Tenrikyo Europe Centre
by Shinobu Patterson (Wife of the Head of London Sakurai Fukyosho)
As it is the first time for me to have met some of you who are here to join the service, firstly I would like to introduce myself to all of you.
My husband, who is here today together with my son who is 21 years old are running a small humble Fukyosho in London UK. My husband has been the Head of Tenrikyo UK Centre for almost 3 years. I also help in running all activities of Tenrikyo UK Fujinkai.
As some of you know, from last August to this March not only in Japan but also many places in the world “Seminar for Successors” was held. This seminar was targeted both at men and women aged between 20 and 40, who follow this Path and it has been reported that they were able to spend valuable time and experience.
Having had Bishop. Fukaya from Tenrikyo Mission Headquarters in America as the lecturer at Tenrikyo UK Centre, all participants were working very hard to grasp the teachings of the Path. I believe that the purpose of the seminar was to focus on the future of the Path and therefore to let us Yoboku remember the importance of the vertical mission.
Also Kodomo-Ojibagaeri, Children’s Pilgrimage Tour to Tenri, which is one of the biggest events in the vertical mission, is just about to start from 26th of July.
Talking about the vertical mission, I am sure that some of you often realise it is quite hard to pass on the faith to our own children and or grandchildren. In fact, we often hear that some Kyokai find it difficult to look for the new head, as none of the children are prepared to take over. As for our church in Japan, our late Kaicho-san has 3 children, but none wanted to succeed as the head of Kyokai. So, the former head of our supervised Kyokai has taken over.
On the other hand, churches which have a lot of children and all of them follow the Path, also exists.
From the parents’ point of view, they don’t want to force their children to follow the path but wish to walk together. From children’s point of view, apart from when they are too young, when they become a certain age they will start thinking that they are not the same as their parents and questioning why they follow Tenrikyo.
Changing the subject, I would like to talk about the followers in UK. I have been married for 33 and half years and since then I have met many Tenrikyo followers in UK. At the beginning there were not many but the number of them started to increase gradually. I noticed that those who were here 20-30 years ago were mainly expatriate’s families and students. They were eager to pursue the teachings of Tenrikyo and always attended to Monthly Service with their children. Among some students there were successors of heads of Kyokai and they spread the teachings to people in Uk and some of these people have actually become Yoboku. After the Bubble economy in Japan ended and therefore lots of Japanese companies decreased the number of expatriates. I have an impression that those families, who I met, had suddenly all gone back to Japan.
Since then the type of Tenrikyo followers has changed. The number of people, who were born and brought up in UK and also are to stay in UK forever, has been increasing. In other words, the number of Yoboku who put down the roots deeply in UK, or possible future Yoboku, has increased.
Of course, I learnt a lot and was impressed by Tenrikyo followers who came from Japan which is much closer to Tenri, through their sincere attitudes towards the Path. However, thinking about the expansion of Tenrikyo in UK, I believe that the present situation is more promising. There are quite a few followers, who are now bringing up their children, have been brought up in a Kyokai in Japan. Although they live far from Japan, I am sure that the teachings they have gained by being brought up in a Kyokai still remains in them. Their children, who are second generation, are now growing quickly and healthily. It is not too much to say that indeed the number of successors of Tenrikyo is increasing in UK.
Of course, there is some hardship. For instance, some find it difficult that their partners do not follow the Path. I happen to be lucky that my husband is a keen follower, but as he is the first generation of the Path, so I must say that it is not so natural for him to convey the splendour of the teachings to our son daily. However, since our son was small he has been to Jiba and all other Tenrikyo people have given him good guidance. Every time our son returned to Jiba he gained more friends and he was influenced and encouraged by them. At Tsumesho he saw his seniors engaging in Hinokishin around Kodomo OJibagaeri. I guess that if only my husband and I tried to convey the teachings to our son on our own, we would have failed. But because we have had a lot of support from others, he is now following Tenrikyo. So please do not worry too much if your partners are not Tenrikyo followers. Instead I would like to ask you to bring your children to any Tenrikyo events. I think at first it is good enough for your child to look forward to seeing their friends who are in the same situation.
Referring to my son, he is now studying at Osaka University for one year. As God the Parent has guided he lives near Tenri and therefore he has attended the Monthly Service, Osechi and the Celebration of Oyasama’s Birthday so far.
He also managed to take his English friends to Jiba.
Now I would like to talk about a story from Anecdotes of Oyasama.
It is the story about the first head of Senba Grand Church, called Rev. Shirobei Umetani.
Shirobei Umetani returned to the Residence with his five or six years old son., Umejiro. When they received by Oyasama, who was wearing Her red garments, Umejiro said, “Daruma-san, Daruma-san.” He must have recalled the red-clad Daruma doll in the well-known advertisement for tobacco of the period. Shirobei was so embarrassed that he did not take Umejiro along the next time he returned to the Residence. Then Oyasama asked: “what happened to Umejiro? The path will be cut off.” After Shirobei received these words, Umejiro always returned happily to the Residence with his father and mother.
I think this story is to tell us the importance of taking our children to the Service when they are young.
Having focussed on people who have children so far, I would like to refer to those who don’t. I am sure that they have their close family or friends who they want to tell about Tenrikyo. If we review how we have been guided to Tenrikyo, except the ones who have been introduced by non-family, we were all naturally taught by our parents or grandparents. Bearing it in mind, we should tell the story of the teachings we heard from our parents or from precious people.
I sometimes recall what my mother used to tell me about the teachings. Thus, I believe it is important for each Yoboku to pass the words to our juniors who will lead the next generation. We should not think that we are the only ones supposed to do that but we can do that with other Yoboku’s support.
In America and Brazil there are many Tenrikyo followers who are now 3rd or 4th generation, because many of their Japanese ancestors emigrated a long time ago. On the other hand, not only in UK but also in Europe there are not so many followers compared to these countries. However, the situation is bright as it is certain that the second generation is now definitely growing and even third generation in France.
3 years ago, Rev. Chikara Iburi, who was then the vice head of Boys and Girls Association, made the following speech for the seminar about the vertical mission at Sakurai Grand Church which we belong to.
Our own children, children who belong to our church, or all children who are connected to this path in a broad sense, are all our treasure which God the Parent and Oyasama entrust us with. They are the treasure who will become Yoboku in the future. We always have to remember this and strive for the vertical mission as the extremely important work. It is our duty given by God to raise children with great care and time as well as to do the horizontal mission.
Oyasama also wishes our spiritual growth by telling us that we human beings are her beloved children again and again.
Because of My love for all My Children,
I exhaust My mind in every kind of way.(4-63)
To Tsukihi, all of you throughout the world are My children,
My only desire to Save you.(8-4)
All of you may be wondering why I say such things.
It is from My love for My Children.(11-47)
Pondering over the deep caring love of God the Parent and Oyasama and repaying that, I truly believe that we all have to lead our children, grandchildren and all of God the Parent’s children in the world towards spiritual growth.
I have spoken freely about Seminar for Successors, which was completed in March this year and also Children’s Pilgrimage Tour starting on 26th July this month.
If you have not participated in a Children’s Pilgrimage Tour, please take your children to experience the joy which you can only obtain through this event.
Also, please bring children here to let them attend the Monthly Service or Boys and Girls Activity in Europe Centre or UK Centre. And let us strive in letting them see and feel and acknowledge the blessings of our faith from all of us, followers.
Trusting that the Path in Europe will continue forever, let us guide the future promising Yoboku towards the spiritual growth together with us.
Thank you for listening to my little thoughts.