On October 27, the day after the Autumn Grand Service, the 84th Tenrikyo Young Men’s Association Convention was held in commemoration of the association’s 90th anniversary. Some 15,000 participants including association members filled the Inner Courtyard of Church Headquarters.
The Young Men’s Association has been conducting the “Gatherings for Tenri Young Men: Unity and Progress” at over 100 venues in and outside Japan since the end of August this year. The association aims at having 50,000 members participate in the gatherings and helping those members embrace the task of working as Arakitoryo, pioneers of the path, while encouraging them to return to the association’s founding spirit.
At 10:00 A.M., the Shinbashira, who is also the president of the association, escorted the former Shinbashira, Women’s Association President Harue Nakayama, and other distinguished guests into the Inner Courtyard to the accompaniment of music provided by Tenri High School Brass Band. The convention commenced with a moment of worship. After the hoisting of the association flag and the opening declaration, all participants sang the Eight Verses of the Yorozuyo in unison. Then, Association Headquarters Chairman Chikara Iburi read out the progress report on the previous year. He said in his report that the association chose “Maintain the Awareness of Being Arakitoryo and Take Action” as this year’s association guidelines and vigorously promoted various activities based on the guidelines. He also asked those present to work hard until the last minute to reach out to other members so as to bring as many as 50,000 participants to the Gatherings for Tenri Young Men. He closed his remarks by saying: “Taking advantage of our 90th anniversary, we are ready to take a new step forward. We must reflect on the footsteps of our predecessors, who always upheld the spirit of pioneers, and continue to work as Arakitoryo. Let us make ourselves spirited and make great progress toward the realization of the Joyous Life World.”
Following the progress report, the Shinbashira took the lectern to deliver his address. Looking back upon the association’s founding spirit as well as its early days, he said that the vast majority of those who worked to organize activities that directly led to the establishment of the Young Men’s Association were second-generation followers, who were born and raised in an atmosphere of faith during the period when Tenrikyo was growing rapidly through ardent missionary activities. Also, quoting from the Divine Directions that addressed the establishment of Church Headquarters’ own young men’s association, he asked the members not to overlook the insuppressible ardor and passion of young followers at that time. He said, “The fervent desire to spread and expand this path further and further through their own efforts and the strong commitment to make spiritual growth by nurturing themselves enabled the many different groups of young men to unite in the form of the founding of Tenrikyo Young Men’s Association.”
President Nakayama then explained the duty of Arakitoryo and pointed out that the overseas mission has been one of the major goals of the association. He also stated, “Another important role this association should be playing is to try to make sure that as many people as possible assemble at our churches to implement the Joyous Life so that the churches will be able to share their joy, brightness, and spiritedness with the local communities in accord with God the Parent’s intention, for, after all, our churches are meant to serve as models of the Joyous Life as well as training centers for the Joyous Life.” He continued, “One important thing for the members of this association to do in this regard is to live each day with a full awareness that each word they use and every action they perform in the course of daily life is connected to the path of single-hearted salvation leading to the Joyous Life.” He thus emphasized the importance of the members’ enthusiasm to spread the teachings as well as to inquire into the teachings regardless of their particular position or capacity and regardless of whether they live in Japan or overseas. To conclude his address, he encouraged the members by saying, “Rather than taking today’s convention and the Gatherings for Tenri Young Men as merely a celebration or commemorative event, I hope you will use these occasions as a springboard for making great progress during the current season by taking to heart the wishes of your early predecessors, making their commitment your own, and rededicating yourselves to proactively conducting association activities in unity of mind.”
Following the president’s address, Sendai Chapter Chairman Kazuhiko Hoshi made a pledge on behalf of all the association’s members. To bring the convention to a close, all the members recited the “Guiding Principles of Arakitoryo,” and then all the participants joined together in singing the “Tenrikyo Young Men’s Association Anthem.” After the convention, many participants moved to Tenri University’s Gymnasium #1 to attend the Arakitoryo Lectures, the event to commemorate this year’s convention. Four speakers shared with others their experiences as well as their joy of being Arakitoryo.