On September 9, Congo Brazzaville Church in the Republic of the Congo conducted a service commemorating its 40th anniversary with the Shinbashira and his wife in attendance. More than three hundred followers from Brazzaville, the coastal city of Pointe-Noire, and the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire) filled the worship hall of the church. Attending were a number of followers who had walked several days, some from as far away as 250 kilometers (155 mi.). A joyous atmosphere welcomed the Shinbashira and his wife as church members made a pledge to continue their efforts toward spiritual progress.
Head Minister Pierre Bazebibaka read the service prayer in French. Along with expressing his joy at being able to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the church in the year of Oyasama’s 120th Anniversary, he stated: “The profound love of the Parent has been deeply impressed upon our hearts. The children of the path that have assembled here wish for You to continue to guide us to realize the world of the Joyous Life.”
Several Yoboku and followers broke down in tears while listening to the prayer, which evoked memories of the years leading up to their 40th anniversary. Following the establishment of the church in 1966, the path in the Congo encountered many severe hardships such as civil wars and successive coups d’�tat. In January 1998, the then head minister, Rev. Alphonse Nsonga, went to France to undergo medical treatment and, by the end of that year, civil war once again erupted and fighting centered in the neighborhood of the church. Church buildings were damaged and looted. In 2001, Section Chief Toshiyuki Takahashi and staff members of the Europe and Africa Section of the Overseas Department started taking turns in staying at the church to assist church members to rebuild and revitalize Congo Brazzaville Church. Rev. Bazebibaka was installed as the fifth head minister in 2003, and the followers united their minds completely with Jiba and leaned on God the Parent and Oyasama as they headed toward their church’s 40th anniversary.
Following the reading of the service prayer, the Shinbashira gave an address mentioning that “performing the service” and “engaging in salvation work and spreading the teachings” were duties of all Yoboku regardless of the differences in language or culture. The Shinbashira also stated: “Whether one is a Yoboku or not, it is important for one to settle the use of mind that is in accordance with Oyasama’s mind. . . . Although this place is distant from Jiba, Congo Brazzaville Church and Jiba are connected with each other. I ask that you always remember to come to church and keep your minds connected to God the Parent and Oyasama.”
The seated service was then performed joyously with the Shinbashira and his wife as the center. The seated service was followed by the Teodori, the Dance with Hand Movements, after which Rev. Bazebibaka thanked the Shinbashira and gave the sermon. Performances by the church chorus group and fife and drum corps were then presented.
The Shinbashira and Mrs. Nakayama were also present at the inauguration ceremony of the church’s chapter of the Boys and Girls Association after the 40th anniversary service as well as at the church’s monthly service on the next day, September 10. Also held on the 10th was the 40th anniversary commemorative reception, where chorus groups and the fife and drum corps made another series of performances. The following day, the couple toured the “Congo Brazzaville Ikoi-no-Ie Medical Clinic” and presented donations of medical supplies. They later paid a courtesy call to the prime minister.
Inauguration Ceremony for Congo Brazzaville Chapter of the Boys and Girls Association
On the afternoon of September 9, following the service commemorating Congo Brazzaville Church’s 40th anniversary, an inauguration ceremony for the church’s chapter of the Boys and Girls Association (BGA) was held with the Shinbashira in attendance. Some 130 BGA members and 20 adult leaders were present. At the ceremony, the BGA members performed the musical instruments for the singing of the Eight Verses of the Yorozuyo. The Shinbashira then presented the chapter’s charter and flag to Head Minister Bazebibaka.
The Shinbashira then gave an address. He stated: “The Joyous Life means to live cheerfully while helping and getting along with others in accordance with the wishes of God the Parent. God the Parent works within our bodies and provides the blessings of nature for this purpose and is waiting for the Joyous Life to be attained in this world.”
He further remarked: “It is my wish for you to become persons that make God the Parent happy by appreciating God’s workings, engaging in hinokishin, and helping one another. A Yoboku is a person who puts Oyasama’s teachings into practice. It is my deep wish for all of you to participate in the Boys and Girls Association’s activities, grow up in good health, and bring joy to your mothers and fathers.”
Rev. Bazebibaka then expressed his joy at the inauguration of the BGA chapter and resolved to see it mark a new stage for the church. The inauguration ceremony came to a close after all the BGA members cheerfully recited the BGA Pledge in French and sang the song “Minna de tsukuro Shonenkai” (Let’s build the Boys and Girls Association together) in Lali, a local language.