The Jodo Shinshu Center – Fifth Anniversary Milestone

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By Glenn Kameda, JSC Facility Manager

The Jodo Shinshu Center will mark five years in operation (8/3/2006 – 8/3/2011) this August. Five years is not a long time line, but I guess it depends on your point of reference. For me five years ago was a turning point from retirement to active retired.

Today, the BCA greatly benefits from active retired kaikyoshi ministers; so why shouldn’t I join the ranks of active retired in the capacity of “Interim Facility Manager” of the Jodo Shinshu Center.

Five years ago the JSC was in the midst of final preparations to receive the “ondobo – ondogyo” (fellow travelers – fellow seekers) of the dharma. Yes, Richard Endo and I did our daily shopping for blankets, pillows, comforters, order linen, towels, buy soap, shampoos, pots and pans, utensils, plates and on and on. Richard also set up a computer format to log hotel/dorm reservations, install a Master Activity Calendar, and whatever else was needed to operate, log, and maintain records of operation. I on the other hand set up a facility operations management plan that included support services for routine and periodic maintenance. It’s hard to believe that all this was five years ago and we both are still at it, although Richard got elected as BCA treasurer and left me for a more challenging task.

I believe that the Jodo Shinshu Center as a Learning and Training Center for Buddhist Churches of America’s Center for Buddhist Education and Institute of Buddhist Studies graduate school has exceeded our expectations. The Center for Buddhist Education has provided programs on and off site for Youths, Dharma School Teachers, Young Buddhist Association members, adults of all ages, Youth Advocacy Committee’s Youth Ministry program, Ministers Assistant Program currently there are over 80 certified Assistants, and Ministers Continuing Education sessions. Each year the participation numbers have increased, the Jodo Shinshu Center programs has become a “spiritual awakening” for “ondobo – ondogyo” in so many ways. The Institute of Buddhist Studies school enrollment has multiplied several folds and they continue to add new programs; the latest a graduate studies in Buddhist Chaplaincy.

The JSC has also provided opportunities and a home base for Hongwanji’s two programs, the International Ministry Orientation Program and the Jodo Shinshu Correspondence Course on Buddhism and Jodo Shinshu. The Jodo Shinshu Center is now home for the Buddhist Churches of America’s Bookstore (formerly located at BCA Headquarters in San Francisco. The Bookstore with its web site has gained much visibility, as well as sales and has supported the many CBE programs on and off site. And last but not least Ryukoku University has established a western shore base at the JSC. The acronym RUBeC (Ryukoku University Berkeley Center) was chosen for its new operation center within the JSC. The RUBeC program provides its University students an opportunity to study English language and American culture. Throughout the year, groups of 25 to 30 are here for a semester and/or between semester programs. They live off site as home-stay and/or at the YMCA or University of California campus facility.

Several organizations religious and nonreligious have inquired about leasing and/or holding their events at the JSC. For the past two years the Northern California Zen group has hosted its Sat/Sun twice a year workshop at the Jodo Shinshu Center. The Zen group has found the setting and accommodations to exceed any place it has met.

Today the JSC is operating at 85% capacity during the daytime, 40% nighttime, and 70% during the weekends. Routinely, classes, events, seminars, retreats, and other activities begin in earnest first of February and not let up until mid December. The JSC has been hosting more individual temple group visits for a day and/or for the weekend, and district groups such as Jr. YBA. The Youth of today have found the JSC a special place for their meeting site, a place to plan their own activities, renew friendship, to study, share a moment in their lives and to plan and look forward to their next gathering. The activities and opportunities encourages some “young folks” to consider a Jodo Shinshu ministry as a career choice.

The JSC financial operation is unique within the BCA. It operates financially independent of the BCA’s general operating budget. How can that be—and yet, it is the membership who benefits from the Learning and Training Center.

The JSC has managed to operate financially independent because its tenants share in the operating cost. To date, all of the financial challenges have been met. The JSC operational cost is financed through a formula of square-footage cost to operate and allocating percentage shares to tenants. Hotel lodging and direct donations add to the income source. Please be aware that the JSC mortgage has not been inclusive in the operational cost.

The BCA Bookstore is in its fourth year of operation at the JSC. Sales have steadily grown but not yet self-sustaining the original target for self-sustaining operation was and still is five years of operation.

Being in the midst of the dayto- day operation of the JSC and its learning and training activities and events, as well as hosting visitors, liaison role between tenants, as well as hosting most of the BCA National Board, Executive Committee and affiliated organization meetings has given me a rare experience. I have gained much insight into the BCA operation, and have seen the awareness and awakening to the dharma by students of all ages. I have been moved by the sincerity and dedication by the MAP, YAC, MCE, TechnoBuddha, Baby- Boomers, Temple Leaders, IBS students, and the countless ondobo ondogyo.

My personal thought is that the JSC site, activities, events, classes, and training, are priceless. I believe the BCA membership and its many dharma friends with their helping hands, their encouragement, and their spiritual guide have made the JSC and its offerings immeasurably priceless.

The JSC will commemorate its first five year of operation and accomplishments with a special event on Sunday, Dec. 4, following the BCA Ministers Association and the National Board meeting of Dec. 2 and 3 respectively. You are all welcome to attend. Schedule of event details will be announced later this year.

Thank you for allowing me to have received so much this past five years, and yes, I even had many moments of pleasure commuting one hundred thousand miles to the JSC during the five years. No speeding ticket, no accident, and an average of three hours per day coming and going, or is it going and coming —- I lost track.