Tuesday, January 16, 2018
News Roundup

Buddhists building pagoda-style temple in St. Petersburg

ST. PETERSBURG — Three flags flutter above the compound where a new pagoda-style temple is nearing completion and a bronze Buddha overlooks the street.

Next to Meadowlawn Middle School, this is where hundreds of worshipers gather from as far away as Miami, Orlando and Sarasota for important Buddhist holidays, retreats and cultural events.

"Part of it is we have the shrine," said Tanya Vu, a longtime member of the Chua Phat Phap Buddhist Temple at 1770 62nd Ave N.

The shrine, with photos and ashes of deceased loved ones, draws a steady stream of visitors for major festivals like the recent Lunar New Year and upcoming Buddha's birthday.

Chua Phat Phap has the largest predominantly Vietnamese Buddhist congregation in Florida, Vu said.

The Venerable Tri Tinh, 41, the congregation's abbot, wanted to build a new temple to replace the current one, because updating the older facility would have been too costly, Vu said.

"And on top of it, he needs the space for other events," she said.

The current worship space, a converted Presbyterian church lined with pews, will be turned into a social hall. The Buddhist congregation bought and moved to that closed church property in 2004. Tinh said at the time the move would give the thriving community a place to grow.

In the years since, the congregation of about 1,200 has put its stamp on the property, removing a cross and adding small exterior architectural details to the former church, raising the former South Vietnam flag alongside American and Buddhist flags, and decorating a streetside garden with white marble statues and a bronze Buddha centerpiece.

The former church sanctuary represents Western culture, said Tinh, who speaks English, but mostly turned to Vu as his interpreter. The new temple and its East Asian architecture will be more representative of the congregation's culture, he said. Towers on either side of the building will be used for offices and meditation and shrine rooms.

Founded in 1981 by Vietnamese refugees in the Tampa Bay area, Chua Phat Phap settled at 1085 Plaza Commercio, off Gandy Boulevard, for more than two decades. The bronze Buddha that was carefully moved from there to the former Presbyterian church in 2004 is now the centerpiece of what will be the congregation's first brand-new temple. The statue, hoisted into place with a forklift, sits on top of a specially built concrete platform topped with green marble. A lower platform will be added in front for monks and nuns to sit during services, Vu said.

Meanwhile, the specially ordered front doors still need to be installed, the interior painted and the floor finished. Vu said most of the congregation will sit on the floor, though benches will be placed along the wall for elderly members.

The $1 million temple, being built with money borrowed from members of the congregation, will be dedicated on April 13. Monks and nuns from across the country and Vietnam have been invited to the ceremony.

For Vu, it will be a happy occasion.

"I am delighted, because with the new temple, more technology is included. With the new temple, you can have a projector and screen," she said.

"There will be AC and heat. It is better than what we have in the old temple."

Waveney Ann Moore can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 892-2283.

     
 
Comments
Goodbye 70s. Hello freeze watch. Cold spell headed for Tampa Bay.

Goodbye 70s. Hello freeze watch. Cold spell headed for Tampa Bay.

Did everyone enjoy the cool, sunny weather? Because it’s over now.It’s about to get very chilly, Tampa Bay. A rush of arctic air is headed our way, bringing another cold spell. Daytime temperatures will be in the low 60s on Wednesday, but overnight t...
Updated: 12 minutes ago
Top Hillsborough teaching honor goes to a Lewis Elementary educator

Top Hillsborough teaching honor goes to a Lewis Elementary educator

TAMPA — The Hillsborough County Teacher of the Year is a self-described "busy, busy bee" who never tires of exploring new ways to help students learn, even if she has to be creative.At 56, Bonnie Bresnyan also is a mentor for the next generation of s...
Updated: 22 minutes ago

St. Pete officer suspended for month after pushing concert guard

ST. PETERSBURG — A police officer was suspended for a month after he pushed a security guard at a summer concert in Tampa, according to St. Petersburg police.It could have been worse: Chief Tony Holloway determined Officer Curtis Wright could have be...
Updated: 27 minutes ago
Fake social media accounts pose as jackpot winner Shane Missler

Fake social media accounts pose as jackpot winner Shane Missler

Jackpot winner and Florida man Shane Missler wants to leave behind a legacy with his winnings.But he won’t be doing that by doling out cash to Twitter followers.PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Florida man, 20, claims $450M Mega Millions jackpotAn account cunningl...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Italian Butterfingers? Nestle selling candy business for $2.9B

Italian Butterfingers? Nestle selling candy business for $2.9B

Associated PressNEW YORK — Swiss food and drink giant Nestle is selling its U.S. candy business to Italy’s Ferrero for about $2.9 billion in cash. Ferrero will take over iconic chocolate brands Butterfinger and Crunch bars, as well as the sugary Nerd...
Updated: 1 hour ago
In major shift, House bill would turn three USF universities into one

In major shift, House bill would turn three USF universities into one

Separate accreditation has long been a point of pride and a stamp of independence for the St. Petersburg and Sarasota-Manatee branches of the University of South Florida.Graduates of those schools frame diplomas bearing the name of their own universi...
Updated: 1 hour ago
School board member is ‘dumbfounded’ by Times report on Hillsborough substitute teachers

School board member is ‘dumbfounded’ by Times report on Hillsborough substitute teachers

TAMPA — The Hillsborough County School District should reconsider how it hires substitute teachers, and that conversation should happen publicly, School Board member Lynn Gray said Tuesday.Responding to a Tampa Bay Times article published Sunday , G...
Updated: 2 hours ago

Video captures basketball game between kids, St. Petersburg officers

ST. PETERSBURG — Teamwork wins games, they say. And basketball can bridge gaps.That’s what makes the Facebook video of three St. Petersburg police officers playing a game of pickup in the street against three kids so compelling. The officers, who wer...
Updated: 2 hours ago
23 seek vacant PSC post

23 seek vacant PSC post

There is another Mariano seeking a job in Tallahassee.Pasco County Commissioner Jack Mariano, the father of state Rep. Amber Mariano, R-Hudson, is seeking an appointment to the Florida Public Service Commission, the powerful board regulating Florida ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Tampa judge denies ‘stand your ground’ claim in Lyfe Coleman murder case

Tampa judge denies ‘stand your ground’ claim in Lyfe Coleman murder case

TAMPA — A judge has declined to grant immunity to Reginald Bowman, the man who admitted last month that he fatally shot 18-year-old Lyfe Coleman and invoked the state’s "stand your ground" law to argue it was self-defense.At a brief hearing Tuesday, ...
Updated: 3 hours ago