The Women’s Association Headquarters held the Seminar for Chairwomen of Directly Supervised Chapters and Diocese Chapters on January 27 and 28 at the Home of the Parent. More than 260 attended.
The seminar began with an address by Mrs. Harue Nakayama, president of the Women’s Association. She said that, throughout the remainder of the “three years, one thousand days” leading up to the 120th Anniversary of Oyasama (scheduled for January 26, 2006), the association would continue to promote the activity guidelines announced the year before last. President Nakayama asked the chairwomen to do their utmost to ensure that all association members would take a proactive approach to conducting association activities based on the guidelines. By way of helping the members implement the guidelines, Mrs. Nakayama said that they would do well to repeatedly read the address delivered by the Shinbashira at last year’s association convention, for, if they firmly grasped and put into practice the pointers and suggestions he provided, they would not only be fulfilling their role as the “Supporting Force for the Oyasama 120th Anniversary Activities,” as stated in the guidelines, but also be living up to the three specific goals identified therein, namely: “(1) Let’s seek and learn the teachings; (2) Let’s impart the joy of faith to those around us; and (3) Let’s cultivate the mind of saving others and implement salvation work.”
The participants next listened to a lecture on the Service delivered by Honbu-in Hiroyoshi Shimamura. After presenting a historical and doctrinal overview of the Service, he stressed the importance for the performers of the Service to let go of human thought and bring their minds together in unity, besides staying focused on saving others.
This was followed in the afternoon by faith experience speeches given by two chairwomen. The participants spent much of the remainder of the two-day seminar discussing their plans for this year.
Concerning the annual association convention scheduled for April 19, they agreed to make every effort to encourage all chairwomen of branch chapters to attend it with as many members as possible from their chapters. The participants also pledged to promote the activities based in branch chapters as part of the pre-anniversary activities.
As for other concrete activities, the association headquarters will sponsor study meetings at the Home of the Parent for potential organizers of “lectures for young mothers” to be conducted both at the regional level and at the levels of directly supervised chapters and diocese chapters. The study meetings will take place in May, August, and October. The annual Lecture for Mothers at the Home of the Parent, however, has again been canceled this year due to continuing repair work on Tenri City Auditorium.
Other activities include a seminar for newly appointed chairwomen of diocese chapters and directly supervised chapters, slated for September 26. The current round of the seminars for newly appointed branch chapter chairwomen, which began three years ago, will be concluded on April 20 with the 13th session, which is intended for overseas chairwomen.
Regarding the activities for young women, it was confirmed that the 24th Young Women’s Convention would take place next year. The convention is a biennial event as of last year. Further details will be provided in due course. The association headquarters will organize the Seminar for Young Women Leaders in May, June, July, and November and a study meeting for those responsible for guiding young association members in June.
In addition, the Women’s Association plans to encourage the diocese chapters and directly supervised chapters to implement the “Follow in Kokan’s Footsteps” program, designed for church head ministers’ children between the ages of 16 and 18.
Young Men’s Association
On January 25, Tenrikyo Young Men’s Association held its first monthly meeting of the year at the Young Men’s Association Headquarters. The association announced that it will continue to uphold the guidelines “Enriching the Substance of Chapter Activities and Consolidating the Strength for Missionary Work.”
Chairman Tomoyuki Itakura said that all members of the association must direct all their energies to serving as pioneers of the path and promote the increase of people attending the Besseki lectures as one of their pre-anniversary activities. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Oyasato Construction Young Men’s Association Hinokishin Corps. Chairman Itakura also said, “We should settle in mind the founding spirit of the Hinokishin Corps and the meaning of sowing seeds of sincerity at Jiba, and we must engage in hinokishin activities under the slogan ‘Until the Oyasato-yakata Construction Is Completed.'”
