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NCM Lived Up to Theme of ‘Nembutsu: Appreciate Every Encounter’

The 2023 Ministers Association and National Council meetings were held online last month by the Coast District Council. The theme, “Nembutsu: Appreciate Every Encounter,” was conveyed throughout the event and resonated with many.

The planning committee, led by Perry Yoshida and Linda Kadani, worked diligently for two years. We are grateful for their time and efforts in facilitating the annual event, which was held virtually over a six-day period.

The 2023 Ministers Association and National Council meetings began on Feb. 17 with the Ministers Association meeting conducted by chairperson Rev. Harry Bridge. The following day was filled with inspiring presentations and informative workshops.

The topic for the Town Hall session was this year’s BCA theme, “The Benefits of Following the Shin Buddhist Path.” Moderated by Bishop Rev. Marvin Harada, six presenters shared their personal benefits. Gregg Krech and Rev. Takashi Miyaji shared the benefits of a life of gratitude. Rev. Maribeth Smith and Rev. Gary Jaskula shared the benefits of a teaching that embraces all and forsakes all. Jo Ann Tanioka of the Orange County Buddhist Church and David Correia, Minister’s Assistant of the Monterey Peninsula Buddhist Temple, shared the benefits of being part of a Sangha. The afternoon workshops were presented by the Social Welfare Committee, Ministerial Affairs Committee, Executive Committee, Dharma Forward campaign and Endowment Foundation.

Events continued Feb. 23 with the Institute of Buddhist Studies symposium. Reflecting on the theme, Rev. Harry Bridge, Rev. Dr. David Matsumoto, Rev. Melissa Opel and Rev. Todd Tsuchiya shared their appreciation of Shinran Shonin’s teachings and their life experiences.

On Feb. 24-25, the two-day National Council meeting was conducted with more than 175 delegates. BCA ministers, temple representatives, BCA committee chairpersons and affiliated organization representatives, BCA staff, and IBS board. The Jodo Shinshu International Office and BCA Endowment Foundation joined the Executive Committee and the Directors at Large.

We also welcomed guests David Atcheson and Wayde Toyama from the Hompa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii and Laura Sugimoto from the Jodo Shinshu Buddhist Temples of Canada.

The business meeting included the acceptance of the 2023-2024 budget, an update report on the Dharma Forward campaign, approval to amend the ministerial salary guidelines, a presentation by the Vision and Strategic Planning Committee, the submission of 40 written reports and the election of three new Director at Large members to the National Board.

Congratulations to Darlene Bagshaw (Stockton), Nadine Kakimoto (Gardena), and Koichi Sayano (Los Angeles).

In addition to the business portion of the meeting, a harassment training program was presented by Camille Pating. We appreciate her work in sharing her expertise. We are also grateful to Rev. Dr. Kenji Akahoshi’s presentation, “A Guide to Attracting New Members.” On behalf of the Propagation and Membership Committee, Rev. Dr. Akahoshi shared ideas and recommendations. I hope the temple leaders will try to implement some of these methods. Meeting delegates also had a networking opportunity to meet in smaller breakout groups to reflect on the topic, what benefits have they received while following the Shin Buddhist path.

The event concluded on Feb. 26 with the BCA National Eitaikyo service conducted by Bishop Rev. Marvin Harada and the Coast District ministers. You may have watched it from your home or in your temple hondo with other Sangha members. It was a meaningful service as we expressed gratitude to all those who have gone before us for their efforts to allow us to receive the Dharma. Special musical offerings were presented by San Jose Taiko, June Kuramoto and Kimo Cornwell of the iconic musical group Hiroshima, the duo Ko-Ha (Miharu Okamura and Miko Shudo) with Rev. Harry Bridge, and a collaborative rendition of “Ondokusan II” produced by the BCA Music Committee.

The inspiring Dharma message was given by Rev. Gerald Sakamoto. There is still an opportunity to view this special service on the Buddhist Churches of America YouTube channel.


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