On March 28, the Oyasama 120th Anniversary Students’ Spring Pilgrimage to Jiba, cosponsored by the Students Association and the Students Advisory Committee, was held in the Home of the Parent under the theme “Let us convey the intention of the Parent to all friends throughout the world.” The convention drew 9,235 high school, technical school, junior college, and university students–the largest turnout ever.
At 8:00 A.M., the participants grouped by their dioceses or their directly supervised churches began to gather in the Inner Courtyard. The convention started at 9:00 A.M. when the Shinbashira, his wife, and the former Shinbashira were ushered into the site, accompanied by music provided by Tenri High School’s brass band.
Following a moment of prayer and the singing of the Yorozuyo, Students Association Chairperson Motokazu Kono made opening remarks. He said: “We have made every effort to achieve our goal of bringing 10,000 students to this year’s convention so that we might bring joy to Oyasama. Despite the difficulties we encountered in our efforts, we are able to hold this convention today thanks to the parental love of Oyasama, who always goes ahead of us to guide us, and also thanks to those friends with whom we could practice mutual support and help.” He ended by saying: “Let’s take to heart the message that the Shinbashira is going to give us so that we may take a new step forward. From here, the Home of the Parent, let’s convey the Parent’s intention to friends throughout the world!”
The Shinbashira then took the podium to deliver his address. First, he expressed his appreciation for the efforts the association members had devoted to preparing for the convention, which drew such a great turnout during this seasonable year of the 120th Anniversary of Oyasama. He then touched on God the Parent’s intention in creating humankind. He went on to say: “Oyasama taught the path of single-hearted salvation leading to the Joyous Life in order to save people suffering from pains and troubles. She sought to hasten the salvation of humankind by urging us to perform the Service and administer the Sazuke. In order to advance the path of single-hearted salvation, Oyasama furthermore taught the ‘story of creation.’ The story of creation, which ought to be regarded as the foundation of the teachings, is therefore an important story.”
Next, the Shinbashira talked about the “knot” of the lunar-calendar date of January 26, 1887. He said: “An anniversary of Oyasama is not an event when we recall what She was like and how She lived. It is rather an opportunity for us to reflect upon Her intention in withdrawing from physical life–which She did out of Her parental love for Her children, humankind, in order to hasten their spiritual growth. The significance of observing Her anniversary, therefore, lies in our effort to grow spiritually so as to respond to that intention.” He thus explained the significance of Oyasama’s anniversary.
He continued: “All of you here share the same advantage of being young. It means that your personal development is still not complete and you have a lot of potential yet to be realized. You are at an age when you ought to keep making efforts to lay a firm foundation for the future. From a different point of view, you have great potential that can be developed in any way, and thus it is quite easy for you to grow. Yet, in order to take advantage of your youth, it is important that you make conscious efforts and work proactively toward your future.”
The Shinbashira then expressed his hope for the students, saying, “I hope that, by learning to settle your minds based on the teachings and think in light of Oyasama’s Divine Model, you will grow into the kind of people who can ask themselves ‘What is God the Parent saying about this?’ or ‘What would Oyasama do?’ whenever making decisions or reflecting upon something.”
He concluded by saying: “As you grow older and experience many things in your life, I very much hope that you will continue to grow spiritually until, at last, you will be able to live joyously. The Joyous Life is a life that is in accord with God the Parent’s intention. Living joyously by yourself is not enough. Rather, it is important for you to become a person who can live up to God the Parent’s expectations. Please proactively seek the teachings, listen to talks on the teachings, take to heart what you are taught, and actually put them into practice.”
This was followed by three speeches given by association members. The participants then sang the “Oyasama 120th Anniversary Song.” Yutaro Oie, who had been appointed to serve as the association chairperson starting on April 1, then made a pledge on behalf of all association members. He said: “We have infinite potential and inexhaustible energies. We also have all these brothers and sisters here, who are following the same path. Oyasama always goes before us and is waiting for us wherever we go hand in hand with our fellow students. I pledge that, marking today as our new departure, we will take a new step from here, the Jiba, toward world salvation with enthusiasm.” The convention ended with the singing of the convention’s theme song, “Akari (Light).”
After the convention, the participants proceeded to the East, West, and North Worship Halls to perform a service with the Shinbashira as core. The students then participated in various programs organized by their directly supervised churches. On that afternoon, 663 students, including 207 first-timers, attended the Besseki lectures.