Between June 27 and 29, the Head Ministers Seminar in Oyasato was held at the Oyasato-yakata’s South Right Wing 2, drawing a total of 338 participants (211 head ministers and 127 spouses). The seminar is intended for those with three to five years of experience in serving as head ministers as well as their spouses. First held in June 2007, the seminar is presently being held twice a year. The next seminar will be held in October of this year.
The overall theme of the seminar is “The Mind That Strives to Save Others.” The three-day program provides an opportunity for head ministers and their spouses to deepen their understanding of the teachings, reaffirm their joy of faith, and conduct ever more enthusiastic church activities.
The seminar began with group activities designed to cultivate the participants’ listening skills. Following that, Rev. Shinichiro Miyazaki, who is the head minister of Umemitsu Branch Church as well as a certified clinical psychologist, gave a talk to summarize the importance of listening skills.
There were two lectures given on the first day: a lecture by Honbu-in Iwane Matsui entitled “The True Path That Settles This World” and another lecture by Mrs. Mariko Matsuo, wife of the head minister of Kako Grand Church, entitled “Proper Frame of Mind for Salvation Work.” Both of them shared their thoughts on the joy of faith and the significance of salvation work.
On the evening of the first day, Director-in-Chief of Administrative Affairs Masahiko Iburi addressed the participants. He said, “The current state of Japanese society can be described as ‘having lost a dependable guide,’ and the most obvious manifestation of this loss is the disintegration of the family.” He went on to say: “The essential role of a home is to serve as a place where people can return to, share their problems with their family members, and regain their composure and strength. This is also the role of a church. When Yoboku or followers visit their church, they can recall the fact that they are followers who have faith in Oyasama’s teachings and, at the same time, understand what needs to be done right now as followers of the path. The role of a church is to provide a dependable guide for the faith of everyone affiliated with that church.” He encouraged the participants by saying, “I would like you, as head ministers, to find a way to further energize the Yoboku belonging to your church by trying out every conceivable means and implementing the ones that work for your church.”
The section meetings held on the second day were one of the prominent features of the seminar. In the morning, participants were asked to select one of eight section meetings organized under the theme “Salvation Work in Modern Society.” The choices included such topics as “nursing care that enhances the quality of life,” “multiple debts,” “school absenteeism and social withdrawal,” and “disintegration of the family.” In the afternoon, eight more section meetings were organized under the theme “Faith and the Teachings for Salvation Work,” and the participants chose from among such topics as “the truth of the Sazuke and the Kakisage,” “learning from the Ofudesaki,” “the path of the Divine Model that Oyasama demonstrated,” and “the sort of church that enlivens its followers.” The afternoon section meetings gave participants an opportunity to study the fundamental teachings once again and renew their awareness of being people whose role is to engage in salvation work. Following the section meetings, there were group discussions allowing the participants to reflect on the section meetings they had attended and to share their ideas on how to apply what they learned to their salvation work.
A symposium was held on the third day, which featured a panel discussion entitled “Tenrikyo Churches from Now On.” Yuki Branch Church Head Minister Yoshinori Ogida, Fukaego Branch Church Head Minister Eiichiro Nabeyama, and Fuchiwa Branch Church Head Minister Eiji Yamazaki served as panelists while Miyanojin Branch Church Head Minister Yoshimasa Nakakuma presided as moderator. The panelists exchanged opinions and thoughts about various ways to meet and accommodate the needs of modern society in their efforts of sprinkling the fragrance of the teachings and saving others. At the end of the panel discussion, Daikairi Branch Church Head Minister Yoshiki Kato, who served as a commentator, concluded the panel discussion by saying: “It is important for you to take another step forward, starting with what you feel is the right thing to do. Even though we may not see immediate results, let’s keep our spirits high by looking forward to what tomorrow may bring, exert our utmost sincerity in the tasks of the path each day, and engage in those tasks in high spirits.”
Following the panel discussion, the participants reflected on what they had learned over the course of the past three days. At the end of the seminar, announcements were made concerning the Tenrikyo Basics Course and Tenrikyo Three Day Course, both of which the participants could utilize in their efforts to provide care and guidance for Yoboku and followers belonging to their churches.