Featured Image: Members of Florida Everglades Region celebrate the grand opening of the new Florida Everglades Buddhist Center in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Nov. 7, 2021. Photo by Mary Delia.

Florida Everglades and North Florida Centers Open

FORT LAUDERDALE AND JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA, Nov. 7, 2021—After a 19-month hiatus, the members of the Florida Everglades and North Florida regions reunited in exciting fashion—with new SGI-USA centers.

SGI-USA members welcome their friends to the new center, Jacksonville, Fla., Nov. 7, 2021.

SGI-USA members welcome their friends to the new center, Jacksonville, Fla., Nov. 7, 2021. Photo by Tina Warner.

The Florida Everglades Buddhist Center opened in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Nov. 7 with 265 members attending in-person and over Zoom. On the same day, 100 members celebrated the opening of the North Florida Buddhist Center in Jacksonville, Fla.

The members were thrilled to see one another and expressed their tremendous appreciation for their new centers. “There’s no way I’d miss this,” said one men’s leader.

At the Florida Everglades opening, the City of Fort Lauderdale presented Ikeda Sensei with a proclamation “in recognition of his many years of exemplary leadership in humanistic exchange, global citizenry and youth empowerment, and for his commitment to strengthening South Florida as a critical crossroads of diversity in the world.”

The City of Jacksonville, too, presented Sensei with a proclamation, recognizing the local SGI-USA organization and celebrating Soka Gakkai Founding Day.

SGI-USA General Director Adin Strauss attended the Florida Everglades center opening and conveyed the significance of new SGI-USA centers. “The construction of Soka Gakkai facilities should not be seen as something unrelated to our daily lives,” he said. “What gives important meaning to the construction is when members set personal goals in faith and press courageously forward in rhythm with the development of these projects. The buildings and structures of the Soka Gakkai are symbols of the kosen-rufu movement. As such, the dedicated efforts in faith of each individual make those buildings grand and magnificent.”

At the North Florida center opening, SGI-USA Women’s Leader Naoko Leslie expressed her own appreciation and determination, with a call to action for all members in attendance. “Let’s cherish and protect this beautiful castle of kosen-rufu,” she said. “Let’s fill the center with our hearts, and invite and welcome all our precious friends, family and neighbors to this castle of peace and happiness!”

The North Florida Buddhist Center

The North Florida Buddhist Center. Photo by Fred Harford.

Following the centers’ grand openings, Florida Zone Leader Ingmar Soto expressed his own conviction on behalf of the local leaders. “Underlying our appreciation for these new centers is a determination to strengthen the network of Soka,” he said. “How much are we applying the principles of Nichiren Buddhism in our daily lives? Are we building trust and friendship with our neighbors, security and valets? To what extent do people see and understand our values? We are here to support and protect the community, the members and our centers—and we’re just getting started.”

—Prepared by the World Tribune staff

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