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Scholarly Selections

The Story of Sunya Pratt

January 17, 2019 6:30 PM - 8:00 PM

Scholarly Selections

The Story of Sunya Pratt, a 1930s British Woman Ordained in the Tacoma Buddhist Temple

Third Thursday, January 17, 6:30-8:00 PM

FREE and open to the public

Join Associate Director of the UW Tacoma Library Justin Wadland to discuss this little-known story of service, immigration, and cultural exchange. 

On April 23, 1936, Reverend Sunya Pratt was ordained as a minister at the Tacoma Buddhist Temple. Local and national newspapers described the ceremony, calling Rev. Pratt the “First White Buddhist Priestess,” a label that later scholars have called into question. Yet at a time when few Westerners converted to Buddhism, let alone became teachers, Rev. Pratt joined a sangha--or spiritual community--of Japanese Americans. Over the next 50 years, she devoted herself to the community and became an important leader for Jodo Shinshu Buddhists in Tacoma and the Puget Sound region. This talk will share a research project in process that explores the life and legacy of Rev. Pratt within the context of the wider history of Tacoma and American Buddhism.

Third Thursday's offer free admission to the museum from 3:00-8:00 PM. See the exhibitions and hear this terrific talk too!