Good morning and thank you all for praying so earnestly during the performance of the service. Each one of you has helped us move one step closer to the joyous life world desired by Tsukihi, and I’m sure you have brought happiness to God the Parent and Oyasama. I would like to thank Bishop Yamanaka again, for taking the time out of his busy schedule to not only honor us with his presence, but also to participate in the performance of our monthly service today! If I may ask Bishop Yamanaka to come up for a short greeting….Thank you, Bishop.
Last week, I visited Aloha Church and spoke about Oyasama, in observance of her birthday this month. I mentioned how we often refer to Oyasama as the Foundress of Tenrikyo, mainly when explaining to newcomers, but as followers of this path we should always think of Her as the Shrine of Tsukihi and the Everliving Oyasama, rather than just the founder of a religion. The words she spoke and wrote were the words of God, so we can be confident that if we follow the words of Oyasama and follow her example, we can never go wrong.
Let’s go back to the early years after being settled as the Shrine of Tsukihi. One of the first things She did was to give to charity. Now, we can never emulate the kind of charity that Oyasama did. To the extent of dismantling the house and mortgaging all the rice fields, then giving it all away. Someday, maybe we can achieve that level of closeness with God, but for now I wanted to take the first step:
In commemoration of Oyasama’s birthday, I, along with support of the board of directors, have decided to apply for agency membership with the Hawaii Foodbank. If approved, Taiheiyo Church would be able to operate a food pantry, to help feed the hungry. Operating a food pantry means picking up canned goods and other food items from the Foodbank during the month, then once a month packaging the food and opening our doors to distribute packages to those who come in need.
A food pantry is not a food kitchen. We will not be preparing or serving any meals on the distribution days.
You may be wondering why we selected this particular initiative, so I’ve listed a few reasons why this fits into our church’s mission:
Fulfills a need. The Hawaii Foodbank provides assistance to almost 300,000 people per year. That’s 1 in 5 islanders. By operating a food pantry, we can play a part in helping struggling families and bring happiness to Oyasama.
Spreading the teachings. Along with the food distribution we can insert flyers in the bags and pass along teachings like a thing lent/a thing borrowed, the joyous life, dusts of the mind, and causality.
Community outreach. For generations, Taiheiyo Church has done an excellent job of taking care of its members. But in order for our church to grow again, we need to focus some of our attention outward and interact with the community. By offering food assistance, we create valuable ties, and promote the church as a place that helps others.
Salvation work. Since many of the recipients have to choose between paying for food and paying for medicine & medical care, there will probably be opportunities to offer and administer the Sazuke.
Contribution. The food pantry will require manpower and provides a lot of opportunity for hinokishin. It wouldn’t make sense to only have a few people involved, so I humbly ask for your support in any way can: Donating time, donating canned goods, or telling those in need about our service.
Cost effectiveness. By law, the Foodbank cannot sell food. If accepted, we can pick up food and pay only a maintenance allocation of pennies per pound. This will come from the general contributions, but you are welcome to make specific donations for the food pantry.
A stepping stone. The plan is to start small, just once a month, for about an hour. We will commit to a year, then re-evaluate to decide if we want to continue, expand, or do something different. I would like to see Taiheiyo church integrate more with our community, so other programs may follow. If you have any ideas, please share them with me.