Buddhist Church of Florin anniversary 100 years, four generations of service


It would have astounded Japanese American immigrant grape farmers Tomokichi and wife Sekiyo Tanaka that their co-founding of the Buddhist Church of Florin in 1919 would be honored 100 years later by a rich legacy of four generations of service to Buddhism by their children, grandchildren, and even their great grandchildren!

On September 21st the Buddhist Church of Florin celebrates its 100th anniversary with a special service featuring Bishop Umezu and former Florin Reverend Ishida, reception, and (sold out) luncheon at 7235 Pritchard Road in Sacramento. For further info about the event, contact Eric Fujii by e-mail at efujii52@gmail.com.

This celebration honors the dozens of founders of the Buddhist Church of Florin. Nisei sisters Myrna Hitomi, Myrtle Furukawa and Teri Mizusaka captured this sentiment when they wrote about their pioneering Tanaka parents, “The hardships our parents struggled and endured gave us the insight and guidance to live our lives today with deep humility and gratitude.”

Over the 100 years, founding families and others have carefully nurtured the church. A sterling example is the Tomokichi Tanaka family, now led by daughter and a senior church advisor Myrna Hitomi (age 99), followed by granddaughter Donna Shimozaki, and great grandson Derek Shimozaki (age 29). They and their myriad siblings and cousins have generously dedicated their energies to the Church. They’re always pitching in on the Board, Buddhist Women’s Association, Sunday Dharma School, Young Buddhist Association, Young Adult Buddhist Association, and other supporting groups.

The church has blossomed into a respected Buddhist center with church services, children’s Sunday Dharma school, Buddhist book club, study classes, and the widely-popular Summer Obon Festival.

As Reverend Candice Shibata recently wrote in Florin’s “Oneness” newsletter, “The centennial celebration is a precious opportunity to reaffirm our faith in the Three Treasures: the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha.” “Everyday we can live our lives guided by the wisdom of Amida Buddha, which allows us to truly understand humility, gratitude, and compassion.”

Eric Fujii and Judie Miyao, descendants of church founding families, co-chair this momentous anniversary. “Its theme “Honoring Our Past and Celebrating Our Future” describes the importance of this historical milestone. It’s a time when we are acknowledging the hard work and sacrifice our ancestors made, and to make it possible for us and future generations to live happy and successful lives in the community,” shared Eric.

The church has also become a vital community, cultural, and family center. It’s promoting positive culture though craft classes, Japanese folk dance, mochi-making workshop, and even a fun teriyaki chicken cook off. It builds community through a youth basketball program, church camp out, senior lunch programs, and service projects.

Expressing the outlook for the future, a young church leader, Derek Shimozaki, remarked, “It is amazing to see such a small church from the beginning grow so big over the years to what it is today. The Buddhist Church of Florin will always have open arms to everyone who wants to learn the Dharma for many more years to come.”

For further information about the church and its programs, please see the Website at www.florinbuddhist.org, Facebook at www.facebook.com/florinbuddhist/ or call (916) 383-1831. The views expressed in the preceding commentary are not necessarily those of the Nichi Bei Weekly.

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