On January 27, the Boys and Girls Association leaders’ first meeting of the year was held in the Home of the Parent, drawing 1,766 participants, including heads of directly supervised church corps and diocese corps as well as members of the nurturing committees of those corps.
The meeting commenced with an address by the Shinbashira, who also serves as president of the Boys and Girls Association. Based on what he had noted in his sermon at the Spring Grand Service conducted on the previous day, he first touched upon the tasks that Yoboku are expected to carry out. He emphasized that, in addition to engaging in missionary work and salvation work, Yoboku should work on guiding those who have already been drawn to the path. He then moved on to talk about the kind of attitude the association’s staff members ought to have, urging them to make daily efforts to study the teachings so as to be able to pass down the faith to children.
Further, he reminded the listeners that he had spoken about family togetherness in his sermon at the Spring Grand Service and pointed to the need to work with parents in conveying the teachings accurately to children who participate in the association’s activities. He then asked the listeners to guide not only children but also their family members—including those who are already followers of Tenrikyo—so as to be able to help them develop their faith in ways that fully accord with God the Parent’s intention.
Toward the end of his address, he said that the association’s activities only serve as the first step in the larger cause of nurturing and guiding children who are to carry on the path taught by Oyasama. “The Boys and Girls Association alone cannot nurture successors of the path,” said the Shinbashira, adding that the Women’s Association, the Young Men’s Association, and the Students Advisory Committee should work together to help children develop their faith as they grow older.
Following the Shinbashira’s address, Chairman Toshihiko Yamamoto announced that the association will continue to uphold the same activity guideline “Let’s connect children with our churches and nurture their sense of gratitude to God the Parent.” “We will place a greater emphasis on the guideline,” said Chairman Yamamoto. “My hope is that, through conducting various kinds of activities, we will be able to help children and their family members connect with their churches. I would like you all to make further efforts to nurture children through the association’s activities so that they will be able to develop their sense of gratitude to God the Parent and translate that attitude into action.”
Chairman Yamamoto then gave a detailed explanation of the association’s concrete goals: (1) Having all chapters conduct overnight stays at their churches; (2) Promoting hinokishin activities in every district; and (3) Increasing the number of association members participating in the Children’s Pilgrimage to Jiba. He then asked the association’s leaders attending the meeting to work on each goal while stressing the preeminence of having all chapters conduct overnight stays at their churches.
Further, Chairman Yamamoto highlighted the importance of the vertical mission within followers’ families and touched upon the slogan “Let’s visit our churches with our families.” He urged the listeners to take the initiative in working on the slogan, saying, “Since our role is to nurture children, let all of us reflect critically upon whether we have been making every possible effort to implement the teachings and the slogan as we should.”