More than 500 members and volunteers attended the 2020 BLIA-Toronto Virtual Annual General Meeting and FGS Annual Volunteers Dinner through Zoom at 5pm on January 24, 2021. The event was jointly organized by Fo Guang Shan Temple of Toronto and BLIA-Toronto. Members and volunteers were connected with each other during this 2.5-hour event across time and space.
The Annual General Meeting was conducted in both Mandarin and English. BLIA-Toronto President Ms Mabel Lam stated that during this challenging year, BLIA-Toronto members have become proficient in using internet and have been diligent in learning new skills such as creating video clips online. BLIA-Toronto members have also participated successfully in various events organized jointly by Fo Guang Shan Temples of North America and BLIA-North America, such as the “2020 North America Sounds of Human World Concert”, the “North America Humanistic Buddhist Reading Association Study Group Sharing”, and the “North America BLIA Buddhist Exam & Forum.” Ms Lam also stated that no matter what the future holds, where there is Dharma, there is a way, and wished everyone to “cultivate a heart that blooms in all seasons.”
Following Ms. Lam’s speech, the Annual Volunteers Dinner was kicked off by a powerful and passionate 24 Season Drum performance. The 2020 BLIA theme song, “Connecting Hearts”, played alongside youthful and energetic video clips. Venerable Chueh Fan, the Abbess of Fo Guang Shan Temple of Toronto, led the reciting of the Buddha’s Light Verse. Following this all participants enjoyed their dinner along with various fun performances and activities presented to them by the two hosts, as if different delicious delicacies were being presented to all participants throughout the gathering. The exciting performances included two song performances by Fo Guang Shan of Toronto Choir – “The Song of Faith”, and “Where There is Dharma, There is A Way”; a celebration and appreciation of volunteers with 10, 15 and 20 years of service; a replay of prior years’ exciting Volunteer Gathering performances along with behind-the-scenes clips; a replay of clips from BLIA-Toronto members who participated in “2020 North America Sounds of Humanistic World Concert”; online interactive games; sharing of the visit to Buddhist shrines in India; and a showcase of online wishes from different BLIA-Toronto Sub Chapters.
At the end of the gathering, led by the Venerables, the volunteers used candles and LED lights to act as lanterns during the lantern offering prayer. Volunteers also listened to Venerable Master Hsing Yun’s Prayer for Volunteers. All volunteers felt grateful that they have had the opportunity to be Fo Guang Shan volunteers, and vowed to follow the footsteps of Bodhisattvas with never-changing and never-ending volunteer spirit.
Venerable Chueh Fan thanked all volunteers for their assistance in Dharma propagation and expressed her hope that everyone will continue to spread the volunteer spirit throughout Canada. Venerable Chueh Fan also stated her hope that everyone will continue to hold the joy of Dharma and appreciation from attending the virtual event in their hearts, acting as a stimulus for everyone to be more diligent as they charge forward into the future.