It’s no secret that the world is ready to turn the page on the challenges of 2020.
At the same time, these challenges brought the essentials of our lives into focus. Physical separation from our temples gave us new determination to stay connected to the Dharma and each other through online services, Dharma discussions, and Sangha activities.
In that spirit, our BCA Communications Technology and Outreach Subcommittee has been hard at work over the past year on our new BCA website. Coming from backgrounds in marketing, technology, communications, and temple leadership, the subcommittee undertook an extensive review of the current BCA website to identify opportunities for growth.
While the website primarily serviced BCA members looking for news and event information, we felt that more could be done to share our teachings with newcomers and others searching for Buddhist perspectives.
Outreach feels especially important in a period that has shown the world the depth of its divisiveness and inequality, with increasing numbers of Americans exhausted and looking for other approaches to life.
We then asked ourselves, “What is the core Shin Buddhist message we would like to share?”
In the new BCA logo at the top of our website, you’ll find a response in our tagline, “Life of Gratitude.”
As BCA Bishop Rev. Marvin Harada writes, “Countless Buddhists have lived very modest lives, yet had profound gratitude for the teachings, for simple things like a home, a job, food on the table, friends and family, and above all, for life itself … This is why we need the Shin Buddhist teachings. This is why we need the Dharma in our life, so that we might awaken to all that we have received, are receiving, and will continue to receive from this thing called life.”
Our goals were to bring the website up to current design standards and style trends; present engaging, image-forward Buddhist content; and develop a narrative approach for newcomers to experience the breadth of our teachings, temples, and organization. We also wanted clear guidance to connect visitors to a local temple, service, education activity, or videos to learn more.
New features for our members include BCA Connect News, our blog which will now include individual articles from the “Wheel of Dharma” that you can link to or share on your temple websites and social media, and Events, with clearer listings of event dates, details and registration information.
For future development, we hope to expand Buddhist study materials, videos, and music content available to our members, and we are working to add the BCA Online Bookstore to our website for “one-stop shopping.”
If our core message is Life of Gratitude, we express that message through our Sanghas. Threaded through different sections of the new site, you’ll find reflections from our members on how the teachings guide them in their everyday lives. Reading the responses from the members we contacted has been the highlight of this endeavor for me. I was moved by their thoughtfulness and openness to share their joys and difficulties, and I know that visitors will be touched as well.
Thank you to Rev. Harada, Judy Kono, Brad Ito, Tyler Moriguchi, Rick Kawamura, and Koichi Mizushima for their year of dedication to this effort. Special thanks to Jim Shimomaye for his many years of service as BCA webmaster; Keri Kubota of Our Garden Collective for her graphic design work; and Alex Tsukahara, our invaluable BCA Digital Content Assistant, who braved my ramblings to him nearly every day these past months as he worked on our new website.
We hope you’ll enjoy the new buddhistchurchesofamerica.org!