Rev. Eishin Tom Houghton

Rev. Eishin Tom Houghton is the head priest/teacher at the Des Moines Zen Center. He has been a follower of the Buddhist teachings since 1998. He started Zen practice in 2009 at the Des Moines Zen Center. He received lay ordination from Rev. Eido Espe in 2011 and was given the Dharma name “Eishin.” He was priest ordained in 2015, received Dharma transmission from Rev. Espe in 2022, and accepted the position as head priest of the Des Moines Zen Center in April, 2023 when Rev. Espe transitioned into an emeritus role.

Eishin has had monastic training at Ryumonji Zen Monastery in northeast Iowa where he has practiced for years with his grandfather teacher, Rev. Shoken Winecoff. He is also significantly influenced by the Christian contemplative tradition, primarily through the teachings of Father Richard Rohr from Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Rev. Eido Espe

Rev. Eido Bruce Espe is head priest/teacher emeritus of the Des Moines Zen Center and continues in his role as vice-abbot of Ryumonji Zen Monastery in northeast Iowa. He is the founder of Shinsenji (Deep River Temple), the international Soto Zen temple designation given to the Des Moines Zen Center by the Japanese Sotoshu as a result of his practice and dedication.

Rev. Espe discovered Zen after serving in the Army and a tour of duty in Vietnam. He has two grown children, two grandchildren, and is retired from a career as a hospice nurse.

Rev. Espe is a Soto Zen priest in the lineage of Dainin Katagiri Roshi, receiving ordination in 1997 and dharma transmission in 2010 from his teacher, Rev. Shoken Winecoff. He has trained extensively in Japan, completing four ango practice periods and zuise at Eiheiji and Sojiji Monasteries.

Rev. Gendo Curtis Thornberry

Rev. Gendo Curtis Thornberry is a Sōtō Zen priest and teacher who practices at the Des Moines Zen Center. His spiritual journey began in 2003 when he discovered the transformative power of Buddhist teachings while experiencing the loss of his mother.

Since 2014, Gendo has devoted himself to the practice of Zen at the Des Moines Zen Center. Under the guidance of his teacher, Rev. Eido Espe, he received lay ordination in 2015 and priest ordination in 2022, solidifying his commitment to the path of awakening.

Gendo’s quest for spiritual growth led him to monastic training at Ryumonji Zen Monastery in Dorchester, Iowa. Immersing in practice alongside the abbot, Rev. Shoken Winecoff, he continues to deepen his understanding of Zen. Gendo presently serves on the Board of Directors at Ryumonji, contributing his efforts to the monastery’s flourishing community.

In addition to his spiritual pursuits, Gendo also utilizes his technical expertise as the technology director at an Internet cooperative. With his unique blend of spiritual insight and technological proficiency, he skillfully integrates the values of mindfulness and compassion into the contemporary world.

Vicki Joren Goldsmith

Tina Yudo Nepstad-Thornberry