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Taoist Temple to open with special ceremony

Feb. 29 will mark a special day for Tampa Bay residents interested in the three Eastern philosophies and religions: Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism. The second branch of Fung Loy Kok Taoist Temple in Florida celebrates the grand opening of its Guan Yin Shrine. The ceremony will be at 7 p.m. at 6510 Fourth St. N, St. Petersburg, and will include the unveiling of the shrine, a traditional Chinese lion dance, a lecture on Taoism and a reception. Taoist priest Mui Ming-To and Taoist monk Moy Lin-Shin opened the first Fung Loy Kok Taoist Temple in Toronto in 1981. The temple follows the teachings of Lao Tsu, Buddha and Confucius. The first temple in the United States was opened in Denver, Colo., in 1981. The first temple in Florida was established in Tallahassee one year later. In addition to the opening of the temple, Master Moy Lin-Shin, who also is founder of the Taoist Tai Chi Society, will lead workshops for members of the society from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and from 2:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. Feb. 29 and March 1 at Oak Grove Middle School, 1370 S Belcher Road, Clearwater. The public is invited to observe the workshops. There is no charge for observation. For information on the opening ceremonies or the workshops, call Tom McAlexander, manager of the St. Petersburg branch of the Taoist Tai Chi Society of Florida, at 521-3336 in the evenings.

Choirs from 66 bay area churches will conclude worship services Sunday with the hymn Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee, from Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. The Florida Orchestra is celebrating the life and work of Beethoven this month with a Bay-Thoven Festival, an ambitious program of performances, lectures and other events. Last November the orchestra invited area churches to participate in the festival by using the popular hymn as their closing hymn on Feb. 23. Churches from St. Petersburg, Tampa, Seminole, Largo, Clearwater, Dunedin, Hudson, Seffner, Kenneth City, New Port Richey, Safety Harbor, Brandon and Crystal Beach responded.

Father Charles Brandt spends about 90 percent of his working hours in the forest without human company, but he insists that he is a hermit, not a recluse. In 1967, the environmentalist became the first man in North America to be ordained a hermit-priest. Today, the 68-year-old Catholic priest is a modern Saint Francis of Assisi, doing walking meditations on Vancouver Island among deer, raccoons, otters, woodpeckers and finches. Sitting cross-legged, Brandt spends more than five hours each day in solitary prayer and meditation.

_ Compiled from Times staff and news service reports