New York's Unitarian Church to be Site of Buddhist Fire Ritual

November 4, 2000

Source: The New York Times

On November 4, 2000, The New York Times reported that the Unitarian Church of All Souls is the site for the first Agon Shu Buddhist goma, or fire ritual conducted in the United States. The Rev. Seiyu Kiriyama, who founded this Japanese Buddhist association in 1978, said the ceremony is intended to "elevate the mind and the heart of the people in the audience." The Agon Shu Buddhist Association is linked to the agama sutras, four major texts which stress the acquisition of wisdom. Mr. Kiriyama said that the ritual "is a method of meditation" intended to "develop and elevate our wisdom to a higher plane." He added that this wisdom then awakens love and compassion. The Rev. Forrester Church, the All Souls' pastor, said, "As a Unitarian Church, we try to tap into the genius of all faiths...This is an opportunity for us to make it a religious crossroads for the world."