Following Chairman Itakura’s address, the activity plan for this year was also announced. The association is going to hold the 80th Young Men’s Association Convention, which also commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Hinokishin Corps, in the Inner Courtyard of Church Headquarters on October 27. Regarding the activities of the chapters based in churches, the association is going to hold the Missionary Campaign Week for All Chapters between September 5 and 12. In dioceses and districts, it is going to promote the “Heart-Clean Campaign,” which is designed to let participants share the joy of faith by doing hinokishin with fellow members and reflect that joy in their communities. This year’s Action Day for the campaign will be held on July 4.
During this year of the 50th anniversary of the Hinokishin Corps, the association has been holding the special corps since January to provide members with opportunities to sow seeds of sincerity at Jiba. The special corps will be held at the end of each month until September. As to the activities relating to the overseas mission, it is going to sponsor the Australia Study Tour from August 5 to September 1. It is designed to discover and nurture young members who are willing to engage in the overseas mission in the future. The association is also going to encourage the chapters based in directly supervised churches to hold the Seminar for New Members between March and August for the members who have just finished the program of the Boys and Girls Association.
The Boys and Girls Association leaders’ first meeting of the year was held on January 27 at the Home of the Parent, drawing 1,693 participants, including heads of diocese and directly supervised church corps and nurturing committee members from those corps as well as from district chapters.
The leaders first listened to an address delivered by the Shinbashira, who serves as the president of the Boys and Girls Association. Saying that followers of the path including the leaders and staff members of the Boys and Girls Association had set their sights on the milestone of the 120th Anniversary of Oyasama and committed themselves to the anniversary-related activities, the Shinbashira emphasized that they needed to be perfectly clear about the origin of Oyasama’s anniversaries if they were to accomplish these activities.
The Shinbashira mentioned that Oyasama urged the early followers who were close to Her to perform the Service, even going to the extent of confronting them with Her own critical physical condition. He said that the day of origin of Oyasama’s anniversaries was the day when Oyasama withdrew from physical life so as to hasten Her children’s spiritual growth that would allow them to single-heartedly follow the intention of the Parent. Clarifying that the significance of observing Oyasama’s anniversaries was to show our spiritual growth to Her so that we might relieve Her anxieties over us, the Shinbashira told his listeners that we could impart meaning to the current season only by making repeated efforts to grow spiritually.
Reflecting upon last year’s Children’s Pilgrimage to Jiba, which was the 50th pilgrimage, the Shinbashira said that the association had focused its activities last year on marking the 50th anniversary of the pilgrimage in an appropriate manner. The Shinbashira pointed out that the Children’s Pilgrimage to Jiba started along with the Oyasato-yakata construction prior to the 70th Anniversary of Oyasama as “Children’s Hinokishin Pilgrimage to Jiba.”
The Shinbashira stressed that the followers at the time sought to bring the next generation the joy of sowing seeds of sincerity through the construction of the Oyasato-yakata building-complex; in other words, the original purpose of the Children’s Pilgrimage was to impart the joy of faith to their children. The Shinbashira gave the leaders useful pointers on the basic stance of mind appropriate for engaging in the Children’s Pilgrimage to Jiba and said that we need to keep that original purpose in mind and continue to translate it into action.
Referring to the approach that should be taken by those who work on helping children mature, the Shinbashira told the listeners, “Through working with the children, you also need to advance your own spiritual growth, always trying to take even a step or two forward.” To explain what our priorities should be in anticipation of the 120th Anniversary of Oyasama, the Shinbashira emphasized that we must keep firmly focused on spiritual growth in this special three-year season that we designated for our decisive drive to prepare for the anniversary.
Association Chairman Harunobu Nakayama then announced this year’s activity guideline and concrete goals. He said that the association is promoting the same activity guideline as last year’s: “Let us convey the mind of single-hearted salvation from parent to child–promoting activities leading up to the 120th Anniversary of Oyasama.” The three concrete goals are: “Conducting overnight stays at churches and encouraging parent-and-child visits to churches,” “Enhancing activities that allow junior high school students to take active roles,” and “Promoting participation in the Children’s Pilgrimage to Jiba, which is the culmination of all association activities.”