About Us

Attendees and leaders Feb 11, 2018

For liberation, compassion, peace, and well-being of all beings, we are interconnected in hopes for humanity toward social justice, racial equity, LGBTQIA+ affirmation, climate and environmental justice, anti-exploitation, indigenous reconciliation, and immigrant sanctuary.

Great River Tendai Sangha is part of the Japanese Tendai-shu Buddhist tradition. Our local sangha is a branch of the Tendai Buddhist Institute and New York Betsuin in Canaan, NY. The Tendai Buddhist Institute is designated as the North American headquarters and representative of the Tendai head temple Enryaku-ji, Tendai’s worldwide headquarters on Mt. Hiei in Japan.

In 2006, originally called the Washington Tendai Sangha, we were founded on Rohatsu (December 8th) by Rev. Monshin Paul Naamon, Jushoku (abbot) of Karuna Tendai Dharma Center, Jiunzan Tendaiji “Tendai Temple of Compassionate Cloud Mountain", based in New York. Our new affiliate Sangha was placed under the leadership of Doshu, Rev. Chion Ernie Lissabet. For a little over one year, services were held in space leased from the Cherrydale Fire Department in Arlington County, Virginia.

In 2008, the Washington Tendai Sangha moved to a space at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington. A weekly service of gongyo with shikan meditation would continue there until July 2017.

In 2010, the sangha leadership passed to Rev. Jikan Daniel Anderson.

In 2011, the name changed to the Great River Ekayana Sangha. The “Great River” in our name comes from the Algonquian word "Chesepiooc" referring to a community "at a great river". The change also recognized our serving members throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed region.

In 2013, we began holding services at a second location at Yoga in Daily Life in Alexandria, Virginia.

In 2014, we changed our name to Great River Tendai Sangha and formally drafted a statement of mission and objectives.

In 2015, we incorporated as a non-profit religious organization in the state of Virginia. Junsen Chris Nettles received Doshu ordination. Junsen lead services on Tuesday evenings in Arlington while Jikan lead services on Sunday mornings in Alexandria.

February 2016, Rev. Junshin Chris Nettles, PhD (upon Soryo ordination in 2019, Junsen's Dharma name changed to Junshin) became Great River's spiritual leader when Jikan retired from the role.

June 2017, we once again have two active clergy members with newly ordained Doshu, Rev. Yusei Lan Van. We ended weeknight meetings at the UU Church of Arlington and continue holding religious services each Sunday at Yoga in Daily Life in Alexandria with occasional day-long retreats.

October 2018, leadership of the Great River Tendai Sangha officially passed to Rev. Yusei Van as Rev. Nettles relocates to northern California to rebuild the California Tendai Monastery (CTM). CTM, established by the late Rev. Keisho Leary, was destroyed by the Valley Fire wildfire in September 2015.

2020, we started meeting online in the midst of the Coronavirus COVID 19 pandemic.

June 2022, after two years delay due to the coronavirus pandemic, Yusei received full ordination at Tendai Buddhist Insititute/Tendai New York Betsuin and a new Dharma name Seimon (静聞). As a soryo, Rev. Seimon continues leading the Washington DC area Tendai Sangha with hybrid in-person and online services. A few months later, Yushi Beatrix Haffey decided to begin training toward ordination and serves as the local temple assistant.

October 2023, the building at 2402 Mt Vernon Ave in Alexandria VA Del Ray neighborhood where we we met for a decade was sold by the owner Yoga in Daily Life to a new owner. We are grateful to Yoga in Daily Life for hosting us and other community organizations as tenants through the years. We are looking at options for the next location to setup a Dharma hall for in-person Sangha meetings.

As of February 2024, Sunday mornings meet at Nipponzan Miyohoji Buddhist Temple DC, treasured Dharma friend kindly hosting space for our Tendai Sangha. We are exploring affordable options for a possible additional meeting space in the Alexandria/Arlington/Northern Virginia area.