【June 2017 No.393】East Japan Disaster Sixth Annual Memorial Worship Service

by Kato Makoto, executive secretary

In March 2017, Evangelical Mission in Solidarity (EMS) personnel, namely, Rev. Dr. Kerstin Neumann (Head and Deputy General Secretary of the Department of Mission and Partnership), Rev. Solomon P. Benjamin (Liaison Secretary for East Asia and India), and Dr. Carola Hoffmann-Richter (EMS member) visited Japan. The purpose of their recent visit was to attend the anniversary meeting that was to be held in remembrance of the East Japan Disaster—to attend it on the date that the disaster occurred (March 11) and at the actual place it happened—and further, to meet leaders of the various Japanese churches and institutions affiliated with EMS and deepen their friendly relationship with them.

From March 10 to 13, I accompanied them as we followed an itinerary that took us to Sendai, Ishinomaki, Fukushima, and Asian Rural Institute (ARI). Since Secretary Neumann and Secretary Benjamin joined in the work of EMS last year, this was their first visit to Japan. As a former EMS mission co-worker, member Hoffmann-Richter had previously spent eight years in Japan, working primarily in the Kansai area. This time she came to Japan to provide translation and serve as a guide. At 2 p.m. on March 10, we met at the Kyodan Tohoku Disaster Relief Center, Emmaus in Sendai to hear presentations by Tohoku District (which has shouldered the burdens of  Emmaus), the Aizu Radiation Information Center, and the Kyodan Tohoku District Nuclear Disaster Relief Task Force, Izumi concerning their work. Following these presentations, the ensuing discussion period was marked by a lively exchange of opinions.

On the morning of March 11, we moved to Ishinomaki to observe directly what is currently being done in the disaster area. At Ishinomaki Yamashiro-cho Church, from 2:30 in the afternoon, we participated in the East Japan Disaster Six-year Memorial Worship Service, which was sponsored by Tohoku District. Rev. Sato Masashi, who had been sent by the Kyodan to serve as a director of Emmaus, delivered the sermon.

On Sunday, March 12, we moved to Fukushima Church, where we participated in another worship service commemorating the sixth anniversary of the East Japan Disaster. Rev. Hoshina Takashi, pastor of Fukushima Church, gave a sermon entitled, “Especially in Weakness.” He is also vice-moderator of Tohoku District and head of the Izumi Room of the Kyodan Tohoku District Nuclear Disaster Relief Task Force (which deals with radioactivity issues).

Late afternoon on the same day, we visited ARI in neighboring Tochigi Prefecture and shared in the dinnertime fellowship. We stayed in the guest room; however, the construction of the building was different from that found in Germany, and the coldness of the night in Nishinasuno caused some difficulty. The next morning, we participated in the morning program. After experiencing various farm chores, we had breakfast and shared in the morning worship service led by missionary Jonathan McCurley, who comes to us from the United Methodist Church. There are no students there at this time of year, so this gave us an opportunity to hear from the staff concerning ARI’s programs.

On March 13 we met with Kyodan Moderator Rev. Ishibashi Hideo and a number of other pastors and executive secretaries at the Japan Christian Center. After that we visited the Korean Christian Church in Japan, the National Christian Council in Japan (which is in the same building as the administrative offices of the Kyodan), and in the afternoon, the Tomisaka Christian Center.

Later EMS personnel visited the Kansai region; (I did not accompany them for this portion of their schedule in western Japan). On March 18 they completed their scheduled activities and returned to Germany. (Tr. DM)

EMS代表団の日本訪問

Kato Makoto, executive secretary加藤 誠

2017年3月に、EMSの カースティン・ノイマン副総幹事、ベンジャミン・ソロモンアジア担当幹事、カロラ・ホフマンーリ ヒター議員が、来日した。今回の目的は東北大震災記 念日当日の3.11の 現地記念集会に出席することと、(日 本の) EMS加 盟教会・団体の指導者に会い、より親密な関係を深めることであった。

10日から13日までの、仙台、石巻、福島、アジア学院への旅程に、(私 は彼らと)同 行した。ノイマン副総幹事とソロモン幹事は昨年にエムスの働きに加わったため、初来日であった。カロラ議員はかつてEMSの ミッション・コワーカーとして、主に関西を中心に8年間滞在され、今回は通訳兼案内として来日された。3月10日 は仙台の被災者支援センター・エマオにおいて午後2時から東北教区が担う被災者支援センター・エマオ、会津放射能情報セン ター、東北教区放射能問題支援対策室いずみの活動についてのプレゼンテーションが行 われ、その後活発な意見交換が行われた。

3月11日は午前中に石巻に移動 し、被災地域の現在の取り組みを学ぶフィールドワークを行った。午後2時半からは石巻山城町教会で行われた東北教区主催東日本大震災6周年記念礼拝に参加し た。説教は佐藤真史牧師である。彼は被災者支援センター・エマオにディレクターとして教団より派 遣された。12日 (日曜)は福島教会に移動して東日本大震災6周年記念礼拝に参加した。説教は保科隆牧師(福島教会牧師・東北教区副議長・放射能問題支援対策室いずみ室長)説教題は「弱いときにこそ」。同日夕方にはアジア学 院を訪問し夕食の交わりに参加。ゲストルームでの宿泊となったが、ドイツとは家の造りが違い、西那須野の夜の冷え込みは予想外に厳し かったようである。翌朝は朝のプログラムに参加。それぞれ農作業を体験した後、朝食、UMCか ら派遣されているジョナサン・マッカーリー宣教師による朝礼拝に参加した。学生のいない時期ではあったが、かえってスタッフから じっくりとアジア学院の方針を聞く機会が与えられた。

13日は、東京のキリスト教 会館でまず、日本基督教団総会議長石橋秀雄牧師以下数名の牧師・幹事と懇談した。その後、在日大韓基督教会,National Christian Council in Japanと同館内の事務局を訪問し、午後は富阪キリスト教センターを訪問した。私は関西のスケジュールには同行しなかったが、EMSの 皆さんはその後関西を訪問し、18日 に全てのスケジュールを終えて、ドイツへ帰国された。

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