For the first time ever, the BCA National Council Meeting was held virtually on Zoom on Feb. 26-27. The BCA Ministers Association held its meeting the week before (also on Zoom) on Feb. 19.
Rev. Marvin Harada, Bishop of the BCA, reminded everyone that the BCA theme for 2021 was “Sharing the Dharma Virtually.” He told the meeting attendees that there were 11 candidates for the Spring 2022 Kiyoshi training session that will take place in Japan. Of these candidates, six have indicated that they would like to become full-time BCA ministers. His report indicated that Rev. Kakuyei Tada passed away in September 2020.
Rev. Jerry Hirano, Director of the Center for Buddhist Education, indicated that the CBE would be producing two seminars monthly. He noted that attendance at the virtual programs is larger than when the programs were held in person. He appreciated the donations to the CBE made by the participants.
Kevin Arakaki, BCA Controller, presented the BCA financial reports. The federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan obtained by the BCA last year was not in the report because the determination that the loan would be forgiven was not made until after the reports were written. The loan information will be in next year’s report.
Charles Ozaki, president of the BCA Endowment Foundation Board, indicated that many BCA investments lost value early in the pandemic, but finished the year ahead of expectations. As a result, the Growth A portfolio increased by 20.3% in 2020. Growth B increased by 19.0%, Growth and Income increased by 15.3%, and Income increased by 7.8%.
Rev. Kiyoshi Kuwahara, Director of the Jodo Shinshu International Office, announced that there were 39 students enrolled in the Fall 2020 semester of the Correspondence Course. There have been 294 graduates from this course since its inception in 2008.
Jeff Matsuoka, BCA Treasurer, informed the attendees that approximately $95,000 was raised in the Dana Program for Buddhist educational programs. The BCA received $297,984 from the PPP loan obtained in 2020. That money was all used for BCA payroll. The BCA obtained a new loan from the program again this year.
Matsuoka reminded the attendees that the BCA is still paying on a $3,335,469 loan from the Endowment Foundation for construction of the Jodo Shinshu Center. A loan payment of $148,314.80 will be made to the Endowment Foundation on June 30, 2021. The BCA allocated $407,000 for the Institute of Buddhist Studies from the 2021-2022 budget. This allocation represents a 5% decrease from last year’s budget.
The National Council voted to approve taking out another PPP loan this year and approved the 2021-2022 BCA budget. The per member dues amount is $151.18. For the first time in many years, the per member dues amount decreased from the previous year. Had our BCA membership not also decreased, the per member dues amount would have been even less.
Gary Mukai, chair of the Propagation and Membership Committee, told the attendees that the Individual Membership program that began at last year’s National Council Meeting, has more than 20 members now. Our individual members generally do not live near an existing BCA temple. The dues that come from the individual members helps to offset the BCA’s budget income and helps to decrease the per member dues amount.
This year, the National Council voted to approve having an under age 30 member category where each new young member pays only $50 per year. The under age 30 member can already be an existing temple member. When each temple reports their membership from now on, there will be two categories. One category will be the under age 30 member and the other category is the regular member. Both need to be reported starting now.
I will continue to write about this year’s National Council Meeting in next month’s column.