The Head Ministers Seminar in Oyasato—a three-day program offered by Church Headquarters in 19 sessions beginning in April—came to a close on September 16. Altogether, the seminar drew almost 15,000 head ministers, who spent three days with fellow head ministers in one or another of the 19 sessions held at the Home of the Parent. The program aimed at “providing an opportunity for church head ministers to reconfirm their role as head minister and heighten their sense of mission for world salvation in order that their church substance might be further enriched.”
The seminar’s 19th and final session, which took place between September 14 and 16, commenced with an address delivered by Director-in-Chief of Administrative Affairs Masahiko Iburi, who began by stressing that all head ministers have in common their role as head minister, despite their varying occupational backgrounds and the differing locations and affiliations of their churches, and that Oyasama has great expectations for all of them equally. He then quoted from Instruction One, “Today, more than ever, the world needs a dependable guide,” and reiterated that Yoboku (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. It is head ministers, he continued, who are to serve as the “core” of their churches.
Director-in-Chief Iburi urged that the participants take full advantage of this seminar to reconfirm their faith and conviction, which would allow them fully to savor the joy of faith and the high-spiritedness arising from that. Tenrikyo, he said, will observe the 120th Anniversary of Oyasama in five years—whether or not any plans for its observance are formally announced by Church Headquarters—and each anniversary of Oyasama represents a season for all Yoboku to make a special effort to allow their mind to mature and for all followers to achieve fuller growth. He called on his listeners to set their sights on this goal and redouble their efforts to spread the teachings.
Director-in-Chief Iburi went on to pay tribute to those killed or injured in the September 11 terrorist attacks, besides mentioning that several head ministers from South America were unable to attend the seminar as a result of being stranded at an airport in the United States. He urged all participants to raise the spirit of world salvation and devote their steady, sincere efforts to that cause each day. In order to enable their churches to provide dependable guidance and care for Yoboku and followers in their communities in the current social climate, he said that all head ministers should use this seminar to rededicate themselves to the duties of head ministers and renew their commitment to work toward ever further spiritual growth.
The three-day program included three lectures, entitled the “Providence of God the Parent,” “Feeling Close to Oyasama,” and the “Truth of the Everliving Oyasama”; discussion sessions; video presentations; a symposium; and a closing address delivered by the Shinbashira.
The Shinbashira, who spoke to the participating head ministers in the Foundress’ Sanctuary, noted that the mission of every church is to perform the service, sprinkle the fragrance of the teachings, and work for the salvation of others. Concerning the attitude for head ministers to maintain, he emphasized that they ought to perform the service with their sights set on saving others and that they must throw themselves into the performance of the service, bearing in mind that they are Yoboku among Yoboku. They ought to make every effort, he said, to bring high-spiritedness to God the Parent and Oyasama in this regard.
As to sprinkling the fragrance of the teachings and engaging in salvation work—tasks he described as acts of making repayment for blessings that one receives—the Shinbashira stressed the importance of head ministers’ repeated efforts to study and implement the teachings, efforts that would ensure that their way of thinking and their way of dealing with whatever happens are firmly based on faith. They should also help their followers to do the same, he continued, through talking things over with them and providing care and guidance for them. In order to fulfill these duties, however, it is of paramount importance, he said, for the head ministers themselves to implement the teachings.
The Shinbashira spoke further about a head minister’s role as the leader of a church, saying: “Though the person who has responsibility for a church is its head minister, the real head of the church is God the Parent and Oyasama. To make your churches conducive to God the Parent’s work and Oyasama’s work, I want you to purify your mind, exert your sincerity, bear in mind the Divine Model, and remember the joy you felt on the day of origin of your faith. I want you to take courage in working toward fulfilling the divine intention to save all humankind.” The Shinbashira concluded his remarks by asking his listeners to make redoubled efforts to grow spiritually—and help their followers do the same—so as to become the sort of head ministers who truly have the trust of their followers.
The conclusion of the Head Ministers Seminar in Oyasato was formally marked on September 25 by a service that was performed at the Main Sanctuary with the Shinbashira presiding and attended by some 400 people who had served as lecturers or discussion moderators or otherwise helped to run the seminar, including Church Headquarters’ resident staff members, head ministers of directly supervised churches, and committee members of various Tenrikyo associations. Through the service they expressed their gratitude to God the Parent for helping them to fulfill their roles successfully. The Shinbashira then delivered an address, which he began by thanking his listeners for the work they had done. Then noting that the underlying purpose of the seminar was to help all followers to unite as one and move forward together, he reiterated the importance of the head ministers’ role and the weightiness of their responsibility in this regard, emphasizing that they were in a position to guide, teach, and nurture Yoboku and other followers belonging to their churches. He went on to express his hope that all head ministers would take the initiative to provide care and guidance for their followers during the course of daily life—not just during particular time periods related to important events—taking it upon themselves to try to find a way to work with their followers.