On April 19, the day following the Oyasama Birth Celebration Service, the 82nd Convention of Tenrikyo Women’s Association was conducted in the Inner Courtyard of Church Headquarters in commemoration of the association’s 90th anniversary. More than 100,000 women gathered in the Home of the Parent to celebrate that festive occasion.
Tenrikyo Women’s Association was founded on January 28, 1910, with Mrs. Tamae Nakayama, wife of the first Shinbashira, serving as the association’s first president. During the 90 years since then, the members of the association have continuously been striving to follow Oyasama’s Divine Model of single-hearted salvation and become a solid foundation for the Joyous Life. In particular, the members spent the past “three years, one thousand days” preparing for the 90th anniversary by taking the initiative to implement their activity guidelines and, thereby, attain spiritual growth while focusing on “the effort to nurture ourselves, the dedication to nurture others, and the harmony of minds in unity.”
On the morning of the convention, some members had already seated themselves in the Inner Courtyard following the morning service. Despite cloudy skies, the morning air was unusually warm. At 7:30, fireworks announced the opening of the reception desks, whereupon groups of members bearing their red chapter flags approached the desks to receive their convention programs and commemorative gifts. Thereafter, they filed into the convention site or took seats in the surrounding area.
To accommodate the especially large number of participants this year, 12,500 benches had been set up not only inside the Inner Courtyard but also in front of the East Worship Hall, the South Worship Hall, and the West Worship Hall. Large TV screens had been strategically positioned so that members seated outside the Inner Courtyard could also view the proceedings. To facilitate seating at the convention, the reception desks were enlarged and placed outside the Inner Courtyard this year.
Followers from overseas borrowed a total of 762 headsets which enabled them to listen to the simultaneous interpretation of the convention proceedings in English, Portuguese, Spanish, Korean, and Taiwanese.
Around 9:00, Tenri High School’s brass band livened up the convention site with a performance that was accompanied by a girls’ choir made up of Tenri High School students residing in the school dormitories. Then, 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 members had joined together in singing the Eight Verses of the Yorozuyo, Miss Hiroe Fujisawa of Oyasato High School made a pledge on behalf of the new members of the association.
For the progress report, Committee Member Satoe Matsumura summarized the events of the previous year. The focus of the association’s activities, she said, was to make members clearly aware that they are women who live out Oyasama’s teachings in their lives as well as to help them find joy in carrying out the roles they are entrusted with. During the past year, she added, the association had specifically conducted activities to encourage its members to mature into the sort of women whose service to their churches would be regarded as indispensable.
Association President Masa Nakayama then took the podium to deliver her address. Reflecting on the activities conducted during the “three years, one thousand days” season leading up to the convention, she thanked the members for the painstaking efforts they had made, saying: “The spiritual growth you attained through your sincere efforts during these three years is a wonderful souvenir you have brought back to the Jiba of Origin today, and I am confident that God the Parent and Oyasama have accepted your spiritual growth, just as each of you deserves.”
She went on to say: “On this occasion of our 90th anniversary, I feel it is extremely important for us to reflect on our association’s origin and make sure our footing is firm. We are, therefore, once again promoting as our slogan for spiritual maturity ‘Let’s follow the Divine Model and become the foundation for the Joyous Life.’ This slogan presents the fundamental spirit of the Women’s Association. Out of our wish to have each member dedicate her life to attaining the goal of that slogan, we have been promoting two activity guidelines: 1) Let’s seek the intention of the Parent in the Scriptures and savor the joy of salvation work each day, and 2) Let’s nurture Yoboku who will carry the path forward in the next generation.”
After sharing some of her thoughts on how the members ought to proceed on the basis of that slogan, Mrs. Nakayama concluded her speech by saying: “Over the past three years, every member of the Women’s Association dedicated herself in high spirits, made a new resolution to work in a unity of mind for the sake of the future, and did her best to fulfill this resolution. Today, therefore, let us take this opportunity to make a pledge to God the Parent and Oyasama, promising that we shall do what must be done to see a vigorous sprouting of the buds we tended so carefully during the ‘three years, one thousand days’ season. I should now like to close my address by requesting that we all make an appropriate response to the parental heart that has brought us through these 90 years.”
The Shinbashira then delivered his address to the association members. After explaining the origins of the Women’s Association and “God the Parent’s extraordinary expectations for women,” he shared some of his thoughts on the role that he would like the association to play. Referring to the association’s slogan for spiritual maturity, “Let’s follow the Divine Model and become the foundation for the Joyous Life,” he said: “I hope that all of you members of this association will grow spiritually so as to be able to serve efficiently as the foundation of the path, and that you will accumulate the truth of effectiveness for single-hearted salvation in ways that only women can. You are entrusted with the extremely important mission of laying the foundation that will allow the path—which is to continue through all eternity—to continue unceasingly. I hope that your association will carry on promoting this slogan for spiritual maturity, though what I mean to say is that, rather than just bandying it about, I should like each and every member to actually make repeated efforts to grow spiritually in order to attain the goal indicated by the slogan.”
The Shinbashira quoted a well-known passage from the Divine Directions, which reads: “Sah, sah, because Tsukihi exists, the world exists. Because the world exists, things exist. Because things exist, your bodies exist. Because your bodies exist, law exists. Although the law exists, to resolve your minds is primary.” He explained: “This passage, which urges us to settle the mind, provides us with step-by-step instructions for how to ponder to be single-hearted with God. When something happens in your midst, you should not give priority to finding a solution to the trouble. Rather, you ought to ponder over the truth of arising occurrences by bearing in mind that you can receive the blessing of a solution to any problem once your settling of the mind accords with Oyasama’s mind, which is to say, once you settle your mind to carry out everything in full accord with the Divine Model and without deviating from your duty as women.”
He concluded his address by saying: “On this occasion of your association’s 90th anniversary, I should like to suggest that, in order to attain further growth, you should begin by settling the mind to follow the path exactly as shown in the Divine Model and that you should look back on the past 90 years to find material that would help you ponder how to receive the blessing of such a settling of the mind. I very much hope that you will fulfill your role as women of the path, which is to say, as the foundation of the Joyous Life, and continue following the path in a manner befitting your 90-year history.”
Yuko Murata then made a pledge on behalf of all the members. To bring the convention to a close, the participants joined together in singing the “Tenrikyo Women’s Association Song.”