The Church Headquarters’ November Monthly Service was solemnly conducted on the 26th with the Shinbashira presiding. Despite the chilly autumn weather, the worship halls and precincts were filled with a great number of people, including many who had returned to Jiba in pilgrimage tours organized by directly supervised churches.
The Shinbashira, accompanied by the Service performers, went to the Foundress’ Sanctuary and the Memorial Hall before proceeding to the Main Sanctuary. In his prayer to God the Parent, the Shinbashira extended his appreciation for the profound blessings that God the Parent provides daily. Then on behalf of all followers he expressed our resolution to devote ourselves to the path of constructing the Joyous Life, while striving to understand and help one another.
The Kagura and the Teodori were then performed, with worshipers joining in singing the Songs for the Service. The joyful sounds of the musical instruments and the followers’ singing resounded throughout the precincts.
The sermon was delivered by Honbu-in Taketo Hashimoto. Referring to the eight kinds of dust, he said that our self-centered use of the mind is taught as being dust that interferes with the efforts to realize the Joyous Life. Rev. Hashimoto emphasized the importance of turning the mind from self-centeredness to other-centeredness. “This turning of the mind,” he said, “cannot be done by just contemplating it. Rather, it requires us to actually implement the action of saving people, which is accomplished when we get them to embrace the mind of saving others as well.” “For this purpose,” he further said, “we must spread this teaching to as many people as possible so that they can implement it, and herein lies the important meaning of missionary work leading to world salvation.”
Finally, Rev. Hashimoto referred to the contemporary situation of the world, which is never free from the collision of cultures and incessant conflicts between countries. He maintained that saving one person is the first step toward accomplishing the grand salvation of the world and actualizing the Joyous Life. He concluded his sermon by appealing, “Let us follow this path with the confidence and pride that we are engaged in the salvation of the world as Yoboku of God the Parent.”
Pilgrimage Groups Return to Jiba
During the week surrounding the Church Headquarters’ November Monthly Service Day, a lot of directly supervised churches and dioceses organized group pilgrimages to Jiba in order to finish the year 2001 in high spirits. Especially between November 23 and 26, which included a national holiday and a weekend, Jiba was crowded with groups of pilgrims brought by such churches as Gakuto, Ikuno, Oe, Kawanoe, Shigeto, Tokai, Funai, Kanzaki, and Yamaguni, which organized pilgrimages in anticipation of their 110th anniversaries. During the same period, dioceses made rice-donation pilgrimages, and churches such as Shikishima, Sakurai, Shikito, Shimagahara, Aboshi, Toyoshige, and Kin’ai organized Besseki pilgrimages to Jiba, and 5,836 people, including 1,566 first-timers, attended the Besseki lectures.
Gakuto Grand Church, for instance, which will celebrate its 110th anniversary next year, announced “salvation work and pilgrimage to Jiba” as the most important activity guideline for the “three years, one thousand days” leading up to the anniversary. It then planned a pilgrimage to Jiba, wishing for the successful completion of the anniversary, and set a goal of making this group pilgrimage to Jiba with 3,000 participants. On November 24, its gathering held at Dining Hall 2 was participated in by 2,957 people, and after the gathering, they performed the prayer service in the East Worship Hall. During this pilgrimage, 420 people including 221 first-timers attended the Besseki lectures.
Osaka and Shiga dioceses made their annual rice-donation pilgrimages to Jiba on November 26. A total of 50,075 kg (110,395 lbs.) of rice was brought on that day alone. Following the Monthly Service on that day, Shiga diocese held a gathering at East Left Wing 5 of the Oyasato-yakata building-complex. The participants listened to a commemorative lecture entitled “Health” delivered by Dr. Takanobu Imanaka, former vice president of Ikoi-no-Ie Hospital.