Information about this center is no longer updated. This data was last updated on 7 October 2014.Phone: 816-474-7973
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The Kansas City Buddhist Center is the Greater Kansas City home of Soka Gakkai International (SGI). A major renovation in 2013 expanded the internal structure of the Center to accommodate its growing membership. Two distinct rooms for gongyo (prayer services) were incorporated in this renovation and a former office/storage room was torn apart to allow for community gatherings. The Center also includes a bookstore which carries SGI and Buddhist related text in English, Japanese, Korean and Spanish as well as incense, sounding bells, candles, and other assorted items. Primary to the bookstore’s inventory are butsudans (altars) made available for purchase.
Soka Gakkai International is a Nichiren Buddhist lay organization that maintains in its practice the centrality of the Lotus Sutra. The title of the Lotus Sutra, Nam Myoho Rene Kyo, is inscribed upon a scroll called the Gohonzon and is the primary object of devotion for SGI members. Members chant in front of a Gohonzon which is enshrined within a butsudan. The first Gohonzon was inscribed by the Japanese Buddhist monk Nichiren Daishonin in 1272.
Soka Gakkai was founded in 1930 by Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, a Japanese educational reformer. During the 1950s American soldiers were introduced to SGI members while stationed in Japan and then returned stateside to places like Fort Riley Kansas. During the 1960s and 1970s, KC SGI practitioners met in the homes of different members and membership steadily increased as new members moved into the area or joined from other faiths. In 1980, the SGI National Foundation provided funding to purchase the current building, formerly owned by the International Ladies Garment Workers Union.
The SGI community in Kansas City is ethnically diverse. There are an equal number of men and women in positions of leadership and it is not uncommon for a child or teenager to lead prayers or direct meetings. There is also an LGBT group within the community.
According to SGI-USA, there are around 12 million SGI members worldwide and located in 192 countries. There are over 700 practicing SGI members in the Missouri/Kansas area (designated as "the Heartland Region") with 425 active members within the Greater Kansas City metropolitan area alone. English is the primary language spoken at the Center, however regular study groups are conducted in Japanese and Korean as well.
All events at the center begin with a gongyo session of chanting and are concluded with sansho (a finale type of prayer). A major commitment within the Soka Gakkai community is dedication to the realization of individual happiness and world peace (Kosen Rufu). To this end, KC SGI members, along with Soka Gakkai practitioners around the world, gather on the first Sunday of each month to conduct the World Peace Prayer (Kosen Rufu Gongyo). Some members of the community are permitted by state law to perform weddings and funeral services. Other activities include youth group gatherings, Taiko drum practice, and a crochet circle. During the summer, KC SGI Community Center participates in the city’s tradition of “open house” businesses on the first Friday of each month. Passersby are welcome to come inside for food and soft drinks or simply hang out in the parking lot.