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Understanding the Many Faces of Faith | Antelope Valley Interfaith Council

Deborah Shelton, AVIC President

“Shine from Within,” see your true self and needs and begin to live a life of joy and happiness! You will find these words in the publication which is an introduction to the Konko Faith. Sunday, July 29th I and many others were invited to attend a Tenchi Kane no Kami Grand Ceremony and Opening Ceremony of the Konko Church of Lancaster. The event was held at the Hellenic Center in Lancaster. The ceremony was full of prayers of mediation, purification, and adoration to Kami. Offerings were made, a key note speaker Rev. Rod Hashimoto delivered a congratulatory message, a sermon was given on, “What is Konko Kyo,” by Rev. Kyoji Muta, a Hymn, “Shinjin No Eiko,” by the Konko High School Band was done, a closing prayer, solemn greeting, and recessional ended the service. Then a group picture was taken including one of everyone present. The local church is located on West Ave. K-7 in Lancaster with Revs. Yoshiko and Toskhio Ota as the leaders.

Yes, the Antelope Valley is a very diverse place as is the universe and it is always exciting to meet someone new and learn about who they are. Learning about others and how they believe is not a threat to what I believe, but an opportunity to expand my horizons and make a new connection, a friend. What is the Konko Faith? Who is Kami? The various names associated with this religion are “Konko” named after the founder Konko Daijin, in reference to spirituality then there is “Konkokoyo,” which references the organization. The founder acquired his teachings from Kyoten Gorikai I: Teachings of Konko Daijin I, Konko Japan: Konkokyo Honbu, 1987; Kyoten Gorikai II: Teachings of Konko Daijin III. Konko, Japan: Konkokyo Honobu, 1993; Koyoten Oshirase-Goto Oboe-Cho: Record of Revelations, Konko, Japan: Konkokyo Honbu, 1996; Kyo6ten Kopnko Daijin Oboegaki: Memoirs of Knoko Daijin. Konko, Japan, Knokokyo Honbu, 1987. These teachings are often referenced as GI, GII or GIII, Revelations, and Memoirs followed by the name of the person who wrote it and then the teaching number. Kami is God the Principle Parent of the Universe. I cannot give you a full explanation of the Konko faith here, but I hope to share my experience and arouse your curiosity to find out more on your own.

Kami is the source of all workings of the universe. As a part of the universe we are responsible for taking part to sustain the universe. There exists interdependence with all that exists. Thus we must give back and not just take. Seeking harmony with self and seeking to preserve truth with our surroundings is “Living Kami.” The idea is to understand the ways of the universe in order to move to an attitude of peace and acceptance. Adopting an attitude of gratitude for our blessings.

I see many similarities to Christianity in the Konko faith. Kami is concerned with heart and mind similar to God’s concern for heart and soul. Prayer or Mediation to Kami is similar to prayer to God or Jesus expressing gratitude, offering apologies, making requests, sharing joy, and sorrows. Like Christianity the Konko faith is dealing with the condition of being human. Sharing tools of faith to fight against feelings of greed, anger, disrespect, not feeling equal, being superior, and forcing things to happen for your own purposes. Getting right with God is the way to achieve peace with oneÕs self in Christianity, and it is likewise with the Konko faith those at peace within themselves live a life in pursuit of peace in spite of lifeÕs challenges. Also similar to Christianity being born is a joy and so is death which is a return to Kami.

Church etiquette also includes an altar, a place to focus prayer and mediation. While prayer and mediation can be done anywhere having a specific place to focus is helpful. Altars can be found in he Konko Church and in the homes of members. There is the Kami Altar and Spirit Altar. Providing believers a place to focus their prayers and pay their respects to Kami. Mediation Seat, a small desk, and chair for the minister are on one side and another seat is on the other side for the person. Members may approach the minister to say hello, ask questions, or receive guidance. Now upon the Altars are offerings. The Altars reminded me of little wooden bird houses. Offerings placed there represent fields, mountains, rivers, and the seas. Representing the blessings of the universe, a variety of foods and reminding members of gratitude to Kami for the lives that are sustained through these blessings.

You can begin to see that there is a beautiful blending of spiritual beliefs similar to Christianity and Japanese culture. The day of the Opening Ceremony of the Lancaster Konko Church we enjoyed wonderful hospitality, which included a sharing of their theology through prayer, song, music, and dance. The ceremony was incredibly artful and beautiful. A wonderful meal followed with entertainment, speeches, and award recognitions. Remarkably there were many in attendance from Konko Churches throughout California, but also those who had traveled from Japan to establish, and celebrate another Konko chapter now in the High Desert of the Antelope Valley. I went home with gifts and souvenirs of beauty and blessing! My lovely origami place card and an envelope containing sacred rice and a blessing from Kami. Now I have new friends who are “Living Kami.”

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