2009 Manning Park Retreat

Clear skies and warm rays of sunshine touched our bodies throughout the day and dark, chilly nights with bright twinkling stars brightened our evenings.

During the Manning Park Family Retreat everyone greeted each other with warm smiles. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves, meeting old friends and making new ones.

This LDC (Living Dharma Centre) sponsored program took place May 16-18 at the beautiful Manning Park in BC. It was attended by 112 participants including 62 adults, 26 youth (13-25), 16 children (6-12) and 8 children (5 and under). We were also honoured to have the presence of six Sensei’s who prepared seminars and dharma talks. 

The LDC, JSBTC (Jodo Shinshu Buddhist Temples of Canada) and our BCJSBCF (British Columbia Jodo Shinshu Buddhist Churches Federation) graciously provided funding to have local Sensei’s and their families attend.

Everyone helped to prepare, cook, cleanup and eat the fantastic meals during the weekend. The menu was unexpectedly enhanced with Kaz's home made soup. The youth entertained with a scavenger hunt, hide and go seek "Sardine Tag” and a create your own story/solve the mystery game called “Mafia”. The sunny afternoon was filled with a sports tournament including bocce ball, bedrock golf, horseshoes and ping pong. Bicycle decorations lead up to a grand parade and, like so many others in the past, Sora and Courtenay celebrated cycling without training wheels.

Mornings started with Nature Walks with Sensei Akune with an astounding attendance of 62 participants. After sewing chickens, adults finished their evenings by letting their chins wag and wet their lips with some rotted grapes. Workshops included self-defence, quiet sitting mediation, dharma discourse, self lead dharma discussions and gatha review.

Temple Dedication

On April 26, 2009, a Dedication Service was held to open the new Buddhist Temple of Southern Alberta. The celebration included a Chigo parade, a Japanese tradition when a temple or shrine is constructed. Children who participate are said to be "happy for life." The dedication of the new temple in Lethbridge, Alberta also marked the 80th anniversary of Buddhism in southern Alberta, drawing visitors from across Canada and Japan, including 10 ministers from Jodo Shinshu temples.

"I cannot help feeling the extensive change that has occurred in your community. I hope you will continue to invite your friends and gather as many people as possible to listen to the Dharma in the newly dedicated hall, and work toward the realization of a society in which everyone is able to live a life of spiritual fulfillment." -- Ohtani Koshin, Monshu, Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha

"A building can stand only as tall as its foundation allows. A temple can only grow as much as its members allow. A foundation is only as solid as the earth it sits on. A member is only as enriched as the Nembutsu path (s)he walks." -- Rev. Shigenori Makino

We can all be grateful for the magnificent new temple constructed by the members of the Buddhist Temple of Southern Alberta. After years of careful planning, which included the amalgamation of five smaller churches, the Temple is a new beginning that will ensure the growth of Buddhism in the Southern Alberta area. Looking forward, let this be the first step for Jodo Shinshu in Canada as we journey into the 21st century.


Glenbow Museum Celebration

One of the newest pieces in the Glenbow Museum in Calgary comes from the Raymond Buddhist Church. An ornate shrine has been recast in the role of a museum piece.

The shrine was built in Kyoto, Japan in the early 1930's. It is made of wood, gilt, and gold leaf. Its painted with a lacquer metal paint. The brilliant gold of the shrine and its elaborate decorations reflect Amida Buddha’s radiant compassion and wisdom. The scrolls on either side of the shrine represent Shinran Shonin (1173-1262 A.D.), who founded the school, and the Eighth Abbot, Rennyo Shonin (1411-1499 A.D.), who developed the sect in its present form. The Double Wisteria, representing humility and reverence to Amida Buddha, is the Jodo Shinshu crest.

Raymond Buddhist Church shrine, 1976, Glenbow Archives NA-5720-26

The Raymond Buddhist Church was the first Buddhist temple in southern Alberta. It operated from 1929 until May 21, 2006.

