【June 2018 No.398】Mission Planning Conference Explores Vision, Progress in Evangelism

 The 2017-18 Mission Planning Conference was held at Fujimicho Church, March 5-6, 2018, with the theme “How to Proceed with Evangelism in Japan.” There were 84 attendants. Greeting the gathering, Rev. Yonekura Misao, chair of the Commission on Mission, said: “We have various problems within the Kyodan, but I am hoping it becomes a church founded on its confession of faith and the church constitution and bylaws.”

Two ministers and two lay persons were invited to speak.

 1. Rev. Furusawa Keita, pastor of Kobe Tobu Church, gave his analysis of the present situation of the church’s fundamental mission strategy, saying, “It is important for the Kyodan as a uniting church to have confidence in its rich character.” He offered many suggestions.

 2. Nishitani Miwako, a member of Omiya Church, spoke next from a woman’s perspective, stating, “Evangelism in Japan is the family of God responding to the love of Christ, accepting one another and walking together.”

 3. Nakajima Akihiko, a member of Hachioji Church, said that due to dwindling membership, we cannot put the burden of evangelism only on the clergy. It should be seen as the role of the church membership as a whole, with lay people bringing others to church.

 4. Rev. Yoshizawa Hisashi, pastor of Aichi Church, stated that since he himself had not come from the Kyodan, there was a period in which he had not really sensed the problems in the Kyodan as his own. But now that his calling is working in a Kyodan church, he shares the issues he sees within the Kyodan.


 In the evening, the moderators of Hokkai, Tokai, Nishichugoku, and Chubu districts reported on their situations.

 1. Hokkai District Moderator Kuze Sorachi reported that since 1984, ten-year long-term mission plans have been established; and since 1994, reform, solidarity, and peace have been strongly emphasized. He reported that presently, because the Hokkaido community is shrinking, as a district it is being recognized that each church offers community support through continuing to provide worship, and beginning with the worship experience, peace in society can be realized.

 2. Tokai District Moderator Miyamoto Yoshihiro expressed the view that the foundation of the district is “evangelism and the preaching of the gospel.” In 2016, Tokai District drafted a five-year plan stating that to be evangelical, the district must be united and increase spirituality, and that experiencing the joy of worship should increase the effect of evangelism.

 3. Nishichugoku District Moderator Obata Taisaku introduced the district’s foundational policy and suggested that from now on, rather than asking about the church’s wishes, thoughts, or feelings, the central focus should be serving the world through action that would define the meaning of the church’s existence.

 4. Chubu District Moderator Yokoyama Yoshiki introduced the district’s unique mutual aid system of concrete action. Mission policy is not limited by historically detailed events, and each year a mission goal is adopted at the annual assembly. In regard to the problem of responding to opinions concerning administering communion to the unbaptized, Rev. Yokoyama stated that being united in our polity concerning baptism and communion is foundational to effective cooperative mission.

 On the second day of the gathering, Kyodan Moderator Ishibashi Hideo gave a lecture entitled, “The Macedonian Call—At An Impasse.” In his opening remarks, he reflected on the necessity of uniting the church under its confession of faith as it faced the aftermath of the Great East Japan Disaster tragedy. Drawing from the constitution, he said, “The church’s first calling is to birth people to be baptized, to participate in the life of the cross and resurrection experienced through the Eucharist, and to become a branch of the body of Christ.” Also, experiencing blessings through worship, leading people to works of love, is evangelism.

 In the case of the Great East Japan Disaster, with the support from the worshiping community, we were able to offer assistance through the church and learned that “worship and daily witness cannot be separated.” After the lecture, participants split up into groups that functioned more as a time to listen to one another than as a time for debating issues. Styled like a “World Café,” there were eight tables with different themes of Fundamental Mission Strategy. Participants held discussions according to the various themes, recorded them on poster sheets, and later shared these with the general assembly afterward. (Tr. WJ)

—Kato Makoto, executive secretary



 2018年3月5、6日の両日、2017年度宣教方策 会議が富士見町教会を会場にして開催された。主題は「日本伝道をどう考えていくか」。84名が出席し た。米倉美佐男宣教委員長は「色々な問題を抱えている教団であるが、信仰告白と教憲教規を整えていく中で教団が教会となることを願っ ている」と挨拶した。発題は教職・信徒各2名が担当し た。最初に古澤啓太牧師(神戸東部教会)が現行の宣教基本方策を詳細に分析し、「教団の合同教会としての個性の豊かさに自信を持つべ き」と語り、数々の提案をした。続いて西谷美和子氏(大宮教会員)が女性の視点か ら「日 本伝道とは、神の家族がキリストの愛に応え、受容し合う歩み」と発題した。三人目の中嶌暁彦氏(八王子教会 員)は、信徒減少の現実の中で、伝道は教職任せではなく教会に人を連れてくる信徒の働きが重要であり、伝道にはそれなりの財が必要で あると語った。最後は吉澤永牧師(愛知教会)。信仰のルーツは教団ではなく、それ故ある時期までは教団の問題を自分の問題として受け 止められなかった。しかし教団で働き場が与えられてから感じた問題点を具体的に語った。

 夜は北海、東海、西中国、中部の各教区議長が取り組みを報告した。久世そらち北海教区議長は、1984年から10年ごとに長期 宣教計画を立て、1994年以降は一貫 して革新、連帯、平和を主題としている。北海道の社会が縮小して今、教区として各教会の礼拝を守り続ける支援と、礼拝から始まる社会 平和に取り組んでいると報告した。宮本義弘東海教区議長は、教区の土台が「伝道とは福音を宣べ伝えること」にあると最初に語った。2016年に東海教区 五ヵ年計画を立案し、教区は伝道のために一致して霊性を高め、礼拝の喜びが各個教会の伝道力になると語った。小畑太作西中国教区議長 は、西中国教区基本方針を紹介し、教会の願いや思いではなく、世に仕えることを中心とする活動に、教会の存在意義と今後進むべき方向 を見出せるのではないかと提案した。最後に横山良樹中部教区議長は、教区の特徴として互助制度による具体的な活動を紹介した。宣教基 本方針については、中部教区は歴史的経緯からそれを定めず、毎年宣教実施目標を掲げて総会で可決する。横山議長は近年教区内で起こっ た未受洗者陪餐発言への対応を経て、洗礼と聖餐の一体性と秩序を重んじることが助け合い伝道の基盤となる事を再確認したと語った。

 二日目は石橋秀雄教団総会議長が「マケドニアの叫び―行き詰まりの中で」と題する講演を行った。冒頭、東日本大震 災に直面し、信仰告白による信仰の一致を訴えて取り組んだことを振り返った。続いて教憲の条文を紐解きつつ「教会の第一の使命が、受 洗者を生み出し、聖餐において十字架と復活の命に与り、キリストの体である教会の枝となっていく」と述べた。また、礼拝の恵に与った 者が愛の業に向かう事も伝道であるとした。東日本大震災の際、礼拝共同体の支援と共に、教会を通して地域の支援を行ったことに触れ、 「礼拝と証の生活は切り離せない」と語った。講演後に行われた分団協議では、議論を交わすよりも聞き合うことに主眼を置いたワールド カフェ方式で行われた。宣教基本方策の8つの項目毎に テーブルが設けられ、参加者はそれぞれのテーマについて協議し、用意された模造紙に意見を残し、それを聞く報告会をもって集会を終え た。(文責 加藤 誠)

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