On the afternoon of June 1, Hiroshima Diocese sponsored a gathering called “Oyasama 120th Anniversary Pep Rally” at the Reed & Rose, an art and culture hall in Fukuyama City. Honored by the presence of the former Shinbashira, this event drew 2,400 participants, filling the auditorium’s main floor and three balconies to capacity.
One of the two objectives for holding the pep rally was to report on the followers’ progress in carrying out the activity guidelines proposed at the diocese’s Yoboku Rally five years ago. Those three guidelines were: 1) Perfect the service performance; 2) Invigorate activities to spread the teachings; and 3) Reach out to society through hinokishin. In conjunction with their activities to prepare for the 120th Anniversary of Oyasama, observed on January 26 this year, the followers in the diocese also spent the past three years making a concerted effort to implement their pre-anniversary slogan: “Let’s spread the name of God to every household in Hiroshima Prefecture!” The other objective was to create a whirlwind of enthusiasm that would enable them to make headway in spreading the teachings and engaging in salvation work during this important year of Oyasama’s 120th Anniversary.
The pep rally began at 12:30 P.M. with a choral performance of the “Hinokishin Song.” When the former Shinbashira joined the choir on stage, the audience broke into applause.
Diocese Superintendent Kazuyuki Tanaka began the proceedings by giving a detailed report on the activities that had been undertaken in the diocese during the five years following the Yoboku Rally. He closed his report with the words: “Let us firmly unite our minds and work together to ensure that every Yoboku in the diocese will return to Jiba during this important season. I want to ask all of you here today to play a central role in getting many new people to join our pilgrimages to Jiba, as well.”
Next, the participants watched a video presentation depicting scenes from the Oyasama 120th Anniversary District Lectures, last year’s Young Women’s Convention, and recent activities undertaken by Hiroshima Diocese.
The former Shinbashira then addressed the gathering. “Unless you take concrete steps to implement the teachings in your life,” he said, “it will not be possible for your mind to relish the joy that comes from following the path.” After explaining that the significance of implementing the teachings is most clearly expressed in the concept of hinokishin, he cited all the Mikagura-uta verses containing references to hinokishin. “The fundamental point that distinguishes hinokishin from what is commonly seen as volunteer work,” he continued, “is the feeling of gratitude with which hinokishin is carried out. It would not be an exaggeration to say that any action whatsoever could be regarded as hinokishin so long as it is motivated by this feeling of gratitude to God the Parent.” He then gave an explanation for each of the Mikagura-uta verses he had cited.
The former Shinbashira went on to say: “It only stands to reason that most people’s faith is originally motivated by their desire to be saved. There is nothing wrong with that. Nonetheless, I think that they would really be missing out if, no matter how many years went by, their faith never got beyond the desire to be saved. The effort we make to implement the teachings and follow the Divine Model straightforwardly is, in fact, what brings fulfillment to our lives and ensures that we find joy in each day that God provides for us.”
Next, Higashi-fukuyama Branch Church Head Minister Takafumi Edahiro made a pledge to the former Shinbashira on behalf of all the Yoboku in attendance. He said, “We will strive not only to return to Jiba time and again but also to take back many others with us, so that we may bring joy to Oyasama and contribute to creating a lively atmosphere in Jiba.”
Musical performances were then given by Hiroshima Diocese’s Gagaku Ensemble and other groups of musicians from the diocese. Masako Konishi, a celebrated opera singer and a Yoboku belonging to Fukumon Branch Church, also graced the rally with a stunning performance.
Thereupon, the former Shinbashira was requested to return to the stage, where he sang three songs together with the audience and a choral group called “Maple Leaves,” whose members all belong to the diocese chapter of Tenrikyo Women’s Association. To close the pep rally, bouquets of flowers were presented to the former Shinbashira amid cheers from the audience.