The Green Bay Zen Center originated in 1994 as The Green Tara Sangha sharing space with the Bay Area Yoga Center until 2018. The Sangha was sanctioned by Roshi Jun Po Dennis Kelly, founder and Abbot of The Hollow Bones Order. Jun Po is Dharma heir to Eido Shimano Roshi, founder of the Zen Studies Center in New York. The Sangha shared space with the Bay Area Yoga Center until 2018, coinciding with the formal name change to ‘The Green Bay Zen Center’.
Jun Po had been coming to Green Bay for several years to co-lead week-end Zen/Yoga retreats.
Classically trained for many years in Rinzai Zen, Junpo determined there was enough commitment in the Geen Bay area to support a permanent Sangha (Zen Community) and offered to support the group for a minimum of ten years. Participants came from all over Northeast Wisconsin and the week-end retreats continued along with twice weekly sits in Green Bay.
Beginning with meditation at the Bay Area Yoga Center (sitting on rolled up blankets and sharing space), the Sangha grew and became a single presence for experienced and exploring practitioners.
Several years later, members left Green Tara to establish the Zen River Sangha in Appleton. Additional Sanghas were established in several Wisconsin communities, loosely under the Friends of Zen umbrella. Similarly, through practice with Jun Po, regular retreats occurred in other part of the U.S.
John Nemick took Jukai (a ritualized form of declaring commitment to practice and to support of the Sangha) along with several other Green Tara members.
As the various sites took root, Jun Po ordained Priests into the Hollow Bones Order and more students followed in taking Jukai. In 2014, Vimala Muni, John Nemick was given Inka status and became Roshi (Senior Teacher).