The month of February was filled with Dharma connections and networking opportunities.
On Feb. 3-4, the Center for Buddhist Education (CBE) sponsored the BCA Leadership Workshop at the Jodo Shinshu Center (JSC in Berkeley, California. I would like to thank the temple leaders who participated in the workshop. There was a diverse group of new leaders as well as seasoned leaders representing six of our eight districts. It was an opportunity to meet, network, share stories, learn about BCA and enjoy Dharma moments.
On Friday, Feb. 3, distant travelers were welcomed with a meet and greet, a delicious dinner prepared by Rev. Michael Endo, a tour of the JSC by Robert and Gayle Noguchi, and social time. On Saturday, Feb. 4, Bishop Rev. Marvin Harada’s Dharma message focused on the importance of Dharma centered leadership.
Rev. Harry Bridge, Minister’s Association chairperson, shared his journey to Shin Buddhism and ministerial path. BCA Secretary Darlene Bagshaw and BCA President-Elect Steven Terusaki presented the responsibilities of temple leadership, and CBE Youth Coordinator Koichi Mizushima served as the moderator for temple leaders to share their success stories. I held a discussion on “What Is BCA and Why BCA?”
Later that day, small breakout groups allowed the temple leaders to share a challenge they are facing at their temple. Together, as a group, possible pathways toward improvement for each leader were discussed. The day ended with reflections and a delicious dinner prepared by Rev. Harada.
Special thanks to our amazing BCA staff. Thank you, CBE Program Coordinator Judy Kono and Koichi Mizushima for their guidance in planning and facilitating this event. It was great to bring back the BCA Leadership Workshop. We appreciate BCA Assistant Facilities Manager Pam Matsuoka for organizing the accommodations. To our chefs and meal preparers, Rev. Harada, Rev. Endo, Judy Kono, Facilities Manager Bob Matsueda and volunteers, thank you! We were well fed! The BCA Executive Committee looks forward to the next BCA Leadership Workshop and hopes you will join us.
Five days later, Darlene and I flew to Honolulu, Hawaii, for the Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii (HHMH) 111th Legislative Assembly, also known as Giseikai, which began Feb. 10. This is the HHMH’s National Council meeting.
As guests representing the BCA, we were welcomed with their warm Aloha spirit and hospitality. Also in attendance were representatives from the Jodo Shinshu temples of Canada, Bishop Rev. Tatsuya Aoki and Laura Sugimoto.
On Thursday evening, Feb. 9, a rap session was held at the Buddhist Study Center. BCA Minister Emeritus Rev. Bob Oshita, along with his wife, Rev. Patti Oshita, joined in via Zoom as they presented ways to create a flourishing Sangha. Pieper Toyama, past HHMH president, also shared his perspective.
An added surprise was to reconnect with former BCA staff member Edythe Vassall. As the managing editor of the HHMH newspaper, Edythe attended the meetings and events. Friday, Feb. 10, was the first day of the meeting at the Honpa Hongwanji Hawaii Betsuin.
As we sat in the beautiful Hondo for opening service, the chanting of “Sanbutsuge” was incredible as I felt the energy of many voices in me. The next day, the meetings continued with final business, which included the confirmation of their Bishop-Elect, Rev. Toshiyuki Umitani.
Hawaii and BCA have similar concerns and visions. Both have committed and dedicated leaders. My hope is that the two national organizations will continue to collaborate and support each other as we share Shin Buddhism.
Following the meeting, the “Living Treasures of Hawaii” luncheon, a program of the HHMH, was held at the Hilton Hawaiian Village. This recognition program, instituted in 1976, has honored more than 230 people of Hawaii for their dedication in preserving the spirit, traditions and value of their island home.
Later that evening, Darlene and I were treated to the youth production of “Peace on Your Wings” by Ohana Arts. Some of you may have seen it when the production toured the mainland. This amazing production has a new cast with some new songs, inspired by the true-life story of Sadako Sasaki and the folding of 1,000 cranes. They are preparing to go on tour to Hiroshima, Japan, in September. They hope to also bring it back to the mainland. If they do, you must see it!
Darlene and I are grateful for the opportunity to attend the Giseikai. We were able to connect in person with Dharma leaders and friends we have met over Zoom and make new Dharma friends. We are grateful to Bishop Rev. Eric Matsumoto, Rev. Daido Baba, HHMA President Dr. Warren Tamamoto, and the entire HHMH leadership for making our trip most memorable.