The history of WYBL can be traced back to the 1920’s, when members of the YMBA held a meeting to discuss the idea of coordinating group activities.
Many young immigrants (issei) from Japan formed a ‘Bukkyo Seinenkai’ (Young Buddhist Association), the predecessor of early BCA Temples. As their children reached adolescence in the 1920’s, however, an organization for Nisei teen-agers had to be considered.
Thus, gradually the Young Men’s Buddhist Association (YMBA and the Young Women’s Buddhist Association (YWBA) were formed at Temples for American-born youths.
On January 15-16 the League of Young Men’s Buddhist Associations of North America (NAYMBAL) was organized in San Francisco with Rev. Tansei Terakawa as the first President.
On July 27, at White Point in San Pedro, CA, when the young Buddhist women met during the annual Summer Session, the North American Federation of YMBA was formed. Both leagues were divided into 5 districts inside California.
At it’s first Conference held in Sacramento on March 27-28, YMBA and YWBA are combined to form California Young Buddhist League (CYBL), over 800 delegates attend.
The 3rd CYBL and the 1st National YBA Conference were jointly held in San Francicso at at Treasure Island (at the World’s Fair site) with 961 delegates attending, including delegates from Tacoma, Portland, White River, and Arizona.
Prior to the onset of WWII, CYBL membership stood at 4100 members.
After WWII, the CYBL reactivates and a meeting is held in Fresno, CYBL is reformed as WYBL so as to include Arizona.
First post-war Conference held March 27-29 in Los Angeles.
WYBL hosts Lord Abbot and Lady Ohtani at the WYBL Conference in San Jose.
The height of WYBL Conferences as far as delegates, as 1305 people attended the WYBL Conference in Sacramento.
The 16th WYBL Conference was the first to be held at a Hotel (Statler Hotel, Los Angeles), as Temple facilities were not able to accommodate the large numbers of delegates.
At the 18th WYBL Conference (held at Claremont Hotel, Berkeley), unruly behavior in the hotel rooms was reported. The BCA sent out a directive to all YBA’s to have sufficient adult chaperones at future WYBL Conferences.
The WYBL establishes the Tad Abe Memorial Fund in memory of Bay District member Tad Abe who passed away while serving his second term as WYBL President. The fund is to provide funds to IBS for financial assistance in purchasing necessary items.
An exchange program was developed with Hawaii to give WYBL members the opportunity to exchange ideas and meet with members of Hawaii YBA.
The WYBL establishes a committee to study the feasibility of establishing a BCA student-youth membership category at each Temple. WYBL membership policies were in conflict with Temple policies regarding membership. As a result, the WYBL disbands its sports program.
The WYBL establishes the YBA Bishop’s Posthumous Recognition in honor of those YBA members and others who have made outstanding contributions to the Buddhist youth movement on the local, district, or national level and have passed away during the course of their service.
Sources: Buddhist Churches of America: The First 100 Years Buddhist Churches of America: 75 Year History, Volume 1 WYBL Advisors Handbook, 1981 The YBA Movement in America, by Fred Nitta