Buddhist temple moving to Wauwatosa due to heavy growth

By Michael Runyon, Wauwatosa Today, May 28, 2013

Congregation relocating from Milwaukee due to growth

Wauwatosa, Wisconsin (USA) -- When Tu Mai, leader of the Buddhist Youth Association, moved to Milwaukee in 1988 there were only 15 people in his congregation. Now there are 150.

During Tu Mai's early years as a Milwaukee resident, the 15-person congregation was praying in a small, two-bedroom home. They recently bought a 14,000-plus square foot complex and will be moving in where Unity West Church once stood at 4750 W. Mayfair Road.

The newly-named Phuoc Hau Buddhist Temple opens its doors June 16.

Open to the public

"It will be very open to the public," Tu Mai said, adding that they will post events on their website for people to follow and will have open meditation and culture classes for the public every Sunday.

Some classes will focus on Vietnamese culture and dharma, the teachings of Buddha. Tu mai stressed that he wanted many classes to be open to children.

Growing pains

The two-bedroom home on 11th street and Southside in Milwaukee worked for the congregation for 10 years. The living room served as a prayer room and the kitchen could be used for cooking for the congregation.

As the community grew, the house became more and more cramped. In less than 10 years the congregation had outgrown the home. Sunday services had to take place in hourlong shifts from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The congregation sold the home and moved to a 2,000 square foot old school building on 16th Street and Oklahoma Avenue in Milwaukee in 1993. From there, things were perfect. They could fit as many people as needed for their Sunday service, have enough space for their classes on the Dharma and Vietnamese culture and accommodate everyone.

The congregation, however, kept growing.

Much like their house, their prayer space was getting more and more cramped as members joined the congregation. So they looked around for something in their budget and found the Unity West Church on sale for $625,000.

They bought it, hoping that the church's size, which can accommodate 225, will meet the needs of their growing community.

Tu Mai said he was happy with the congregation's growth.

"The Buddhist followers feel good and we have more people and more members," he said. "That's the way it's supposed to be. We believe in the Buddha and the dharma and it really helps our lives."