First Church in Argentina Established

Buenos Aires Church, which belongs to Kawaramachi Grand Church, was recently established in Argentina. Located in Vicente Lopez, Buenos Aires, it is the first Tenrikyo church to be established in that country.

Rev. Shin Yang-Ki, 56-year-old head minister of the new church, became a Tenrikyo follower in his native South Korea. In 1976, he moved to Argentina with his family in order to spread the teachings. Opening a mission station, he attracted many people to the path and nurtured them into Yoboku and followers. Their new sanctuary, which had been under construction since 1995, was recently completed. Then, on June 26 this year, their mission station received sanction to become a church. Buenos Aires Church has 11 mission stations in Argentina as well as one each in Spain, Chile, the United States, and South Korea. At present, the church has 17 ministers (kyoto), 55 Yoboku, and about 850 other followers, almost all of whom are Argentineans of Italian or Spanish descent. The enshrinement service was conducted on July 11, the dedication service on July 12, and the first monthly service on July 13.

The dedication service on July 12 began at 10:00 A.M. with a congregation of 430 followers. The service began with Head Minister Shin’s prayer, in which he traced the steps that had led to the establishment of the church. Twenty-seven years ago, Rev. Shin came to Argentina determined to serve as Oyasama’s instrument in world salvation while placing his complete trust in Her. Unable to speak Spanish in those days, his knowledge of Aikido, which he had learned while serving in the military in South Korea, was his only bridge to the community. Surmounting the formidable cultural and language barrier, he persevered in spreading the teaching of the Joyous Life in Argentina. He has driven all over the country in order to establish bases from which to spread the teachings and provide guidance for followers. One of those bases has become Ushuaia Mission Station, which is located in Tierra del Fuego, more than 3,500 kilometers (2,175 miles) from Buenos Aires.

Following the prayer, Kawaramachi Grand Church Head Minister Yoshitaro Fukaya addressed the congregation. Thereafter, the service was performed in the exact manner taught by Oyasama.

Earlier in the day, when reporters asked Rev. Shin about the difficulties involved in using Japanese to sing the songs for the service, he explained: “This path seeks to convey divine truth by performing the service exactly as taught by Oyasama and by administering the Sazuke, the Divine Grant. Even now, I can speak very little Spanish. Nonetheless, what attracts people to Oyasama’s teachings is not the words that we say to them but rather the blessings of God the Parent that we show them. The Argentinean followers and I regard the words for the songs for the service as being ‘Oyasama’s words’ rather than ‘Japanese words.'” In fact, the majority of the church’s 900 followers are able to perform the seated service.

At the enshrinement service held on the previous evening, the members of the congregation intently watched their fellow Argentineans solemnly perform the service ritual in the prescribed manner. Asked about the ritual performance, Rev. Shin emphasized that he and the Argentinean followers “do not regard it as a mere ceremony but rather as a basis to receive God the Parent’s blessings.”

In his sermon at the church’s first monthly service on July 13, Head Minister Shin told the congregation: “Oyasama taught us to save those whom the doctors cannot help. When we go out and make this teaching resound throughout the community, people will come to us seeking salvation. And here they will find the ‘Life-Energy’ that permeates the church.”

Following the service, a reporter interviewed several followers. Violeta Mansilla, 50-year-old head of Rio Gallegos Mission Station, said that she first heard about Tenrikyo 12 years ago. When Rev. Shin visited her town, she took her ailing daughter to see him. Then, for her own ailment eight years ago, Rev. Shin administered the Sazuke to her for three straight days. Now she and her husband as well as their two daughters and sons-in-law have all become Yoboku. She spreads the teachings by telling others how she was saved and emphasizes that anyone can be saved by replacing the mind.

Rosa Elisabeth, 33-year-old staff minister residing at the church, said that she originally visited Ramos Mejia Mission Station three years ago in order to seek relief from asthma and the headaches that constantly plagued her, as well as to get help with some family problems that arose from her bout with anorexia. After administering the Sazuke, the mission station head instructed her to sweep the dust from her mind. She realized that she was being asked to sweep away the dust of “hatred,” which had been casting a dark shadow over her mind at the time. In the three years since then, she and her family have made remarkable progress toward living a joyous life together and, in addition, her ailments have completely disappeared. She presently devotes herself to hinokishin to show her gratitude for the blessings she has received.

Janet Ortega, 39-year-old follower from Ushuaia Mission Station in Tierra del Fuego, explained that she had been bedridden for seven years by the time she met Rev. Shin in April 2001. She recalls that, following his administration of the Sazuke, he instructed her to replace her mind. A year later, when he administered the Sazuke to her again, he invited her to visit Jiba. She accepted and, though she went to Jiba with her wheelchair, she came back walking. Nowadays, when Rev. Shin visits her town, more than 60 people gather to see him.

Maria Alen, 54-year-old head of Galicia Mission Station in Spain, said that she had accepted Rev. Shin’s advice to move to Spain in order to spread the teachings. During the nine years since then, she has been sprinkling the fragrance of the teachings wherever she goes, even in parks and stores. When she puts her heart into serving as Oyasama’s instrument, she feels as if Oyasama’s words arise spontaneously in her mind and she is able to decide, for example, which Ofudesaki verses or which parts of the teachings would be most appropriate for whomever she happens to be working with.

Olga Leal, 67-year-old head of Ramos Mejia Mission Station, said that she has only been to Jiba once during her 18 years of faith, yet she truly feels that Jiba is her home and that Oyasama is her true Parent. She maintains that, although the Ofudesaki was written long ago, the verses always speak to her as if they were new and had been written expressly for her.

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