【February 2017 No.391】Working Together in Mission in Yamagata Subdistrict

by Tachibana Mitsuyo, pastor Yonezawa Church

 

From the year 2003, Kaminoyama and Yonezawa churches in Ou District’s Yamagata Subdistrict have been supported through the Cooperative Mission Solidarity Fund by being served as “yoked churches.” This is a way of supporting small-scale churches, moving from the idea of one church supporting one pastor to joint support by the subdistrict and the district. In this way, within Yamagata Subdistrict, we are afforded many opportunities to discuss the issues of solidarity fund churches as we have regular reports in such venues as the subdistrict assembly, the subdistrict council, and the ministerial association. I feel that the emphasis is starting to move from what has heretofore been mainly district-level leadership to a system of support centered in the subdistrict as a whole.

 

Concretely, up to last year, the religious affairs teachers of Yamagata Gakuin High School served as guest preachers twice a month at Kaminoyama Church. The subdistrict officers and subdistrict women’s society members also visited the Yonezawa and Kaminoyama churches to participate in their worship services, nurturing good interactions. Through this, both the laity and pastors avoided isolation and accordingly were encouraged. From this year, subdistrict pastors as well as lay members are taking part in the services at Kaminoyama Church, where there had been only a small number of worshippers and in this way giving support. Thus to the present, the weekly worship services of Yonezawa Church and Kaminoyama Church have been covered.

 

However, there are various issues involved with serving small-scale churches as a charge. Unavoidably, there is a bias in the priority of ministerial care for the church near where the pastor resides. Where the number of persons is few, due to the weakness of the latent energy of the church body, the fact that both churches might fail together cannot be denied. I think, at that point, the solidarity of the backing of the entire subdistrict and the accumulation of prayers is important. While looking for a form of solidarity that is fitting to that subdistrict, I think the entire subdistrict needs to continue its joint ownership of the issues of small-scale churches. And I think the stance of churches receiving financial aid must be to grapple seriously with the goal of financial independence.

宣教共働プラン現況報 告(山形地区)

米沢教会 立花三世

2003年度より山形地区では上山教会と米沢教会が、兼牧により宣教共働連帯金を受給しております。これは、一教師一教 会支援と言うものから、教区と地区との連帯により小規模教会を支えようというものです。これにより山形地区においては、地区総会、地 区協議会、地区牧師会等において、必ず連帯金受給教会の課題について報告、話し合いの機会を持つようになり、従来の教区主導の支援か ら、地区全体で支援するという体制が強化されつつあることを感じております。

具体的には、昨年ま で、山形学院高校の教務教師の先生方が中心となり、月2回の上山教会の説教を担当してくださいました。地区役員の方々、地区教会婦人会の方々 も礼拝出席と問安を兼ねて米沢教会・上山教会を訪問し、良き交流を重ねて下さいました。これにより信徒も教師も孤立することなく、励 まされている次第です。今年からは、地区の教会の教師また信徒の方々が礼拝出席人数の少ない上山教会を礼拝参加というかたちで応援し てくださっています。こうして今まで米沢教会、上山教会の毎週の礼拝が守られて来ました。

しかし、小規模教会 の兼牧にはいろいろな課題があります。どうしても牧師の居住教会に牧会の比重が偏ります。人数が少ないということは、教会自体の底力 が弱いということで、両方の教会共倒れということも否めません。そこで、地区全体での背後の連帯・祈りの積み重ねが重要であると思っ ています。その地区にふさわしい連帯のかたちを探りつつ、小規模教会の課題を地区全体で続けて共有していただけたらと思っています。 また、受給教会の姿勢として、やはり自立を目標に本気で取り組まねばならないと思っています。

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