【June 2019 No.403】From the General Secretary’s Desk: The Inspiring Visit of RCA’s General Synod President and His Wife

The Reformed Church in America’s General Synod President James Nakakihara and his wife Lisa recently visited the Kyodan office. Nakakihara is a third-generation Japanese-American elder in the RCA. Elected for a one-year term of service in June 2018, President Nakakihara is the first person of Japanese descent to be elected to this position in the RCA’s long history. Within the church, there is now a difficult conflict regarding the LGBTQ issue, so Nakakihara is responsible for the important task of steering the church through this political situation.

 

The RCA was formed by immigrants to the USA from the Netherlands and previously was referred to as the Dutch Reformed Church. It is a well-known fact that the church has an especially deep relationship with Japanese churches. In the middle of the 19th century, the country of Japan emerged from isolation. When the door was opened to several foreign countries, the RCA was the first church to send missionaries to spread Protestant Christianity in Japan. Among those missionaries were Samuel Robbins Brown, Guido Herman Fridolin Verbeck, and James Hamilton Ballagh. Later, the RCA planted many churches in Japan and was deeply involved in the establishment of schools, such as Meiji Gakuin and Ferris Jogakuin. Dr. I. John Hesselink, who had served as a professor at Tokyo Union Theological Seminary for 20 years, returned to the United States and, after serving as RCA vice-president, became its president.

 

Nakakihara is a lay member and elder at Rancho Community Reformed Church in Temecula, California. He has served as a special education teacher and as an IT engineer who participated in product development and a variety of other activities. While he was working briefly in Utsunomiya in Japan, his wife Lisa, a Buddhist at the time, encountered the gospel and was converted. Although he had been baptized when he was in high school, Nakakihara had become inactive, but his wife’s conversion influenced him to come back to church. Because this happened in Japan, he is especially interested in—and prays especially for—the church in Japan. Now he is very active at his church as a small group leader and webmaster and also takes a leadership role at gatherings of the churches in the region. He says that although being chosen as the president of the RCA General Synod was completely unexpected, he accepted the job because he believed it was God’s calling. Lisa is also of Japanese descent and is also active in the church. However, around the time when James became general synod president, she contracted Guillain-Barré syndrome, which limited her mobility to a wheelchair. Even with this disability, she came with James on this trip to Japan.

 

While talking with both of them, one of the things that impressed me was the church that they belong to, Rancho Community Reformed Church. Although it is located in a city of around 100,000 people and began with only seven families, in nearly 20 years it has grown to become a church where about 2,000 participants gather to worship. The secret of this growth is that when church members really wanted to do something as Christians, they would simply gather together some like-minded people and do it. One group began a private school, and another group formed a women’s work group. Nakakihara started a website for young people that now has 4,000 followers. By making sufficient use of the gifts God has given to each individual, a living church was born and grows, seemingly with things naturally becoming what they are. Through this time of close fellowship in faith, I feel even more familiar with the RCA. (Tr. KT)

                              —Akiyama Toru, general secretary

 

アメリカ改革教会総会議長夫妻をお迎えして

 先日教団に、アメリカ改革教会の総会議長Mr. James & Mrs. Lisa  Nakakiharaさんご夫妻を、お迎えしました。ナカキハラさんは日系の3世で、アメリカ改革教会の長い歴史で初めての日系の総会議長に、2018年6月に一年任期で就任なさり、LGBTQをめぐる厳しい対立がある同教団の政治状況のなかでかじ取りをする重要な働きを担っておられます。

 アメリカ改革教会は、かつてはダッチ・リフォームド教会と呼ぼれていたように、オランダからの移民によって形成された教会です。日本の教会とは特別に深い関係があることはよく知られています。19世紀の半ば、日本が鎖国を解き、諸外国に向かって門戸が開かれるようになったとき、最も早くプロテスタントのキリスト教を伝えるためにS.R.ブラウンやフルベッキ、バラーなどの宣教師たちを送り出し、その後の日本の数多くの教会形成、および明治学院やフェリス女学院などの学校の設立にも深くかかわっています。かつて、20年間東京神学大学で教鞭を執られたDr. I. John Hesselink先生は、帰米後に、RCAのVice-Presidentを経てPresidentになられました。

