Local Priests and Teachers

Disciples and Priest
The Southwind Sangha is led by priests, disciples, and teachers who have been ordained by Sensei Taiun Elliston, abbot of the Atlanta Sōtō Zen Center. They also oversee the finances and administrative functions with their service on the board of directors. Each contributes her or his services and time and does not receive financial compensation.

Mitsugo Liz Lawlor

Un Getsu Mitsugo Liz Lawlor

Title: Novice Priest
Dharma Name: Un Getsu Mitsugo (Cloud Moon Secret Talk)
Mitsugo Liz Lawlor has been practicing with the Southwind Sangha Sōtō Zen Association since 2003 and is a member of the Silent Thunder Order and an Associate Member of the Soto Zen Buddhist Association. Her practice includes participating in a weekly Cloud Dharma Skype Teleconference and monthly Saturday retreats. She maintains sewing and transcription practices as well as a home zazen practice.  Mitsugo is currently secretary of the STO Board.

Gekko Kathryn Riley

Gekko Kathryn Riley

Title: Priest
Dharma Name: Gekko (Soft Moonlight)
Kathryn Riley has been sitting in the Sōtō Zen tradition since 1981. Her unofficial title is: “Sitter Who Likes Sitting with People Who Like to Sit.”

Un Ku Nento Don Riley

Un Ku Nento Riley

Title: Novice Priest
Dharma Name: Un Ku Nento (Burning Torch)
Don Riley is a Soto Zen priest who has been actively engaged with the Southwind Sangha and Buddhism for nine years. He is a member of the Abbot’s Advisory Council, the Silent Thunder Order, and the Board of Directors of the Southwind Sangha. He has taught introductory sessions, led retreats, attended extended retreats in Atlanta and Nashville, given Dharma talks, and led discussion groups.


Sanki Harold Schlechtweg

Title: Disciple
Dharma Name: Sanki (Three Devotions)
Sanki Harold Schlechtweg first became interested in Zen Buddhism in 1968, while a US Marine stationed on Okinawa. In later years, he read works by D.T. Suzuki, Alan Watts, and Shunryu Suzuki, which popularized Zen in the west. Although he sometimes attempted a sporadic home practice, his work in rural areas of eastern Kentucky, West Virginia, and southern Ohio, left little time to nurse his fledgling bodhichitta and, in any case, Zen teachers are not abundant in those regions. Sanki moved to Wichita, Kansas in 1995. After ten years, the hot coal of aspiration, carefully banked so long ago, flared again, and he sought out the Southwind Sangha and began formal practice. He is eternally grateful to those who have worked diligently to create a space for practice in our community. Sanki first sat with the Southwind Sangha in 2006, became a regular sometime in 2009, and took refuge in Buddha, Dharma, Sangha, in September, 2010 (Jukai Tokudo). Sanki took Zaike Tokudo vows in December, 2013, formally becoming a student of Taiun Michael Elliston, Roshi, and a member of the Silent Thunder Order (STO). Sanki’s personal practice is Dogen Zen. His interests include poetry, the Dharma, and walking mountain paths.

To learn more about our teacher, Rev Zenkai Taiun Elliston, click here.



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Atlanta Sōtō Zen Center

The Southwind Sangha is an affiliate of the Atlanta Sōtō Zen Center. Abbot of the center is Rev Zenkai Taiun Elliston Rōshi.


Logo of the Silent Thunder OrderThe Silent Thunder Order oversees the training of disciples, priests, and teachers in the Matsuoka Rōshi lineage. Elliston Rōshi presides over their training.