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BWA annual Shinnen Enkai set for Feb. 9

The Buddhist Women’s Association will host its annual Shinnen Enkai (New Year’s luncheon) from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 9, at the Honpa Hongwanji Hilo Betsuin Sangha Hall.

The program for the day, besides the traditional service at 10:30 a.m., will include the honoring of centenarians Hatsuko Okino, Kimiko Sugihara, Miyoko Nakayama, Ethel Yonemitsu and Hideko Motonaga, a general membership meeting, lunch and entertainment.

The guest speaker will be one of the dynamic leaders at Hilo Betsuin, BJ Soriano, who will speak on the theme of the event, “Path of Entrusting … Share Peace.” She is currently the part-time sangha activities coordinator, and has served as the choir director of the Kyodan and Men’s Choirs at Hilo Betsuin since 2007.

Soriano has volunteered her time as a Dharma School music teacher; has served on the Board of Buddhist Education as a co-chair in 2007 and chair in 2009. She has served on the Hawaii (State) Betsuin State Music Committee for the past 10 years. This committee is responsible for planning and implementing statewide and islandwide musical projects, workshops and events to increase awareness of Jodo Shinshu Dharma teaching, and also works with Hawaii Island temples to maintain musical cohesiveness; teach ukulele, gatha singing and writing at temple workshops, activities and events. Since 2006 she has worked as a teacher at the San Francisco Buddhist Temple’s summer workshop and summer Dharma school.

She is the owner/proprietor of BJ’s Strum and Scrapbook Studio (formerly BJ’s Ukulele Studio) since 1977 and teaches classes at the County Department of Parks and Recreation Culture & Arts Division.

Soriano and her husband, Rueben, have two sons, Sean, age 27, and Dustin, age 21. She credits her involvement in the Lehua Jaycees, as a member and president, in helping her to develop into a leader in our community. Soriano said she “lives her life with harmony, peace and gratitude, which is consistent with the teachings of the Buddha.”

The event is co-chaired by Ruby Maekawa and Elaine Sumida. Mistress of ceremonies is Ruth Ota.

The organization was founded 107 years ago and was known as Shinshu Fujinkai. In 1908 the name was changed Bukkyo Fujinkai, and in 2004, became known as the Hilo Hongwanji Buddhist Women’s Association.

Contributions made by the BWA to the temple have been substantial financially as well as in service; one of which was a quarter of a million dollar contribution to the building of the Sangha Hall. Currently, garage sales are held annually, which enable them to make substantial monetary contributions to the temple. In addition members contribute their time in temple cleaning and visitation and sewing of aprons and blankets at long term care facilities. Members also cook for the Peanut Butter Ministry monthly, participates in many island wide activities such as the Blood Bank, regional and world conventions. BWA’s lifelong dedication to living the Dharma has extended far beyond the kitchen and temple compound into the larger community.

Tickets for the Shinnen Enkai luncheon are available at the Honpa Hongwanji Hilo Betsuin office at 398 Kilauea Ave. Cost is $5 for a BWA member and $10 for a nonmember. For more information, call Ruby at 959-4855 or Elaine at 959-8943.


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