Boys and Girls Association
On February 27, the Boys and Girls Association leaders’ first meeting of the year was held in Dining Hall 2, drawing 1,605 participants including heads of directly supervised church corps and diocese corps as well as nurturing committee chairmen from district chapters. The meeting is usually held around January 26 but was put off until February this year since the 120th Anniversary of Oyasama was conducted. The meeting saw the announcement of an activity guideline for this year, which marks the 40th anniversary of the association. The new guideline designed for leaders says: “Let’s convey Oyasama’s Divine Model to all boys and girls and nurture them to implement the teachings straightforwardly in their daily lives–Conducting activities worthy of our association’s 40th anniversary.” Also announced were this year’s four concrete goals: (1) “Encouraging families to return to Jiba together,” (2) “Conducting overnight stays at churches and encouraging parent-and-child visits to churches,” (3) “Nurturing junior high school students to take the lead in promoting activities,” and (4) “Promoting the spiritual growth of nurturing committee members through seminars and study meetings.”
The meeting began with an address by the Shinbashira, who serves as president of the association. He started by referring to the activity guideline. He said that, if we are to impart any significance to an anniversary of a Tenrikyo association, it is of primary importance to reflect on the association’s day of origin. He explained that the ideal way to make the most of the anniversary is to look afresh at the purpose for which the association was established and to take a step forward in the direction of achieving that purpose. With reference to the Boys and Girls Association, he said that, regardless of changes in the contents or form of its activities, we must bear in mind that the goal is to hand down the faith to the next generation without error.
Touching on the slogan for the Oyasama 120th Anniversary Children’s Pilgrimage to Jiba–“Increase the participants by 100,000”–he said: “It is of course a good thing to increase the number of participants, but we should be wary of thinking that achieving the numerical goal is the only thing that matters. . . . Only when the Children’s Pilgrimage to Jiba is the fruit of our daily activities does it acquire its original significance. We ought to put forth further efforts to make this event truly suitable for the original purpose for which it was started.”
He closed his address by saying: “As members entrusted with nurturing boys and girls, we are in a position to devise effective ways and means to help children understand the teachings. However, although we may be able to come up with various methods, ultimately we can only convey to them what we ourselves understand and have internalized. First and foremost, therefore, we must each strive to grow spiritually ourselves. I hope, therefore, that all of you will continue to make efforts to enhance your faith.”
After the Shinbashira’s address, Chairman Michikazu Takahashi explained this year’s activity guideline, saying: “If we can teach children the way of living the Joyous Life taught by Oyasama and guide them toward implementing that way of living, they will be able to lead the next generation by living with confidence as Yoboku. This will also enable them to succeed us in following the path.”
Referring to the fact that the Boys and Girls Association will observe its 40th anniversary this year, he stressed that we should ensure that we accurately understand the original intention in establishing the association and work on its activities with the same enthusiasm as those who, in its founding days, strove to make a contribution to the association. He also pointed out the importance of reinforcing this association’s cooperation with the Women’s Association as well as the Young Men’s Association in order to promote the activities of all three associations.
In addition, he announced the association’s four concrete goals for this year and explained them as follows.
(1) “Encouraging families to return to Jiba together.” This goal is in accord with the growing momentum for making pilgrimages to Jiba throughout the Tenrikyo community. This association sees returning to Jiba as its core activity and hopes that this would help draw more participants than usual to this year’s Children’s Pilgrimage to Jiba.
(2) “Conducting overnight stays at churches and encouraging parent-and-child visits to churches.” These two activities are being promoted because they can serve as the basis for all other activities.
(3) “Nurturing junior high school students to take the lead in promoting activities.” Carrying on the momentum to allow junior high school students to take active roles, this goal is designed to take another step forward in nurturing them.
(4) “Promoting the spiritual growth of nurturing committee members through seminars and study meetings.” This goal is designed to nurture not only those who promote activities of the Boys and Girls Association Headquarters but also those who take the lead in conducting activities at the level of local corps. Directly supervised corps are being encouraged to sponsor seminars to nurture human resources and to continue holding the Vertical Mission Seminar.
On January 28, the Women’s Association Headquarters announced its plans for this year’s association activities at a monthly meeting for chairwomen of directly supervised chapters and diocese chapters, which was held at Moya 38. According to the announcement, the association headquarters has made a change to the guidelines for association activities by dropping the phrase “Let’s be the supporting force for the Oyasama 120th Anniversary activities,” which had been included at the top of the three guidelines since the beginning of the “three years, one thousand days” pre-anniversary season. The headquarters will continue to promote its slogan for spiritual maturity, “Let’s follow the Divine Model and become the foundation for the Joyous Life,” along with the three specific guidelines for association 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.”
At the chairwomen’s meeting, Women’s Association President Harue Nakayama said, “This year, being the year of Oyasama’s 120th Anniversary, it is important for us to ponder over Oyasama’s Divine Model once again and settle in our minds the significance of Oyasama’s anniversaries and the intention of the everliving Oyasama.” She then asked the leaders of the association to do more to implement the guidelines for association activities.
