Prospective Minister’s Lay Assistants gathered for a retreat at the Buddhist Study Center from November 4 to November 6, 2016. The purpose of the Retreat was to provide the opportunity to review and enrich the participants’ skills and knowledge associated with Jodo Shinshu and the Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha. The retreat was also an opportunity for participants to get to know each other better as friends and fellow travelers on the Path of Nembutsu.
Conventional lecture and question and answer forms of presentation was generally employed. Rituals and etiquette associated with the Hongwanji temple and service tradition was taught through interactive mentoring by the instructors. As much as possible, actual performance of skills or articulation of knowledge was encouraged. Participants were also asked to help with all aspects of the Retreat as one family and community. Because it takes time and practice to assimilate the skills knowledge perspective or active Minister’s Lay Assistants are encouraged to attend and repeat attending the retreat.
Rev. Toshiyuki Umitani provided the participants in the standard practice and ritual within the Nishi Hongwanji Tradition and Rev. Kevin Kuniyuki reviewed Basic Buddhism and introduced the participants to an approach that reveals Jōdo Shinshū doctrinal concepts through the study of Shōshinge a gatha written by Shinran Shōnin.
The participants were: Linda Nagai from Kona Hongwanji, Rod Moriyama from Wahiawa Hongwanji, Joy Nishida from Kailua Hongwanji, Wayne Nishida from Wailuku Hongwanji, Jaryd Oshiro from Jikoen Hongwanji, Chris Richardson from Lanai Hongwanji, Dennis Tashiro from Kailua Hongwanji, and Pieper Toyama from Jikoen Hongwanji. All successfully completed the Retreat and returned to their respective temples to continue to be mentored by their mentor ministers.
The candidates’ mentor ministers will decide the appropriate time to request the Bishop designate them as Certified Minister’s Lay Assistant. The certification formally recognizes the role of Minister’s Lay Assistant and a satisfactory level of competence but does not entitle them to assist. In the end it is either the temple’s Resident Minister or Rimban’s decision to have anyone assist a minister for that specific temple.
Rev. Kevin Kuniyuki, BSC Director
A version of this article appears in the November issue of the HQ Update newsletter.