Tenrikyo Congo-Brazzaville Church, located in Brazzaville, the Republic of the Congo, sponsored doctrinal study seminars I and II in August and September. These seminars were developed as part of the local human resources development program in the Congo and were first organized in 2002, when the nation was in the midst of its reconstruction from civil war. Besides the long distance from Jiba, most Congolese followers are unable to return to Jiba due to various constraints and hardships, however strong their yearning may be. Taught mainly by Overseas Department staff members and Congolese Yoboku, these one-week seminars serve as wonderful opportunities for the followers to learn the teachings in a systematic fashion.
Marking the fifth occasion that these study seminars were organized, a total of 61 participants took part in them. Congo-Brazzaville Church hosted seminars I and II while Point Noir Mission Station served as a second venue for seminar II.
Seminar I at Congo-Brazzaville Church was held between August 22 and 29. There were 31 participants, all of whom had previously completed a preliminary course, a newly developed program which started this year. More than half of the participants came from outside Brazzaville, and a few of them had to travel for many days, changing trains and cars in order to arrive at the church.
The program for seminar I included sprinkling the fragrance of the teachings and attending a training course on how to conduct children’s games. The participants walked about seven km to Poto-Poto Djou Mission Station, handing out pamphlets to sprinkle the fragrance of the teachings along the way.
On the last day of seminar I, participants took a short oral examination, which was followed by group presentations. This year, the participants were asked to explain basic Tenrikyo terms and teachings such as hinokishin and sprinkling the fragrance of the teachings. Using colorful and elaborate pictures, participants gave easy-to-understand presentations. Following seminar I’s successful completion, seminar II was held at the church between September 1 and 7, with 10 participants including some auditors.
Meanwhile, seminar II was also held at Point Noir Mission Station between August 4 and 11. It was attended by 20 followers, all of whom had previously completed seminar I, which had been held at the mission station on two separate occasions.
In the mornings, the participants listened to lectures on the Mikagura-uta (The Songs for the Service), The Doctrine of Tenrikyo, and The Life of Oyasama, Foundress of Tenrikyo. In the afternoons, they practiced the Dance with Hand Movements as well as the musical instruments for the service. The participants sang the songs for the service and played the musical instruments with such enthusiasm that many passersby stopped to take a closer look inside the mission station.
Toward the end of seminar II, the participants were divided into four groups and performed skits depicting various episodes they had encountered while sprinkling the fragrance of the teachings. All of the skits were based on actual incidents and situations that they encountered while handing out pamphlets on the streets, conveying the teachings to non-followers who were suffering from illnesses, and explaining about the Tenrikyo teachings and their church to local people.