Shin Buddhism in America
Shin Buddhism was founded in Japan nearly 800 years ago. The founder of our tradition, Shinran Shonin, wanted to make the heart of the Buddhist path accessible to anyone.
In 1899, two ministers traveled from Japan to San Francisco. They arrived in response to Japanese immigrants who had asked to hear the dharma in their new home. They also held regular dharma talks in English to introduce the broader American public to Shin Buddhism.
First organized as the Buddhist Mission of North America (BMNA), this was the start of what is now the Buddhist Churches of America (BCA).
During World War II, Buddhist communities that had been established for decades were uprooted when Japanese Americans were forcibly moved into concentration camps. As Duncan Williams observes in his book American Sutra, government and intelligence agencies specifically targeted Japanese Buddhists, believing Buddhism to be incompatible with American values. On the contrary, Buddhist followers asserted their American right of religious expression in the camps, deeply relying on the teachings to guide them through this period of injustice.
A NATIONAL SANGHA
In recent decades, Shin Buddhism continued to flourish as ministers and members came together to build the largest network of Buddhist temples in North America. BCA (Continental U.S.), Hawaii, and Canada are each managed by their respective members. These communities have carried the dharma forward over many generations of families, while expanding to reach the growing number of newcomers who wish to learn more about Buddhism.
BCA includes over 60 temples and fellowships throughout the United States and approximately 12,000 members. National Headquarters are based in San Francisco. We are affiliated with the Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha tradition, whose head temple is in Kyoto, Japan.
In 2006, the BCA opened our flagship education and events facility in Berkeley, California. The Jodo Shinshu Center houses the Institute of Buddhist Studies, Center for Buddhist Education, and hosts national seminars and activities throughout the year.
ALL ARE WELCOME
The Buddha said the best way to learn is to “come and see for yourself.” The idea is not to accept the teachings blindly, but to understand the dharma by experiencing it in your daily life.
Weekly services and events for all ages are available throughout BCA. Dharma Schools offer regular classes and activities for youths from pre-school through high school. Search for a Buddhist community near you or browse any temple's digital offerings to learn more.
BCA welcomes all seekers as we continue our mission to share the Buddhist teachings and embrace
lives of gratitude in community with one another.