Twenty-fourth Young Women’s Convention Held Regionally

The 24th Young Women’s Convention was held regionally between September and November. The last domestic convention was held in Miyagi Prefecture on November 19, while the last overseas conventions were held at venues in North America and Taiwan on November 27. Approximately 36,500 people attended the convention held at a total of 58 domestic and overseas venues. It was the first time that the Young Women’s Convention was held regionally, and both the dioceses and the directly supervised churches worked together to plan and prepare for it. The young women, who enhanced their bonds with fellow members during the convention, have already started planning pilgrimage groups to Jiba for the year of the 120th Anniverary of Oyasama. In response, the Women’s Association announced its plan to hold a gathering at the Home of the Parent next year. With the 120th Anniversary of Oyasama approaching, the Women’s Association organized the convention regionally to help as many young association members as possible attend. In order to unite the minds of those attending the convention, the Women’s Association standardized the convention program for all venues. First, the participants watched a video showing scenes of the Home of the Parent and footage of young women who are active in the path. Next, a lecturer dispatched from the Women’s Association read a message from Association President Harue Nakayama. In her message, Mrs. Nakayama said: “The Shinbashira has said that the reason for regarding the entire year as the year of the 120th Anniversary is to provide us with ample opportunity to show Oyasama the heightened level of spiritual growth that we hope to attain while working to prepare for the anniversary. He has also asked us to perform our tasks in such a way that many people will return to Jiba during the year of the anniversary, thus making Jiba lively each day throughout that year.” With regard to the purpose for holding the convention, she explained: “Out of our desire to align ourselves with the Shinbashira’s wishes, we decided that this year, the year before the 120th Anniversary, we would hold the young women’s convention regionally instead of in Jiba. By doing so, we hoped to facilitate your participation, so that many more of you could join together in strengthening your resolve to make as much spiritual growth as possible during the remainder of the pre-anniversary period and then return to Jiba during the year of the anniversary.” Touching upon the characteristics of young women, Mrs. Nakayama said: “All of you are young and energetic, and your minds are still flexible and capable of absorbing anything you want. I hope that you will make the most of these wonderful years of your life by learning how to live the Joyous Life.” She then suggested that an important key to accomplishing that is to embrace a deep sense of gratitude for God the Parent’s constant blessings. She then stressed the importance of expressing appreciation for God the Parent’s blessings and suggested that one of the ways the participants might accomplish this is to implement the three activity guidelines for young women. Her message concluded with the following statement: “Please be grateful at all times for the enormous blessings you receive from God the Parent and do your best to implement the activity guidelines for young women. Then, on the occasion of the 120th Anniversary of Oyasama, when you will have enhanced your spiritual growth, please be sure to return to Jiba together with your friends. God the Parent and Oyasama are looking forward to seeing all of you.” Following the president’s message, young women representing the members in their respective regions gave speeches under the title “Toward Tomorrow.” The highlight of the convention program was a commemorative lecture entitled “In Gratitude for Our Overflowing Blessings,” which was given by a lecturer dispatched by the Women’s Association. The format of the lecture was the same at all venues. The lecturers spoke on the story of creation, the service, the Sazuke, and the guidelines for young women, and then encouraged the listeners to integrate these into their daily lives. In the North America diocese, the convention was held at three venues: Tenrikyo Mission Headquarters in America (Nov. 19), Tenrikyo Mission New York Center (Nov. 27), and Joyous Fellowship in Vancouver, Canada (Nov. 27). In this diocese, there is an organization called Tenrikyo Ladies’ Group (TLG), which comprises Women’s Association members between the ages of 26 and 30. Recently, TLG has been active in organizing events catering to the needs of young women. Because this convention was the first major event to be organized by young members of the association, the members of TLG were forthcoming in sharing their experiences and worked closely with the young association members in preparing for the convention as well as reaching out to other members. With regard to publicizing the event, young women leaders in North America sent email and original postcards to all members. They also studied the story of creation at the Mission Headquarters in America as part of their training seminar in preparation for the convention. A total of 155 people gathered for the convention held at the Mission Headquarters in America. Those attending were mainly from cities on the West Coast such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle. On the eve of the convention, the steady flow of members arriving in Los Angeles by plane or by car continued late into the night. All the young women at the convention were wearing white blouses or shirts to go with black skirts or pants in order to help unite their minds as one. Many of them also wore hair accessories, which had been handcrafted especially for the occasion, and this added a more festive atmosphere to the occasion. Maria Damron, who attended the convention in Los Angeles, shared these comments: “I felt that the convention was beautifully layed out with tradition and formality, as if I were in Japan. I really enjoyed the speeches. Also, group disscussions, talking about the highlights and other important topics with other young women like myself, were essential in this spiritual gathering. Thank you for the opportunity for this wonderful experience!” Kelly Turner, former head of America Joshiseinen, shared the following comment: “The 2005 Young Women’s Convention was a huge success. It was well attended and the spirit generated from the speeches, activities, and camaraderie was inspirational. We are all looking forward to doing our part in helping the world reach a Joyous Life.” In New York, young women had called out to friends and acquaintances, and such efforts brought a total of 51 people to Tenrikyo Mission New York Center. As part of the activites leading up to the convention, young women leaders had gone out to various areas around New York City and sprinkled the fragrance of the teachings every month since the beginning of this year. These young women leaders also took up leadership positions for the project of donating the picture book “God the Parent’s Blessings” to local libraries and hospitals in the city. Befitting the cosmopolitan atmosphere of the area, the convention at the New York venue was attended by participants from all over the world, such as the United States, Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, and Nepal. Copies of the picture book “God the Parent’s Blessings” were handed out to all the participants as a commemorative gift. A total of 1,286 people attended the convention held at 11 overseas venues in seven countries. In Brazil, the convention was held at Amazonia Church in Belém City (Nov. 13) and Nordeste Hoyo Church in Recife City (Nov. 15), with a total attendance of 124 people. In Taiwan, the convention was held at Shinmei Shin’ei Church on November 27, and was attended by 152 people. As for regions where the association has yet to organize a chapter, Young Women’s Gatherings were held. Between September 4 and November 9, such gatherings were held at nine venues in seven countries, drawing a total of 763 people.

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