Tenchi Kane No Kami Grand Ceremony
Guest Speaker ~ Ms. Jennifer Kish


Good Morning Everyone!
I hope you're having a truly blessed grand ceremony day!

Perhaps I should introduce myself. My name is Jennifer Ashton Kish. Jen or Ash is fine. I am from St. Louis, Missouri. I have a strong love for kimono and kitsuke. I enjoy camping and hiking. I am studying Japanese, but Nihongo wa mada jouzu janai desu ne...
Ah, and the most important part, I have been part of the Konko Faith for 5 years now, and I am in training to become a minister! I have dreams to one day open a new church somewhere here in the United States and share the Konko Faith with others.

When I found Konkokyo, I think I'd given up on religion. I had researched many different faiths, but none of them seemed to catch my attention. None of them resonated with me. I grew up in the Catholic Faith, but when I'd entered high school, I realized it wasn't for me. However, I had a strong desire in my heart to find something that would work for me.
How I found Konkokyo is a bit of a funny story. Perhaps your minister has told you before, that when you leave things up to Kami-sama, your desires will come true? And, isn't that a bit tough to do? I think we humans always want to try and do things on our own, that we always want to be masters of our destiny, but the best results don't always come from this. Like me searching for a new faith, I couldn't seem to find anything that made sense to me. I gave up on my search.
Then, one day, I saw an ad on facebook. There was a picture of the Konko mon, and some words underneath. I don't quite remember what it said, but I felt myself compelled to click that ad. I honestly never paid any attention to these kinds of things before. I was met with the facebook group for Konkokyo, and the link to the KIC website. I decided to read about the beliefs, and the things I read resonated with me so strongly that I felt a strong joy rise up in me! I still remember the feeling to this day. What an amazing faith it was! I found out last year that that advertisement was made by Todd Takahashi-sensei from the Konko Church of Honolulu for their anniversary. I am the only person he knows that became a Konko believer from that ad.

Isn't this a really unique religion, though? I find Konkokyo to be so welcoming and inclusive. The teachings are thoughtful, wise, and don't bring fear to your heart. I've found myself reading the gorikai to ease my stress or calm myself. I'm never worried when I read them. I think Konko Daijin really presented Kami-sama's nature clearly in his words and actions. I've never felt like, in this faith, that I was being forced to do something, or that I was doing it out of fear of being punished. I'm really humbled by how Konkokyo has dramatically changed my life and made me into a better person. Kami-sama is always challenging me to make unselfish decisions, rather than selfish ones. I turned from a want to benefit myself, to a want of making sure everyone mutually benefits. Even me becoming a minister, I used to think it was something I want to do for myself, something that would make me happy; a selfish desire (Gajou Gayoku). But it changed over time, and I realized I wanted to become a minister to help others as much as possible, that I wasn't doing it for myself or my own happiness, but rather, for the happiness and salvation of others. For Kami-sama's sake, too; an unselfish desire (Mushi Muyoku).

I am passionate about Konkokyo-- you can ask my friends here. I think they know better than anybody how I'm always trying to make my life a kami-centered one. I truly try to be a walking billboard for the faith, like I've got “Ask me about Kami-sama!” written all over my face in permanent ink.
I remember telling Chris about who Kami-sama was, and about Konkokyo's various beliefs. We were in the car, just talking. The core values drew him in almost immediately. And Ian, too. I remember telling him about my faith while he sat on my couch. He found a lot of inspiration from the Airaku book, often using it to get through his various troubles or make many decisions in life and having faith that Kami-sama would direct him along the right way.  Robbie here is from Ohio, and I met him through my good friend Olivia who is from Toronto church. He learned about the Konko faith from her, and though he always found Shintoism to be beautiful, he had a particular attraction to Konko's very warm and welcoming ways.
One's core values are met. Another finds guidance in the form of trust. Another feels like he is welcomed and accepted. Isn't it amazing just how versatile the Konko faith really is? I admit, I have a lot of pride in my faith. I know they say, pride is an insult, but for some reason I feel like it's okay to have a great passion about it. Never be ashamed to tell others that you are Konko. Don't ever feel any shame or hesitation in sharing it with others. You never know what kind of change you could bring about just teaching someone new about a faith they've never heard of.

In my training to become a minister, I've realized that Konkokyo is such a broad and open faith. Olivia and I have called it a “Combini faith” before, like the little Japanese convenience stores, because it's so easy and the blessings are so real and apparent. It's all in your heart and sincere mind. It's a faith that can easily be spread across the world! It can help so many people, even if they aren't Konko. Toritsugi, for example, has saved my life countless times. I've called Takeuchi-sensei, crying, at my lowest point and been helped. I think this is another thing that makes Konkokyo so unique. I could talk for days about mediation stories. Being the one giving mediation, too, is really enriching. For example, I think Ian has come to me for mediation more than anybody I can think.  He utilizes it a lot, and really takes the teachings to heart. He gets guidance from Kami-sama, and he is fulfilled. I get to help him, and I am fulfilled. There's really something wonderful about that.

I've thought sometimes, am I really worth becoming a minister? Sometimes I think, I won't make a good minister at all. Takeuchi-sensei knows my struggles and fears well. But Kami-sama is right behind me, I can feel it. Kami-sama wants me to keep going and to help bring Konkokyo into the next generation. I can do it. I will rely on Kami just as I do every day in all of my endeavors. I'm young, after all, and I've got still a lot of learning to do! I'm sure I'll cry and mess up and become confused. Don't we all? Surely even Konko Daijin fell down and cried and struggled like all of us.

I cannot say that I will be any Konko Daijin, but I am happy knowing that I have accepted the calling to help Konkokyo by serving both Kami-sama and people to find mutual happiness with one another.

Hopefully, someday, I can help many people like Konko Daijin, Soichiro Otsubo-sensei, Takeuchi-sensei, Kishii-sensei, and all the other ministers who have helped me and others come to know Kami-sama's love in this world. I will pray for it, and do my very best!

Thank you!
























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