Followers living in the same region are boosting each other’s spirits and encouraging one another as they build momentum in their activities for the 140th Anniversary of Oyasama.
The Action Day for All Yoboku (sponsored by Church Headquarters) commenced on October 29. This event, scheduled to take place five times during the “three years, one thousand days” period leading up to the 140th Anniversary of Oyasama, is conducted under the management of dioceses and districts. The first session took place at a total of 758 locations worldwide, including 37 overseas venues.
During the three-year journey leading to the 140th Anniversary of Oyasama, the aim is for followers residing in the same region to encourage and inspire one another to boost the momentum of activities at the levels of churches and individuals. The program includes the service performance, the reading of Instruction Four, a video message, and unique programs set up for each venue.
Efforts to Pursue the Divine Model
On the day of the event, participants gathered at various locations, performed the service, and read aloud Instruction Four.
Following this, a video message from Church Headquarters was delivered.
In the message, Salvation Work Committee Chairman Yoshiji Matsumura encouraged the listeners to reflect on Oyasama’s parental heart during the “three years, one thousand days” period and take a significant step toward the Joyous Life. He stated, “Let us fill our hearts with the desire to bring joy and peace of mind to Oyasama as we spontaneously engage in the pre-anniversary activities.”
Referring to a passage from Instruction Four, Rev. Matsumura emphasized the importance of reflecting on Oyasama’s Divine Model, rededicating ourselves to following it in our own lives, and putting in more effort than usual to carry out single-hearted salvation, specifically spreading the teachings to others and helping save them. He urged everyone to make efforts to get closer to the Divine Model.
Rev. Matsumura also pointed out that we often become fully convinced after decisively putting Oyasama’s teachings into practice. Saying that the current period of “three years, one thousand days” is a time when we should resolve to devote ourselves even more fully than usual to following the path that Oyasama demonstrated, he noted that it is a time when we should set ourselves concrete goals and take actions to achieve them. Then he encouraged the participants to share with one another the sense of gratitude and security they feel at being able to receive the workings of God the Parent and the guidance of Oyasama as they walk the path toward the Joyous Life. He concluded the message by urging a commitment, stating: “Let us perform the service to make a pledge to respond to God’s workings. Let us also share our thoughts with one another and work hand in hand to implement the teachings, thereby encouraging one another to carry out our respective pre-anniversary activities.”
Afterward, each venue conducted its distinctive program—such as lectures, faith experience speeches, and group discussions—through which followers reaffirmed their commitment to embody the teachings, thereby striving to draw closer to the Divine Model.
Learning about Salvation Work Through Case Studies—Yoichi District, Hokkaido
The Yoichi District of Hokkaido Diocese, held the Action Day for All Yoboku at Shakotan Branch Church in Yoichi, with 42 participants in attendance.
The district organized its program around the themes of “Salvation from Illness” and “Salvation from Trouble.”
In August of this year, the district had offered an opportunity to learn about the Divine Model, particularly focusing on the episodes of salvation work in the Divine Model, in preparation for the Action Day for All Yoboku. The district revamped the content of the “Study Session for Salvation Work,” which it had conducted before the COVID-19 pandemic.
The first part of the action day—the “Salvation from Illness” program—began with a presentation by Vice District Head Koji Nomura (63, head minister of Kitaginzan Branch Church), who explained how to administer the Sazuke, followed by a session for participants to administer the Sazuke.
In the subsequent “Salvation from Trouble” program, which opened with a lecture by District Head Keiji Niida (69, head minister of Shakotan Branch Church), there were group discussions on how to empathize with individual concerns—discussions that used specific cases as examples.
District Head Niida expressed his aspirations, saying: “I think the action day was an opportunity to reflect afresh on the salvation work of the path. Through future district activities, we aim to raise awareness for the anniversary-related activities.”
A Gathering to Share Faith Experiences—Choshi District, Chiba
The Choshi District of Chiba Diocese, held the action day at Tokawa Branch Church in Choshi, where 58 participants, including 18 Boys and Girls Association members, gathered.
The district’s venue-specific program was a group discussion. Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, opportunities for Yoboku to visit their churches and discuss their faith on a regular basis had decreased. To address this, the district devised the group discussion program with the intention of sparking new insights through discussions about everyday faith practices and encouraging participants to proactively engage in the pre-anniversary activities. After thorough consideration during district meetings, the discussion theme chosen was “The Significance of Oyasama’s Anniversary and How to Walk the Path Leading up to the Anniversary.”
In consideration of participants with children, a kids’ space was set up at the venue. Additionally, staff members who served as facilitators for the group discussions underwent pre-training.
On the event day, participants, divided into small groups, shared their individual faith experiences, including moments when they felt the miraculous blessings of God the Parent.
District Head Masato Hara, who also served as a facilitator, shared his reflections on the event, saying: “In the presence of many people, the participants spoke openly about their faith. We were able to conclude the first session in a friendly atmosphere. Moving forward, I hope to continue strengthening the connections among Yoboku within the district through the subsequent sessions, thus helping them encourage one another to participate in the pre-anniversary activities.”
Talk Session on “The Story of Linen, Silk and Cotton”—Atsuta-Minato District, Aichi
A group discussion titled “Let’s Discuss Anecdotes of Oyasama” was conducted by the Atsuta-Minato District of Aichi Diocese, drawing a total of 119 participants to Honko Branch Church in Nagoya.
