Parent Churches and Subordinate Churches (Jokyu kyokai bunai kyokai)

by Yoshikazu Fukaya

As I stated in entries "The Path of Order" [5.85-5.87] and "Receiving the Truth of the Parent" [5.94], a spiritual parent exerts his or her utmost sincerity toward conveying Oyasama's parental love to nurture the spiritual children they are entrusted with. Spiritual children in turn place their faith in their spiritual parents as the irreplaceable persons with whom God the Parent has provided them and on whom they can rely. As "parents," surely there will be times when spiritual parents will be in a position to have to say things that are difficult to say for the sake of their spiritual children's spiritual growth. As these spiritual children regard their spiritual parents as their "parents," they are sure to open their hearts, confide their innermost feelings, and seek instruction in all matters from their spiritual parents. Such a relationship where the path is actively pursued can greatly strengthen the path of spiritual growth. The connection between a spiritual child and a spiritual parent serves as a steady foundation for the advancement of our faith.

The organization of Tenrikyo churches is based on these connections between spiritual children and parents. A church consists of its head minister, who serves as its leader, as well as Yoboku and followers who look up to their head minister as their spiritual parent. Each of these Yoboku in turn is in a position to become a spiritual parent themselves, entrusted to nurture spiritual children of his or her own. When a single Yoboku's efforts result in some degree of success, a mission station can be established. Further success may lead to the establishment of a church. A church that has been newly established by receiving "the truth of a church name" from Jiba becomes an independent church. Yet as the head minister and others connected to the new church were nurtured by the efforts of the new head minister's spiritual parent, strong bonds between the two churches persist as bonds between spiritual parents and children.

New churches are established under a church in this way, which in turn leads newer churches to become established under these newly established churches. The older churches are referred to as "parent churches," and the newly established churches are referred to as the "subordinate churches" of these parent churches. Such relationships form the basis for all church lineages. Churches can have any number of parent churches and subordinate churches; parent churches that fall under the direct supervision of Tenrikyo Church Headquarters are called "directly supervised churches." Further, while overseas churches merely have "church" following their name, churches in Japan are either classified as a "branch church" or "grand church." A grand church generally has 50 or more subordinate churches under its jurisdiction. When a church gains 50 or more subordinate churches, it can apply for recognition as a directly supervised church under Church Headquarters and separate from the supervision of its original parent church.

Such church lineages are based on individual relationships: the relationship between the person who guided another to the faith and the guided. There are no geographical restrictions placed on these relationships. Consequently, while some churches have their subordinate churches located within a specific geographical region, there are other churches that have their subordinate churches in completely different geographical regions. The system of church lineages can be said to be part of an elaborate system--not unlike a meshed net--that extends across Japan and beyond. Further, no matter how great the distance between a parent church and subordinate church may be or how many churches may exist between them, it is the mission of a parent church to constantly convey the breath of Jiba, the intention of the Parent, so that it is imparted from spiritual parents to their spiritual children. Lastly, the results of the efforts subordinate churches make toward spiritual growth--which will bring joy to their spiritual parents--are carried to their parent church, to its parent church, and so forth before being ultimately offered to the true Parent residing at Jiba.