The 25th Young Women’s Convention is taking place regionally through December under the sponsorship of Tenrikyo Women’s Association. Scheduled to be held at over 60 venues in and outside Japan, the convention is organized around the theme “In gratitude for our overflowing blessings, let’s share our joy with smiling faces–Let’s attend the Besseki lectures; Let’s spread the teachings.” So far (according to the October 14 issue of Tenri Jiho newspaper), the convention has been held at 17 venues, altogether drawing 6,400 participants.
The event features a message from Women’s Association President Harue Nakayama, a talk by a lecturer sent by the association’s headquarters, and two or three young members’ presentations on how they have prepared for the convention, focusing on the practice of the service. The convention is also designed to help strengthen ties among members at regional and district levels and provide them with an opportunity to rededicate themselves to making progress in spiritual growth in preparation for the 100th anniversary of the association, due in three years.
The first convention took place in Los Angeles on September 15 and was attended by 134 people. Besides the president’s message and a talk by Mrs. Kumiko Ando, the event included presentations by three participants, who shared their thoughts on the service. After the conclusion of the convention, further discussion opportunities were provided for participants to share their thoughts and ideas on the service. It is also noteworthy that a website was later launched to facilitate sharing information, thoughts, and ideas among young women.
In South Korea, the convention was held at two venues: Mission Headquarters, located in Gimhae City, on September 30 with 250 participants; and Hye-seong Church in Seoul on October 3 with 170.
The South Korea chapter of the Women’s Association was established only three months ago, making the Young Women’s Convention the first major event to be staged by the chapter. Shortly after the inauguration of the chapter, 13 staff members were assigned to organize the convention. Starting in August, they held weekly meetings at Mission Headquarters and, the day before the convention, they were joined by other members in performing a prayer service. At both venues, every participant received a commemorative cellphone strap.
The other overseas venues where the convention has already been held are the Mission Center in Colombia (Sept. 23; 46 participants); the Mission Center in Mexico (Sept. 30; 38); Thai Shinyuko mission (Sept. 16; 25); and Buenos Aires Church (Sept. 8; 30).
The Young Women’s Convention is scheduled to take place at Mission Headquarters in Brazil on November 10; Mission Headquarters of Hawaii and the Mission Post in Nepal on November 17; the Mission Center in Thailand on November 18; and the Europe Centre next February.
Within Japan, the convention has been held at 10 venues. Fukuoka Diocese organized the convention at Chikushi Grand Church and Asakura Grand Church on October 7 and 8, respectively. At the former venue, where 826 attended, two participants gave speeches sharing their experiences and insights into the importance of the service. A talk by Mrs. Emiko Suzuki from the association’s headquarters addressed how God’s providence pervades everyone’s daily life as well as how important it is to ensure that the mind is used in a way that accords with God’s intention. After the convention program, a slide presentation was given, showing members working to prepare for the convention and performing other activities such as sprinkling the fragrance of the teachings and engaging in hinokishin. Also, a giant paper theater production was staged, with the plot following a young Tenrikyo follower as she helps one of her colleagues overcome her interpersonal problems at work by inviting her to a Tenrikyo church and conveying to her the importance of transforming the way of handling the mind.
“Hearing people my age talk about their experiences helped me realize how blessed I am to be able to live the way I do,” says 23-year-old Yuka Matsuura, who attended the Young Women’s Convention for the first time. “This convention gave me a good opportunity to reflect on my own faith.”
Chairwoman Yoko Uchida from Asakura Grand Church says that the number of members participating in regular activities has been increasing since the last convention. “Young members of the association have been able to further strengthen their ties as they worked to prepare for today’s convention,” she says.
Fukuoka Diocese is planning a pilgrimage to Jiba to express gratitude for the successful convention. The diocese’s convention held at Asakura Grand Church was also well attended with 894 present.
Fukui Diocese’s convention, attended by 164, took place at Echizen-fukui Branch Church on the 7th. The Fukui chapter of the association organized a study meeting on the service in May in an effort to encourage young members to deepen their understanding of this important area of Tenrikyo’s teachings in anticipation of the convention. The meeting used Anecdotes of Oyasama to help participants learn about the significance and meaning of the service. The chapter also sponsored similar study meetings, as well as promoted the practice of the service dance, at the level of districts.
Following the convention, a get-together was held in the afternoon, featuring an opportunity to practice conveying the teachings in a concise manner. The occasion also included a quiz contest.
Chairwoman Narumi Hashimoto from Konotake Branch Church has high expectations. “I feel sure that the activities we conducted in the run-up to the convention and the experiences shared today will serve to boost our young women’s activities from now on,” she said.