The Autumn Grand Service for the 167th year of the Teaching was performed on October 26 in the Main Sanctuary of Tenrikyo Church Headquarters with the Shinbashira presiding. Despite the cold rain, some 85,000 followers, including many who came from overseas, gathered for the Service, seating themselves in the four worship halls of the Main Sanctuary as well as in other parts of the Sanctuary precincts. With only two months remaining in the second year of the “three years, one thousand days” season leading up to the 120th Anniversary of Oyasama, the followers pledged together to exert their utmost in sprinkling the fragrance of the teachings and engaging in salvation work.
The congregation began to assemble at the Main Sanctuary around 7:00 A.M. Some of them made use of the new slope that was constructed as part of the westward expansion of the Sanctuary precincts. The slope was temporarily open between October 24 and 27 to facilitate the followers’ access to the Main Sanctuary. The Service commenced at 8:00 A.M., the very hour when Oyasama became the Shrine of Tsukihi on October 26, 1838. The Shinbashira and the other Service performers first paid their respects at the Foundress’ Sanctuary and the Memorial Hall and then proceeded to the Main Sanctuary. The Shinbashira ascended the dais and read the Service prayer on behalf of all followers. After expressing his gratitude for God the Parent’s blessings, he said: “We Service performers as well as church head ministers and Yoboku will ponder over the 160-some years of the progress of the path. Moreover, seeing God the Parent’s hastening in any matter as we engage in the pre-anniversary activities during the ‘three years, one thousand days’ season leading up to the 120th Anniversary of Oyasama, we are determined to reflect upon our own shortcomings and devote more efforts to accord with Your intention.” After referring to a meeting that was scheduled to be held on October 28 for the head ministers of all directly supervised churches, the Shinbashira said, “Please provide us with guidance whenever we fall short so that we may thoroughly and smoothly carry out our activities during this timely season.” The Shinbashira went on to say: “The earth-carrying hinokishin at the construction site for the westward expansion of the Sanctuary precincts, which began in June last year, will conclude on the last day of this month, five months ahead of schedule, owing to the great number of people who engaged in hinokishin in high spirits. The construction of South Right Wing 2 of the Oyasato-yakata building-complex also has been making steady progress.” The Kagura and the Teodori, the Dance with Hand Movements, were joyously performed, while the followers joined in singing the songs for the Service in a unity of mind. This was followed by the Shinbashira’s sermon.