Oregon Zen center, school board forge deal

Posted: Friday, February 22, 2002

CLATSKANIE, Ore. (AP) -- A Zen Buddhist organization has approval to open a monastery and seminary in a vacant elementary school.

The Clatskanie School District Board agreed on Feb. 11 to a lease with the Portland-based Zen Community of Oregon. The group will pay $3,000 a month in rent for up to two years, with an option to buy the building for about $1 million.

The proposal was debated at a meeting held by the Buddhists in January to explain their plans for the school. Some residents said they thought Buddhism ran counter to their Christian beliefs and expressed fear that the seminary would attract the community's youth.

The Zen Community of Oregon, which was formed in the 1970s, conducts weekly services in Portland and has spent years searching for a rural site to hold monthly silent meditation retreats. The elementary school fit their needs, the Buddhists said.

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