Social Welfare Convention Highlights Developing Human Resources and Helping Others
The Social Welfare Section of Tenrikyo Mission Department sponsored the second Social Welfare Convention on April 25 at Tenri University, drawing 587 people from 17 Tenrikyo federations, committees, and institutes that are involved with social welfare. The event comes as Tenrikyo prepares for next year's 100th anniversary of the start of its social welfare activities, which began in 1910 when it opened Tenri Yotokuin Children's Home. The convention was aimed at focusing attention on the need to enhance and increase efforts to train and develop human resources and to expand the "circle of mutual help" at the regional level. Held under the overall theme of "Paying attention to life," the convention comprised a plenary session, section meetings, and a special guest lecture.
The plenary session commenced with an address by Social Welfare Section Chief Tadaaki Umetani, who stressed the importance of training Yoboku who can play active roles in social welfare―or "social welfare Yoboku," as he called them. He also indicated his intention to actively support a range of social welfare activities organized regionally.
He then asked his listeners to attend a ceremony to mark the 50th anniversary of Tenrikyo Federation of District and Child Welfare Commissioners on September 26. He also announced that the 100th anniversary of Tenri Yotokuin Children's Home, due to be celebrated on April 25 next year, would be attended by the Shinbashira. He encouraged all participants to take the opportunity provided by the current season to sprinkle the fragrance of the path on society at large through social welfare activities.
Director-in-Chief of Administrative Affairs Masahiko Iburi then addressed the meeting. He said that the basis of Tenrikyo's social welfare activities is Oyasama's teachings and that the key to dealing with issues that arise in actual practice is to make a point of "asking ourselves whether we are completely focused on realizing the Joyous Life World, . . . whether we are grounded in the spirit of universal brotherhood, . . . [and] whether we have the attitude of hinokishin." Then from the perspective of preparing for the upcoming 100th anniversary of Tenrikyo's social welfare activities, he asked his listeners to reflect once again on the way they were living their lives, further polish their minds, and continue working on social welfare activities.
This was followed by a video presentation featuring scenes from the Social Welfare Festival 2008 and a study meeting held in January this year. The plenary meeting concluded with a speech by Mission Department Head Motoyoshi Tomimatsu.
Later, each federation, committee, and institute held their respective gatherings that were treated as the section meetings of this convention. The one attended by 72 district and child welfare commissioners featured a presentation by Mrs. Yukuyo Takegawa, who served as a commissioner for 30 years. The wife of the former head minister of Shikidai Branch Church, she shared her experiences of guiding people to the path through her work. She said that district welfare activities, which involve trying to help people with various issues, provide many opportunities to engage in salvation work, opportunities that she said should be proactively taken. During a panel discussion that followed, Mrs. Takegawa responded to a question about child abuse by saying that increasing numbers of parents seem to let their emotions run away with them when faced with a difficult childcare situation. She emphasized the need for district and child welfare commissioners to help those parents in particular.
The section meeting of the Federation for Foster Parents, attended by 78 people, highlighted the need to increase and enhance opportunities for Tenrikyo foster parents to exchange information, ideas, and experiences. The topics discussed during this meeting included the challenges and issues involved in helping young people in foster care to find employment. Chairman Tadatsugu Fujimoto said that building and expanding a network of foster parents could enable more effective assistance to be provided in finding employment and becoming independent. Some committee members said that wherever possible they ask Tenrikyo followers who run businesses to consider employing their foster children. Others said that it would be beneficial to collect and share information on such employment opportunities in an organized way.
Lastly, the special guest lecture was delivered by former Minister of Finance Masajuro Shiokawa, who now serves as chancellor of Toyo University.