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October 4, 2011 > History: The Buddhist Church in Union City

History: The Buddhist Church in Union City

Established on May 26, 1961, the Southern Alameda County Buddhist Church (SACBC) on Alvarado-Niles Road in Union City is one of 60 members of the Buddhist Churches of America (BCA), founded in 1899. It follows the Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji Ha tradition of Buddhism; the mother temple is Nishi Hongwanji in Kyoto, Japan.

SACBC was officially established as a branch of the Alameda Buddhist Temple to offer spiritual programs, based upon Buddha-Dharma, to Tri-City and Tri-Valley residents. Services were originally held in homes, an elementary school and a hall in Fremont, until the church was able to purchase the Union City site.

The "Hondo," where church services are held, was dedicated September 9, 1962 and SACBC became an independent temple in 1965. Three classrooms and a small kitchen were built adjacent to the Hondo in 1965 and an altar in the Hondo was donated by the Oxnard Buddhist Church and enshrined in March 1967.

Sanha Hall (a gymnasium, kitchen and reception room) was constructed in 1974 and dedicated March 20, 1975. The hall contains classrooms, a large social hall and a gym complex. The altar for the Sangha Hall was dedicated in memory of Mr. Tak Fudenna. Bishop Kenyu Tsuji of the Buddhist Churches of America officiated at the dedication attended by Special clergy and civic guests. The evening's entertainment included songs by Mrs. Yukiko Sakakura and musical selections by the "Thor Throats", a student group from Irvington High School of Fremont directed by Mrs. Lee Stevens.

Sangha Hall is heavily used by the Union City community. The Asian-American Federation holds its festival there every year and the Sister City Association of Union City uses the hall for their events. Every Friday, bingo games are held in the hall.

Buddhism says life is permeated with suffering, caused by desire; suffering ceases when desire ceases. Enlightenment is achieved through correct conduct and wisdom. Meditation releases disciples from desire, suffering and rebirth. Buddhism is represented by many groups, especially numerous in Asia, adopting varying forms of this doctrine.

The Buddhist Church has a Dharma School, Athletics Association, Japanese language school, women's association and choir. They hold an annual Bazaar and Bon Obon Festival during which hundreds of people gather in Sangha Hall to watch traditional dancing, Taiko drumming and Kendo demonstrations.

The Buddhist Church is considered a historical landmark and continues to serve a vibrant and active role in Union City.

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