A new vision for the BCA that will — for the first time — incorporate long-range strategic planning was unveiled at the National Board meeting and was immediately greeted with enthusiasm from several BCA officials.
“We’re going to develop a Vision and Strategic Planning Committee with the intention of moving into a forward-looking type of perspective,” said BCA Vice President John Arima at the Dec. 3 National Board meeting. He will oversee the new committee, which replaces the Evaluation and Planning Committee.
According to Arima, the two main purposes of the Vision and Strategic Planning Committee are:
Updating and maintaining the shared vision of BCA.
Developing and maintaining three-, five- and 10-year strategic plans for the BCA.
“I think the most challenging aspect that I see coming out of this is how to organize input across all the temples, functional organizations and affiliated organizations,” Arima said. “And when I say functional organizations, I mean our partners like IBS and the Endowment Foundation that are not formally part of BCA.”
He said the aim of the committee is “to get as much broad input, so that a shared vision will help drive BCA’s strategic planning,” and it will cover “as many of the constituencies, interests and concerns as possible.”
The other part of that shared vision “is to make sure that the mission and vision are supportable and sustainable by the organization,” which leads to the strategic planning and development of long-range plans for the BCA.
“The (committee’s) focus is building the future of Jodo Shinshu Buddhism in America,” Arima said.
Arima said he discovered the need for long-range planning in his work, along with BCA National Board Director Bradley Menda, on the Dharma Forward campaign Facilities and Organization Pillar. He found there was no five- or 10-year plan for facilities.
“There was no clear vision and mission that says in five or 10 years, this is what BCA strives to become,” he said. “So, without that type of vision, moving beyond just the immediate things that we need to take care of, and kind of taking care of the status quo, we didn’t see a strong guideline to enable us to really think strategically beyond the short term.”
He emphasized that the strategic plan has to remain consistent with the fundamental teachings of Shinran Shonin and with Shin Buddhism.
Arima said the committee will begin recruiting for members in early 2023.
“Again, I want to emphasize that the success of the committee is going to require membership and input from the widest range of BCA constituents as possible,” Arima said. “Every district, every organization, every functional group, every partner — that’s the only way that we’re going to develop a meaningful vision that’s inclusive of all perspectives across BCA.”
Arima noted that the new Kyoshi ministers in the BCA would be valuable committee members because they would be part of BCA for the future. He also mentioned the importance of getting input from the BCA temples and churches beyond the West Coast such as those in the Eastern District, “where it’s more difficult for them to be connected.” Notably, both Ekoji Buddhist Temple President Andrea Chapman and Cheral Tsuchiya of the Twin Cities Buddhist Association reacted with positive comments about the new committee.
Arima said he hopes to have the committee formed — with a project proposal — by the National Board meeting in June.
BCA Treasurer Jeffery Matsuoka called the committee “important” and pointed to the invaluable need for long-range planning with the BCA budget, saying that the current year-to-year — or, at most, two years — manner of operation is not sufficient, especially for the growth of the organization.
Arima brought up the example of the useful life of facilities such as heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC).
“Those things have an effective life and instead of waiting for the end of that life and suddenly trying to figure out how to pay for replacement or repair, we’ve been actually incrementally putting away the funds as part of the BCA budgeting process, so that it’s not going to be a big surprise,” he said.
“It really comes down to what would be the equivalent of retained earnings, so, we need to accept the reality that we need to have retained earnings, that we can’t just live hand to mouth,” he continued. “And there has to be purpose for that retained earning. It can’t just be, ‘I’m going to put money under my mattress just because I think I might need it later.’ Those are the things we want to try to help develop for BCA.“
San Jose Betsuin Rinban Rev. Gerald Sakamoto praised the idea of the new committee and Arima’s work.
“I think it’s so important for our organization to have a clear vision and mission statement,” Rev. Sakamoto said. “It seems obvious what our mission should be, but we haven’t really thought it through and shared that mission throughout our organization, so that whenever we come up against a choice of some kind regarding our organization, the decision should align with what our vision is. Our vision shouldn’t be about generating new revenue or generating new members. I think that the vision and mission really speaks to the core of our organization. ‘Why are we here? What is our purpose?’”
BCA President-Elect Steve Terusaki said he looks forward to the committee and the results that it will generate.
“It goes back to your statement that if we don’t really understand what our future is all about, we can’t really define the needs, and therefore, it really is hard to go out to members and ask for donations,” he said. “But once we can create this vision of what we want to be in the future, based on our purpose and our mission, we can be really clear about real programs, real initiatives that become so much more part of a reason for members to open their wallets. We can follow it up with demonstrable results because ultimately, people want to contribute, if in fact they know that their dollars are being used wisely and working toward a future that we can all support.”