoping that over the next few weeks – from now through the January 31, 2019 anniversary of our fire - our dharma friends on GoFundMe could donate $1,400 to help us fund these tables.

This would honor Lama Tsultrim Yeshe’s donation by using the tables to raise money for our campaign, and allow our dharma friends to help us purchase the tables for our very own center, so the tables will get to remain with us.

That way, we would be “feeding two birds with one scone,” so to speak.

And if we raise more than $1,400 during that period, the excess funds will go toward our next big furniture purchase – a fine wood shrine table for the new shrine room.

But Wait! There’s More. How About a Drawing for a Blessed Mala?

To celebrate this “new furniture fundraising” period, everyone who donates any amount from today through 12 midnight EST on Jan. 31, 2019 will be entered in a drawing for a dark rosewood mala (made of 8 mm beads) blessed by our founder, Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche himself. All you have to do is donate through this GoFundMe page. You will be automatically entered in the drawing.

If your name is drawn on Jan. 31, we will notify you by email and obtain your postal address, so we can mail you your gift.

Thanks for joining us in our day-dream imagining - that buying new shrine room furniture will help us realize a new center sooner. May your gift bring you joy – and may all beings benefit!
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First look: New KTC Exterior

Now that our "little Buddhist center that could" has begun its last push to raise the money needed to rebuild in the aftermath of a 2016 arson fire, we're going to beging sharing "first looks" at our new 3-Dimensional architectural computer models.

Our incredible Columbus-based architectural team of Peter Macrae and Peter Lenz (who we call "Pete" and "Peter" to tell them apart) has taken the design originated by Wisconsin architect Keith Spruce and shaped it to meet Columbus city codes and add in features requested by the sangha.

To follow Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche's request that we make our new home larger than the last, the design essentially doubles our floor space – from almost 5,000 square feet to 10,000 square feet. The split-level design includes a shrine room that will seat 100 on cushions and a community room that will accommodate a similar number of folks at tables and chars. An office and classroom wing to the west will give us a separate library, classroom, store space and children's play area.

Our exterior, seen here in a birds' eye view from the corner of Rich and Grubb streets looking west from Rich, will include a wheelchair access ramp (and circumambulation path, including a small stupa) and evergreen trees, and a pleasing stone and brick façade. Floor to ceiling windows on the south and north sides of the shrine room will let in light.

A cupola at the top of the building will a feature special Tibetan architectural element called a "sertö" or "golden vase" spire, symbolizing richness and goodness. Along the roof line, repeating white circles on a dark background represent another Tibetan architectural element known as "the moon," which symbolizes the Buddha nature inherent in every being.

Tibetan Buddhist teachings say that seeing sacred art and symbols is uplifting for those who see them, even if they are not aware of the symbols' inner meaning. We can't wait to share more 3-D drawings with you and will gradually share them over the time of our campaign. We expect that as our designs mature (these are just early drawings, produced for our recent meeting with Mayor Ginther and do not have all the final details), but we are sure you will be as excited as we are by the vision of a new home for Tibetan Buddhist dharma in Columbus!

While you're admiring the view of our new temple, take a moment to send us a comment or an encouragement, and feel free to donate toward the accomplishment of this goal. Even small donations participate in the merit of the entire structure, and accumulate the virtue of providing a shelter for the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha in the city. May all be auspicious! And may all beings benefit!
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A Seedling for a New KTC Shrine

Ever since Columbus KTC lost its shrine building to fire in January 2016, we've had a number of "stand-in shrines" to anchor our devotion and meditation practice.

Although fire destroyed all our scroll paintings (thangkas), some of the statuary survived – a bit "weathered" by fire and smoke and water, but still containing their relics and blessing substances and able to give us a focal point for practice.

They needed an "airing out," which they received under the tender care of longtime KTC Senior Meditation Instructor Cathy Lhamo Jackson, who cleaned them according to advice she received from conservators who specialized in statue "rescue" work.

While our statues were in the "shop," as it were, life went on and we did the best we could with whatever we could find.

In fact, just a few days after the fire, Lama Tom Broadwater led our first Tuesday night Chenrezig sadhana chant in a borrowed community room at an Upper Arlington Presbyterian Church. A small shrine was cobbled together on a table, and we recited prayers for our arsonist and for all beings.

Not long after, we moved to the McConnell Art Center in Worthington and then to our temporary home at Congregation Tifereth Israel on the Near East Side. Each time our borrowed statues would go into a plastic tub and be carted where we needed inspiration.

Then at last our smoke-damaged main Buddha statue and his attendant bodhisattva statues were (mostly) odor-free, and a Dharma friend made us a three-level wooden shrine that we could put on the edge of the stage in the Lower Social Hall at Tifereth Israel. In the best spirit of Buddhist impermanence, we had a "temporarily permanent" shrine!

Meanwhile, plans for a new building began to take shape. Our founder and teacher, Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche, promised to help us by providing new statuary and paintings for our future shrine room. Our architect provided us with a view of the new shrine room, but the task of raising the needed funds still weighed heavily on our minds. Without funds, how could we ever hope to build a new building – or a new shrine?

Then, in 2017, His Holiness Karmapa visited the United States and asked all of the KTC lamas to an audience with him. During the audience he spoke to us about our role in helping preserve and encourage the practice of the dharma. He gave each of us gifts – small bowls to use when receiving meals at large events.

But then he motioned to me and gave me a small blue box. Inside was a burnished gold Buddha statue about 5 inches tall. His Holiness said he could not provide us with everything he needed, but he wanted us to have the statue as a promise for the future – a prayer that our fundraising would be successful and a new temple would be built.

For a few months, I kept the statue at my home, wanting to present it to the KTC Columbus sangha at a special event. But over time, the statue, even in its box, seemed to be urging me to move it into its rightful place at the KTC.

On an auspicious date, I presented it to the KTC, where it took its place on the top shelf of our "temporary" shrine, next to our fire-damaged Buddha image. I explained that we should consider the small gold statue a "seed" for the future shrine we would someday build.

Now we are in the last stretch of our initial rebuilding campaign. Your gift today – or a pledge of any amount – will help this "seed" sprout into a wondrous shrine that will anchor our shrine room for years to come.

Khenpo Rinpoche has ordered our new Buddha image from a statue maker in Nepal, and has asked us to include in our main shrine our fire-damaged images, so we would honor the work done to establish the dharma in Columbus and make aspirations for the future.

So when the new shrine is unveiled at some wonderful day in the future, all three of these Buddhas – the large new statue, our fire-damaged statue and this "seedling" golden Buddha – will shine and inspire in our meditation hall! - Lama Kathy Wesley
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$1,558,660 of $2.3M goal

Raised by 97 people in 7 months
Created October 31, 2018
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