Author Topic: Longtime spiritual home comes down  (Read 7311 times)


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Longtime spiritual home comes down
« on: June 24, 2012, 11:11:25 PM »


Once a Presbyterian church and now a Buddhist temple, its members could not fight deterioration and choose to demolish and build anew

London, UK -- An east London presence for more than a century is coming down, brick by brick and pillar by pillar.

Opened in 1910 as Hamilton Road Presbyterian Church and operating more recently as the Vietnamese Duc Quang Buddhist Centre, the building at had developed deep structural issues that only huge amounts of money could fix. (DEBORA VAN BRENK, The London Free Press)

It will be replaced by a new smaller sanctuary of wood and marble and Asian-influenced statuary.

Opened in 1910 as Hamilton Road Presbyterian Church, and operating more recently as the Duc Quang Buddhist Centre, the building had developed deep structural issues.

For weeks, deconstructors have been taking it apart: first, asbestos assessment and removal, then windows and interior walls.

A demolition crew this week removed parts of what was a 20-metre-high steeple.

Now the roof is off, leaving rubble on the grass and neat symmetries of structural steel open to the sky.

Because of its proximity to busy traffic -- at the confluence of Hamilton Rd., Egerton St. and Trafalgar Rd. -- most of the disassembly has been painstakingly slow.

"You can't use heavy equipment" or parts of the building would jump the construction fence, project foreman Jim Grant said.

A crane is expected to start this week removing the I-beams that once held up the roof.

Then, barring any complications, levelling it to the ground should take about two more weeks.

"The old building was unfortunately falling apart beneath us," said Jody Belan, a member of the Buddhist community who is involved in the building project.

The foundation and the roof were both leaking badly and the walls had developed some mould. Its four furnaces were costly to operate and even then didn't heat the building well.

The Buddhist members -- there are about 40, most Vietnamese -- plan to build a new centre on the same site.

The monk who leads the group said the land was originally dedicated to a holy purpose and should remain so. "

"It was built for a spiritual reason and we hope to keep it that way," Belan said.

Plans for the new building haven't yet been approved at city hall but include a west-facing pagoda-style structure that will have a smaller footprint to the building being taken down.

A walkway beside a small pond will include 18 marble statues representing followers of the Buddha as well as four dragon statues, Belan said.

Heritage advocate Joe O'Neil sat on the London Advisory Committee on Heritage when the community first raised its plan to raze the building.

He said the decision was "bittersweet" for everyone concerned because the Buddhist community did want to save it.

But, like a smaller church on Southdale Rd. where reality intruded on the congregation's genuine wish to restore it, "there were fundamental structural flaws," O'Neil said.

Hamilton Road Presbyterian Church dispersed in 1995. For a time, the building was a centre for LUSO (London Urban Services Organization) before serving as a Buddhist temple.


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Re: Longtime spiritual home comes down
« Reply #1 on: June 25, 2012, 09:00:15 PM »

The Buddhist members -- there are about 40, most Vietnamese -- plan to build a new centre on the same site.

The monk who leads the group said the land was originally dedicated to a holy purpose and should remain so. "

"It was built for a spiritual reason and we hope to keep it that way," Belan said.

I like reading articles like these that shows people respect other religions and practices.

Speaking about Vietnamese, I immediately recalled Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh, who speaks to a global audience, and while teaching Buddhism as a Buddhist monk, also incorporates the profound teachings of both Jesus and Lao Tzu. He wrote a few books like this, including 'Living Buddha, Living Christ'.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama himself also mentioned previously how he has learned from and been inspired by Christianity. He said:
“In my readings of the New Testament, I find myself inspired by Jesus’ acts of compassion. His miracle of the loaves and fishes, his healing and his teaching are all motivated by the desire to relieve suffering.”


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Re: Longtime spiritual home comes down
« Reply #2 on: June 26, 2012, 04:28:08 AM »
As the saying goes, out with the old, in with the new. How appropriate for them to take down the old building and build a new one although it is not approved yet. I understand because it takes a lot of money to maintain something that is falling apart. And with 40 of them raising funds and taking care of the place is truly amazing. I really do hope that the city hall will approve the plans for a new building. Imagine, a pagoda structure facing the main road. So many people will be blessed and circumambulating the holy place. I respect deeply when other religions respect each other and do whatever they can to help a good cause.

The Dalai Lama promoted humanity recently when He was at London. It is not just about Buddhism. Its about all religions living harmoniously and helping each other.

