The Shinbashira Visits Disaster-Stricken Dioceses

Between April 6 and 8, the Shinbashira, Zenji Nakayama, went to Iwate and Miyagi prefectures, where he visited churches and mission stations that had been affected by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami and gave encouragement to Tenrikyo members who were participating in relief and recovery activities.

At 9:00 a.m. on April 6, the Shinbashira arrived at the airport in Hanamaki City, Iwate Prefecture, accompanied by Director-in-Chief of Administrative Affairs Yoshitaro Ueda and Administrative Affairs Section Chief Nozomu Itakura. On that day, the Shinbashira visited a church in Miyako District and two churches in Kamaishi District. He also went to Otsuchi Town to visit Kirikiri Branch Church, which provided accommodation for many evacuees in the immediate aftermath of the catastrophe. To the followers who had gathered at these churches to welcome him, the Shinbashira offered words of condolence. He also assured them that Tenrikyo would continue sending its Disaster Relief Hinokishin Corps to the affected areas and would conduct long-term activities for the relief and recovery of the region. Regarding the huge “knot” represented by the disaster, he told the followers: “Together we must go forward by striving to bring ourselves into closer accord with God the Parent’s heart. . . . I hope that all of you will maintain an attitude worthy of followers by doing your best to give strength and encouragement to people who are finding it difficult to keep their spirits up.”

In Kamaishi City, the Shinbashira went to a site where the Disaster Relief Hinokishin Corps was busy removing wreckage and debris. After giving them encouragement, he went on to Tono City, where the corps has set up a base of operations at a public facility. There, he expressed gratitude to the corps members, who had returned there after finishing their work for the day.

On the 7th, the Shinbashira went to Ofunato City, where he visited Aimachi Branch Church’s Aiyo Mission Station, which the community council had designated as an evacuation center. Continuing on to Miyagi Prefecture, the Shinbashira visited a church in the Kesennuma District. After extending words of condolence to the assembled followers, he listened sympathetically to their personal accounts of the earthquake and tsunami. Returning to Iwate Prefecture, the Shinbashira went to an evacuation center in Rikuzentakata City, where he gave encouragement to disaster relief corps members who were running a soup kitchen, and then visited disaster relief corps members at a base of operations that has been established in Ichinoseki City.

On the 8th, the Shinbashira visited a church in the Hanamaki District before catching his flight home.

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