Placer Buddhist Church

3192 Boyington RoadPenryn, CA. 95663(916) 652-6139
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A Dharma Message by Rev. Matthew Hamasaki

January 2022

As we begin the new year, I feel like we are all looking forward: toward getting out of the pandemic, toward continuing our journey towards a new normalcy, toward a better, brighter future. While a lot of this is personal, of course we also have a vision for what our temples will look like. For us to have gotten so far, and to carry us into the next phase of our temple’s success, it will take the collective efforts of many people with many different talents and expertise. This is one of the great strengths of our community; to be able to draw upon a diverse group of people that can help with just about any job. One of the places that we (and myself especially) can use some extra help is with the ministerial responsibilities. There is a shortage of the number of ministers to the numbers of temples right now and many ministers are overseeing multiple temples. Fortunately, we have the Minister’s Assistant Program where, under the guidance and supervision of a resident minister, can learn and perform certain duties.

In my training to become minister, I was a Minister’s Assistant at my home temple while I was attending the Institute of Buddhist Studies. Having or pursuing a graduate degree is not a requirement for being a Minister’s Assistant; a deep respect for the teachings and a willingness to learn would be the qualities that a resident minister would look for in a person. I enjoyed my time as a Minister’s Assistant as I was able to learn practical things about temple like how to set up the altar area and how to run a service. Just like anything else, it was intimidating at first, but with practice and the support of my teachers and peers, it became much more comfortable. And as I progressed, naturally I asked questions and had discussions with other Minister’s Assistants, so I became more familiar with things like the names of pieces, Buddhist concepts, and why we do what we do. It felt more organic and stuck with me longer than if it had come from a lecture. And soon enough, I was entrusted to be able to run services on my own! I was even asked to answer questions from school groups that visited temples (which oftentimes asked me questions that I had to ask my supervising minister afterwards).

Either way, I would encourage anyone that feels like they would like to help the temple, enjoys learning about Buddhism, and has a reverence for Jodo Shinshu to inquire about becoming a Minister’s Assistant. Probably the most frightening aspect of becoming a Minister’s Assistant is the public speaking. However, being able to overcome the challenge can personally rewarding, and hopefully also rewarding for those who are in attendance. I will make the caveat that since they are “Minister’s Assistants”, it is up to the resident minister’s discretion as to who they would like to work with, but I hope this doesn’t discourage anyone! It is an important responsibility and truly humbling experience to be able to serve the temple in such a meaningful way. Please let your temple leaders know, and if you’re in a temple that I’m overseeing, let me know as well!

In Gassho,

Rev. Matt

The Placer Buddhist Church is located at 3192 Boyington Road in Penryn California, County of Placer. It is located at the scenic base of the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains just off Interstate 80. It is approximately half way between San Francisco and Reno, Nevada.

The Church was founded in 1902 in the small foothills town of Penryn. The original church was near the center of town approximately 3 miles from its current location. The church moved to its current location in approximately 1963. The church is well known in the community for the annual food bazaar which is always held on the 4th weekend of September. The annual food bazaar started in 1964, just after the church moved to the new location.

The church supports many organizations such as the Placer Buddhist Women’s Association (PBWA), Young Buddhist Association (YBA), Sierra Bonsai Club, Dharma School, and Placer Ume Taiko Groups. The church also holds various classes during the week including calligraphy, flower arranging, Tai Chi, Obon dancing and exercise classes. See the church calendar for class times.