At the time that I am writing this, all eyes are on Ukraine and Russia. For inexplicable reasons, Vladimir Putin has chosen to invade Ukraine. Our BCA Social Welfare Committee is working on sending funds to the relief agencies in Eastern Europe taking care of Ukrainian refugees. The world is looking to Putin to end the hostilities.
More locally, on our continent, we were saddened to hear of the vandalism that took place at the Calgary Buddhist Temple. Being the site of the 2015 World Buddhist Women’s Convention, some of you may have had the chance to see their temple as the renovation work was finishing. I made a donation to their temple on behalf of BCA to help clean up the graffiti and replace the lettering that was removed from the temple walls.
In our BCA world, we were saddened to hear of members of the Tri-State/Denver Buddhist Temple and Longmont Buddhist Temple who either lost their homes or were affected by the Marshall Fire. Thanks to those who donated to the Colorado temples’ efforts to raise funds for the affected people.
And, I was saddened to hear of Herb Osaki’s death in February. Mr. Osaki was a member of the Oregon Buddhist Temple and was president of the BCA in 1982. On behalf of the BCA, I would like to offer the Osaki family condolences on his passing.
This will be my last column in the Wheel of Dharma as president of the BCA. On March 13, after the BCA Eitaikyo Service, Terri Omori from the Vista Buddhist Temple will become the BCA’s first woman president. Please watch the Eitaikyo Service and many of the activities surrounding our National Council Meeting that are open to everyone.
Although I will no longer be president of the BCA, I will now become the Chair of the BCA Ministers’ Pension and Retirement Committee and the Hongwanji Overseas Mutual Benefit Program. The latter will be turned over to Terri Omori once the charter has been rewritten. I am not a pension expert, but I did study pensions during law school and I oversee the retirement funds in my office. However, if anyone is an expert on pensions or retirement planning and would like to chair (or be on) the committee, please contact me. I would like to thank Harry Bergland from the Buddhist Church of Oakland for chairing the committee for the past many years.
I would like to thank Bishop Rev. Marvin Harada for leading our organization and for making so many sacrifices for our organization. Had it not been for his decision to not use the Bishop’s residence in Belmont (now called the “Waterloo property”) and to forgo having an office at BCA headquarters in San Francisco, we would not be able to rent out the second floor of the BCA headquarters building and the Waterloo property. Though both properties need maintenance work, both properties are now generating income for the BCA.
I would also like to thank Gayle Noguchi and the BCA staff for all the work that they did on my behalf. Our former BCA president, Rick Stambul, taught Gayle well, because I was not able to oversee her work at headquarters/home as closely as Rick did. Nonetheless, Gayle did exemplary work and was able to take care of the business of running the BCA with little supervision from me. She and the rest of the BCA staff worked flawlessly during the pandemic when most people were working from home.
I would also like to thank the BCA Executive Committee for their tireless work and dedication to the BCA membership. We met more times during the past two years than any BCA Executive Committee has ever met. Traditionally, the BCA Executive Committee meets in person about three times a year. In 2021, our committee met nine times. These meetings lasted for hours. It is incredible how dedicated and proficient the members of this committee are. The BCA is extremely fortunate to have everyone from this committee returning (with the addition of John Arima) for another two years.
Finally, I would like to thank the ministers and members of the BCA for allowing me to be president of this organization again. The past two years have been marked by a pandemic that affected all of our temples. As we get to the point of slowly opening out temples again, I hope that all of you realize what BCA has done for our temples and members during this difficult time.