The 83rd Convention of Tenrikyo Women’s Association was conducted in the Inner Courtyard of Tenrikyo Church Headquarters on April 19, the day following the Oyasama Birth Celebration Service. This year, approximately 60,000 members returned to the Home of the Parent to attend the convention. Since last year’ s convention commemorated the 90th anniversary of the Women’ s Association, this year’s convention came at a juncture when the association is concentrating its efforts on taking a new step forward.
At 7:30 in the morning, when fireworks announced the opening of the reception desks, groups of members bearing their red chapter flags began approaching the desks to receive their convention programs and commemorative gifts. These were distributed by a host of hinokishin volunteers, who were for the most part young women enrolled in high schools in the Home of the Parent. The members then filed into the convention site or took seats in the surrounding areas. Following the precedent set last year, members were able to seat themselves not only in the Inner Courtyard but also in front of the South Worship Hall, the East Worship Hall, and the West Worship Hall as well as inside the Worship Hall of the Foundress’ Sanctuary. As they waited, most of the members covered their heads to protect themselves from the bright sunlight that bathed the convention site.
At 9:30, another round of fireworks announced the commencement of the convention, whereupon Association President Masa Nakayama ushered the Shinbashira and the former Shinbashira, as well as other distinguished guests, onto the stage. After the participants had joined together in singing the Eight Verses of the Yorozuyo, Miss Masae Ushikubo, a freshman in Tenri High School’s Evening Course, made a pledge on behalf of the new members of the association.
Following the progress report given by a committee member, Association President Masa Nakayama took the podium to deliver her address. Referring to last year’ s convention held in commemoration of the association’s 90th anniversary, she reminded the members that she had asked them to start that very day making redoubled efforts so that they might mature to the point where sprinkling the fragrance of the teachings and engaging in salvation work would become a matter of course in their daily lives. Then, she went on to say: “I hope that you will gain a fresh appreciation of the enormous role we women play in daily life, whether at our churches or in our families. For example, no matter what happens at your churches, if you would keep your mind spirited and show up at the church in a cheerful mood and with a smiling face, the mood at the church would naturally be brightened up as well. When people visiting the church are welcomed by this warm atmosphere, they will be comfortable and feel that this is surely a place where they can hear God’s teachings and where they can talk about the things they have on their minds, and, thus, through God the Parent’s guidance, they will come to feel eager to visit the church time and again.”
President Nakayama then said: “We come across a variety of situations during the course of our daily lives, but whatever the situation may be, if we can just remember that we mothers are the foundation and practice joyous acceptance, and if we can just rely on Oyasama and be sincere in talking things over with one another, we can in fact bring about harmony within our churches and families, and enable one and all to live in high spirits. If we happen to find our spirits falling, all we have to do is lean firmly on Oyasama.” She closed her address by asking the members to work to their utmost to ensure that families, including young and old alike, would maintain strong ties with their churches and thus create a whirlpool of spiritedness and activity.
The Shinbashira then delivered his address. He told the members: “It goes without saying that the primary mission of our churches is to nurture people who will administer the Sazuke bestowed in the cause of single-hearted salvation and perform the service in prayer for the Joyous Life. Yet, unless those engaged in this mission themselves grow spiritually into people who can live the Joyous Life, they cannot be said to measure up to Oyasama’s expectations as followers of the path. From this perspective, then, churches are training centers for single-hearted salvation because they are places where we acquire and implement the skills for savoring the Joyous Life—which was the purpose in God’s act of creating human beings—and teach and show others how to do the same. Churches, therefore, are training centers where one can learn how to savor the Joyous Life.”
Having thus defined the role of churches, the Shinbashira went on to encourage the members to make sure that their chapters’ activities are helping their churches to fulfill that role. He also asked them, as individuals, to frequent their churches seeking tasks to perform, and to implement their role of “bearing and raising” by helping to nurture new followers who gather at their churches.
Member Representative Takami Shimizu then made a pledge, and the participants joined together in singing “Tenrikyo Women’s Association Song” to bring the convention to a close.