On the eve of the Women’s Association Convention— which is to say, April 18, which marked Oyasama’s 202nd birthday—the association organized a nighttime illuminated parade to commemorate its 90th anniversary. Featuring dancers, marching bands, and decorated floats and involving 5,000 participants altogether, the colorful parade heightened the festive mood and captivated some 40,000 spectators. Fifty-four units that participated in the parade represented 35 Japanese dioceses and 19 overseas countries and regions such as the U. S. mainland, Hawaii, Mexico, Colombia, Taiwan, and South Korea.
Following the well-attended convention on the 19th, the association sponsored five commemorative lectures, each at a different location in town but all sharing the common theme: “Toward the Joyous Life.” The lectures each attracted a large audience. For instance, as many as 1,800 members, including many from overseas, gathered at Tenri University’s Somanouchi Gym 1 to listen to Uryu Grand Church Head Minister Sadahiro Nishigaki’s lecture, which was simultaneously interpreted in English, Portuguese, Spanish, Korean, and Taiwanese. Head Minister Nishigaki began his lecture by emphasizing the foundational spirit of the Women’s Association. “It was God the Parent,” he said, “who instructed women to begin the Women’s Association, impressing upon them the importance of bringing one another understanding which would enable them to live in accord with the Divine Model. It was God who had women begin this association and, in this respect, your association is totally different from worldly common associations for women.” He went on to share his thoughts on some issues confronting modern society, such as religious and ethnic conflict and environmental destruction. “Though numerous religions exist in the world now,” he said, “all of them surely have one thing in common: pursuit of peace and happiness. But isn’t the manner of pursuit sometimes self-centered? Isn’t it the case that praying for one’s own salvation alone is often misunderstood to be the essence of religion? . . . Be that as it may, the fact remains that no matter what state of mind exists in anyone, it is God the Parent who enables all to be alive in the first place. If people take this fact to heart and, thereby, live in a spirit of gratitude for the gift of life, there will surely be fewer problems in the world.”
Meanwhile, about 3,000 members packed into Dining Hall 2, where Head Minister Tokutaro Kubo of Kojimachi Grand Church enthusiastically delivered his message. His lecture was also relayed to a large TV screen installed in the neighboring Dining Hall 3, thus catering to an additional 1,000 members.
Tenri City Auditorium was also completely full by the time Ogata Grand Church Head Minister Ikuhiro Masui began his lecture, which addressed family issues. Citing examples of children refusing to go to school, he underscored the degree of parental influence on children’s behavior. He called on the listeners to take a fresh look at the meaning of the Joyous Life in order to sow genuine seeds of joy in their communities.
The following day, the 20th, saw two receptions for overseas followers—both attended by Women’s Association President Masa Nakayama and Vice President Harue Nakayama. During the receptions, which drew 1,400 people altogether, performances of traditional Japanese koto music, Andean music, and jazz delighted the followers.
Between the 16th and 26th of April, the Women’s Association held a commemorative photo exhibition designed to provide the visitor with an opportunity to retrace the development of this association while savoring God the Parent’s love for the members. Photographs on display totaled about 400, including those that showed the first association convention, the successive presidents of the association, and activities relating to the anniversaries of Oyasama.