JSBTC 2013 Annual General Meeting - Message from the President

The 2013 JSBTC AGM was held in Lethbridge on April 27th, 2013 at the Buddhist Temple of Southern Alberta (BTSA). At this meeting, the delegates approved the appointment of Bishop-elect Reverend Tatsuya Aoki from Vancouver Buddhist Temple and elected new members of the National Board.

Annual meetings of the JSBTC

The Jodo Shinshu Buddhist Temples of Canada would like to thank Bishop Grant Ikuta and his family for the sacrifices they have made during his two year leadership where we saw many developments including amongst others, the support of the World Women's Buddhist Convention 2015 in Calgary and the placement of Christina Yanko as a resident minister of Toronto Buddhist Church.

The National Board thanks the Steveston Buddhist Temple (SBT) for their support and accommodation in allowing Reverend Grant Ikuta to serve his past term as the shared Bishop and Temple minister.

Minister from across Canada meet at the Buddhist Temples of Southern Alberta

We are in deep gratitude to incoming Bishop-elect Tatsuya Aoki and to the Vancouver Buddhist Temple for their agreement to host the shared bishop position for the next two years. In choosing a new bishop to serve the dual role of temple minister and bishop, the JSBTC Director's Handbook provides a process to ensure that the nominee is capable and willing, that the host temple is willing to endure unforeseen sacrifices and that the nominee will be supported by the serving ministers in Canada.

At the AGM, the National Board put forward Reverend Aoki as the single minister that meets this criteria. This process requires a lot of agility, coordination, conflict resolution, contemplation and self-reflection for everyone involved. While there is an effort to be as transparent as possible, there is no doubt that private matters become important in a decision and must remain confidential.

Newly-elected Members of the Board of Directors of the JSBTC

The new board is keen to avoid conflicts of interest and regrets that we were unable to follow the delegates' guidance to select a President that is not from the same temple as the Bishop-elect. As a member of the past board and witness to the process, I thank and congratulate the new Minister Association Chair, Reverend Fujii and past-President Dave Ohori for their integrity, perseverance, diligence and resolve in working successfully with the Ministers, the National board and the temples involved.

On behalf of the National Board of the JSBTC, I express sincere appreciation to the Buddhist Temple of Southern Alberta family for their hosting of the AGM, pre and post AGM events and to the delegates, retiring directors and officers, retiring MA Chair for their contributions and leadership.

I look forward to everyone working together to make Jodo Shinshu Buddhism accessible for all Canadians.

Living in the dharma with hands together…

Greg Chor,
President, Jodo Shinshu Buddhist Temples of Canada

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.


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

Learning Jodo Shinshu Online

This letter recently appeared in the April 2008 edition of the Buddhist Temple of Southern Alberta newsletter (Hikari):

An exciting learning opportunity is happening! In response to a growing interest in Jodo Shinshu, the Jodo Shinshu Centre has established a correspondence course for those new to Jodo Shinshu and those who are already members and wish to deepen their understanding and appreciation.

 In preparation for a full launch of the Correspondence course later this year, a ten week pilot program was launched in January 2008 with participants from United States, Canada, Australia, Singapore and Japan. These included Lorita Ichikawa and Renae Barlow of BTSA (Buddhist Temple of Southern Alberta).

 Within this ten week period, participants engaged in activities anticipated to be part of the full version of study for the fall of 2008.

The pilot program topics included: 1)Buddha-Dharma - Sakyamuni Buddha and His Teaching, 2) An introduction to Jodo Shinshu Buddhism, 3) ShinShu II, and 4) History of ShinShu.

Each topic came with a 30- 40 page reference document with a list of other resources that could also be sought. An essay was required at the end of each section and there were usually a number of questions to choose from. Once the essay was submitted one or two of the instructors would respond within a couple of days with comments and suggestions.
Pilot project participants were then asked to provide comments, both of a positive and negative, that would improve the quality of the teachings. It was overall a very positive learning experience.

