On March 17, Bishop Shugo Yamanaka of Tenrikyo Mission Headquarters of Hawaii delivered the opening invocation at the Hawaii State Legislative session.
In November last year, Kuniko Nadine Nakamura, a 55-year-old Yoboku belonging to Lanai Church, won a seat in the State House of Representatives. It is customary for the House members to take turns bringing a religious leader to give the opening invocation, and it was her turn this time. Bishop Yamanaka accepted her request to deliver the opening prayer.
The legislative session began at noon. After being introduced by the chairperson, Bishop Yamanaka took the podium and gave a two-minute prayer in English. He explained the fundamental teachings of Tenrikyo by saying: “Dear God, our Beloved Parent, You created this universe, this world, and us human beings because of Your desire to see us live the Joyous Life. And ever since, as the real Parent of all human beings, You have watched over us, guiding and nurturing us with Your warm parental love to our present state of spiritual growth.” He went on to say, “We thank You for Your wonderful workings that keep us alive and well every day, allowing us to live happily and joyously.” He then encouraged the congregation while saying, “Let us use our free mind in accord with God’s desire to see us live the Joyous Life.” In conclusion, he said: “We ask for Your divine guidance as we endeavor to engage in this session in the spirit of universal brotherhood and sisterhood and with the mind of ‘gratitude, moderation, and mutual help,’ leading us to productive results for everyone involved and bringing all the people of this wonderful state of Hawaii closer to the Joyous Life. Namu, Tenri-O-no-Mikoto.” He received a great applause from the 50 representatives and those in the audience.
Bishop Yamanaka commented: “I got this opportunity thanks to Ms. Nakamura, who became the state’s first Yoboku representative. I am certain that this is due to the effort that the followers in Hawaii had continuously made over more than a century since the Teaching arrived here. Ms. Nakamura requested that I make a prayer which included the teachings of Tenrikyo, instead of a general prayer. Although it was a short amount of time, I tried to convey the teachings clearly. I’m glad that I received a round of applause much bigger than expected and that it became a great opportunity to sprinkle the fragrance of the teachings here in Hawaii.”