Tenrikyo Associations Announce Their Guidelines and Plans for 2009

Women’s Association

Tenrikyo Women’s Association held a seminar for chairwomen of directly supervised chapters and diocese chapters on January 27 and 28 with an attendance of 265 chairwomen. The participants renewed their resolve for the major juncture of the association’s 100th anniversary next year. At the seminar, it was stated that the association would be continuing to promote its principal slogan for spiritual maturity: “Let’s follow the Divine Model and become the foundation for the Joyous Life.” Also, the association announced a new slogan toward the anniversary: “Let each of us, by God’s blessing, have one person attend the Besseki lecture.” An additional guideline for association activities, “Let’s nurture our own faith based on the teachings,” was also announced at the seminar, so that the activity guidelines now read: “In anticipation of our association’s 100th anniversary: Let’s inquire into the origin and become the foundation for our families and churches. (1) Let’s nurture our own faith based on the teachings. (2) Let’s put our hearts into performing the service. (3) Let’s sprinkle the fragrance and strive to save others.”

The seminar began with an address by the association president, Mrs. Harue Nakayama. She started by referring to the three main Tenrikyo associations’ joint slogan, about which the Shinbashira spoke in his sermon at the Spring Grand Service, namely: “Let’s visit our churches with our families.” She said that it was important and necessary for parents to stay connected with their churches and make efforts to attain spiritual growth if the faith was to be passed down through all generations for the realization of the Joyous Life. She went on to say: “A mother has strong influences on her children’s upbringing. With that in mind, I want you all to make a sincere effort to visit your churches.” She also called on those living in churches, for their part, to strive to create an atmosphere that would make people want to visit their churches.

She then touched on the newly added guideline and told the participants that they might misuse their mind or be swayed by the current of the times unless they nurtured their own faith in exact accordance with God the Parent’s intention and Oyasama’s teachings.

Concerning the way of using their mind and conducting themselves toward the 100th anniversary, she explained what it meant to inquire into the origin. Looking back on the day of origin of the association and sharing her thoughts on God the Parent’s intention behind it, she called on the members to fully understand the association’s purpose and mission and near the intention of God the Parent.

To conclude her address, she encouraged the participants by saying: “If we are to have as many people as possible return to Jiba and attend the 100th anniversary convention in April 2010, we are the ones who need to take leadership roles. We also need to have the chairwomen of subordinate chapters join us in this endeavor. Moreover, we all need to make sincere efforts to help and encourage association members in local churches to engage in sprinkling the fragrance of the teachings and saving others.”

According to the announcements made later at the seminar, the association will be holding various seminars this year as in previous years. On the day of the convention in April, all participants will perform the seated service together after the ceremony and, in the afternoon, each directly supervised chapter will organize its own gathering for its members. Between May and August, the “100th Anniversary Pep Rally for Women’s Association Members” will take place in various locations inside and outside Japan. Toward the end of October, the first “Besseki Month for the 100th Anniversary” will be carried out.

Young Men’s Association

Tenrikyo Young Men’s Association held its first monthly meeting of the year at the association headquarters on January 25. It was attended by approximately 320 participants including the chairmen of directly supervised chapters and diocese chapters.

At the meeting, Association Chairman Chikara Iburi announced that the association would continue using the same guideline that it promoted last year: “Maintain the awareness of being Arakitoryo and take action.” He then quoted from the address delivered by the Shinbashira at last year’s 90th anniversary convention: “[A]ll of you members ought to live each day with a full awareness that each word you use and every action you perform in the course of daily life–regardless of your particular position or role and regardless of whether you live in this country or overseas–has a bearing on the path of single-hearted salvation leading to the Joyous Life.” Chairman Iburi then explained: “What is expected of us Arakitoryo is to proactively implement the Joyous Life each day in our role as pioneers of the path. Increasing the number of Tenri young men who take action with such awareness is the aim of this year’s guideline, and it is a pressing matter that the Young Men’s Association must work on.”

Chairman Iburi then looked back at the activities related to the “Gatherings for Tenri Young Men: Unity and Progress” held in commemoration of the association’s 90th anniversary. He said: “Many members including those who had not previously been active in association activities were able to rekindle their awareness of being pioneers of the path by attending the gatherings. I would like to ask you to continue reaching out to members who were unable to attend the gatherings and make tireless efforts to invite them to association activities.” He then announced that the association had chosen “Enriching the association activities in ordinary times” as the theme for this year’s activities. “Besides implementing the association activities announced by the association headquarters,” he continued, “it is important for directly supervised chapters, diocese chapters, subordinate chapters, and district chapters to use their ingenuity to come up with innovative activities that will enable their members to assemble on a regular basis and help one another make progress in their spiritual growth.”

