The Adult Buddhist Association has been contributing to the temple for nearly 70 years.
Famous these days for the wildly successful annual rummage sale, ABA (pronounced ah-bah) as it is known by many, started under a different name in 1953. The Nisei (second generation Japanese American) Buddhist Society was founded by former Junior Young Buddhist Association members and members of the Jr. Fujinkai (women’s association) who combined to form one organization. Its name was changed to the Adult Buddhist Association in 1990, to recognize the fact that many Sansei (third generation Japanese Americans) had joined the group.
The preamble to the original NBS constitution said: “We pledge to perpetuate the teachings of the Buddha, to strengthen our personal faith, to develop leadership among Buddhist groups, and to cooperate in the promotion of mutual welfare of the Buddhist movement.”
Over the years, ABA members have more than fulfilled the goals from that preamble. They have sponsored a retirement fund for ministers, published a book that outlined Buddhist funeral customs, helped lead the fundraising to construct the Annex building, financed new robes for ministers, and spearheaded the purchase of an organ for the temple.
The association has been active in major temple and community events such as Obon, church clean-up, the Yu-Ai Kai Keiro Kai and mochitsuki. ABA’s own annual rummage sale is one of the most anticipated activities at the temple, bringing together a dizzying array of clothes, books, shoes, jewelry, kitchen ware and art work. Members also enjoy getting together for fun activities such as a post-Obon steak barbecue and joint outings with the Buddhist Women’s Association.
ABA members have formed the backbone of the temple leadership. A number of them have become temple presidents and dozens have served on the Betsuin Board of Directors. ABA members have also served as president of the Buddhist Churches of America. In 1969, three women from the organization blazed a new path for temple leadership when they became the first women on the Board.
Membership is open to anyone in the Sangha.
As ABA approaches its 70th anniversary, the organization is looking for new members to help continue their mission. One member says they will do “the best we can as our Issei and Nisei brothers and sisters did and do our best to carry the legacy they started to support the Betsuin and the Buddha Dharma.”