Founded in 1898, the Buddhist Church of San Francisco was the first Jodo Shinshu (Pure Land) Buddhist temple established in the continental United States and is the flagship temple of the Buddhist Churches of America (BCA).
The temple began with a group of devout Issei Shin Buddhists establishing the first Buddhist organization in North America on July 30, 1898. On September 1, 1899, with the arrival of the first overseas ministers Rev. Dr. Rev. Shuye Sonoda and Rev. Kakuryo Nishima, Jodo Shinshu began to take root in American soil.
The BCSF has been at its current location since 1910. In 1935, the Royal Court of Thailand offered the relics of Shakyamuni Buddha and disciples Shariputra and Moggallana to the BCA. The BCA leadership decided that an appropriate stupa to enshrine the relics should be built on a new temple building. At the same time, the temple altar (above photo) was installed.
In its one-hundred-eighteen-year history, the BCSF sangha (community) has persevered through the natural disasters of the great 1906 earthquake and fire, the internment camp experience of the majority Nikkei membership during the Second World War, and the relocation of its members away from San Francisco's Japantown.
Today, the Buddhist Church of San Francisco enjoys a sense of growth beyond the traditional distinctions of culture, ethnicity and identities to realize the meaning of sangha as a community of people dedicated to living in the Light of Dharma and the Life of Nembutsu.