On November 25, a ceremony commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Boys and Girls Association was conducted in Dining Hall 3 in the presence of the Shinbashira and his wife, as well as the former Shinbashira. The ceremony–which was attended by some 630 people including Director-in-Chief of Religious Affairs Zentaro Tanaka, Director-in-Chief of Administrative Affairs Masahiko Iburi, heads of directly supervised church corps and diocese corps as well as others involved with the association–provided participants with an opportunity to reflect on the association’s day of origin and renew their determination to make a new step forward after its 40th anniversary.
In his address, the Shinbashira first expressed his gratitude to the participants for their daily efforts on behalf of the association. Sharing his reminiscences of the early days of the association, he said: “The vertical mission did not originate with the founding of the Boys and Girls Association. Efforts to impart the joy of faith to children–like the Children’s Pilgrimage to Jiba–were previously made by the Mission Department, the Women’s Association, and the Young Men’s Association. Such efforts were consolidated with the formation of the Boys and Girls Association and still continue to this day.”
Then he said: “The association’s activities have been conducted through the efforts of many of our predecessors. However, I think that as a whole we are still far from achieving the association’s goal, which is to help children learn the teachings while they are still young and find the joy of faith in their own ways. There is ample room left for us in positions of leadership to pursue our spiritual growth and to improve methods to nurture children.” He went on to say: “Guiding and nurturing children begins with the association’s activities. Ideally speaking, therefore, we should seek to help children grow straightforwardly into the children of the path through the association’s activities, so they can naturally develop an awareness that they are members of the Young Men’s Association or the Women’s Association once they have grown up. In order to make this an actuality, however, it is essential to redouble our efforts in nurturing children and to unite the efforts of the three associations–the Women’s Association, the Young Men’s Association, and the Boys and Girls Association–at the levels of local churches as well as dioceses.” He concluded his address by saying, “The 40th anniversary is a milestone, which marks a new beginning. I would like to ask you to make further efforts to develop and enrich the association’s activities.”
After the Shinbashira’s address, Chairman Michikazu Takahashi expressed his appreciation to the Shinbashira on behalf of the participants. Then he said: “It is a great pleasure for us in charge of the activities to see many of the association members grow into either Yoboku, or successors of the path, or human resources at local churches. . . . Let us reflect on the association’s day of origin and respond to the Shinbashira’s request by making every effort befitting our respective positions and roles.”
On the following day, the 26th, the Boys and Girls Association held its November leaders meeting, at which it was announced that next year’s Children’s Pilgrimage to Jiba will be held between July 26 and August 4 under the theme “Words of thanks! Minds of joy! Helping hands!”