‘An Inspiration to Everyone’

Members of OCBC and special guests pose in front of the new Hondo following the dedication ceremony. (Photo by GREG GOODMAN)

By J.K. YAMAMOTO, Rafu Staff Writer

ANAHEIM — More than 750 people turned out Oct. 8 for the long-awaited dedication of the newly renovated Hondo (main hall) at Orange County Buddhist Church in Anaheim.

The invitation-only ceremony marked the completion of OCBC’s 50th Anniversary Project. Phase 1 was the new Social Hall; Phase 2 was the Hondo as well as the onaijin (altar area) and courtyard. The total cost, raised over the last 10 years, was $9.3 million.

Rev. Marvin Harada reflects on the 50th Anniversary Project.

Guests included members of OCBC’s pioneer families, former church presidents, ministers from other Buddhist Churches of America temples, and the bishop of the BCA, which is headquartered in San Francisco.

Jim Pollard, OCBC religious chair, called the occasion “a notable moment for Jodo Shinshu Buddhism in America.”

Pointing out the altar furnishings, Pollard said, “Nearly everything you see on the naijin was placed here by the pioneer members more than 50 years ago. The furnishings have been restored to their original brilliance and given modern illumination by the Wakabayashi Company in Kyoto. Also, next door in the Nokotsudo (columbarium), you will see the beautifully restored butsudan that was used by the Orange County Sangha in Stanton prior to locating here.”

BCA Bishop Rev. Kodo Umezu gave the Dharma message.

The ceremony included presentation of flags by the Boy Scout and Girl Scout Color Guard; kansho (tolling of the bell); a chigo procession, in which children 12 and under, wearing traditional kimono, hakama and headdress, walked to the accompaniment of gagaku (ancient Japanese court music); the entrance of the bishop and ministers; the chanting of “Sambujo” and “Juseige”; and a musical offering by OCBC Dharma School and Choir.

“It’s hard to put into words what it feels like to be standing here with all of you at the culmination of our wonderful 50th Anniversary Project,” said OCBC’s Rev. Marvin Harada.

“In 1965, about 75 families built the Orange County Buddhist Church,” he noted. “It was a monumental task, but those pioneering members had the dedication, determination and vision to establish the OCBC, building the original Hondo, Classroom Building and Social Hall … My thoughts first go to our pioneering members and our pioneering minister, Rev. Satoshi Hirata, for all that they did to establish and build OCBC … Those members, despite starting their own businesses and farms, gave tremendously to build this temple and to build this sangha (congregation).

Harada gave special thanks to four individuals who “truly went above and beyond the call of duty” — Phase 1 project managers Sus Iwamasa (who was unable to attend) and Louie Yamanishi and Phase 2 project managers Howard Nakagiri and Bill Sakahara.

“To all of our young people here today, I would like to say that 48 years from now OCBC will be celebrating its centennial … All of you will be leaders of OCBC by then. You will be board members or officers … Then it will be your turn to do something special for the future of OCBC … because that is the character of this sangha, from young to old. We take upon ourselves a huge task … because it needs to be done, because it is our privilege to do so.”