From the outside, the building at 1602 Lane St. looks very much like the Protestant church it used to be.
Walking in, after leaving your shoes outside, you’ll notice that the pews have been replaced by long cushions.
The first thing to draw your eye, however, is an immense golden statue of Buddha. Flanked by two umbrellas, it indicates unequivocally that the modest Calvary Presbyterian Church has been transformed into something rather exotic for these parts — a Buddhist temple.
The Tinh Tam Buddhist Meditation Temple primarily serves Vietnamese Buddhists but welcomes anyone who wants to attend.
Buddha taught that the world is suffering, and the religion of Buddhism teaches freedom or liberation from suffering.
Sunday, Jan. 23, is a special celebration of the day when Buddha found enlightenment under the Bodhi tree — as well as the yearly ancestor memorial service and the temple’s first birthday celebration.
Outside of the church is an altar with piles of fruit and other offerings.
After leaving my shoes outside the door, I enter the temple, happy to be wearing wool socks on a chilly day. My informal guide to the service is Judith Felson, a member of the Tinh Tam congregation who grew up in Salisbury but who now lives in Mint Hill. As nearly as I can tell, she, photographer Sean Meyers and I are the only non-Vietnamese people attending — which isn’t surprising since services are conducted in Vietnamese.
Judith has been a Buddhist since the 1970s, she says. She attends the Kannapolis temple regularly and has taken her Refuge Vows, promising to adhere to the Five Precepts: to refrain from…