Our mission statement: To provide a welcoming place and a nourishing community for the study and practice of Zen Buddhism.

The Puget Sound Zen Center is a community dedicated to practicing Zen, to teaching and living Buddhist principles, to supporting a vibrant sangha, and to serving our wider community.  Located on Vashon Island, the center is part of the life of the island while serving the wider Puget Sound area.  Our community is open to all regardless of age, ethnicity, religious affiliation, disability, or sexual orientation.

We hold practice a few times a week and schedule a number of retreats annually.  We also offer family programs, dharma study classes, discussion groups, community service opportunities, and a precepts program.  We are members of the Interfaith Council to Prevent Homelessness and the Northwest Dharma Association.  

Some at the Zen Center have been practicing Zen or other forms of meditations for decades and some are just starting out.  Some attend services with other spiritual communities in addition to Zen.  Wherever you are in your spiritual practice you are welcome here.  




Koshin Christopher Cain

10863124536_498e162398_oKoshin Christopher Cain is Abbot of the Puget Sound Zen Center. Koshin was born in 1965 and grew up in London, England, and Raleigh, North Carolina. He graduated from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, with a BA in American Studies in 1987. In 1990 he moved to Mt. Baldy Zen Center in California, he ordained in 1991, and trained at Mt. Baldy as a monk from 1991 to 1999. In 1999 Joshu Roshi made him an Osho, or teacher. From 1999 to 2002 he served as Vice-abbot of Mt. Baldy Zen Center. In 2003 he moved to Vashon Island and became the founding teacher of the Puget Sound Zen Center. Since 2009, Koshin has been the formal teacher of the Rinzai Zen Center in Oslo. He is responsible for the direction of the Zen practice there, and visits the center twice a year. Koshin is married to Soshin Lidunn Cain, and they have a son, Lars, born in 2001, and daughter Eva, born in 2004. An interview with Koshin was published in “Sweeping Zen” in July 2012. To read it, click here

PSZC’s Teacher Ethics statement can be found here.


Board of Directors

there2The Board of Directors works with the Abbot, Committees, and the sangha to create an overall vision and goals for the Zen Center, and oversees the carrying out of these goals.

To contact the entire board, email board@pszc.org
Jim Hunziker President

Although relatively new to Zen, Jim Hunziker jumped into the PSZC with both feet running.  He comes with a wealth of knowledge to offer our sangha, bringing the experience from being president of a non-profit that funds girls schools in rural Afghanistan and the local Honor Society of Nursing, as well as (over the years) positions in various nursing organizations.  He is a semi-retired Nurse Practitioner.

Berneta Walraven, Treasurer

Berneta has been a Zen Center member for about 2 years. She and her partner, Sheila, have lived on Vashon for 19 years.  They moved here from Boston, wanting to escape snow and find a more manageable work/life balance.  Having spent most of her career as a lawyer working on civil rights issues, she now works for King County and volunteers with Honoring Choices Vashon, a group that strives to make death awareness more a part of everyday life. Berneta really likes bingo, thinks pit bulls get a bad rap and believes in ghosts.

Sissel Johannessen, Secretary

Sissel was excited to find a brand-new Zen Center when she moved to Vashon with her two children 13 years ago. She has been happily involved in its growth since then in many and varied capacities: board member, treasurer, Programs committee chair, Family Zen committee, general cook and bottle washer.  She is an archaeologist (specifically a paleoethnobotanist) by profession, but has now discovered the satisfaction of being a caregiver and hospice volunteer.

Claire Newman, member at large

Claire Newman grew up in upstate NY and was raised in the Jewish and Unitarian traditions. After high school, she began working her way West stopping in Minnesota for college and and South Dakota to teach on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Claire met her husband Chris during orientation of law school and after graduating, they spent a year together in Juneau, Alaska. Chris introduced Claire to Zen Buddhism and they were delighted to find the sangha at the Zen Center upon moving to Vashon in 2013. Zen offers Claire a new lens through which to think about the world, relationships, and herself. She tries to use zazen  as a tool to meet everyday challenges and to more fully appreciate life’s gifts.

Elizabeth Fitterer, member at large.

Elizabeth Fitterer started coming to the Zen Center about six years ago after several years of driving past and being too chicken to come in. She‘s rotated through all the PSZC Board positions and currently works on our website.  She loves to swim, read, and write, and is obsessed with the TV show the West Wing.  She bets she has more anxiety issues and food allergies than you do.

A copy of our bylaws can be found here.

In February 2014 the Board announced its decision to end PSZC’s affiliation with Rinzai-ji, Inc. A copy of the letter announcing that decision can be found here





commsPrograms Committee 

The Programs Committee, led this year by Susan Traff and Karen Hedlund, oversees the logistics of existing Zen Center programming, and dreams up all kinds of great new things our Zen Center can do and be. Anyone is welcome at our meetings, and ideas for new Zen Center programs are always welcome anytime. Email programs@pszc.org to contact the committee.

Membership Committee
The Membership Committee cares for and supports members, and offers a welcoming, caring presence to all in our community. This year it’s led by Claire Newman. Email membership@pszc.org to contact the committee.

Communications Committee
The Communications Committee oversees the website, print communication, ads and flyers. We are always looking for volunteers! This year the team is led by Elizabeth Fitterer and Beverly Miller. Email pr@pszc.org to contact the committee.

Children’s Program Committee
This group oversees overall planning for the Family Zen group, as well as the group’s annual retreat. This year the crew is led by Serena Maurer and Tara McBennett. Email kids@pszc.org to contact the committee.

Property Committee
The property committee is led by Bill Jarcho and Sharon Shaver. Anyone is welcome at our meetings. Email property@pszc.org to contact the committee.

Ethics Committee
The ethics committee is on-call to address any ethical issues that may arise for the sangha, and to provide a yearly ethics review. This year’s members: Joyce Hunziker, Beth Glennon and Carol Spangler. Email ethics@pszc.org to contact the committee with an ethical concern or issue, or for more information. The ethics committee charter is here, and the teacher ethics policy and process document is here.

The Board and Ethics Committee voted in October 2016 to enact a Grievance and Reconciliation Policy for sangha members. It can be found here