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(l–r): Director Kim Miracle, Lama Kathy Wesley, and Board Secretary Bethany Dwinnell at the Columbus KTC

Organization Endowment Fund
Columbus KTC Rebuilding Fund

A Beacon of Hope

On the morning of January 31, 2016, Kim Miracle was awakened by a call at 4 a.m. that the Columbus Karma Thegsum Chöling (KTC), a Buddhist temple where she served as volunteer director, was on fire. She and her husband rushed down to see fire trucks surrounding the building engulfed in flames.

“We realized we didn’t need to have a physical home to be a community.” 


Firefighters quickly determined the fire was arson and started in a trash can in the alley beside the building on West Rich Street in Franklinton. While it wasn’t the young man’s intention to burn down the building, it was a total loss and a devastating blow to those who worshipped there.

Miracle reached out to the temple’s founder, Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche, explaining what had happened. Right away, he responded, “Don’t be sad—just focus on rebuilding.” She took his advice to heart, and made the decision to look forward.

For 45 years, Columbus KTC has been at the pinnacle of the Buddha’s teachings in central Ohio. Established in 1977, Columbus KTC began with a small but loyal following.

“We were established as one of the first centers of this type in the United States,” Miracle said. Young couples and university students were the original congregants and met in people’s homes until 1982, when Columbus KTC moved to a loft at the corner of Dodridge Street and High Street. Every time the center moved, it got a little bigger. In 1990, Columbus KTC moved into the former church on the corner of West Rich Street and Grubb Street. Immediately following the fire, other houses of worship throughout the city reached out to see how they could help. “Between all the people and the generosity across central Ohio who opened up spaces for us to hold our programs, we didn’t miss a single one,” Miracle said.

In 2016, the organization established the Columbus KTC Rebuilding Fund, an Organization Endowment Fund at The Columbus Foundation, to help collect donations as rebuilding efforts got underway.

“The support we felt was phenomenal; it was like we were being carried by everyone,” said Lama Kathy Wesley, Columbus KTC’s resident teacher.

As an entirely volunteer-led organization, they had to learn as they went. No one had experience in demolishing a building, extensive knowledge of fundraising, or how to build a new building. “We just kept talking to people,” Miracle said. “We problem-solved that way.”

After surveying members, Columbus KTC staff and volunteers worked with architects to design a larger, more flexible space on the same site, with dedicated office space, a large kitchen, and a community room. Although COVID-19 derailed some of its plans, the organization was thrilled to officially open its new facility in March 2022.

“Columbus KTC is a sanctuary of kindness in the heart of the city—a place where people can learn about mindfulness and how to cultivate kindness, tolerance, and compassion,” Miracle said. “We’re hoping to continue that mission and vision to be a resource for central Ohio.”

Lama Wesley agrees and hopes to interact more with their Franklinton neighbors in the future.

“I would love to see us branch out into the neighborhood and beyond to help serve underserved communities. I think meditation allows people to be with themselves in a different way and understand themselves in a different way. When we understand ourselves and know how we hurt, we can look at other people, how they’re hurting, and how to help them, too.”