In 2015—the concluding year of the “three years, one thousand days” season that led up to the 130th Anniversary of Oyasama observed on January 26, 2016—many directly supervised churches and church affiliation-based groups organized Besseki pilgrimages one after another. Building on that momentum, those churches have been organizing group pilgrimages as part of their effort to nurture and develop human resources following the conclusion of the pre-anniversary activities.
From November 23 to 27, about 70 directly supervised churches including Senba, Kawaramachi, Shikishima, Nankai, Kita, Koto, Meikyo, Sakurai, Chikushi, Koshinokuni, Shikito, Toai, Asakusa, Nishijin, Ogata, Kamikawa, Kasaoka, and Hon’ai conducted Besseki pilgrimages. During the five days, a total of 3,477 people, including 637 first-timers, attended the Besseki lectures, making the Home of the Parent very lively.
At noon on November 25, a group of 1,500 followers from Nankai Grand Church located in Wakayama Prefecture performed a seated service in the East Worship Hall to the accompaniment of the wooden clappers. The church has been organizing its annual group pilgrimage since 1975. As this year marks the 130th anniversary of the founding of “Shomei-ko,” a fellowship that later became Nankai Grand Church, the officials of the grand church made extensive efforts to reach out to a large number of Yoboku and other followers to invite them to join the pilgrimage. In addition, Toai Grand Church located in Aichi Prefecture, which had formerly belonged to Nankai Grand Church, conducted its group pilgrimage on the same day. Some 1,000 followers belonging to Toai joined the Nankai group in performing the service in the Main Sanctuary.
Also on the 25th, a group called “Kototaishikai,” comprising directly supervised churches formerly affiliated with Koto Grand Church located in Shiga Prefecture, conducted its second group pilgrimage of the year, during which 525 people attended the Besseki lectures. Kototaishikai was formed for the purpose of providing opportunities for those Koto-affiliated directly supervised churches to make joint Besseki pilgrimages twice a year—in June and November. The group set up its own reception desk outside the Besseki Lecture Hall along with the member churches’ flags, each bearing their respective name as well as the group’s name, “Kototaishikai.”
On the same day, Kawaramachi Grand Church located in Kyoto Prefecture held an event called the “group pilgrimage for all churches.” The grand church organizes a group pilgrimage every autumn. Taking advantage of this occasion, the Young Men’s Association’s Kawaramachi Chapter and the Women’s Association’s Kawaramachi Chapter designated November as the month to strengthen their efforts to bring first-timers to Jiba, thus joining in the work of “bringing new people to worship,” which has been promoted by the Young Men’s Association Headquarters in the lead-up to its 100th anniversary. The members devotedly spread the teachings and engaged in salvation work to reach the goal of bringing 500 first-timers to Jiba. This year being the year of the 50th memorial service for the second Shinbashira, which was conducted on November 14 in Jiba, they made a decisive effort to respond to his parental love by bringing a large number of people to Jiba to create a lively atmosphere. As a result, they accomplished the goal.
Funai Grand Church located in Kyoto Prefecture also held its pilgrimage event on the same day. Every autumn, the grand church organizes group pilgrimages so that Yoboku and other followers can get together. A planning committee was formed to promote the pilgrimage by making visits to the churches affiliated with the grand church and distributing posters. In October this year, the committee had organized a pilgrimage for those who live outside Kyoto City and in far places, drawing about 250 participants, while this time in November, about 250 people living in Kyoto City and the Osaka-Kobe area participated. They performed a seated service together in the East Worship Hall and attended a lecture in their followers dormitory.
Also, on the 25th, Futanajima Grand Church located in Kagawa Prefecture held a “Yoboku pep rally” with about 280 participants. This gathering was intended to build up momentum toward the 110th anniversary of the grand church, which will be observed in four years’ time. The followers performed a seated service in the North Worship Hall and attended a ceremony in Yoki Hall. At the ceremony, Head Minister Haruo Nakagoshi reflected on the path the grand church had taken and announced the members of the planning committee for its 110th anniversary, followed by a keynote speech by Honbu-in Umeo Izutsu.
On November 25 and 26, Kasaoka Grand Church located in Okayama Prefecture conducted a group pilgrimage, and a total of 716 participants attended the Besseki lectures and sowed seeds of sincerity at Jiba by doing hinokishin. For the past decade, the church has been holding an annual group pilgrimage so as to provide care and nurturing to those who are attending a series of Besseki lectures and to offer them and other followers an opportunity to sow seeds of sincerity at Jiba. The participants performed a seated service together in the East Worship Hall and engaged in hinokishin by sweeping fallen leaves in the Higashisuji Street on the east side of the Sanctuary precincts. On the next day, they attended the November Monthly Service.
After the November Monthly Service, about 220 followers from Tsu Grand Church located in Mie Prefecture engaged in hinokishin together with their family members. Three years ago, the grand church started providing an opportunity for families to do hinokishin together at the Home of the Parent twice a year. The participants swept fallen leaves and pulled weeds in the open area in front of the Tea Service Center.