Starting in August, the district had been deliberating on program content centered around the Divine Model of Oyasama, and it was decided to implement the group discussion based on Anecdotes of Oyasama. Invitations were sent to approximately 1,200 households including churches and Yoboku’s families within the district to encourage their participation.
On the day of the event, staff members were stationed at three locations along the route from the nearest train station to the venue to guide participants.
The theme was chosen from Anecdote 26, “The Story of Linen, Silk, and Cotton.” In the venue, three types of clothing made from linen, silk, and cotton were available as reference materials.
The event started with all participants collectively reading “The Story of Linen, Silk, and Cotton,” followed by group discussions in threes based on the anecdote. Various opinions were exchanged, such as “I think a person with a mind like cotton can sincerely carry out any task in any situation.”
District Head Keisuke Ando (54, head minister of Motomiyana Branch Church) remarked after the event: “Through group discussions, I believe there was a fresh opportunity to reflect on the Divine Model. As we continue with district events such as Action Day for All Yoboku, I hope to foster an atmosphere where followers can open up to and support one another.”
Deepening Learning Through Workshops—Higashi Yodogawa District, Osaka
The Higashi Yodogawa District of Osaka Diocese held the event in three churches, where workshops were conducted with a total of 135 participants.
The workshops were organized under the theme “What Can I Do to Carry Out the Pre-Anniversary Activities.”
At each venue, a facilitator led the proceedings in a way that made it easier to understand the Divine Model as well as the content of Instruction Four using worksheets. Participants discussed the teachings in pairs and deepened their understanding through workshops.
District Mission Department Head Hajime Teranishi (52, head minister of Kaminakajima Branch Church), said: “The participants gave positive feedback. It is evident that they had a meaningful time at this event. Making the most of the connections among local followers, we want to continue to proactively advance the pre-anniversary activities.”
Engaging in Dialogue Based on Video Message—Eastern Shimane District, Shimane
The Eastern Shimane District of Shimane Diocese organized the event at six churches, with one of the venues being Matsue Branch Church in Matsue, where 103 participants gathered.
In Shimane Diocese, it was decided to adopt the program of “Teaching-Based Dialogue”—which has been conducted by the Young Men’s Association—as part of the Action Day for All Yoboku. The dialogue sessions were based on the video message from Church Headquarters conveyed at each venue on the day.
Participants paired up and engaged in dialogue regarding the video message. They shared experiences of feeling the presence of Oyasama and renewed their commitment to the pre-anniversary activities.
Diocese Superintendent Jiro Inaba (59, head minister of Matsue Branch Church) commented on the action day: “Through dialogue on the contents of the video message, I feel that awareness of the pre-anniversary activities has heightened. In the future, we hope to further promote activities where local followers can encourage one another.”
Starting with the Basics of Pre-Anniversary Activities—Ariake District, Kumamoto
The Ariake District of Kumamoto Diocese held the event at Tamana Branch Church in Tamana, with 99 participants. On the day, District Head Yasunobu Chakitani (63, head minister of Shodai Branch Church), delivered a lecture on “The Nature of Pre-Anniversary Activities.”
The district has been implementing various initiatives since last year to reconnect followers who were isolated during the COVID-19 pandemic. Viewing the Action Day for All Yoboku as an opportunity to strengthen connections within the region, those in charge of the event planned a lecture to help followers relearn the basics of the pre-anniversary activities.
In his lecture, Rev. Chakitani spoke about the appropriate attitude Yoboku should maintain during the pre-anniversary period. He said that deeply understanding Instruction Four would reveal what specific actions should be carried out toward the 140th Anniversary of Oyasama. He urged everyone to read Instruction Four every day and practice seven actions such as “visiting the church” and “performing hinokishin” with a sense of “gratitude,” “joy,” and “mutual help.”
After the program, the district organized the “Ariake District Family Day” as part of the initiative to “reconnect from scratch.” Concession stands were set up in the square in front of the church building, where followers engaged in discussions about faith.
Rev. Chakitani said of the event, “We received positive feedback from participants saying that it gave momentum to their pre-anniversary activities. After the pandemic slowed our progress, we feel that we have finally taken a new step forward. We want to continue working together as a district to advance the pre-anniversary activities.”
In Brazil, the event took place in 26 venues, including the mission headquarters, churches, and fellowships. Venue-specific programs included lectures, panel discussions, spreading the fragrance of the teachings, group discussions based on The Life of Oyasama and Anecdotes of Oyasama, faith experience speeches, and hinokishin activities.
In Colombia, followers engaged in hinokishin, cleaning the mission center and its grounds, as part of the initiative to unite their minds and encourage one another to carry out the pre-anniversary activities.
At one of the venues in Taiwan, Nishitakao (西高雄) Church, participants had an opportunity to review their hand movements for the seated service and for the administration of the Sazuke.
Also, in various other overseas locations, activities such as discussion forums based on the video message, followers’ presentations on their resolutions for the pre-anniversary activities, group discussions titled “Regarding the Divine Model,” and hinokishin were carried out.
Through these activities, overseas followers renewed their determination to practice the teachings as they move toward the 140th Anniversary of Oyasama.