 ナカキハラさんはカリフォルニア州のTemeculaという街にあるRancho CommunityReformed Churchの長老です。Special educationの教師やITの技術者、商品開発など、多方面に活躍され、しばらく宇都宮で働いていた時代に、仏教徒だったLisa夫人が、福音に触れて回心なさいました。それがきっかけで、高校時代に洗礼を受けたものの、教会からは離れていたJamesも、教会に復帰なさったのです。ですから、日本の教会のことについては特別な関心と祈りをもっておられます。現在、教会ではsmall group leaderやwebmasterとして生き生きと活躍しておられ、地域の教会の集まりでも責任のある役割を果たしておられます。RCA総会で議長に選ばれたのは青天の霹靂だったそうです。でも、神様の呼びかけがあると信じてこの職に就いたと言っておられました。リサ夫人も日系で、教会で活躍しておられますが、Jamesが議長になるころにギラン・バレー症候群にかかられ、車いす生活を余儀なくされています。今回の日本旅行も不自由な中で、お二人で来られました。

 お二人との話し合いの中で、印象的だったことの一つは、彼らの所属しているRancho Community Reformed Churchのことです。10万人ほどの町の中にあって2000名ほどの礼拝参加者が集まる大きな教会ですが、はじめは7家族だけの教会で、ここ20年ほどで大きく成長したというのです。その成長の秘訣は、教会員がそれぞれにキリスト者としてぜひやりたいことがあれば、何でも仲間を集めてやるというところにあるとのことです。そのなかからプライベート・スクールや女性の仕事会があり、ナカキハラさんが始めた若者のためのWeb-siteには4000人のフォロワーがいるとのこと。一人一人に与えられた神様からの賜物を十分に生かすところに生きた教会が生まれ、成長する、当然のことが当然になっている姿を見る思いがします。今回の、親しい信仰の交わりによってRCAの教会が、さらに身近に感じられました。 (秋山徹総幹事)

【April 2019 No.402】Pastoral Telephone Counseling Service Established

by Kato Mikio, chair

                                                                    Counseling Center for the Support of Pastors and their Families

The Counseling Center for the Support of Pastors and their Families is a telephone counseling service that will begin on March 4, 2019. It will be available every Monday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., excluding a lunch hour from 12 to 1 p.m., and will be operated by people with experience in telephone counseling. Both a guidance meeting for counselors and a committee meeting were held at Kamakura Meditation House, Jan. 15-16. Since 2009, the Subcommittee for Consideration of Disabled Persons has been discussing the serious problems of churches in crisis situations due to suicides and mental health issues in clergy families. With increased awareness of the urgency of the need for mental health care following three gatherings of the National Fellowship Meeting for Ministers and their Families, we were finally able to establish the Counseling Center for the Support of Pastors and their Families in 2018.

The purpose of the counseling center is to “promote understanding of spiritual ministry and mental health care in relation to issues actually experienced.” The specific problems that pastors and their families have been struggling with are not being dealt with well through the use of traditional counseling methods. However, though this is the case, we cannot turn away from the problem. Rather we should acknowledge that the effectiveness and power of evangelism has been weakened because of this. Thus it is of utmost importance that the Kyodan deals with this issue immediately.

In order to address the various issues with which people suffer, we began with the idea of phone counseling and invited church members with phone counseling experience to open our guidance meeting. At this meeting we determined ethical principles, of which the following seven are of most importance.

 

1. Participants must strictly uphold confidentiality by distancing themselves from politics or personnel relations within the Kyodan, church district, or local church, not making any judgments or personally following up on such issues. Likewise, counselors are not to answer inquiries from others.

2. The most important thing is to focus on the client’s problem or pain and work to share that pain with the client, but not to focus on problem resolution.

3. When necessary, call a committee meeting to share ideas on how to deal with the case and hold discussions to deepen cooperation.

4. When a counselor is faced with a case that cannot easily be handled, bring the case to the committee and work together to find the correct solution and receive necessary support.

5. Take care not to share your notes and records with others to make certain that confidentiality is maintained.

6. Even though a pastor is a fallen creature like anyone else, he or she has a special responsibility and calling. Keep that in mind during consultations.

7. Though families of pastors may not have a particular calling or special training, their role causes them to be involved in very unique and unusual situations, and they may carry burdens that are very specific to their particular situations. Keep this in mind when having consultations with them.

