On March 28, the Students’ Spring Pilgrimage to Jiba, cosponsored by the Students Association and the Students Advisory Committee, drew 5,508 high school, technical school, junior college, and university students, who assembled in the Inner Courtyard of Church Headquarters for an annual convention, honored by the presence of the Shinbashira and his wife, as well as the former Shinbashira.
At 8:00 A.M., the lines of participants began to file into the Inner Courtyard, carrying placards and flags of their dioceses or their directly supervised churches. That day, the cherry blossoms were in all their glory in the Home of the Parent, including the weeping cherry trees in front of the Besseki Lecture Hall which were in full bloom. The rain that had been falling through the night lifted at dawn. The convention started at 9:00 A.M. when the Shinbashira, his wife, and the former Shinbashira arrived.
Following a moment of prayer and the singing of the Yorozuyo, Students Association Chairperson Yutaro Oie made opening remarks, in which he said, “Let us bear in mind the words of the Shinbashira and convey the intention of the Parent to our fellow friends in the world. Let us begin our efforts today, here at Jiba!”
The Shinbashira then took the podium to deliver his address. First, he explained the significance of making a pilgrimage to Jiba, saying, “We are drawn to Jiba through God the Parent’s intention to have us lead the Joyous Life.” He went on to say: “The Joyous Life can be understood as a bright, joyous, and spirited life, but it must be a life in accord with the mind of God the Parent. . . . In order to lead the Joyous Life, we need to have a good understanding of God the Parent’s intention. It is important to savor, implement, settle in our minds, and embody what Oyasama taught us. This means that we should nurture our minds so that we will be able to find joy in whatever we see or hear. Our task is to make efforts to realize God the Parent’s ideal world by conveying the mind of the Joyous Life to those around us.”
He continued: “As brothers and sisters who share the same Parent, we should help and encourage anyone who might be depressed. Therein lies the joyous state of the world that accords with the intention of God the Parent. The Joyous Life emerges when we share joy and happiness while working together with others. The Joyous Life is a joyous world where God shares in that joy with humankind and where God and humankind dwell in perfect union.”
The Shinbashira closed his address by saying: “You are still young and need to acquire knowledge and experience for your future. I very much hope that all of you will study hard and make efforts to embody the teachings. Please pursue your spiritual growth by taking full advantage of your youth as a student so that you can become a person who can live in accord with the intention of God the Parent and Oyasama.”
This was followed by speeches given by two association members who talked about what they learned by participating in student association activities. Nobutaka Onishi, who had been appointed to serve as chairperson of the association starting on April 1, then addressed the members to express his commitment to fulfill his duties as chairperson. The convention ended with the singing of two songs: “Let’s Go Back Together” and “Akari (Light).”
After the convention, the students participated in various programs organized by their directly supervised churches. On that afternoon, 471 students, including 133 first-timers, attended the Besseki lectures.