Fifty Thousand Members Attend Women’s Association Convention

On April 19, the day following the Oyasama Birth Celebration Service, Tenrikyo Women’s Association conducted its 87th convention in the Inner Courtyard of Tenrikyo Church Headquarters with an estimated turnout of 50,000 association members. This number included 500 members from overseas, for whom the entire proceedings were interpreted into six languages. The convention provided an opportunity for the association members to renew their pledge to take strides in attaining spiritual growth in anticipation of next year’s 120th Anniversary of Oyasama and to commit themselves to nurturing young women in preparation for the Young Women’s Convention scheduled to be held regionally this autumn.

The convention got underway at 9:30 A.M., when President Harue Nakayama escorted the Shinbashira and the former Shinbashira as well as other distinguished guests into the Inner Courtyard. After a moment of prayer and opening remarks, the participants sang the Eight Verses of the Yorozuyo in unison. Then, Naoko Mitsuru, a freshman in the nursing care department of Tenri High School’s evening course, made a pledge on behalf of the new members of the association. Next, Committee Member Emiko Moroi delivered the progress report, in which she reminded the participants of the activity guidelines being promoted by the association especially for this pre-anniversary season: “Let’s be the supporting force for the Oyasama 120th Anniversary activities. 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.”

President Harue Nakayama then delivered her address, in which she stressed the importance of implementing the activity guidelines while focusing on nurturing others. “When we nurture our children and the people around us,” she said, “our words, actions, and attitude will have the effect of conveying and imparting our faith to them. It is of primary importance for us, therefore, to take the initiative to study the teachings and implement them in our lives. Moreover, we are not merely conveying our faith to them. Rather, we are imparting the joy we derive from our faith. That joy of faith allows us–depending only on our own mind–to find joy in any situation whatever, even when we face illness or other troubles, and we can learn how to attain that mind of joy from Oyasama’s Divine Model.

“We must bear in mind that the way we women use our minds and serve in our roles is instrumental in determining whether a settling will come to our homes and churches or not,” she continued. “Keeping our minds warm and humble and staying focused on connecting people with one another and showing a genuine concern for others will naturally produce a warm and harmonious atmosphere that anyone would like to come share with us.”

In regard to the upcoming 24th Young Women’s Convention, slated to be held regionally for the first time, she asked the members to use the months leading up to the convention “to provide guidance for young women so that they will be able to appreciate God the Parent’s blessings as the blessings they are and implement the guidelines for young women’s activities with the mind of gratitude.” She went on to say: “It is my hope that as many of you young women as possible will attend the convention and, on that occasion, pledge to take powerful steps forward on the path of spiritual growth. Then, on the occasion of the 120th Anniversary of Oyasama, when you will have enhanced your spiritual growth, please return to Jiba with many of your friends.”

Mrs. Nakayama closed her address by asking the members to make a concerted drive to achieve their goals during this concluding year for the pre-anniversary activities. “Reaffirming the importance of our role of bearing and raising,” she said, “let us use this season to immerse ourselves in sprinkling the fragrance of the teachings, engaging in salvation work, and nurturing others so that more and more people will come to follow Oyasama’s Divine Model. Then, let us provide proper guidance so that all of them, regardless of age, will be firmly connected with their church and spiritedly take part in hinokishin as well as missionary and salvation work with the awareness that they, too, have an important role in the church activities. Let all of us work even harder to serve as the supporting force so that a great number of people will return to Jiba for the 120th Anniversary with a heightened level of spiritual growth that will bring joy to Oyasama.”

The Shinbashira then addressed the members. Among other things, he stressed the importance of taking the initiative to implement salvation work while trying to find a way to help people who are having problems. He said: “How we can help such people will differ depending on the person we are trying to help. This is an issue that arises from the fact that we human beings are endowed with the freedom of the mind. In this regard, if we are to help others understand and be convinced of God the Parent’s intention and teachings, the first thing we need to do is make sure that our way of thinking is flexible. We must, of course, keep the core basis of our thinking from deviating from Oyasama’s teachings, yet we need to have the flexibility to understand others’ points of view and see their worries and anxieties as our own concern. Keeping our remarks in accord with the teachings is not enough; we should be wary of making our explanation one-sided. We need to have a spacious mind to understand what people are trying to say.”

Following the Shinbashira’s address, Member Representative Yuko Kashihara made a pledge on behalf of the association’s members, stating their resolve to take the Shinbashira’s guidance to heart. The participants then joined together in singing “Tenrikyo Women’s Association Song” and the “Oyasama 120th Anniversary Song” to bring the convention to a close.

Following the convention, commemorative lectures were held at five venues, drawing a total of 12,011 participants: Tenri City Auditorium (2,504 participants), Dining Hall 2 (2,973), Dining Hall 3 (2,258), East Lecture Hall (3,253), and Oyasato-yakata East Right Wing 1 (1,023). At each venue, three members presented faith experience speeches designed to encourage the listeners to enhance their joy and high spirits during this pre-anniversary season. At the Oyasato-yakata East Right Wing 1 venue, all three lectures were interpreted into English, Spanish, Portuguese, and Korean.

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