This year, the association will be holding the Oyasama 120th Anniversary Lecture Series, the first of which was held on February 26. This series is designed to allow association members who have returned to Jiba to feel closer to the Divine Model and the parental heart of Oyasama. The lectures, entitled simply “Oyasama,” will be given at Dining Hall 2 on the 26th of March, May, June, August, September, and November.
In addition, the “Young Women’s Gathering–Oyasama 120th Anniversary Pilgrimage to Jiba” is planned to be held four times this year. Young women belonging to the Women’s Association enhanced their bonds with their peers during the 24th Young Women’s Convention, which was held regionally for the first time last year. They are now encouraging one another to invite their friends to return to Jiba with them during the year of Oyasama’s anniversary. In response, the association headquarters has organized this gathering where young women can get together and take a closer look at their spiritual life. The program includes a lecture, a video showing scenes from last year’s regional conventions, and faith experience speeches by fellow young members.
Since many of the young women are in school or have jobs, the gathering will be held on the 26th of May, August, and November, as the 26th of these months falls on a weekend. The first gathering was held at Dining Hall 3 on February 26, and the venue for upcoming gatherings will be Tenri City Auditorium.
Some young women leaders of directly supervised chapters and diocese chapters have already planned pilgrimage groups to attend the Young Women’s Gathering. In addition, many of them have also planned social events to further enhance their bonds with one another. The increased participation of young members is expected to further energize the association activities.
The 88th Women’s Association Convention will be held on April 19. The headquarters has called for all branch chapter leaders to invite their chapter members to attend the convention together, and is asking for attendance from all age groups. Following the convention, the seated service will be performed at the Main Sanctuary with President Harue Nakayama leading the service. All branch chapter leaders are being asked to assemble for the service, representing the members of their respective chapters, so as to have God the Parent and Oyasama see the progress they made through the pre-anniversary activities as well as their resolution to make further spiritual growth toward the next milestone. This year, the convention’s commemorative event, formerly conducted following the convention, is scheduled to be held at 5:00 P.M. on the day before the convention, which is to say, the day of the Oyasama Birth Celebration Service.
As for other concrete activities, the association headquarters will sponsor the Seminar for Branch Chapter Leaders, which will be held in all dioceses between October and December. The goal of the seminar is to enhance the association’s activities in the year of Oyasama’s anniversary and to consolidate future activities. The headquarters has decided to hold the seminar regionally, with the intent of first assisting branch chapter leaders to make spiritual growth in pace with one another.
In February, the association headquarters sponsored a Seminar for Young Women Leaders. It will also hold the Seminar for Young Women Leaders in May, June, September, and November, as well as seminars for potential organizers of the Lecture for Mothers in May and June.
With regard to publishing activities, the annual magazine Michi no Dai will be published in July in five languages, including a Korean edition for the first time. This publication is designed to provide overseas followers with information on the guidelines and activities of the Women’s Association.
On February 25, Tenrikyo Young Men’s Association held its first monthly meeting of the year at the association headquarters and announced that it will continue to uphold the same guidelines as last year’s: “Implementing the Teachings and Establishing Strong Faith.” The association will also continue promoting the “increase of people attending the Besseki lectures” up until the end of this year, call out to all association members to have them attend this year’s convention, and double the member turnout for the Heart-Clean Campaign as this year marks the campaign’s 20th anniversary.
At the meeting, Chairman Zenpei Kubo, reflecting on the Shinbashira’s sermon at the Oyasama 120th Anniversary Service, began his address by referring to the “increase of people attending the Besseki lectures.” He said, “Continuing this activity to the end of the year will allow us to bring even more people back to Jiba–thus enhancing the lively atmosphere in Jiba throughout the year–and to give more members a chance to get involved in this activity.” Regarding this year’s convention, he stressed, “We want to ensure that the convention will have a large turnout and an air of liveliness befitting this year of Oyasama’s anniversary.”
He went on to say, “One thing we have to keep in mind is the need to enrich the substance of our regular activities.” He concluded his address by saying, “Our goal is to be blessed with as many active members as possible so that we will be able to further invigorate our association.”
Following the chairman’s address, this year’s activity plan based on the guidelines was announced. The 82nd Young Men’s Association Convention will take place in the Inner Courtyard of Church Headquarters on October 27. As to the activities of the chapters based in churches, the association is going to hold the Missionary Campaign Week for All Chapters between September 3 and 10. In dioceses and districts, it is going to promote the “Heart-Clean Campaign,” which is held usually on the first Sunday of each month and designed to let participants share the joy of faith by doing hinokishin with fellow members. This year’s Action Day for the campaign will be held on July 2.
With regard to the activities relating to the overseas mission, the association is going to sponsor the Australia Study Tour from September 3 to 19. It is designed to find and nurture young members who are interested in playing a role in the overseas mission in the future. With respect to nurturing activities, the association will continue to ask the chapters based in directly supervised churches to hold the Seminar for New Members between March and August for the members who have crossed over from the Boys and Girls Association to the Young Men’s Association in order to help them increase their awareness of being pioneers of the path.