Ichiretsukai Marks 80 Years of Supporting Education

A ceremony commemorating the 80th anniversary of Tenrikyo Ichiretsukai Foundation was held on October 18 in the presence of the Shinbashira, his wife, Mrs. Harue Nakayama, and the former Shinbashira in Tenri University Gymnasium #1. Eighty years ago on this date in 1928, the second Shinbashira, Shozen Nakayama, was married and donated the monetary gifts he received for his wedding to establish the Ichiretsukai Foundation so that Tenrikyo ministers and missionaries could dedicate themselves to the Tenrikyo mission without worrying over how to pay for their children’s and grandchildren’s education. In 1929, two students enrolled in the evening course at Tenri Middle School became the first recipients of financial assistance from the Ichiretsukai Foundation, which has since supported the education of Tenrikyo children in many forms over the years. In the 80 years of its existence, the Ichiretsukai Foundation has given financial assistance to approximately 50,000 high school and college students. On the day of the ceremony, 2,271 current and former recipients of financial assistance were in attendance.

Prior to the ceremony, students and other relevant parties assembled at the Main Sanctuary to conduct a thanksgiving service from 8:45 a.m. The participants then went to Tenri University Gymnasium #1, where a video presenting the history of the foundation was shown until the ceremony commenced at 10:00 A.M. with opening prayers and the singing of the Eight Verses of the Yorozuyo. This was followed by a speech from Honbu-in Nobuyuki Tanaka, managing director of Tenrikyo Ichiretsukai Foundation.

He began by looking back on the ideals of the Ichiretsukai Foundation and briefly covered its history to the present. He expressed his appreciation for the second Shinbashira’s vision, for the parental love of the former and present Shinbashira, who both nurtured it along, and for the dedication and kindness of teachers, former students, and members of the Tenrikyo congregation toward supporting the foundation. Managing Director Tanaka stated that the activities of the Ichiretsukai Foundation were not limited to providing mere financial assistance. He emphasized the foundation’s role in contributing to the vertical mission by cultivating the next generation of the faith into Yoboku and overseeing their education so they all can one day fully demonstrate their virtue and talents. He then went on to explain that the foundation is not only supported by followers’ donations, which have been increasing every year, but also by grants from Tenrikyo Church Headquarters. Managing Director Tanaka concluded by saying: “Many people have donated their money with great expectations for the recipients’ future. Taking these expectations fully to heart, I keenly feel that it is my duty to ensure that this foundation makes every effort to help nurture young people who are to carry on the path in the next generation. I pledge that this foundation will continue to implement its founding purpose ever more fully in the hope that the vertical mission will bear fruit in contributing to our journey toward the Joyous Life.”

The Shinbashira then took the podium and first explained the historical circumstances prior to the founding of the Ichiretsukai Foundation in 1928. Two years before, in 1926, Tenrikyo observed the 40th Anniversary of Oyasama and had undertaken the “double-the-membership drive” as the main anniversary activity. Further, in the years leading up to the 30th Anniversary of Oyasama, held in 1916, one of the main activities had been the “Taisho Construction” (construction of the current North Worship Hall). Such being the circumstances, Tenrikyo missionaries devoted their utmost efforts toward spreading the faith, often at the expense of sufficiently providing for their families. It was fairly common for children from Tenrikyo families to be forced to interrupt their education for financial reasons, causing them to revolt against their parent’s faith and wander from the path. Regarding this issue, the Shinbashira said: “I imagine that the second Shinbashira felt regret at seeing the path, which ought to continue for eternity, being cut in this manner. So he decided to put the sincere gifts he received at his wedding from numerous people to good use by providing financial aid to children so they would follow the path upon savoring the joy of studying, building upon the virtue with which they were endowed, and savoring the Joyous Life.”

The Shinbashira stated that while the Ichiretsukai Foundation has continued to this day because of this intention of the second Shinbashira, it has also been due to the sincere contributions made by people who understood the foundation’s purpose as well as by former recipients of financial assistance. He pointed out to students that it was important for them to always keep in mind that their student life is made possible by the sincerity of a large number of people. He further stated that their present student life was a time for them to build a foundation for living as members of society in their future and that an affirmative stance in which they take on their assignments head-on would allow them to build upon the virtue and talent with which they are endowed.

In conclusion, the Shinbashira said: “All of you here are learning at Tenrikyo schools. You are all receiving a faith-based education. The goal of a faith-based education in Tenrikyo is for you to put the teachings of God the Parent to use in your lives. By doing so, I wish for you to bring the Joyous Life into realization. In order for you to accomplish this, I encourage you to nurture and develop yourselves through your studies and sports activities so you can become individuals who embody God the Parent’s intention.”

The ceremony came to an end after Tenri University sophomore Masumi Kato and Head Minister Chuji Yoshikawa of Katsujo Branch Church offered words of appreciation to the Shinbashira on behalf of current and former recipients of financial aid from the Ichiretsukai Foundation.

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