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Districts to Meet in Homes Starting in July

At the Central Executive Committee Conference, representative leaders vote to take significant steps toward fully reopening activities in 2023.

Photo by Sanya Lu.

SANTA MONICA, Calif.—In a series of significant developments toward fully reopening the SGI-USA, Central Executive Committee (CEC) members voted to lift COVID-19 vaccination and mask requirements for those attending and supporting meetings at our Buddhist centers and rental facilities, with the new guidelines to go into effect in July for all Florida Nature and Culture Center conferences.

The CEC members also voted to begin holding district study and discussion meetings in members’ homes starting in July—the first time since the start of the pandemic. In tandem, an approval process will be introduced that outlines consistent standards for holding safe and enjoyable discussion meetings in members’ homes.

CEC members implemented these changes in a daylong conference held on March 4, 2023, at the SGI-USA Headquarters in Santa Monica, California.

In a poignant message to the conference, Ikeda Sensei praised the SGI-USA members for their great progress. He continued:

The greater the challenges that you face, please resoundingly chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo—“the greatest of all joys”[1] —and cheerfully sow the seeds of Buddhahood widely. Please make the SGI-USA, which is a model for the world, shine ever more brightly with victory.

A new national young women’s leader is appointed

The meeting opened with SGI-USA General Director Adin Strauss announcing the following leadership appointments:

•  SGI-USA Young Women’s Leader: Amelia Gonzalez

•  SGI-USA Vice Young Women’s Leader: Maya Gunaseharan

Mr. Strauss expressed his deep appreciation to Ms. Gunaseharan, who had served as the young women’s leader since January 2019. In a brief determination (see p. 8), Ms. Gonzalez, who resides in New York, shared that when she began her Buddhist practice in high school and faced significant challenges, her seniors in faith taught her that sharing Buddhism was the essence of faith. 

Sharing Buddhism with others taught her how to not give up on anyone. “From there, I learned that if I just chant and decide No matter what, my friend will become happy, then it will happen,” Ms. Gonzalez said.

Mr. Strauss also acknowledged the following CEC members attending the conference in person for the first time:

•  East Territory Young Women’s Leader: Boram Han

•  East Territory Young Men’s Leader: Michael Cornell

•  Central Territory Men’s Leader: Mike Woods

Mr. Strauss shared three themes of empowerment for advancing kosen-rufu in 2023: propagation, raising youth and unity (see message on p. 8). He also emphasized empowering young people to come up with fresh approaches to youth activities, while at the same time asking the men and women to take full responsibility for finding and raising capable youth in this Year of Youth and Triumph.

“Without departing from the core aspects of faith,” he said, “they can come up with refreshing new activities that inspire and attract youth,” adding, “Raising youth is a mandate for us.”

The following are highlights from the March CEC conference.

SGI-USA lifts COVID-19 vaccination and mask requirements at all Buddhist centers and rental facilities.

The CEC established four key guidelines as the SGI-USA advances toward fully reopening activities. They are:

Youth support: Our focus will continue to be on finding and raising capable youth to support SGI-USA centers behind the scenes and ensure their development.

In-person meetings: The CEC members agreed to hold a majority of our activities in person and asked that all leaders consider this to be a priority in making decisions.

Vaccinations: All vaccination requirements are now removed, aside from at the FNCC, which will follow suit on July 1. These new guidelines apply to behind-the-scenes youth support groups and leaders.

• Masks: Masks are now optional for all activities, including FNCC conferences. Members are encouraged to stay home if they are feeling ill; or, if they feel under the weather but well enough to attend an in-person meeting, they are asked to wear a mask as a courtesy to other members.

Next Phases of Reopening

Phase 4 (April 1) 

•  Kosen-rufu gongyo meetings will be held in person at Buddhist centers and rental facilities, with a call-in audio option for those attending remotely. The Caribbean Region will continue to meet via Zoom.

•  Any district-up leaders meetings will be held exclusively in person at Buddhist centers (with a Zoom exception for frontier areas). In 2023, SGI-USA is holding “Skip One Level” leaders  meetings in an effort to bridge communication gaps and effectively transmit the spirit and purpose of activities. (For instance, national leaders will meet directly with zone leaders, “skipping” the territory.)

•  Zone/Territory teams should decide whether the following meetings should be held in person only, hybrid or via Zoom based on the geography of the organization holding the meeting:

Soka Family Day (monthly);

region study meeting (monthly); and 

other meetings (such as language and auxiliary groups).

Phase 4 Takeaways

✓Masks become optional at all in-person activities, including home visits. (Please confirm the preference of any person being visited.)

✓Vaccination still required to attend an FNCC conference.

✓Presenters and speakers at in-person and hybrid meetings are still required to be in person.

Phase 5 (July 1) 

Starting July 1, district discussion and study meetings can take place at members’ homes. An approval process will be implemented outlining consistent standards for hosting such meetings.

For districts unable to meet in  members’ homes, the OWL 360-degree meeting technology at Buddhist centers and the Zoom option will remain available. District leaders can decide whether a Zoom option is necessary for meetings at members’ homes. This should be considered, for instance, only if a district member is incapacitated. Zoom meetings are not allowed for inviting guests from outside the local area or for district members who have moved to other states or overseas.

Phase 5 Takeaway

✓COVID-19 vaccinations will not be required to attend an FNCC conference.

✓Presenters and speakers at in-person and hybrid meetings are still required to be in person.

Photo by Jonathan Wilson.

Supporting the Front Lines

‘Joyful and Triumphant’ May Contribution activity 

The 2023 May Commemorative Contribution activity will take place from April 28 to June 4 with the theme of “Joyful and Triumphant With the Heart of the Lion King.” Kickoff meetings will take place April 23–28, and a number of valuable resources will be provided to districts throughout the campaign via the SGI-USA publications and member portal. This year, all contributors will receive a commemorative bookmark. 

Leadership development to transmit the spirit and purpose of activities

With increasing four-divisional in-person activities taking place, the CEC members voted to update the guidelines for new members to join the SGI-USA. They are:

Attended three in-person discussion meetings; or any in-person four-divisional meeting and three virtual district-level discussion or study meetings.

Shared an experience at any four-divisional meeting.

Also, in an effort to bridge communication gaps and effectively transmit the spirit and purpose of SGI-USA activities to every member, the CEC reaffirmed the importance of holding “Skip One Level” meetings this year. For instance, national leaders will meet with zone teams; territory leaders will meet with region teams and so forth.

Streamlined communication and tools

Easing memo distribution: In March, the SGI-USA will begin distributing organizational memos directly to our membership instead of asking leaders to forward communication. The purpose is to simplify communications. Members can also access organizational memos in their portal accounts based on their leadership position.

SGI-USA mobile app updates: In March, the SGI-USA mobile app will be updated to include a daimoku speed controller. Additionally, many of the embedded web pages have been removed, and the app now offers a list of links to quickly access SGI-USA online resources and websites.

Monthly district member care meetings: The CEC reiterated the importance of the monthly district member care meeting, focusing on two critical resources: 1) the “Monthly Member Care Checklist,” which districts can use to gauge how their district is doing; and 2) the “Monthly District Subscriptions Report,” which is automatically emailed to all district and chapter teams on the first Monday of each month. This report identifies expired and soon-to-expire subscribers so districts can promote the publications as a textbook of faith.

March 17, 2023, World Tribune, pp. 6–7


  1. The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings, p. 212. ↩︎

Just as I Am

3 Themes of Empowerment for Advancing Kosen-rufu in 2023