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History of the Tampa Bay Meditation Group

1984-1991:  Due to health reasons, Dolly requested that the Group be moved to the home of Carlene and Jordan Walker in south Tampa, just 3 blocks east of TMG’s current location, at which time the name was changed to the “Clearwater/Tampa Meditation Group”.  About 6 months later the name was again changed to “Tampa Meditation Group”.


During this time, attendance grew from 3-5 devotees to around 10-15, with more at special services or the occasional visit of (now) Brother Vratananda.  The group began to hold Thursday night lesson study/meditations.  The group also had kirtans, long meditations and socials. Several retreats, planned in conjunction with the Orlando Meditation Circle, were held during this time.

Thatcher Avenue House

Dolly Lutz picture

1970’s - 1984:  The Clearwater Meditation Group met in Largo, in the mobile home of Ms. Dorothy Lutz (known as Dolly), an inspiring 80 year old devotee, who was the coordinator, treasurer, secretary, chant player and service reader.

Dorothy "Dolly" Lutz


Thatcher House Altar (Easter 1984)


Jordan Walker


Carlene Walker


Br. Naradananda, Libby Dickinson, Karen Thompson


1991 – 1993:  As the group began to grow, a larger space was needed.  Jordan designed a new house, which had a specially designed space for the group, including a sanctuary, social room, bookstore, sitting room with lending library and foyer.  Jordan built the house mostly himself; occasionally devotees Jack Moore and Todd Crosby would stop by to lend a hand.  During the 2 years of construction, Sunday services were held next door to the construction site, in the home of devotee Joy Bass.  Thursday evening services were held in the home of Carlene’s mother, devotee Patricia Mahan.

Libby & Stacy Dickinson, Soraya Rodriguez

1993-1999:  The TMG moved into the new home of Jordan & Carlene Walker.  In 1994-1995 the Group began the Library Project, where SRF books were donated to 18 libraries in the Tampa Bay area. In 1997, the TMG and Orlando Meditation Circle held a monastic-led Regional Retreat, which was attended by 120 devotees.  After the group outgrew this location, it met at a couple of temporary sites (one was a Women's Club and the other was a strip mall near the current location).


Walker House on Himes with Upstairs Chapel


Walker House Altar

group photo manhattan

Manhattan Avenue Chapel


Pat Mahan


1999 - 2011:  After some searching the group found its current location in the Manhattan Plaza strip mall, which the group has “made its own”.  Attendance continued to grow. The Group continued to hold retreats—both 1-day retreats at the home of Mr. & Mrs. Avashia in Winter Haven, FL, and self-led retreats at the Franciscan Center. In October 2004, a building fund was started, with the vision of someday buying it’s own free-standing temple.  Fellowship is enjoyed in bi-monthly socials. 


In 2007, bi-monthly long Saturday meditations were added; in 2008 they became guided and included Kriya practice.  Monastic-led Regional Retreats were held at the Franciscan Center in 2007 and at the Bethany Center in March 2010; at the latter, a newly formed Kirtan group made it’s debut, and has been growing and participating in services ever since. 


In 2010, the e-mail list was expanded, with updates and information sent out periodically.  TMG’s information on SRF’s website was expanded to include an e-mail address, street address, driving directions and photo.  This has brought several inquiries and new attendees. 


Also in 2010,monthly long meditations (alternating 3 hour & 5 hour guided) became the norm; and at the Convocation 2010 Lake Shrine Representative’s Conference, the TMG’s pioneering 5-hour guided meditations were highlighted and included in the power point presentation.  In September 2010, the Group celebrated the re-instatement of India Night. 


In November 2010, the Group was blessed with a 3-day Center Department visit, which resulted in several new service readers and 1 new harmonium player.


In January 2011, the TMG was invited to host a Lecture Tour in February 2012, to include Tampa’s first-ever Kriya Yoga Initiation Ceremony. In July 2011--after 12 years at the Manhattan Plaza location--the landlord needed the space for the expanding anchor tenant, and the TMG moved its services to Christ the King Catholic Church (for a few weeks), then to the Howard Johnson Hotel conference room for ~4 months. 


A relocation committee was formed and an exhaustive search began for a permanent location.  A small church building at 3616 W. Bay to Bay Blvd. was considered for purchase, but another buyer secured a contract first.  In August 2011, the group’s name was changed to “Tampa Bay Meditation Group”.  In October 2011, a website was created and a logo adopted.

2011 – 2022: The search for a more permanent home came to a welcome end in November 2011 (just in time for the Lecture Tour in February).Located in “The Crown Building”, a multi-story office building, the ground-floor space had its own entrance at the rear of the building.  Remodeling of the old warehouse space was a gradual process, which was interrupted several times by flood from a broken overhead pipe.  The carpet had to be replaced twice (at the landlord’s expense).  The first service and Christmas social were held with bare concrete floors in December 2011. 


The Lecture Tour in February 2012 was a great success (despite another flood the day before), with 211 in attendance at the Friday night public lecture, and ~20 new kriya initiates. In 2012, walls were built to include a much-needed sound-proof foyer, a kitchen and a book room. A sound system was added in 2012, and an exterior sign in 2013.


In 2020 services were closed due to the pandemic.  The group decided not to renew the lease on the chapel.  


Chapel at 3819 Henderson


Social at 3819 Henderson Chapel


2022 – present: In mid 2022 the search for a new location intensified.  A suitable office suite was found on the 3rd floor of the Crown Building, the same building where services were previously held.  This new space included a large foyer, bookroom, social hall, and kitchen with restrooms located outside of the suite.  A 2 year lease was signed in October of 2022. 


In November of 2022 TBMG hosted a monastic visit, moving in and decorating the new chapel in the nick of time!  

In July of 2023 TBMG was one of only a handful of cities worldwide to host a monastic visit during convocation week, as Sister Ranjana and Bramacharini Laura came to visit.

See more photos of the TBMG history on our Photo Albums page.

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