Between June 26 and 28, the Head Ministers Seminar in Oyasato was held at the Oyasato-yakata’s South Right Wing 2, drawing a total of 357 participants (226 head ministers and 131 spouses). The overall theme of the seminar is “The Mind That Strives to Save Others.” The three-day program is designed to provide an opportunity for head ministers to deepen their understanding of the teachings, reaffirm their joy of faith, refresh themselves, and consider how they can reach out to society where there is a growing sense of uncertainty and confusion. The seminar, intended for those with three to five years of experience in serving as head ministers, was first launched in June last year as part of the instructional system that has been developed by Tenrikyo Education and Nurture Department. The next seminar is scheduled to take place in October.
The seminar began with group discussions on the topic of “The Importance of Listening in Salvation Work.” On the evening of the first day, a lecture entitled “The True Path That Will Settle This World” was delivered by Honbu-in Hirakazu Ueda, who explained why this teaching is the ultimate teaching.
Two section meeting units took place on the second day. Entitled “Faith and the Teachings for Salvation Work,” the first of these units provided eight topics to choose from, such as “the truth of the Sazuke and the Kakisage,” “learning from the Ofudesaki,” and “the path of finding joy.” One section meeting focused on the topic of “learning from our predecessors–Rev. Kuraji Kashiwagi (the first head minister of Higashichuo Grand Church).” It featured a dialogue between Etsumi Branch Church Head Minister Keiichi Tsutsui (90 years old), who was directly instructed by Rev. K. Kashiwagi, and Higashichuo Grand Church Head Minister Hiroaki Kashiwagi, grandson of Rev. K. Kashiwagi. Rev. H. Kashiwagi spoke of his grandfather, saying that he had a good eye for people and was good at nurturing human resources. Rev. Tsutsui explained the ideal stance of mind for head ministers by saying: “During World War II, Rev. Kashiwagi’s church burned down in an air raid. However, he said, ‘The church building has burned down, but the church is still standing because I, Kuraji Kashiwagi, am the church.’ I believe that head ministers need to possess such a level of self-awareness. If there is no lively atmosphere in a church, it is a sign that its head minister should put more effort in the church. I continue to keep his words in mind as I engage in my tasks as church head minister.”
In the second section meeting unit, entitled “Salvation Work in Modern Society,” the participants had an opportunity to gain practical knowledge by choosing from eight section meetings on topics such as “people with disabilities and how to relate to them,” “multiple debts,” “school absenteeism and social withdrawal,” “psychological disorders and salvation work,” and “disintegration of the family.” Following these section meetings, there was a group discussion, in which the participants reflected on the section meetings they had attended and talked about how to apply what they learned to their salvation work.
A lecture entitled “Hints on How to Sprinkle the Fragrance of the Teachings,” which provided some hints on the practice of faith, was delivered by Jirin Branch Church Head Minister Chikao Tanaka between the two section meeting units.
The third day saw a symposium, which featured a panel discussion entitled “Tenrikyo Churches from Now On.” Tsuruhide Branch Church Head Minister Kaoru Ichise, Misakijima Branch Church Head Minister Seizaburo Hamamoto, and Mrs. Mihoko Miyake, wife of the successor-designate to the head minister of Tamami Branch Church, served as panelists while Daikairi Branch Church Head Minister Yoshiki Kato presided as moderator. The panelists covered topics such as “the way churches ought to be,” “issues facing Tenrikyo churches,” “the head minister-spouse relationship,” and “activities in churches and the local community.” Rev. Tanaka, who gave the lecture on the previous day, served as commentator and concluded the discussion by saying: “Having faith is about taking actions with conviction. It is important to cast away our self-centered way of thinking and bring our thoughts and actions into accord with the intention of the Parent. Keeping our spirits up in every situation, let us make efforts to become Yoboku whom the local community can depend on, so that our churches may serve as dependable guides for the local community.” After the symposium, there was a group discussion so participants could reflect on this three-day seminar. This was followed by a presentation to introduce Tenrikyo Basics Course and the Three-Day Course, both of which can be useful for nurturing Yoboku and followers of churches.
Director-in-Chief of Administrative Affairs Masahiko Iburi then addressed the participants. He encouraged them by saying: “One of the important tasks of church head ministers is to nurture Yoboku and followers. To nurture them means to help them advance their spiritual growth. . . . Please take home what you have learned during the seminar at Jiba and make efforts to become a model of the Joyous Life and provide a dependable guide for your local communities.”