On July 4, the noon service was performed at the Main Sanctuary to the accompaniment of the wooden clappers for the first time since its announcement on June 24. Despite the rainy weather, Yoboku and followers returned to Jiba in small groups—consisting of their church or family members—and attended the service at the Worship Halls, where people single-heartedly prayed for a settling to the world while maintaining social distancing with masks on. The noon service is designed to encourage followers to make a pilgrimage to Jiba. The service takes place at the Main Sanctuary on Saturdays, Sundays, and public holidays, except on days of Church Headquarters events.
Church Headquarters has taken a variety of measures to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, including asking church head ministers, Yoboku, and followers to refrain from returning to Jiba as of the March Monthly Service. However, the Japanese government lifted the state of emergency in late May and eased the restrictions on crossing prefectural borders throughout Japan on June 19.
In response to these changes, Church Headquarters came to a decision to perform the service at noon in the hope of building momentum for followers who are living in Japan to make a pilgrimage to Jiba and providing them with an opportunity to join together to pray for a settling to the pandemic and for the salvation of those suffering from illness and other troubles while at the same time showing their gratitude for their return to Jiba.
Ms. Setsu Okabe (aged 60) made a pilgrimage to Jiba for the first time in four months. She said: “I returned to Jiba with my family of four after a long time, and it felt good to breathe in the air of the Home of the Parent. I am truly grateful for being able to pray in Jiba for the salvation of my fellow followers.
Mr. Masaichi Toyohisa (aged 78) found out about the noon service through the Tenri Jiho newspaper and returned to Jiba from Kyoto Prefecture. Attending the service, he felt the joy of joining together to perform the service single-heartedly at the Main Sanctuary. He expressed his desire to come back again for the service.
Ms. Mako Yofu (aged 24) attended the service sitting in the front row in the North Worship Hall. She made a pilgrimage from Fukuoka Prefecture and participated in the service with her friend who lives in Iwate Prefecture. She said: “Due to the spread of the novel coronavirus, I haven’t been able to see even those who live close by. I never realized how wonderful it is to be able to perform the service at Jiba with fellow followers who return from far places. With this sense of gratitude in mind, I sincerely prayed for a settling to the world.”