I used to worry about getting old.  But now that I am getting there (or already am there according to my sons), I realize that there are definite benefits!  For one thing….time seems to fly by!  It seems like my term as President just started a few months ago.  Actually, it started 2 years ago and my term ends at the end of this month.  Of course, maybe it doesn’t actually fly by….I just forget more and more!  So says the guy that can’t remember what he had for breakfast!

When I force myself to think back to the start of my term, it was a crazy time at the beginning of 2021.  We were in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.  All of the Betsuin facilities and programs were shutdown.  We began transitioning to virtual meetings.  The Board of Directors, our ministers and the office staff continued with the business of the church.  When things began looking up, we made the decision to have a partial in-person Obon after a year’s absence in 2020.  We had the “Sangha Summer” on Saturday with pre-ordered take-out meals plus some limited in-person entertainment.  Then “Obon at Home Mo Ichido”, the virtual portion of Obon was held on Sunday.  Sunday services continued throughout the year and were viewable on our YouTube channel.

2022 saw a gradual re-opening of our facilities.  In the Spring, the decision was made to go for a “full” Obon.  While we were missing a few of our normal booths, most came back and we had a very successful 2-day event.  Full re-opening of all facilities occurred in September with Dharma School, Japanese Language School, all youth organizations meeting again.  Throughout the pandemic, Lotus Preschool managed to continue to meet virtually at first, and then in-person with reduced numbers and very comprehensive COVID protocols.  

We have continued to work on the Generations Phase II program.  This new building which will replace our aging Education Building will be called the Dharma Center.  Together with our beautiful Hondo called the Buddha Center and the upgraded gym/annex called the Sangha Center, this new Dharma Center will complete our campus that will be an important part of Japantown.  This is the opportunity for our generation to leave a legacy for the future of our temple.  Fundraising has begun and we have raised over half of the total $15 million cost estimate.  We hope that you will consider supporting us in your year-end charity and tax plans.  In addition, we hope that you will take advantage of our improved online membership payment options including PayPal or credit card, and either one-time or installment payments, all available on our church website;  sjbetsuin.org.

By anyone’s definition, my two-year term as President has been unique.  We appear to have “weathered the storm” of this historic pandemic era.  It is very gratifying to me personally to see the return of our Sangha once again.  I would like to thank the many people that have supported and worked with me these last two years, especially Rinban Sakamoto and Mikame Sensei, the entire office staff, the Board of Directors, the Komon and many others…too many to name.  We are all fortunate to be a part of such a vibrant Sangha.  

In Gassho,