Generations: Building Our Sangha in Appreciation for the Buddha Dharma

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Dear Sangha Members and Friends of the Betsuin,

We have selected the title “Generations: Building Our Sangha in Appreciation for the Buddha Dharma” to express our message for this capital and building campaign.

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A little over 100 years ago, in carving out a new life in a new land, the pioneer Japanese immigrants, the Issei, established our temples as places to hear the teaching of the Nembutsu, to hold the rites of passage in life and as safe havens to gather. They overcame countless hardships in the process, adjusting to a new language and new customs, the Depression and prejudice. They struggled to not only establish their families but to ensure that those families, their children and grandchildren would have a safe place where they could gather and feel pride in their heritage, they built our Hondo or Buddha Hall.

Over 50 years ago, after returning from the relocation camps, our parents and grandparents built the Annex. The facility provided for the growing Sangha to gather and be with one another and the rest of the community, to have dances, large services and funerals, and sporting events. Today, the San Jose Buddhist Church Betsuin continues to serve as a gathering place to share the Buddha-dharma.

It is now up to us to continue to ensure that our children and grandchildren will have the same opportunities to encounter the Dharma together in safe and beautiful facilities.

Our core values, to learn and to share the Jodo Shinshu teachings, have not changed for the last 100 years nor will they change in the next 100 years. Although it is true that we do not need buildings to spread the Nembutsu teachings, one of the Three Treasures—Sangha—encourages us to gather together with our families, friends and communities. We encourage and invite our Sangha to come to the temple and participate in our activities and services. It is through being a part of the Sangha that we experience the truth of our teachings.

Therefore, it is imperative that we provide an environment that is safe and seismically sound. It is also necessary that the facilities be welcoming and comfortable while the Sangha engages in activities, whether it is, a major service, a funeral, or a community event. The reality is that there will be less interest and desire, regardless of our message, if our buildings are old, uncomfortable, inaccessible and unsafe.

When the world’s attention was drawn to the disaster in North Eastern Japan, it heightened our awareness that we must address our own needs and work as quickly as possible to assure that we provide safe facilities for our members. The San Jose Buddhist Church Betsuin Board of Directors has been hard at work directing our attention to the need to update and/or replace our aging buildings, which include the Annex and the classroom building.

The Annex is a type of structure called a “tilt up” building and does not meet present seismic requirements, which have become much stricter since the building was built 50 years ago. Seismic experts have told us that between the Annex and the classroom building, that the Annex is the more likely suffer catastrophic failure in a major earthquake. This does not mean that the Annex is condemned, but we have a duty to take corrective action as soon as possible. After discussion with seismic engineers, we have decided to retrofit and remodel the Annex building first. The Board realizes that the classroom building needs to be replaced and it is the intent of the Board to act on the classroom building with all deliberate speed.

As we embark on a capital campaign to undertake these tasks, it is our sincere hope that everyone in our Sangha will express their gratitude for the efforts of the pioneer members and support us in preserving our core values by ensuring that future generations will have a safe and beautiful place to learn, experience and share the Jodo Shinshu understanding of the Three Treasures—Buddha, Dharma and Sangha.

In Gassho,

San Jose Buddhist Church Betsuin

Board of Directors