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Happy 123rd Anniversary, BCA!

In 1899, Rev. Dr. Shuye Sonoda and Rev. Kakuryo Nishijima arrived in San Francisco from Japan in response to help fill a void in the hearts of Jodo Shinshu Buddhists living in the United States. This was the beginning of the now Buddhist Churches of America organization with September 1 known as BCA Founding Day.

We owe a deep debt of gratitude to Nishi Hongwanji-Ha in Kyoto for answering the request, to Rev. Sonoda and Rev. Nishijima for setting the foundation of Jodo Shinshu Buddhism in the United States, and to all of the ministers, Dharma teachers, and Sangha members before us. Their efforts, sacrifices, and perseverance have allowed us to receive the Dharma today. They have provided all of us a wonderful spiritual tradition and Shinran Shonin’s teachings shared by dedicated ministers, Minister’s Assistants, and teachers.

BCA is fortunate to have the Archives-Historic Preservation Committee: Sandy Saeki, Chairperson, Rev. William Briones and Rev. Kory Quon, Ministerial Advisors.

The primary mission of the committee is to continue the work on capturing the rich history of the BCA and its temples. In 2018, the BCA archive collection was donated to UCLA as the materials are preserved for future reference work, research purposes, and general enrichment.

Throughout the 123 years, the BCA members have supported the organization as well as their respective temples and churches. To continue their efforts in sustaining BCA and its temples and sharing the Dharma, the Propagation and Membership Committee was established with Gary Mukai, Chairperson, Rev. Yuki Sugahara and Rev. Matthew Hamasaki, Ministerial Advisors.

The committee develops strategies for disseminating information about Jodo Shinshu Buddhism, especially in areas of the United States that do not have a temple in the general vicinity. The committee also addresses concerns in regards to BCA membership through programs to promote membership development and retention.

This month, the newly appointed Ad hoc BCA Arts Committee will be presenting the second annual BCA Virtual Art Exhibit. The Committee Chairperson is Rev. Dennis Fujimoto. The purpose of the committee is to share the Dharma through visual arts, to provide an opportunity for our talented members, and to express their thoughts, visions, and reflections. I hope you take some time to visit the Virtual Art Exhibit.

The Dharma can also be shared through music. In our Jodo Shinshu tradition we chant Sutras, we sing songs, and some temples have choirs. We have listened to the Japanese court music, gagaku, played during special ceremonies.

Buddhist taiko groups were developed in the United States over 50 years ago, thanks to the creativity of Kinnara Taiko of the Senshin Buddhist Temple. We have talented members who composed Buddhist-themed music.

The BCA Music Committee, which consists of Kemi Nakabayashi, Chairperson, Rev. Katsuya Kusunoki and Rev. Tadao Koyama, Ministerial Advisors, is the largest committee with volunteers representing the eight districts of BCA. They have provided enriching webinars and recently commissioned a new Bon Odori song and dance by Nobuko Miyamoto, called “Kangi-e.” You may have recently danced to “Kangi-e” this year at your temple’s Bon Odori or watched it on the BCA’s Virtual Bon Odori last month.

I hope you are enjoying the programs these committees are providing as they continue the vision of Rev. Sonoda and Rev. Nishijima, sharing Jodo Shinshu Buddhism in the United States.


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