Before concluding his speech, he called out to the leaders of the association: “Setting our sights on the 100th anniversary of the Young Men’s Association, let us enthusiastically engage in association activities. At the same time, let us continue making steady progress throughout the year in order to ensure that our association will be capable of giving full expression to our abilities and youthful strength when we are called upon.”

The pillar of this year’s association activities is the 85th Young Men’s Association Convention, which will be held in the Inner Courtyard of Church Headquarters on October 27. As for the activities of the chapters based in churches, the “Missionary Campaign Week for All Chapters” will be observed between September 6 and 13. Regarding the activities for the chapters based in dioceses and districts, the association will be promoting the “Heart Clean Campaign,” which is held on the first Sunday of each month except January (second Sunday), August (second Sunday), and September (third Sunday). This year, the campaign’s Action Day will be conducted on July 5. In addition, the 7th International Hinokishin Corps will be held between July 18 and 24. It was also reaffirmed that the association will actively promote the slogan of “Let’s visit our churches with our families.”

Boys and Girls Association

The Boys and Girls Association leaders’ first meeting of the year was held at the Home of the Parent on January 27, drawing 1,718 participants, including heads of directly supervised church corps and diocese corps as well as members of the nurturing committees of those corps and district chapters.

The meeting commenced with an address by the Shinbashira, who also serves as president of the Boys and Girls Association. He reminded the listeners that, in his sermon at the Spring Grand Service conducted on the previous day, he had noted that 20 years have passed since the Women’s Association, the Young Men’s Association, and the Boys and Girls Association jointly proposed the slogan “Let’s visit our churches with our families” and informed all churches of the intent behind the slogan. The Shinbashira went on to say that, because of the difficulty in getting a clear sense of the results produced by that 20-year effort, he had decided that it might be helpful to bring up the topic once again in his sermon.

Concerning the history of the slogan, the Shinbashira explained: “When the leaders of the three associations originally got together to discuss what could be done to nurture the next generation, it was suggested that one of the reasons people strayed from the path was that they were not visiting their church regularly. Simply put, that is why the three associations chose to promote this slogan urging followers to visit their church.” He said that it was natural, therefore, to view the slogan as pertaining only to followers living outside the church. However, the Shinbashira went on to say that, since the slogan’s core objective was to get families to worship together at their church, it should also be taken to heart by the members of the head minister’s family and others living at the church. He suggested that they make sure, for example, that they are all attending the church services as a family, just as other followers are being asked to do.

The Shinbashira then discussed “Having all chapters conduct overnight stays at their churches,” which is one of the three concrete goals supplementing the association’s new activity guidelines. He described overnight stays at churches as prime opportunities to invite children to take part in the daily life of the head minister’s family and thus familiarize them with the atmosphere of a church. The Shinbashira said that the adults in charge of the overnight stays should consider every child as someone who will be carrying the path forward in the next generation and should, therefore, provide the same sound guidance to each child, whether the child lives at the church or not.

The Shinbashira also mentioned that, although this concrete goal is focused on getting all chapters to conduct overnight stays at their churches, adult leaders should not be so concerned with statistics that they forget the underlying significance of this activity. “Boys and Girls Association activities,” he emphasized, “are not merely occasions to gather children together and entertain them. Rather, our activities are specifically designed to provide boys and girls with a solid foundation that will allow them to become splendid Yoboku in the future. Unless you keep that in mind at all times, the overnight stays at churches will simply end up being ways to pass the time with little lasting value.” The Shinbashira closed his address by asking the leaders to carry out their responsibilities while bearing in mind the purpose for conducting association activities and to nurture children in such a way that they will grow up to be fine Yoboku who can make a contribution to the path.

Following the Shinbashira’s address, Chairman Toshihiko Yamamoto announced the association’s new activity guidelines: “Let’s connect children with our churches and nurture their sense of gratitude to God the Parent.” He then asked the association leaders attending the meeting to take more concrete measures to promote the activities they have been trying to conduct on a regular basis at the level of chapters based in each church and district. He also stressed that the current season is “an important period in which we must make steady progress toward the association’s 50th anniversary, which has been regarded as a significant milestone ever since the association’s establishment.”

Chairman Yamamoto then gave a detailed explanation of the association’s new concrete goals: (1) Having all chapters conduct overnight stays at their churches; (2) Promoting hinokishin activities in every district; and (3) Increasing the number of association members participating in the Children’s Pilgrimage to Jiba. “Conducting these activities in churches and districts,” he maintained, “strengthens the vertical mission, which is to say, the nurturing of the children of Yoboku and followers, and will eventually enable those children to be genuine successors of the path.” He went on to say: “These activities are valuable not only because they promote the vertical mission within the Tenrikyo community but also because they can provide possible solutions to the various problems involving children in today’s society. . . . In this sense, they are missionary activities that broaden the base of the Tenrikyo community.”

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