About Us

Ozarks Dharma Community (ODC) is a non-profit organization made up of a diverse group of practitioners who share the teachings of the Buddha with each other and with the greater Springfield, Missouri region. We are inspired by the Theravada Buddhist tradition, but open to all.

This sangha unconditionally welcomes all people, from all walks of life: all races, all nationalities and cultural backgrounds, all gender identities, all sexual orientations. We recognize that strength and wisdom comes when humans give and share of themselves openly and respectfully, and we celebrate that together we can do more for our community than apart.

ODC is composed of Facilitators and a Board of Trustees. Facilitators guide Saturday meditations and the Board of Trustees provides governance.

Meet our Facilitators

Jeff Everett and his wife, Kera, moved from Dallas to downtown Springfield in 2016, looking for a change of pace. Jeff has stepped away from his corporate law practice to pursue other interests, including his marriage, health, working out, Buddhism, meditation, coffee houses, laughter, and long walks with Kera. Their daughter Kelsea lives with her husband in the California bay area. Jeff has an undergrad degree in religion, having been curious about the meaning of life for some time now. Jeff has also been meditating regularly for almost a decade, initially as a student of the School of Metaphysics, then as a member of the Maria Kannon Zen Center in Dallas, and currently as a member of the Ozarks Dharma Community.

Don Hendricks has been a Buddhist practitioner since 1996 and a member of the Ozarks Dharma Community since 2010. He has attended retreats led by James Baraz, Shaila Catherine and Phil Jones.

Janet Rock first became interested in Buddhism in 1988 while studying the art history of India. Maybe not coincidentally, this is the same time she became a vegetarian. An avid traveler, she has visited Buddhist sites around the world including the largest Buddhist temple, Borobudur, in Indonesia. While working in Shanghai, China, she lived near the Jing'an Temple, home to a large jade Buddha, and a very delicious vegan restaurant. Her current meditation interests include contemplative drawing as taught by John F. Simon, Jr., and radical self-acceptance as taught by Tara Brach. Janet joined Ozarks Dharma Community in 2016.

John Ruff started practicing with Ozarks Dharma Community in 2007 or 2008 when it met on Walnut street and was known as Buddhists on Walnut or BOW. He is a big fan of silent retreat, attending his first week long retreat in 2008 with BOW, followed by at least one week long retreat a year since. He’s been meeting monthly with his teacher, Vincent Horn, and now, Emily Horn, for about six years and was trained as a facilitator by them. John is currently in the first year of a two-year teacher training with Vince and Emily through Heart of Insight.

Meet our Board of Trustees

The Board of Trustees is elected by ODC Members. If you'd like to become a Member, sign-up at Saturday meditation or email us. Membership is open to anyone 16 years and older with a valid email. Membership is not required to participate in weekly meditation or other ODC activities.

Kris Williams (President) is grateful to be part of the Ozarks Dharma Sangha and to have found a group of people who see the path as a way to learn, grow and support each other. She is motivated to continue her own growth to be of benefit to others.

Emma Sparks (Secretary) enjoys meditating Saturday mornings and volunteering at Ozarks Food Harvest and Friends of the Library. She currently attends OTC for an Associate of Arts degree and plans to study psychology at MSU. Her moral compass guided her to become more involved in Ozarks Dharma Community, so Emma volunteered to serve meals to the homeless and food insecure and soon assisted with the Grace Free Store access on Mondays. She is proudest of this life achievement, because it relates to her goal of advocating for people who are normally ostracized, forgotten, or lost. When not completing coursework, Emma is an avid reader and loves playing with her two German shepherds, Bear and Xena.


Justin Russell (Treasurer) I was riding a borrowed bicycle the first time I visited ODC, in flip flops. Showed up sweaty and late... a common theme in my life :D I was accepted with open arms, and have found more than support and encouragement- I found a home. Very excited about how this community has grown since I stumbled in, and very grateful for the opportunity to help it keep growing.