June 20, 2012
London, UK -- The Dalai Lama has urged religious people to work for the good of humanity and care for the environment in an address at Westminster Abbey.
The Tibetan spiritual leader said it was important that religious faith was not confined to holy books or buildings but that it had an impact upon lives.
"I think millions of people have a genuine sense of spirituality, we must work together to serve humanity," he said.
"We now also have responsibility for the care of the planet. "I am quite sure that religions still have an important role to make a better humanity," he added.


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Re: Longtime spiritual home comes down
« Reply #3 on: June 26, 2012, 05:40:41 AM »
It is very sad to see the deterioration of a religious, it shows how much Dharma has degenerated. But fortunately there are people who step out to preserve Dharma in that area, although it is different religion, but when the old one goes, the new one come.

It is very great that people willing to put down their ego and let go for other religion to grow, with the effort of 40 people to build a Buddhist centre, that is such a wonderful work, and so meritorious. The effort of 40 is really inspiring, they didn’t think of failing or unsuccessful, they only think how to make it happen. Action does speak the loudest word.

New temple rising in that area should be means that the merits for the people in that area is not end yet, and this is the new way again to spread Dharma in that area. Really worth rejoicing.


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Re: Longtime spiritual home comes down
« Reply #4 on: June 26, 2012, 07:16:48 AM »
Well.. it really hard to read the news about demolish the Buddhist temple, especial the old one which used to be the place that many activities has been done over the year and for sure i believe it had brought lot of benefit to many people surround there.

Its an ideal to preserve the holy places which built since long time ago but if it really can not, i believe the best solution will put in the place. 

In this sad news there also a good news that the 40 Vietnamese would like to build a new centre in the same site, i wish that they can get an approval at city hall so that this holy site still can benefit people in the future.



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Re: Longtime spiritual home comes down
« Reply #5 on: June 26, 2012, 11:26:50 AM »
I rejoice in this news because it is still transforming in to a spiritual space where it will still benefit people. I think it's ok to rebuild or renovate or make new any building, whether or not previously it was a spiritual space, the motivation behind this is to create another spiritual space so it is even better. It's not like they are tearing down a building to build another mall or a club.

Just look at NKT castle in their main temple for example. I think previously it was also a church... but now it is a Buddhist temple which is beautiful. At the end of the day we need to ask what are we building and at what cost and who does it benefit. If it is for Dharma and spreading the Dharma... it is most meritorious!

Here's a picture of the Castle that is now a beautiful spiritual space for NKT

Jessie Fong

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Re: Longtime spiritual home comes downthe Buddhist centre has
« Reply #6 on: June 26, 2012, 12:51:53 PM »
It is sad that the Buddhist Centre has to be torn down but there were plans to build it up again, in view of the structural issues.  That would be a better alternative as safety of its members is at stake.  Why take the risk of the building crumbling down on its members?

Financially it seems rather daunting as they are only 40-strong.  To rebuild the Centre in the midst of the city not only costs a lot, it is going to take a long time due to the high traffic and public safety.

A religious building needs proper upkeep and maintenance, to ensure that it will serve its purpose for a long time.  This one is right in the middle of the city and with its high traffic flow, will attract more members in future when it is complete. 


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Re: Longtime spiritual home comes down
« Reply #7 on: June 26, 2012, 01:19:52 PM »
As the building is not safe anymore and is falling apart,  it would be better to remove it and replace with a new one so as not to put the practitioners at risks. It will not be easy for the 40 members to rebuilt the temple and I truly admire them for their determination, courage and faith to oversee this project.

Building a temple creates tremendous merits and having one in the midst of the city, with a pagoda style structure, where traffic is heavy will have tremendous benefits too as many people passing by will receive blessings.

Tenzin Malgyur

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Re: Longtime spiritual home comes down
« Reply #8 on: June 26, 2012, 01:26:37 PM »
The reason the building have to be torn down is because it is structurally not safe and it had to be torn down and rebuilt again. As stated in the article, most parts of the building are deteriorating and falling apart, and the cost to fix all of it would cost a lot of money. I rejoice that the members planned to build a new temple although they are very small in numbers. It is also good the authorities have ear-marked the site for the construction of a religious building, irregardless of which religion.


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Re: Longtime spiritual home comes down
« Reply #9 on: June 26, 2012, 04:16:55 PM »
It is good news to know that even though the old building will be torn down as the structure is not safe anymore, yet a new one to replace it. I admire the courage and will power of the 40 members of this Buddhist centre who commit themselves to built a new center to replace the old one. It is such a meritorious act which will benefit many people.