The Head Ministers Seminar in Oyasato, sponsored by Church Headquarters, commenced with the opening of Session l on April 4. This seminar, which is a three-day program, is offered in 19 sessions altogether, and each church head minister is expected to attend one session. So far, four sessions have been completed, and Session 19 is scheduled for September 14 to 16. This program is designed to provide head ministers with an opportunity to reaffirm their role as head minister and heighten their sense of mission for world salvation in order that the substance of their churches might be further enriched.
Session 1 began with 740 participants performing the service together in the East Worship Hall. This was followed by an opening address delivered by Director-in-Chief of Administrative Affairs Masahiko Iburi. He noted that Yoboku—or timber for constructing the Joyous Life—depend on Oyasama’s teachings for sure guidance and that churches are meant to provide tangible expressions of this guidance. He said that, since churches are responsible for providing care and guidance for the spiritual growth of Yoboku and others who seek the path, the churches ought to be fully dependable and reliable and that it is head ministers who must see to that, as they are to serve as the “core” of their churches. Rev. Iburi urged, in light of this, that the participants take full advantage of this seminar to reconfirm their understanding of the foundation of their faith. He also encouraged his listeners to be frank in sharing their thoughts and feelings with the other participants as fellow head ministers so that, if there were any problems weighing on their minds, their discussions might further strengthen their faith, which would then allow them to find a solution. He went on to remind his listeners that head ministers, like other followers, should always be striving toward ever further spiritual growth, for their churches ought to serve as dependable guides for their communities. Tenrikyo, he continued, will observe the 120th Anniversary of Oyasama in five years, and each anniversary of Oyasama represents a season for all followers to achieve fuller growth. One prerequisite for this to occur, he stressed, is a real commitment on the part of each and every head minister to make progress in his or her own spiritual growth. He concluded his remarks by asking all participants to rededicate themselves to this endeavor.
The afternoon of day one saw Lecture One, entitled the “Providence of God the Parent,” which was delivered by Honbu-in Matsutaro Komatsu, who based his presentation on the “Truth of Origin.” Video One was then shown featuring several Yoboku sharing their experiences that illustrated their close ties with their head ministers. This video also presented two “letters to Oyasama” printed in the Tenri Jiho newspaper, besides showing scenes from a day in the Foundress’ Sanctuary. Following this, Discussion Session One was held, affording the participants an opportunity to talk things over together under the theme “What I think a lot about concerning my church.”
On day two, Lecture Two, entitled “Feeling Close to Oyasama,” was delivered by Honbu-fujin Hisako Shimizu, who drew on her experience as one of Oyasama’s personal attendants. Honbu-in Yoshikazu Terada then delivered Lecture Three, the “Truth of the Everliving Oyasama.” Basing himself on the Divine Directions, he emphasized important points to bear in mind in receiving guidance from Oyasama. Video Two, which then followed, featured four head ministers’ endeavors to upgrade the substance of their churches. Discussion Sessions Two and Three, held that afternoon, attracted keen participation from head ministers, who exchanged their thoughts and ideas about “Making a Church Lively” and “Salvation Work,” respectively.
Presented on day three was a panel discussion which explored problems often involved in church activities. The Shinbashira then delivered an address, speaking about the way church activities should be conducted and the attitude that head ministers should maintain in fulfilling their role. The program was concluded with all participants performing the service in the East Worship Hall in high spirits.