BEC’s purpose is to provide continuing education through seminars, workshops, and lectures, and to help share the teachings through publications.
BEC Commitee Haru Matsumune, Lillian Narumi, Diane Ohkawahira, Rick Stambul, Betty Takahashi
Annie Chuck and Rip Rense.
In a way, the Buddhist Education Committee at West L.A. Buddhist Temple is practically new. “There was a BEC years ago,” said Haru Matsumune, last year’s BEC co-chair. “They put on two seminars per year, one in Japanese and one in English. Other than that, I don’t know much about that incarnation. I don’t know if it died away or what.” Two events revived theWest L.A. BEC: a 2005 general directive to all temples from Buddhist Churches of America Socho Koshin Ogui, encouraging Buddhist education, and the arrival of Rev. Usuki in November, 2004. “I know Rev. Usuki really believes education is one of the most important aspects of what can go on in a temple,” said Haru. “The timing (of these events) was kind of a fresh start for the BEC.” And more freshness is wanted: “If people have new ideas for events, or any suggestions at all, for guest speakers or whatever, they are more than welcome,” said committee member Rick Stambul. The BEC currently organizes the fall and spring Ohigan seminars, featuring guest senseis from other temples, the annual open house, and the tritemple seminar with Gardena and Venice – every third year, with the next coming this Oct. 11. The open houses, while introducing newcomers to the temple and its various organizations, have also been useful to longtime members. “I think that in the beginning we didn’t know what we intended for the open house,” said Haru. “Some of us envisioned hordes of people coming, and of course that doesn’t happen and probably is not realistic. Every year, there have been a few new faces, and afterwards, we have new people helping as a direct result of open house, so I think it has a positive effect.” The Thursday afternoon Buddhist Study Group (begun at Rev. Usuki’s behest) is not connected with the BEC, but is an important part of Buddhist education at the temple. There has been a steady growth in attendance, with about fifteen “regulars.” Said Rev. Usuki: “I do think that the main criteria for our future success is Buddhist education. We already have many cultural activities and people can do that blindfolded so if we don’t attract a new group of members with Buddhist education, we will not be able to fill the gap (caused by the members we will lose through old age in a few years). Buddhist education will have a more positive long term effect, so we should continue to develop programs and offer seminars.”