The building originally housed a school and a Mormon church before it was sold to the Buddhist community in 1929 for $5,000.00. The first focus of devotion for the congregation was a locally made shrine and a scroll from Japan. This magnificent shrine was received as a gift in 1946 from the Japanese community in Royston, B.C. The Amida Buddha statue was sent from New Westminster, B.C. The Raymond Buddhist Church was the social, spiritual and cultural centre of the Japanese community in this rural farming area. The Church ran a Japanese food store, and sponsored fun community gatherings, theatre performances, sports, parades, educational activities and spiritual events. The building was designated a Provincial Historic Site in 1984.

A small Japanese community worked in farming and coal-mining in Alberta prior to 1942. During the Second World War, Japanese-Canadians living in British Columbia were uprooted by the Canadian government and forced into internment camps, losing their homes and businesses. Due to a labour shortage, many Japanese-Canadians were sent to Alberta to work on sugar-beet farms where they faced many hardships. Gradually, they settled permanently in Lethbridge, Raymond, Coaldale, Taber, and Picture Butte. A Buddhist Church was founded in each location as a cultural centre of the community.

To celebrate the exhibit, Glenbow is having an afternoon of Japanese culture.
Rev. Leslie Kawamura and Rev. James Martin will lead a blessing ceremony for the beautiful Japanese Buddhist shrine recently donated to Glenbow.
Enjoy a wonderful dance performance by the Kaede Cultural Society and finish the afternoon with some tea and Japanese snacks.

Sunday, May 3, 2:00-4:00pm

Glenbow Museum
Level 2, Art of Asia Gallery
130–9 Avenue S.E. Calgary



Guide to Jodo Shinshu

The Calgary Buddhist Temple has put together a great guide available for downloading. It's called a "Guide to Jodo Shinshu Teaching and Practices."

The Guide was translated from Japanese to English by Kyojo S. Ikuta & Trudy Gahlinger of the Calgary Buddhist Temple.  It was originally developed as an introduction to Jodo Shinshu for the layperson.

Part One describes the life and teachings of the Buddha, and the history and evolution of Jodo Shinshu teachings.

While, Part Two discusses Jodo Shinshu practices, including Jodo Shinshu religious days and services.

It also answers the questions, "What is the Pure Land?" and "Who is an evil person?" The 63 page document (check your printer for ink and paper before downloading) also contains photos and information explaining the meaning and history of the ornaments and artifacts that comprise the Jodo Shinshu tradition.

The document was originally produced by the Renken Tokuhon Study Group in Japan.

The Guide is a great way to ready, study and understand the life of the Nembutsu.


Lethbridge Temple in Final Stages

On a chilly December 20, 2008 about a dozen volunteers moved the Butsudan from its storage at the Coaldale temple to its home at the new BTSA temple.

Thanks to the Coaldale members for storing the Butsudan and to those who came out to move it and photograph this historic occasion.

As of last month, our Fundraising Committee announced that our donations and pledges had passed the one million dollar mark. This is an amazing milestone. On behalf of the board of directors, I would like to thank to each of you who have committed to this fund, and to the Fundraising Committee. We still need donations so if you are planning to and have not yet done so please do so. Our Fundraising and Building Committees are now working on the final details of the donor wall so there is still time.

The new temple will be ready to occupy early in January and our hope is to hold Hoonko in the new temple on January 11, 2009. Before that we will be looking for help to move into the new building. The Program and Operations Committee is organizing Tobans that will look after the temple and are organizing how everything should be done. The co-chairs of the P&O committee are Lorita Ichikawa and Pat Sassa. They are doing a terrific job of getting everything organized so that the move will be smooth.

The coming year will be one for the history books for the BTSA as we move into the new building. There are still many unknowns and lots of challenges facing us, but we have proven in the last year that our members have the strength and courage to see these through. On behalf of the BTSA Board of Directors please accept our best wishes in the New Year.

David Major
President, Buddhist Temple of Southern Alberta
January 2009