Some 250 church head ministers appointed between last October and May this year, as well as their spouses, assembled at the Home of the Parent on May 27 and 28 for the Meeting for Newly Appointed Church Head Ministers. The biannual meeting, held in spring and autumn, provides new head ministers and their spouses with an opportunity to reaffirm their commitment to their mission as church leaders.
The first day began with a lecture delivered by Rev. Motoyoshi Tomimatsu, head of the Education and Nurture Department. After reviewing the significance of Oyasama’s anniversaries and addressing some of the contemporary issues confronting the religions of the world, he reminded the listeners of the significance of the services performed by Tenrikyo followers. “The hand movements used in our daily services are designed to ‘receive’ the truth of all ten aspects of [God the Parent’s] complete providence embodied in the Kagura Service,” he said. “I want to ask you to put all your heart into performing the daily services without ever making light of them.” He also stressed the importance of engaging in salvation work. Sharing some of his personal experiences, he encouraged the new church head ministers to immerse themselves in salvation work. In closing, he suggested that they focus on bringing joy to God the Parent and Oyasama in the course of their daily lives.
Next, Rev. Ichiro Yokoyama, the former head minister of Yagi Grand Church, addressed the meeting, offering his insights into how to nurture and train Yoboku who would carry the path forward in the next generation. “Although Oyasama declared the grand dream of ‘world salvation’ in the first revelation that marked the founding of the Teaching, Her path of the Divine Model began with saving those who were close at hand,” he said. “Likewise, while you head ministers should entertain a big dream, it is important for you to start with those close by while making determined and persevering efforts.” He told the listeners that humility and smiles were among the most necessary assets of all head ministers. He said that so long as they were totally absorbed in the work of God while keeping their minds humble, every seed they sowed would certainly sprout and blossom into joy. He said that there was no “panacea” for those trying to spread the teachings, save others, or develop and train human resources. The essential thing, he said, was for them to exert layer upon layer of sincere efforts day after day, devoting themselves to working with their followers while being sensitive to their needs. He added that another important aspect of their work as head ministers was to take a proactive approach to it, as taught by the Divine Direction that says, “Offering to do things even before being told to do so embodies true sincerity.”
The participants spent the rest of the first day engaging in group discussions and attending another talk.
On the second day, the participants listened to an address by Director-in-Chief of Religious Affairs Tomoo Itakura, who spoke on how to serve during the present season. “Now is the perfect season to devote our sincere efforts to spiritual growth,” he said. “Spiritual growth, as indicated by Instruction Two, means to work at allowing the mind to mature so that it will accord with the intention of God the Parent and Oyasama.”
Rev. Itakura emphasized the importance of the service, saying that what Oyasama particularly sought to accomplish during the course of the path of the Divine Model was to have the followers perform the Kagura Service. He said that the services at local churches–which are to be performed by receiving the truth of the Kagura Service, performed at the Jiba–demand the same level of sincerity on the part of their performers as that required by the Kagura Service.
He went on to ask the participants to make sincere efforts to prepare for the upcoming anniversary of Oyasama, building on the work done by their predecessors. He said that the important thing now was to make repeated, persistent efforts, however hard their present situations might be, looking forward to the delight awaiting them ahead, without being distracted by the immediate, transient delights.
He reminded the listeners that the mission of head ministers was to guide others to the point where they could also engage in true salvation work. Yet the head ministers did not have to start from scratch, he said, for Oyasama had provided the Divine Model and early followers had left their examples.
“The truth of a church name is for all eternity,” he continued. “But unless connected with the Jiba–which might be likened to the root–the local churches, or the buds on the branches, could wither. So I want you to make every effort to keep your minds connected with the Jiba and walk the path spiritedly.”
He added that they could make an initial commitment of three years in this regard–then five years, ten years, and so on. “I want you to work hard at the forefront of the path so that all your Yoboku will eventually rise up spiritedly,” he said.
The participants later performed the seated service in the East Worship Hall to express their commitment as well as their gratitude. To conclude the meeting, they performed the dance to the Eight Verses of the Yorozuyo in the Foundress’ Hall.