A Fresh Start: Mission Headquarters in South Korea Celebrates a Century

Tenrikyo Mission Headquarters in South Korea conducted its 100th anniversary service on June 30 and was honored by the presence of the Shinbashira and his wife, Mrs. Harue Nakayama. Tenrikyo Mission Administration Office in Korea, the predecessor to the mission headquarters, was established in 1909 in Busan to oversee the enthusiastic missionary activities that pioneered Tenrikyo’s overseas mission. Over the past century, relentless efforts have been made to spread the faith and hand it down to younger generations while overcoming various difficulties. The service drew roughly 4,000 followers from across the country. With the Shinbashira’s words etched in their hearts, those attending pledged to devote themselves to the further expansion of the path in South Korea.

The Shinbashira and his wife arrived at Gimhae International Airport at 2:15 P.M. on June 29 and were each presented with a bouquet of flowers by members of the Boys and Girls Association dressed in traditional Korean attire. After an hour ride to the mission headquarters, which is located in the suburbs, the Shinbashira and Mrs. Nakayama were greeted by about 300 followers from Seoul and Gyeonggi dioceses who had arrived early that morning in nine buses.

The 100th anniversary service was held the following day, the 30th. Young members from the local chapter of the Women’s and Young Men’s associations contributed hinokishin efforts by taking the lead in manning the reception desks and guiding arriving followers. The local police also cooperated by creating an extra lane leading to the mission headquarters (by converting one of the two opposite lanes of traffic) and setting up a temporary parking area for the event.

At 10:00 A.M., the Shinbashira and Mrs. Nakayama made their way to the mission headquarters sanctuary dressed in kyofuku robes. Bishop Yoshikazu Terada’s voice resonated in the silent worship hall as he read the service prayer.

This was followed by the Shinbashira’s address. After expressing his pleasure at seeing the followers again after his last visit two years ago, he thanked them for their daily efforts and dedication. He then looked back on the history of the mission headquarters, including its time as Tenrikyo Mission Administration Office in Korea, and emphasized that the path in South Korea today exists because the faith of many people who came before―a faith that allowed them to face a variety of knots by leaning on God the Parent’s protection and relying on Oyasama’s Divine Model―was passed down the generations.

The Shinbashira then said, “Since the path is to continue eternally for all generations, it is my hope that this day does not simply focus on the celebration and excitement of the service but becomes a day of great meaning, a fresh starting point.” He added, “I hope that you all consciously inquire into the events that led to the establishment of this mission headquarters and renew your commitment so as to apply the spirit of its founding in the immediate future.”

Regarding the role of a mission headquarters, the Shinbashira declared: “On top of being an outpost of Church Headquarters, it is also the regional base for shared communication and mutual help, the center for regional activities. . . . It is also a place where missionary efforts can be enhanced. In order to have the congregation receive the blessings of further growth on both national and regional levels, the mission headquarters must act as the core that helps tend to and foster followers, allowing them to assemble, unite their minds, and inspire one another irrespective of the fact that they happen to be affiliated with different church lineages.” He also told those working for the mission headquarters that it is their duty to wholeheartedly accept the truth of Jiba, the source of all tending and fostering, and ensure that it is conveyed without error. He further asked the general congregation to cooperate and inspire one another so as to receive the blessings that will lead to membership growth.

In conclusion, the Shinbashira expressed his respect and wholehearted thanks to the late forebears who had exerted their utmost for the path in South Korea. Then, referring to a Divine Direction that teaches “A broad path is difficult to follow while a narrow path is easy to follow” (Osashizu, January 13, 1890), he closed with the remark, “I ask all of you to carry the momentum from the 100th anniversary of the Mission Headquarters in South Korea, emulate your forebears who were mindful on the narrow path, walk today’s broad path with care, and continue to work spiritedly with your minds in unison in order to have the path grow and expand even further.”

This was followed by the seated service, which was performed with the Shinbashira as the core. Followers who filled the worship hall and the outer sanctuary grounds sang the Mikagura-uta in Korean. The service was also shown on large video screens in the outer sanctuary grounds, the dining hall, and the hall of the mission headquarters’ Educational and Cultural Center.

Following the service, Bishop Terada thanked the Shinbashira and Mrs. Nakayama on behalf of the congregation and pledged to make a fresh start toward the cause of world salvation. Among the post-service commemorative activities, young members entertained guests with dance and song. Rev. Cho Deok-gu, the head of the “Welcoming Committee” and a member of the mission headquarters board of directors, expressed the following sentiments: “We were able to conduct the 100th anniversary service and welcome the Shinbashira and Mrs. Nakayama for the occasion precisely because of the fervent missionary efforts our forebears put forth amidst terrible adversity. I pledge to do my utmost so that we can take advantage of this occasion to promote a faith centered on Jiba and engage in active missionary efforts in unity of mind.”

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