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Fire, Convention, Clean-up & Community!

October 15, 2022

Black and White Photo from 1958 of attendees from Ontario, Portland, and Spokane of the NW District Convention

Photo: 1958 Northwest Convention (Left Half)


Black and White photo of the attendees of the NW District convention in 1958 from Wapato, White River, Tacoma, Portland, Spokane


 Photo: 1958 Northwest Convention (Right Half)

NOTE:  Feel free to leave the names of folks you recognize in our comments section!

This summer has been a whirlwind. We started with the promise of in-person services inside our temple. That changed with the July 8th fire, but we adapted and moved outdoors to hold services under the awning in the parking lot. Along with all the work to inspect and assess the damage of the fire, we had to plan for a convention. No one from IOBT gave any thought to canceling the convention. It was our “baton” to pass on in the convention relay circuit. We continued having convention planning meetings to discuss this Northwest event. We continued our temple board meetings to hear updates on the basement rebuilding and the smoke damage to the upstairs portion of the temple. No one skipped a beat. That is especially true for Mike Iseri. He is a multitasker extraordinaire. He was at the temple to meet adjusters, disaster cleaning crews, electricians, heating and cooling experts, altar cleaners from Wakabayashi Altar Company Japan, and other service experts. Then he was at Obon cemetery visits, outdoor services, board meetings, and convention planning meetings. Please give Mike your sincere thanks for all that he does for IOBT.

Two men watch as a man cleans Buddhist altar equipment at the front of a Buddhist temple

Photo:Bishop Marvin Harada and IOBT president Mike Iseri watch as altar cleaners from Wakabayashi assess the damage to the IOBT altar

Although this is not what we had expected 2022 to look like, these events were all “shikata ga nai” (it can’t be helped). We move on with “gaman” (perseverance). Things are getting accomplished, but it will be a slow and steady process.

I would like to share a few thoughts on the convention and IOBT’s 75th Anniversary.

  • It was so good to see the Bishop,Rev. Marvin Harada, and all the Northwest ministers in person. It has been two years since the Northwest ministers have gotten together other than on Zoom for meetings and joint services.
  • Seeing old friends and meeting new friends was a highlight. Those breaks between service and workshops and also shared meals were filled with happy conversation and outbursts of laughter. It was so good to hear happy voices again.
  • Hearing Rev. Marvin’s keynote address was a “quantum leap” into the past. (Sorry, TV show reference.) Loved seeing that 11thAnnual Northwest Convention photo from 1958 (featured at the top of this blog). I couldn’t believe I was there with my mom and dad. I would have been about 6 or 7 years old. There were so many faces that I remember from our temple.
  • The talent of our Northwest ministers is so vast. From hearingRinban Kusunoki (Seattle Betsuin) and Rev. Koyama (Tacoma) play gagaku music in person to having Rev. Hirano provide an introduction to Buddhism and Jodo Shinshu, we had no problem finding workshop presenters.

Photo: NW District Ministers: from Left to Right, Rev. Chatterton (IOBT), Rev. Opel (Spokane), Rev. Spencer (IOBT), Rev. Hirano (IOBT), Rev. Harada, Rev. Kusunoki (Seattle) Rev. Sugahara (OBT), Rev. Koyama (Tacoma), Rev. Yasaki (Tacoma)


Speaking of talent, we had our own homegrown talent presenting workshops. Stuart Hirai shared his knowledge of World War II and the bravery of the Nisei soldiers. We were reminded that we owe a debt of gratitude to these veterans. Debbie Tanaka and Megan Cook presented a yoga workshop incorporating the idea of mindfulness. Michelle Sadamori presented a Bon Odori workshop virtually with Rev. Carmella Hirano. Michelle also did a taiko workshop and performed along with Eric Spencer and the rest of Sangha Taiko for our banquet entertainment. Howard Matsumura organized a farm tour that was enjoyed by all (everyone who went got to take a real sugar beet home!) and served as a masterful master of ceremonies for the banquet. Randy Kameshige came up with a fun activity of “cornhole” that filled the lobby with sounds of bean bags hitting boards and cheers for the competitors. 

     Reflecting on IOBT’s past, there are so many causes and conditions that had to happen so that we can be where we are today. We have so much to be grateful for as we look at our 75-year past. When we return to the temple for services, look at the onaijin/altar with gratitude for all that went into its creation and for the fact that it survived the fire. It is our symbol of resilience.

      Looking ahead to IOBT’s future, there is work to be done by all of us Sangha members. We have so much to share with our community about the history of our temple and the Teachings of the Buddha and Shinran Shonin. As Rev. Marvin Harada told us during his keynote address, we have a baton to carry and pass on. Let’s not fumble the chance to share the Nembutsu teachings.  

Namo Amida Butsu

Rev. Kathy Chatterton

Female Buddhist Minister in Black Robes and yellow wagesa