On May 25, the Social Welfare Section of Tenrikyo Mission Department held the inaugural Social Welfare Convention under the theme “Insight into Our Lives” at Tenri University. The convention consisted of three parts–a ceremony, section meetings, and a commemorative lecture–and drew a total of 707 members from 17 Tenrikyo social welfare federations and committees in Japan.
The year 2010 marks the 100th year since Tenrikyo launched its first social welfare activity, which is the establishment of Tenri Yotokuin Children’s Home in 1910. Regarding that point, Social Welfare Section Head Tadaaki Umetani, who is also the head of the convention’s steering committee, made a speech to commence the ceremony held in the morning. He said, “We ought to reexamine our social welfare activities and make a fresh start.” He continued: “In the near future, our social welfare activities will be closely related to missionary and salvation work being conducted by churches. Taking advantage of this seasonable time, we must unite our minds as one and sprinkle the fragrance of the teachings on our communities.”
Then, Director-in-Chief of Administrative Affairs Masahiko Iburi took the lectern. Referring to Tenrikyo’s slogan for sprinkling the fragrance of the teachings, “Keys to the Joyous Life: Gratitude, Moderation, Mutual Help,” he expressed his thoughts on Tenrikyo’s social welfare activities by saying: “We human beings are all brothers and sisters since God is our true Parent, so we need to help one another as brothers and sisters. Based on ‘Gratitude, Moderation, Mutual Help,’ we must create our own idea of how our social welfare activities should be and act on it.” Following Director-in-Chief Iburi’s address, the participants watched a video showing scenes from the Social Welfare Festival, which had been held annually for the past three years, as well as seminars that had been sponsored by the Social Welfare Section in the past year.
After the video presentation, Mission Department Head Motoyoshi Tomimatsu delivered an address to conclude the ceremonial portion of the convention. He first mentioned the campaign to hand-deliver the Tenri Jiho newspaper as well as a plan to create a contact network among Yoboku. He then emphasized the importance of salvation work by saying: “Reaching out to those who are suffering from family troubles or mental disorders will make up a big part of our salvation activities. In addition to requesting all Yoboku to strengthen their mutual ties, I would also like to ask everyone involved in social welfare activities to devote their sincerity to their work.”
The ceremony was followed by section meetings, which were held in the afternoon by 10 Tenrikyo social welfare federations and committees. Forty-three people participated in the meeting held by Tenrikyo Federation of Prison Chaplains. Following an opening address and a progress report, the participants were divided into four discussion groups according to their specialized fields or interests. Seventy-seven people attended the meeting held by Tenrikyo Federation for Foster Parents. They were divided into 10 groups to discuss what distinguishes Tenrikyo foster parents from other foster parents. Each group’s summary report was presented after the discussion session. Following the section meetings, Japanese novelist Hiroyuki Itsuki gave a commemorative lecture entitled “Let’s Live for Today” to complete the whole program of the convention.