On March 28, this year’s Students’ Spring Pilgrimage to Jiba was held in the Home of the Parent. The slogan this year was, “Spreading the Parent’s intention to our fellow students in the world: Connecting our hearts to Jiba!” About 5,000 high school- and college-aged members of Tenrikyo Students Association participated in the event, which was honored by the presence of the Shinbashira and his wife, Mrs. Harue Nakayama.
Members of the Students’ Spring Pilgrimage to Jiba Steering Committee had made a conscious effort to make sure that they were thorough in conducting prayer services leading up to the event to pray for the recovery of regions affected by last year’s disaster in northeastern Japan as well as for as many students as possible to be able to return to Jiba for the Spring Pilgrimage. Last July, volunteers not only took part in relief efforts but also sent students’ messages of encouragement to affected churches.
The event site opened at 8:00 a.m. Members holding flags and signs bearing the names of their dioceses and directly supervised churches entered the Inner Courtyard of Church Headquarters. The Shinbashira and Mrs. Nakayama then made their appearance and the ceremony began.
After singing the Eight Verses of the Yorozuyo, Steering Committee Chairman Ryosuke Imai, a senior at Tenri University, called on members to unite their minds with the Parent’s intention, aim to become Yoboku capable of building the Joyous Life, and walk together in unity of mind.
The Shinbashira then gave an address. He first spoke about the importance of being aware that everyone assembled was still on his or her way toward spiritual growth, of learning about the path, and of proactively seeking out the parental heart.
After giving a simple explanation of Oyasama’s 50-year Model path, the Shinbashira then emphasized that the Joyous Life referred to a world in which God and human beings dwelled in perfect harmony as Parent and children. He then explained that regional churches ought to set an example of the Joyous Life.
After mentioning that part of the Students Association slogan for spiritual maturity is “Let’s actively connect with our churches,” the Shinbashira said, “I would like you to actively find opportunities to go to church and make efforts to connect with your respective churches.”
In closing, the Shinbashira said: “Our path is one where we can receive God’s protection for endless generations by relying on the truth of the everliving Oyasama and by maintaining a conviction of faith that is single-hearted with God. . . . I would like you, as students of Oyasama, to work to nurture your conviction of faith that is single-hearted with God, savor the joy of walking Oyasama’s Model path, and combine your efforts in unity of mind to reflect the truth of convincing insight to the world.”
Next, two Students Association members related their experiences. One of them was Chiaki Hashimoto, a junior at Fukushima University. She spoke of her experiences during last year’s disaster. After touching upon how her church’s monthly service was conducted without incident four days after the earthquake struck, she said, “I would like to bear in mind the importance of leaning on God the Parent and performing the daily services as I continue to take firm steps on this path from now on.”
Later, Koki Jinno, a Tenri University junior who was appointed to serve as the association chairman from April 1, made a pledge on behalf of all association members. The singing of the song “Akari” brought the event to a close.
Members then went on to participate in activities organized by their respective directly supervised churches, focusing on spreading the name of God the Parent, engaging in hinokishin, and deepening their friendship through special lunches and games.
After the evening service at Church Headquarters, the “Spring Festival” was held on both sides of the South Gate. The event featured 81 food booths run by various diocese and directly supervised church groups.
On March 28, 390 people attended the Besseki lectures, with 100 people attending them for the first time.