Tenrikyo Church Headquarters hosted the annual Children’s Pilgrimage to Jiba between July 26 and August 4. During this 10-day period, a total of 232,536 children and staff members, including 801 people from 15 countries and regions such as Thailand, the Philippines, Singapore, Indonesia, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, the U.S. (mainland & Hawaii), Canada, Australia, Brazil, Argentina, France, and the U.K., returned to Jiba.
The theme for the event was once again “All people are brothers and sisters. Let’s return to the Home of the Parent.” This theme expresses the hope for all children throughout the world to return to Jiba, yearning for God the Parent and Oyasama, and help one another as brothers and sisters. A wide variety of educational activities as well as shows and other attractions provided perfect opportunities for children to enjoy the summer in the Home of the Parent.
The Boys and Girls Association has been promoting “Having all chapters conduct sleepovers at their churches” as part of the association’s concrete goal for this year. In order to achieve this goal, each chapter has tried to reach out to as many members as possible and have them stay connected with the church, and through organizing sleepover activities at the church, encouraged them to participate in the Children’s Pilgrimage to Jiba.
For this year’s Children’s Pilgrimage to Jiba, the association headquarters decided to put a great emphasis on two educational points, namely, “to teach children the truth of a thing lent, a thing borrowed” as well as “to provide them with opportunities to engage in hinokishin activities and practice mutual help.” Thus, the adult leaders and others supporting this event tried to convey these teachings to the children returning to Jiba for this event.
Each day (except July 26) started off with great numbers of children assembling in the Main Sanctuary to attend the “Morning Service” event at 8:00 A.M. After leading them in the performance of the seated service, the Shinbashira, who is also president of the Boys and Girls Association, welcomed them back to Jiba and spoke about the teachings in a way that the boys and girls could easily understand.
The Shinbashira began his talk by asking the children which sport they liked. After listening to the children answer his question, he told the audience what is important in playing team sports. He said: “Each member needs to fulfill his or her role on the team. . . . When all members are united in mind while focusing on a common goal, their team will be very strong.”
Continuing his talk using a fife and drum band as an example, he said: “If band members play their musical instruments just as they like without listening to the others, their performance will fall apart and the band will not sound good. On the other hand, if everyone plays his or her part properly and tries to perform in harmony with everyone else, the performance as a group will be impressive.” He also pointed out that when people fulfill their own roles while playing a team sport or performing music with their minds in unison, they can savor the kind of joy that is different from what they experience when playing an individual sport or performing solo.
Referring to this year’s theme “All people are brothers and sisters. Let’s return to the Home of the Parent,” the Shinbashira explained that all people are brothers and sisters because God the Parent is the Parent of all human beings. He also explained that the Joyous Life is the purpose of God’s creation. He then said: “When God the Parent created human beings, God allowed each human being to use the mind freely. This is because God the Parent wants us to use our minds, not in a self-serving way, but in the way that will allow us to help one another with the realization that we are all brothers and sisters. Although this may not be easily done, I hope you will try not to have everything your own way but be considerate of others and bring your minds into harmony with others.”
He concluded his talk by saying: “You can begin leading the Joyous Life by extending the spirit of mutual help among your family members and friends. Please remember this and try to implement whatever you learn about God the Parent’s teachings during the Children’s Pilgrimage.”