Setsuan Gaelyn Godwin, Abbot

Houston Zen Center is located in the Houston Heights, in an historic building which was designed and built in 1918. The graceful and dignified building was restored in 2005 by the previous owners who are pleased that it now has become a Zen Center. Houston Zen Community began practicing together once a week in 1985 at First Unitarian Church. More information is available on the History page.

Our Abbot, Setsuan Gaelyn Godwin, began to lead us in 1999 and moved to Houston in 2003. We established our Center in the Heights in the same year. The Center is the heart of our practice and allows us to practice meditation on a daily basis. Practicing together in a shared space is the essence of Zen. Many of our members maintain meditation practice at their homes, coming to the Center on a weekly or monthly basis: this is understood to be an extension of the shared space that we maintain together. We also share longer retreats, led by the Abbot, senior members, and visiting Dharma Teachers.

Zen emphasizes putting meditative awareness into activity. Thus, we work together as a meditation. Maintaining and expanding our grounds and garden, caring for the Center’s buildings, cooking and cleaning during the retreats, learning to play the bells and drums for service — these are some of the activities of mindfulness-in-action that deepens Zen practice.


All our meditation periods are open to everyone who is interested in meditation. Our Center is entirely supported by the donations of visitors and members, and by the class enrollment fees.

Members of HZC are those who formally pledge to support the Center on a monthly or annual basis. The Treasurer and Membership Secretary are very pleased to discuss our expenses and projects and have come up with recommendations for membership donations.

Visit the Membership Page for more information about joining or email the Membership Secretary if you have questions.

May all beings be happy and free of suffering.


Houston Zen Center, or Sho Un Ji, Auspicious Cloud Zen Temple, is led by the Abbot, Setsuan Gaelyn Godwin. The assistant teachers are:

  • Kogen Glen Duval
  • Nessho Cathy Crouch
  • Hokyo Louise Dreyfus
  • Shinji Mary Carol Edwards

Ethical Guidelines and Procedures
HZC has a written policy that explicitly describes the members' commitment to practice together in alignment with Buddhist precepts. The policy includes procedures for addressing and resolving questions of conduct of the leaders and members should they arise.

The policy can be accessed here: Houston Zen Center Ethical Guidelines and Procedures. Further questions can be addressed to the Board President, Tricia McFarlin.

Further information about HZC's governance can be obtained from Zen Center's President, Tricia McFarlin, or the Secretary of the Board, Parmita Derden.

HZC is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3), center.

Board of Directors
Tricia McFarlin President 
Judson Dunn Vice president 
Parmita Derden Secretary 
Gary Grubitz Treasurer
Gaelyn Godwin Abbot

Forbes Alcott
Audrey Charlton
Laura Hopps
Gayle Klaybor
Troy Porter
Carter White

Judson Dunn

Cathy Crouch, Chair
Tricia McFarlin
Gary Grubitz
Carter White
Parmita Derden
Leo Golub

Tanto Glen Duval
Tanto Louise Dreyfus
Ino Vicki Glenn

Tom Biddle, Audrey Charlton, Judson Dunn