El Monte, California, Oct. 3, 2021—Following a year of unprecedented challenges brought on by COVID-19, the members of La Puente and East Los Angeles San Gabriel Valley Regions joyfully celebrated the grand opening of the SGI-USA El Monte Buddhist Center.

El Monte Buddhist Center in Los Angeles, Calif., October 2021.

El Monte Buddhist Center in Los Angeles, Calif., October 2021.

Over 220 members and guests gathered for the morning and afternoon meetings in person, while over 280 joined the celebration virtually by Zoom.

The meeting opened with a powerful message from Ikeda Sensei, who remarked that El Monte, and all of East Los Angeles, “shines with a dazzling array of diversity as a gathering place for people from many lands.” Sensei also reminded the participants of their long history of kosen-rufu, saying that East Los Angeles was “where the historic first Soka Gakkai center in the United States was established” in 1963.

To mark the opening, Hilda L. Solis, chairperson of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, presented a certificate of congratulations to the members of the two regions, and in her remarks, she commended the SGI members for their peace efforts and the opening of another center in Los Angeles.

“They are not just serving the Buddhist community but they are serving the entire [community],” she said. “For many people, they can come here, learn and communicate, engage and be inspired. Fostering peace and unity in a world that is so divided right now is a good thing. It is so needed.”

The City of El Monte also presented a proclamation signed by Mayor Jessica Ancona, naming Oct. 3, 2021, as Daisaku Ikeda Founding of SGI America Day.

For the three guests who received the Gohonzon, the center opening marked a new beginning in their lives and Buddhist practice.

The event closed with words from SGI-USA Vice General Director Cliff Sawyer, who asked the participants to take pride in their long history of spreading Buddhism alongside their mentor. Referring back to Sensei’s message to the opening, Mr. Sawyer explained that awakening to our noble mission as Bodhisattvas of the Earth means accepting the challenge of our own human revolution and “[extending] our hearts to help others overcome their own suffering by sharing the Lotus Sutra.”

The East Los Angeles San Gabriel Valley and La Puente region leaders refreshed their determination to create a new history with their mentor and be a source of hope for the community. They determined to advance boldly with “many in body, one in mind” as their foundation.

—Prepared by the World Tribune staff