The Reverend Kosai Osada came to the United States in 1950 as a Soto Zen Buddhist missionary. Settling in Long Beach he met with a number of people who had met across sectarian lines at the internment camps during the war. He shared his vision of a “pure” Buddhism beyond sect, and was met with enthusiasm.
In 1951 he conducted his first non-sectarian services at the Long Beach Japanese Community Center. By 1957 the congregation was ready to formally launch and with the groundbreaking for the new campus the Long Beach Buddhist Church was officially born. He served among them faithfully until 1970 when Sensei Osada retired and returned to Japan.
This past Sunday the congregation celebrated its sixtieth anniversary. While the church has faithfully continued Sensei Osada’s nondenominational approach, the church remains officially connected to the Sotoshu and is one of five officially recognized Sotoshu temples in the continental United States. And so the principal celebrant (Doshi) for this service was Bishop Gengo Akiba, head, or Shokan of North American Sotoshu.
In addition to the members of the congregation, two retired ministers from the church were present as well as many other guests. The current incumbent of the Church, Sensei Gyokei Y0koyama invited several Blue Cliff Zen Zen Sangha members to participate. Sensei Gesshin Greenwood sang the Goeka, opening the service. Gensan Thomson served as Shoten, ringing the densho. Gesshin and I were invited to sit with the mucketymucks on the Ryoban.
The service was pretty long by the clock, but actually ran by quickly. Moving words from the retired ministers and Sensei Yokoyama. After, people were invited to a banquet.
A lovely time among some lovely people doing some important work…
Sensei Gyokei Yokoyama, minister of the Long Beach Buddhist Church
Sensei Kosai Osada, Founding minister of the Long Beach Buddhist Church
The altar at the Church.
Clergy officiants and guests at the 60th anniversary celebration
The Long Beach Buddhist Church at its 60th Anniversary
Contemporary photographs by Chris Hoff…