President’s article, April, 2018

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After nearly 40 years as a Buddhist minister and more than 11 years as head minister in San Jose, Rinban Ken Fujimoto will retire at the end of the year. Rinban Fujimoto will become 70 in December, the age that, because of retirement benefits and other reasons, has become a benchmark time for many ministers to end their official duties as a minister.

Plans are under way for a smooth transition to a new head minister. Bishop Kodo Umezu, the religious head of our sect of Buddhism in the mainland United States, has forwarded his recommendation to Nishi Honganji headquarters in Kyoto, Japan, and as I write this, is waiting for a decision.

There will be more written about Rinban in the months to come, but I’d like to thank him for his lifetime of dedication to the spread of Jodo Shinshu Buddhism in the United States, his leadership of the Betsuin and being a sounding board for me while I’ve been president.

We are planning festivities to honor and thank Rinban Fujimoto. You’ll be hearing about those plan in the near future. In the meantime, if you want to hear more about Rinban’s retirement, come to the Hanamatsuri service, on April 8 at 10 a.m. in the gym.


Buddhist Churches of America National Council Meeting

Every year, all ministers, presidents, and other temple representatives gather for a BCA business meeting. This year it occurred last month in Sacramento.

There was controversy over a proposal that BCA sell the headquarters building in San Francisco if $5 million wasn’t raised by the end of this year to pay off the debt on the Jodo Shinshu Center in Berkeley.

The proponents of the proposal said the move, while regrettable, was necessary because BCA owes the BCA Endowment Fund about $3.6 million, the remaining amount of money the fund loaned to BCA to pay off the bank construction loan used to build the Jodo Shinshu Center more than a decade ago. BCA is still obligated to fully repay the endowment fund, and money to make the annual payments is getting tight, they said.

But opponents said the proposal came up too suddenly, without discussions with the Endowment Fund about renegotiating the debt or with the Buddhist Church of San Francisco, which is located adjacent to the headquarters and whose members use the headquarters elevator as an access to the temple.

After a long, sometimes emotional discussion, the proposal was defeated by a vote of 131 (no) to 32 (yes). The national council decided to create a special committee to study the issue, including members of the endowment fund and the San Francisco temple, and come back with a recommendation at next year’s annual meeting in Phoenix, Arizona.


Pine Tree Update

We’re still winding our way through the city government processes to get a permit to cut down and replace the pine tree located in front of the Annex Building, which two arborists have told us is dying and should be removed.

We filed an application with what we thought was the proper city office, but it turned out that the office is in charge of trees along the sidewalk. But because the pine tree is located on temple property, the paperwork needed to be filed with another office. Once we get the necessary approval, the tree will be cut down, and we will replace it. Total cost is estimated to be about $4,000.


Annex Building sound system

The new sound system for the gym, multi-purpose room and kitchen was installed in late February, and got its first big tests with the Boy Scout dinner on March 10 and the Girl Scout Sunday service the following day. Except for a microphone glitch during the service, the system worked well during the two events, and the sound was clear throughout the building.

The $53,000 project installed six ceiling speakers in the gym, additional speakers in the multi-purpose room and kitchen, a new HD video camera in the Hondo, and two iPads to control the system. During an initial test of the camera, the camera zoomed into what Rev. Sakamoto was writing on a board in the Hondo during a service, and you could clearly read the words!

Thank you to the committee who researched the issue, talked to two vendors, tested one of the systems, and oversaw the installation. Members of the committee were: Todd Tsudama, Steve Onishi, Ken Furukawa and Al Hironaga.


In gassho

Dennis Akizuki