New River Zen Community (NRZC) is a group of people who support each other in Zen practice. We come together weekly for evening zazen. In addition to sitting and walking meditation, a brief talk is given by a teacher and individual meetings are available.

The emphasis at New River Zen Community is strong zazen and the integration of Zen in daily life. Strong zazen involves both discipline and beauty. The discipline of zazen is a wakeful posture and sitting still.

The beauty of zazen is a mind that is open, attentive, fresh, vital, and sensitive. The bodymind is awake and alert in the present moment without preoccupation with thoughts, concepts, or images.

Integration of Zen in daily life is living fully with appreciation, freedom, and compassionate action.

chas on rock        
Roshis Charles and Ellen Birx are co-founders of New River Zen Community. They received Dharma transmission in 1998 and inka in 2014 from Roshi Robert Jinsen Kennedy in the White Plum lineage.
Now Available at Amazon.com, OrbisBooks.com, Barnesandnoble.com, Christianbook.com, and Cokesbury.com.


“This remarkably candid and accessible account describes how being a Zen Roshi and devout Christian is as natural as breathing…. Ellen Birx explains the seamless spiritual experience of bi-religious belonging in illuminating breadth – a lifetime’s harvest of wisdom.” Rev. Dr. Monica Maher, Sensei

“Ellen Birx has done it all. She is a grandmother, a university professor, a devout Christian and a Zen Master. In Embracing the Inconceivable, Ellen weaves these disparate elements in her life into one lived reality that is remarkable for its clarity, wisdom and beauty.” Robert Kennedy, SJ, Roshi, Author of Zen Spirit, Christian Spirit

“Ellen Birx opens doors to the mysteries of our hearts and invites us in. She is a gentle and wise guide to something as ancient as our dreams and as immediate as this very next breath. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. She shows us the heart of Zen and the heart of Christianity and how they are not two. She shows us the way beyond self and other. This book fully introduces us to a Zen Christianity as something that can heal the world’s wounds. It’s that important. Wonderful. Wonderful.” James Ishmael Ford, Roshi, Author of Introduction to Zen Koans & If You’re Lucky, Your Heart Will Break

 “The author a nurse, grandmother, and Zen Master all in one, takes us by the hand on a journey through terrain that is now Christian, now Buddhist, and as we read on, come to recognize that we are being led on our way home.” Ruben L.F. Habito, Roshi, Guiding Teacher, Maria Kannon Zen Center, Author of Be Still and Know: Zen and the Bible

Watch a video interview about the book titled “SGTI Interspiritual Luminaries Series with Roshi Ellen Birx” on YouTube.