As more people are vaccinated, we are all starting to envision what it will look like to reopen our temples. For many of us, it has been over a year since we have been in the temple Hondo. What will it look like now? The BCA Executive Committee will be hosting a Zoom meeting/webinar on Temple Reopening at 3 p.m. PDT on June 19. Please join us! We will be discussing some of the issues involved with keeping our ministers and Sanghas safe.
I hope you were able to see the “May We Gather” special event that took place at the Los Angeles Higashi Honganji Buddhist Temple on May 4. One of the co-hosts and originator of the idea of having this gathering was Chenxing Han, a recent graduate from the Institute of Buddhist Studies and author of “Be the Refuge: Raising the Voices of Asian-American Buddhists.”
Buddhist leaders from many pan-Asian sects came together to hold a 49-day service for the six Asian women who were recently killed in Atlanta, Georgia. The gathering also honored other Asians who were killed in previous years due to racial animosity. Bishop Rev. Marvin Harada led the event with a chanting of “Sanbujo.”
Also, in May, the Tacoma Buddhist Temple Dharma School and the Young Buddhist Editorial were featured on NBC’s “Today” show. June Akita was shown speaking about teaching Dharma School and her return to the temple after her mother died. Devon Matsumoto was shown explaining how the Young Buddhist Editorial was formed and what they focus on. Rev. Tadao Koyama is shown leading in Gassho, and the show explained what Jodo Shinshu Buddhism is about.
On July 31, the Technology Outreach Subcommittee of the BCA Communications Committee will host a workshop webinar on “Temple Website Assistance.” This will start at 11 a.m. PDT. If your temple needs help in designing or redesigning your website, please register for the workshop. During this pandemic, we have found that engaging and current temple websites attract viewers who may be new to Buddhism.
Later this year, our Ministers Affairs Committee will be putting on some webinars for ministers. I am hoping that they will be able to put on a webinar on 529 plans. These are special bank accounts that help you save for your children’s college costs. Also, I would like to see a webinar series on retirement. There are many subjects that need to be addressed as our ministers retire. These include Medicare, Social Security, retirement funds, and housing. I am hoping that we will be able to begin this series this year. Thanks for Rev. Earl Ikeda for forwarding me this idea.
Recently, Rev. Harada was given a public awareness bulletin from the Hawaiian Kyodan. The Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii (the Hawaiian counterpart of the BCA) took part in active shooter in places of worship workshops. These were put on by the FBI. As a result, the FBI shares notices about potential criminal activity that may affect places of worship.
The FBI shared a notice that came from the Phoenix Police Department titled “Threat to Buddhist Temples and Festivities Nationwide.” In the notice, the Phoenix Police Department mentions that Buddhist temples have been targeted for theft and robbery since March of this year.
Buddhist holidays, such as Vesak, draw lots of people, many of whom make donations to the temple. Criminals have been coming to these celebrations with the intent of stealing money. Evidently, as an example, two women will enter the temple and ask to pray for a sick relative. As arrangements are being made to accommodate this request, co-conspirators will enter the temple and search for money. Sometimes, they aggressively steal the money. BCA headquarters will make this public awareness announcement available to any temple that would like to see it.
As some of our temples are starting to hold fundraisers again, please be mindful of who may be coming to your event. Some temples may have had security available for your larger fundraisers. As we emerge from the pandemic, you may be holding smaller fundraisers now. You may still need to have security personnel available if large sums of money are being collected.