Family Service

Service 300 x 198

Each Sunday, our Sangha (temple members) gathers for the weekly Family Service. Like most Shin (or Jodo Shinshu) Buddhist services around the world, the essential parts of our service are the chanting of sutras and the Dharma talk.

The sutras are stories of the Buddha and chanting them puts one in a meditative frame of mind. The word “Dharma” translates to the teaching of the Buddha;  each week, our resident minister or a minister’s assistant or guest speaker delivers a message about the Buddha Dharma (most of our Dharma Talks are available to be heard on this site).

We also carry on a tradition that began when Buddhist churches came to the United States of singing a gatha (Buddhist hymn) as a part of our service.

All are welcome to our Family Services. You can check our Home Page for current schedules. And if you have any questions, please contact us at or call 312.943.7801.


If you are a first-time visitor to a service at MBT, you may have questions, such as:

Can anyone attend service?

  • Yes, everyone—individuals, families, young, old, people familiar with Shin Buddhism or those just curious—is welcome to come to our Family Services.

Are there any special customs I must follow?

  • You don’t need in-depth knowledge of Buddhist customs to attend. You might find our Temple Etiquette page helpful in understanding various customs practiced during the service, but you should feel comfortable to simply come, observe and listen.

Will I understand what is being said during the service?

  • The service, including the Dharma Talk, is conducted in English. When we chant the sutras, we follow the ritual of using classical Japanese pronunciations to repeat passages of the Dharma (Buddha’s teaching). If you are interested, you can find English translations of these sutras in our Service Book.

Is there a dress code to attend service?

  • No, there is no dress code for Family Services. You can trust common sense to be your guide for what to wear when you come to a Family Service.

How do I enter the temple building?

  • When standing on Menomonee Street and facing the temple, please enter through the door to the  right of the temple steps. Upon entering, you will encounter stairs that will lead up to the hondo (temple hall).

Will there be someone who can guide me or answer my questions?

  • Yes. Before service, someone will be standing at the base of the stairs leading to the hondo. That person will be handing out programs for the day’s service and can answer your questions. After service, you will be able to ask questions of our minister and meet other temple members.

How long does the service last?

  • Family Service lasts about an hour. After service, coffee and fellowship are available in the Social Hall, downstairs from the hondo. Please feel welcome to stay. It’s a wonderful opportunity to ask questions about the temple and Jodo Shinshu Buddhism. Temple members are all happy and eager to share what they know and their experiences.

Where can I park?

  • We have free parking on the south side of the temple. The lot can be entered when heading north on Hudson Avenue.

Is the temple handicap accessible?

  • Yes, our Menomonee Street entry doorways are ramped. There also is elevator-access to the hondo and a chair lift down to the Social Hall. A handicap-accessible restroom is also available.

Can you give me directions to the temple?

  • Yes. Please visit our Map and Directions page for both driving and public transportation directions.