During the 2018 BCA National Council Meeting in Sacramento, a proposal was made to sell the BCA headquarters building in San Francisco.
The proposal was made in light of the age of the building, the needed maintenance, the debt owed to the Endowment Foundation regarding building the Jodo Shinshu Center (JSC), the diminishing BCA reserve accounts, and the possibility of getting up to $5 million for the building. The proposal was defeated.
The 2018 BCA National Council instructed then President Ken Tanimoto to form a committee of representatives from the Office of the Bishop, the BCA Ministers’ Association, the Endowment Foundation, the Institute of Buddhist Studies (IBS), the Buddhist Church of San Francisco, the eight BCA districts, and the BCA to recommend short- and long-term solutions to the BCA debt to the Endowment Foundation and the utilization of the BCA properties. I represented the Bay District and was the chair of that committee.
At the 2019 BCA National Council Meeting in Phoenix, the National Council approved the recommendations from that committee. Among the recommendations was a proposal to raise $1 million for five different projects. One of those projects was to give $25,000 to the Central California District so that Dharma talks could be livestreamed to the temples in the district, possibly from the Orange County Buddhist Church.
The other four projects dealt with fixing the elevator at BCA headquarters, fixing the upper level parking lot at the JSC, fixing the Bishop’s parsonage in Belmont, and paying the 2019 debt service to the Endowment Foundation.
At the 2020 BCA National Council Meeting in Renton, Washington, the National Council voted to make the previously mentioned $1 million fundraising effort part of the new Dharma Forward campaign.
Recently, the BCA sent a check for $25,000 to the Central California District. Although the money was originally earmarked for Central California temples receiving livestream feeds from the Orange County Buddhist Church, events at the Fresno Betsuin and the pandemic may have changed the needs of the Central California District.
Now, Dharma talks are coming from the Fresno Betsuin. Since most temples in the Central California District are not having in-person services, it may not make sense to provide the Central California temples with equipment to receive a signal from the Fresno Betsuin. At least, not now.
As for the other four projects, the BCA has done the work and will be reimbursed soon. Some of the projects, like the elevator at the headquarters building, ended up costing more than we expected. In fact, we have much more work to do on the elevator. Other projects, like the repair of the JSC upper level parking lot, did not cost as much as we anticipated. Fortunately, we included a large contingency fund in the 2019 recommendations to help with costs that exceeded our original estimates.
The Dharma Forward campaign has been able to raise the money to pay for the projects that were presented at the 2019 National Council meeting. Through donations large and small, we are trying to create a better world for Jodo Shinshu Buddhists. You will soon receive a brochure from the Dharma Forward campaign. In it, you will see how we are sharing the donations with the IBS. While the donations to BCA will help us improve the audio-visual services at the JSC, provide more scholarship money to ministerial aspirants at IBS, and help pay off the debt to the Endowment Foundation (among other things), the IBS will be able to fund their professorial chairs.
Exciting and great changes will come to the BCA and the IBS if we are successful in raising the $15 million for the Dharma Forward campaign. We are about a third of the way to our goal. Won’t you join us?