Format for a typical Sunday Service

Newcomers will find our services very accessible, because a leader is present every Sunday to guide us throughout the service.

Service Order

  • Ringing of the Bonsho
  • Ringing of the “Kansho”
  • Opening Remarks by the day’s Service Chair
  • Sutra Chanting
  • Gatha (Buddhist song)
  • Reading of the Three Treasures
  • Howa (Dharma Talk)
  • Gatha (Buddhist song)
  • Buddhist Reading
  • Announcements
  • Closing Remarks

Some Definitions

the bonsho, or main temple bellThe Bonsho is the large temple bell. It is suspended inside the shoro constructed specifically to house the bell. The Japanese character “bon” is used to express purity. Because the Bonsho is used for Buddhist Services it is given this honorific title. The Bonsho is traditionally rung prior to the service to let the “assembly” know that the service will begin. Listening to the Bonsho may remind us of the words found in the beginning of the Heike Mono-gatari: “The voice of the bell at the Jetavana grove resounds with (the teaching that) all conditioned things are impermanent…”

In the Jodo Shinsu Tradition the Kansho is often referred to as the Gyoji-sho or “ritual bell” because it is rung just prior to the beginning of the ritual. This bell is the sound that lets the priests know to enter the naijin or “inner altar” area

Gathas are the teachings of a Buddha (or commentaries) written in verse form and sung.

Three Treasures
The Three Treasures of Buddhism are the Buddha (an enlightened person), the Dharma (the body of truth a Buddha becomes enlightened to), and the Sangha (the community that tries to live its life based on the Buddha’s teaching).

Howa (lit. Dharma Talk)
A spoken message, usually by the head minister but sometimes by a minister’s assistant, designed to increase listeners’ understanding of a point of related to the Dharma or of a particular ritual.