On November 27 and 28, the 53rd Meeting for Newly Appointed Church Head Ministers was held in the Home of the Parent with a total of 704 participants, including 18 from four overseas countries. Attending this meeting were 448 new church head ministers—all of whom had been sanctioned between November 2000 and August 2001—and 256 of their spouses.
On the opening day, November 27, Rev. Sohei Sawada, head minister of Aisei Grand Church, gave a lecture entitled “Guiding Yoboku and Nurturing Successors to the Path.” Following the lecture was an address by Honbu-in Kazuo Nagao, head of the Mission Department. After outlining the message of Instruction One, he said, “Next year’s Tenrikyo Hinokishin Day will give us an opportunity to see our daily efforts to carry out the Shinbashira’s intention come to fruition.” On the same day, the new head ministers and their spouses were divided into 27 groups and into 15 groups respectively to have a two-hour faith discussion session.
On the second day, November 28, Director-in-Chief of Administrative Affairs Masahiko Iburi delivered an address. He first explained what a church ought to be and said: “You will see a lot of people, things, and money roll into and out of your church. God the Parent will accept your sincerity if you make good use of them, but if you are not single-hearted with God, your church will be covered with piles of dust.” With reference to Oyasama’s instruction, “Save others,” he said that making repayment for the blessings we receive is to “walk the path that Oyasama left for us.” He said: “The path that Oyasama left for us is the path of world salvation. The power of an individual may be small, but every action we take to make repayment for the daily blessings is also an action for world salvation.” Based on all these points, he emphasized: “Your church is the place for making repayment for the blessings and realizing world salvation because Church Headquarters and your church are connected as a single breath. The truth of a church name has been sanctioned because of the truth of the everliving Oyasama. In other words, Oyasama enters your church and works for salvation.” He also offered advice to the head ministers and their spouses by saying: “Your church is the place for followers to make repayment for the blessings. If a church head minister cannot make repayment for the blessings, dust will pile up in the church and followers will go away.”
Director-in-Chief Iburi said, “A church ought to provide Yoboku and followers with a dependable guide for their spiritual growth.” He continued: “Head ministers conduct the services with them and administer the Sazuke to teach and nurture them. Indeed, the head ministers’ role is to make a sustained effort to set an example of how to follow the path, thus providing them with a dependable guide.”
He closed his remarks by saying: “Although the 120th Anniversary of Oyasama is yet to be announced, the year when the anniversary is going to be held will arrive soon. The true quality of our faith will be tested by the progress we make during the years leading up to the anniversary. In the meantime, therefore, I would like all of you to strive to fulfill your role as a church head minister.”