Linden Tucker has long been interested in the nature of the mind, and found meditation and Buddhism in 2015. She meditated on her own and went on several silent solo retreats before being introduced to Ozarks Dharma Community in 2017. Linden currently works with a national education and networking organizations as an executive director, but in the past, has taught freshman composition at Missouri State and OTC, ESL at Missouri State, and EFL at Justus Liebig University in Germany.

Michele Sparks thrives when helping others. She recently forgot this about herself and became lost, feeling as if her heart was shrinking. Michele found meditation and contemplation at Ozarks Dharma Community to be deeply healing and a natural adjunct to her yoga practice. As her heart grew, so too did her desire to care for those less fortunate than she. Michele now leads ODC in staffing the Grace Free Store by offering comfort and supplies to 40+ unsheltered and food insecure members of our community weekly on Mondays. When not stalking Amazon for deals on homeless supplies, Michele enjoys her loving husband, Jay, of 23 years and their extraordinary daughter, Emma.

Jean Parker Thank you for letting me be of service.

I have searched a path to peace all my life. I realize that I am most useful (and sane) when out of MY head. I found Buddhism 15 years ago and knew this was the road for me. I follow the Thai Forest tradition (Theravada) under Ahjan Chan lineage but find inspiration in many dear souls who share their path.

I moved to Springfield 4 years ago and found the ODC and knew immediately I found the Three Jewels through this Sangha. The ODC gives me the opportunity to help others and this community as well as meditate and share ideas, studies and hearts.


Rhett Roberson I've been meditating for six years now, a majority of which have been spent on and off with ODC. Upon making a trip to India in the fall of 2019, I took the Bodhisattva vow with His Holiness the Dalai Lama and made the commitment to invest more of myself in my community and specifically my sangha. The importance of keeping good spiritual company, as the Buddha taught, has become more and more clear. In early 2020 I went through teacher training with Lodro Rinzler and took formal vows with Lodro and Susan Piver. In that lovely ceremony Susan gifted me the refuge name Jigme Cholu. It means fearless dharma song. I only hope that my efforts here are of benefit to the sangha and ring the tune of a fearless dharma song.

Our History

Our beginnings go back to 2001, when the Body of Works Meditation Group (BOW) was started by Dr. Neil and Cheryl Nathan, who invited two people from their Tai Chi class to begin a Buddhism study group. They would listen to recordings of prominent leaders of the Western tradition of Buddhism, meditate and then engage in discussion. Initially meeting in the Nathans’ home, they soon welcomed more practitioners and interested persons and moved to the BOW Yoga Studio at the Carlson Building in downtown Springfield in 2002.

In 2004, the time requirements of Dr. Nathan’s medical practice lead him to relinquish leadership to Sister Dipa, who held the position until 2009, when she joined the Mahapajapati Monastery in California. She was succeeded by Holly June Graves, who led our group through March 2015. Our community continued to grow, and with it our activities, including the Wednesday evening sitting at Brentwood Library (through June 2014), a Stream Team, a committed practice group, and an active online community. (See Visiting and Calendar for more information about times and formats.) We also have special activities, ranging from participating in a Kiva lending team to enjoying informal social gatherings to participating in online courses to organizing local retreats. In 2012, we began calling our group "Ozarks Dharma Community" to reflect these changes. 

In February 2013, the Saturday Meditation Group met for the last time at the Body of Work Yoga Studio, which was closing. (Thanks to Tom Carlson, Joan Rosen, Kirsten Kukal and all the others who made it possible for us to meet in that lovely space for so many years!) We started meeting at Dinh Quang Buddhist Temple in March 2013. Thay and the Vietnamese community welcomed us with open arms. We are grateful for their hospitality! 

ODC moved to a new location, National Avenue Christian Church, in July 2017 and incorporated as a non-profit in August 2017. See our bylaws.

Image Credits

Images used on our website and email campaigns:

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