Brenda Whitlock

Brenda Whitlock was a student at Arizona State University when she began research on the Arizona Buddhist Temple. Dr. Tracey Fessenden was the faculty sponsor for this research.

At the time of this research, Whitlock wrote:

The Arizona Buddhist Temple, 1936-Present: A Historical Narrative

In 1933, Rev. Hozen Seki from Los Angeles came to Phoenix, Arizona to teach Jôdo Shinshû Buddhism. His nascent ministry began in a barn with a handful of Japanese families but by 1936 the Arizona Buddhist Temple was built, thus beginning the permanent status of Jôdo Shinshû Buddhism in Arizona.[1] Although the original temple has since burned down and the community was relocated during World War II, the nascent group has grown and prospered today enjoying approximately 103 temple members of varying ages and ethnic backgrounds.[2]

My project entails compiling the oral history and documented history of the Arizona Buddhist Temple into a historical narrative. To gather the data, I am interviewing four Nisei, second generation Japanese-Americans, and am collecting information from the temple board meetings’ minutes, the temple’s constitutions, past and present, and the annual reports published yearly by the national Buddhist Churches of America (BCA) of which the Arizona Temple is a part of. Ultimately this project serves the purpose of documenting the presence and history of a religious institution that has received little attention by the American public and also to document the religious history for a community that has a rich story to tell. In addition, this project serves as a useful tool in compiling primary data necessary for further research in Buddhism in America and Jôdo Shinshû Buddhism in America.


[1] Munekata, Ryo,ed. Buddhist Churches of America. Vol. I: 75 Year History, 1899-1974, (Chicago: Norbart, Inc. 1974): 353.↩︎
[2] Annual Report (compiled and maintained by the Buddhist Churches of America since the 1950’s, they serve as valuable resources). i.e. Buddhist Churches of America, 2002 Annual Report.↩︎