Information about this center is no longer updated. This data was last updated on 24 October 2006.Phone: 804-644-0678
HistoryMembers of Soka Gakkai began meeting in the Richmond area during the 1960s. By 1972 there were enough people and organization to formally found a Chapter-level group. The Chapter serves as an umbrella for the seven Districts in the area: Midlothian, West Henrico, Evergreen, East Henrico, Petersburg, Metropolitan, and Hopewell. Chapter events are held in rented space, mainly at Hunton Center or the VCU student commons, while District events take place in members' homes.
Activities and ScheduleThe primary Chapter event is the monthly World Peace Gongyo, but there are also a montly study meeting, a monthly introduction to Buddhism meeting held on a Saturday, and a bi-weekly chanting/study meeting known as Daimoku toso held on alternate Wednesdays. At the District level, there are Daimoku tosos on the Wednesdays when there is no Chapter level Daimoku toso, as well as monthly District meetings.
The World Peace Gongyo is the central area-wide gathering for RIchmond's Soka Gakkai Buddhists. It is held on the first Sunday of the month; times may vary. Participants gather to chant before an altar containing the holy mandala (gohonzon) of the Soka Gakkai sect. The event begins with chanting daimoku ("Nam Myoho Renge Kyo"--Homage to the Lotus Sutra of the Wondrous Law) at various speeds, interspersed with chapters 2 and 16 of the Buddhist scripture known as the Lotus Sutra. This is followed by prayers for peace in the world. The ceremony takes about 20 minutes and is followed by announcements. Next comes an hour of study, discussions, or testimonials. If there are new members receiving gohonzons, there is a presentation ceremony. Gatherings often end with a musical presentation by one of the Chaper sub-groups, such as the Young Women's Division.
DemographicsSGI-USA Richmond Chapter is the most diverse of the city's Buddhist groups. Approximately 1/3 of the membership is African-American, 1/3 Asian-American (mainly Japanese), and 1/3 European-American. Significantly, it is the only Buddhist group in this predominantly black city to draw a substantial number of African-Americans.
Soka Gakkai has more of a family orientation than most convert Buddhist organizations, and this is represented at meetings by the presence of people of all age ranges, including young children. Women tend to outnumber men, often arriving in small groups, while men tend to come along with their wives or girlfriends.