The online version of this course included establishing an online account on Moodle (educational web-based software) from which participants could review the outline of the course, download text material, writing and submit essays, chat with other students, receive feedback from instructors and provide feedback on the course. The feedback from participants will be considered by the organizing committee sometime in early April.

The full version correspondence course will be offered this September and is expected to span two years of part-time correspondence study. More details as to content, workload, and tuitions costs will be forthcoming in the next few months.

As a participant, I found the 10 week course informative and thought provoking. I felt the experience served to deepen my appreciation and understanding of Jodo Shinshu and ignited a desire to continue the studies. I am eagerly waiting to enrol in the fall courses. I hope that others feel compelled to take the course or at least participate in the study group that may be created from the ongoing teachings.
— In Gassho Renae Barlow, Lethbridge, Alberta


LDC and the Buddhist Temple of Southern Alberta

As an event of the Alberta Buddhist Conference (ABC) 2007, held in Lethbridge during the weekend of November 9 -11, the Ground-breaking Ceremony for the new BTSA Temple Building took place on the morning of November 11. The LDC looks forward to working closely with the new temple members once it is built and the Sangha is re-organized. On the completion of the Temple Building, the Sangha will consists of members of the former Raymond, Rosemary, and Taber Buddhist Churches, as well as the Lethbridge Buddhist Temple, and the Lethbridge Honpa Buddhist Church.

The Sangha and dignitaries gather at the site

Ground-breaking Ceremony

Alberta Buddhist Conference

The Alberta Jodo Shinshu Sangha held its 29th Alberta Federation Conference at the Lethbridge Lodge and the Lethbridge Honpa Temple from November 9-11, 2007.

The special Guest Minister was Koyo Kubose Sensei of the Gyomay Kubose Foundation in Chicago Illinois. He gave a most interesting talk on “..ing” to express the conference theme of “Embracing Buddhism” (Oshie wo Itadaku) in the simultaneous act of our embracing Buddhism as well as of the act of Buddhism embracing us. For his Sunday service dharma talk, he explained the significance of “ok” (the mudra or hand gesture of Amida Buddha) in the context of Jodoshinshu.

Other speakers at the conference were Dr. John Harding, University of Lethbridge and Sensei James Martin, Calgary Buddhist Temple. Socho Fujikawa gave an update of BCC activities.

At the conference banquet, hosted by Mr. Haji Sugimoto, Mrs. Toshiko Takeda and Mrs. Heidi Konosu were presented with the “Award of Gratitude” (Kansha-jo) for their untiring and subtle contribution to Buddhism in Alberta and in Canada. The term “subtle” is used here to describe that these two ladies quietly and unobtrusively worked for the betterment and progress of Jodoshinshu in Canada. Never have they complained about their participation in the church nor have they ever demanded to be noticed. They were always-ready and ever-lasting in their concern for the benefit to all. Congratulations to both. Unfortunately, owing to Mrs. Konosu’s Nirvana, she was not able to be recognized in person.

Mrs. Takeda receiving her “Award of Gratitude” from Socho Fujikawa

The Southern Alberta Buddhist Choir, that Mrs. Konosu single handedly established, entertained the attendants under the directorship of Mrs. Lorita Ichikawa with its harmonious presentions of 1) Sen no Kaze (A Thousand Winds), 2) Mojiji (Dream Autumn Dreams), 3) Mura Matsuri (Village Festival), 4) Sieya (Splendor of an Evening Sky) and 5) Circle of Life and Nembutsu. The choir was accompanied by Sololist, Charlotte Ikuta; Pianist, Jennifer Koba; and Flute & Drum, Andrew Ichikawa.

Watch the Southern Alberta Buddhist Choir perform “Seiya” (Splendor of An Evening Sky).

from L to R. (Dr. Kawamura, Socho Fujikawa, Sensei Izumi, Reverend Kobose, Sensei Ikuta, and Sensei Martin)

The conference services were led by Sensei Izumi (Buddhist Temple of Southern Alberta) and assisted by Reverend Kubose (Chicago), Sensei Susumu Ikuta and Sensei James Martin (Calgary Buddhist Temple), and LDC Director Leslie Kawamura (BCC & University of Calgary).