Her Holiness Shinso Ito holds a Shinnyo Celebration based on the Traditional Japanese Buddhist Ritual on the Fall Equinox in New York City

September 21, 2013
St. Bartholomew’s Church, New York City

Shinso Ito, Head Priest of Shinnyo-en, officiated at the Shinnyo Celebration, based on a Japanese Buddhist ritual on the Fall Equinox, on the afternoon of Saturday, September 21, 2013 at the historic landmark, St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church on Park Avenue in New York City.

The service was held at 1:00 PM and replayed on video screens in the sanctuary to a second congregation at 3:00 PM for a total of over 2,000 invited guests, who included clergy and other representatives of a wide variety of faith organizations from the New York metropolitan area. The traditional service was supplemented by sacred music performed by the organist of St. Bartholomew's historic pipe organ (the largest in New York and one of the ten largest in the world), and the choir of St. Bartholomew's Church performed an original musical composition based on "Sharing the Light of Peace", a poetic and contemporary rendering of the traditional "Words of Merit Transfer", that had been commissioned by Shinnyo-en specifically for this service.

On the Spring and Autumn Equinoxes Japanese Buddhists celebrate what is called the Higan service, an occasion to remember that, figuratively, we stand on the shore of ignorance and suffering but are able to cross over to the other shore of awakening and peace.

Her Holiness Shinso Ito welcomed Sheikha Khadija Radin from the Mevlevi Order of America and the Sufi Ruhaniat International, Father Michael Holleran from the Archdiocese of New York and Founder of Dragon's Eye Zendo, as well as Swamini Svatmavidyananda, a Vedanta Teacher from Arsha Vijnana Gurukulam, who offered prayers for peace and interfaith understanding. The service also included a blessing of representative lanterns that were to be floated the following day at the Shinnyo Lantern Floating for Peace in Central Park.

The Shinnyo Celebration at the Fall Equinox was held in New York City in 2013 as Her Holiness Shinso Ito had come to the city to participate in a number of events in conjunction with the United Nations International Day of Peace and 2013 convening of the United Nations 68th General Assembly.

St. Bartholomew's Episcopal Church, on Park Avenue at East 51st Street, in Manhattan is the parish church of a congregation founded in the 1930s.  The current church building was constructed in 1916-17 in a simplified Byzantine design by Bertram Goodhue, a leading architect of the era. The church and its congregation are noted for their commitment to fine sacred music, religious and interfaith education, and daily food and shelter services for the city's homeless and neediest people.