 

We have prepared for this project by trying to discern the various types of consultations we might have, but until we actually begin, there is no way to imagine every possibility. Although we may not be able to bring the problems of pastors or their families to an immediate solution, we can strive together with them in their suffering, and hopefully become a place where they will feel they can gain some loving support. And more than anything, we hope that through our service, pastors and their families will be able to receive the blessings of Jesus Christ and the joy that comes from him. If they have already lost that, we want to be instrumental in bringing them back to that state of blessedness. (Tr. WJ)

          —Kyodan Shinpo (The Kyodan Times), No.4896

 

「牧会者とその家族のための相談電話が開始」

 「牧会者とその家族のための相談室」の相談電話が、2019年3月4日(月)に開始する。この相談電話は、毎週月曜日午前10時から4時まで、午後0時から1時の休憩時間を挟んで、電話によるカウンセリング経験者方が相談を受ける。1月15、16日、鎌倉黙想の家において、相談員のガイダンスミーティングと委員会を開催した。
2009年より、『「障がい」を考える小委員会』において、牧会者とその家族の自死や精神的疲労、それに伴う教会の崩壊的状況、その深刻な問題を協議してきた。精神的ケアの取り組みが急務であることの重要性を確認し、「牧会者とその家族のための全国交流会」を3回開催した後、2018年、ようやく、「牧会者とその家族のための相談室委員会」の設置に至った。

 相談室の目的は、牧会学的な基盤により、牧会者とその家族に対する「魂の配慮と精神的ケアに関する基本的研究ならびに実際的諸問題」に取り組むことにある。牧会者とその家族の特有の課題は、今までのカウンセリングにはない困難な状況である。しかし、困難だからといって、この問題に目を背けていてはならないし、伝道者やその家族が倒れてしまうことによって伝道の力は、急激に弱くなる。この働きは日本基督教団における伝道の大切な業である。

 「実際的な諸問題に取り組む」ために、「相談電話」という形でスタートさせ、相談電話カウンセリングの経験を積んだ信徒の相談員を依頼し、ガイダンスミーティングを実施した。このミーティングにおいて確認した相談員の倫理綱領は、主に以下の7つである。

①相談室委員ならびに相談員は、守秘義務を守り、教団・教区・教会における教会政治ならびに人事関係から独立し、その組織に批判的にならず、また、他者からの問い合わせには応じないこと。

②相談は何よりもまず、悩み、傷ついた心に寄り添い、共感して受け止めることにあり、悩みや苦しみの問題解決を第一義的には考えないこと。

③随時、ミーティングを行い、相談の対応について分かち合い、協議を重ねること。

④相談員が抱えきれない相談を受けたとき、その対処方法を相談室委員は検討し、相談員をサポートすること。

⑤相談記録など、取り扱いに注意して、守秘義務を厳格に守ること。

⑥牧会者は、欠けの多い人間であると同時に、非常に大切な役割と使命を持っている。その特有性を受け止めながら相談を聴くこと。

⑦牧会者の家族は、召命感や牧会訓練を受けていないまま、教会の奉仕を行っている実状がある。そのために特有な課題を背負っていることを受け止めながら相談を聴くこと。

 相談室としては、さまざまな相談のケースを想定しながら準備を進めているが、「実際に開始されないと、どのような内容の相談電話がかかってくるのかわからない」とも考えている。ただ、この相談室が、牧会者とその家族の苦しみの問題を、すぐには解決できなくても、少しでも受け止める機関として機能して欲しいと願っている。そして、何よりも、牧会者とその家族が、主イエス・キリストによる恵みを味わい、喜びを味わい、また、もし、それを見失っていれば、その恵みと喜びが回復されることを願っている。
(加藤幹夫 教団新報4896号)

【April 2019 No.402】Kyodan Participation in Disaster Relief in Japan in 2018

The following three accounts, taken from Kyodan Shinpo (The Kyodan Times), describe the initiative and involvement of the Kyodan, its district, and its churches and members in disaster relief, with ecumenical and sometimes international cooperation, during 2018.

Carpenters from Taiwan Volunteer for Okayama Relief

by Osawa Motomu, pastor

Yamaguchi Church, Nishi-Chugoku District

When western Japan experienced disastrously heavy rain in July 2018, the Nishihirashima area in Okayama Prefecture, was the second worst in terms of aftereffects of the disaster, with 2,230 homes being damaged by flooding. Immediately after the devastation occurred, Kato Makoto, executive secretary of the Kyodan Commission on Ecumenical Ministries, among others, inspected the damage on several occasions. The commission began activities in August in the Nishihirashima area to promote relief efforts that met the needs of the people in the most appropriate ways.

We always keep in mind that it is “the person-to-person connection” that makes it possible to provide support. On Friday, July 6, heavy rain fell continuously, resulting in the overflowing of Suna River’s banks, and NGO Team Haru Haru entered the area on Sunday, July 8. The relief efforts continued nonstop, without taking even one day off, so a relationship of trust was established with the district. Wake Church Pastor Nobuto Yoshihide had already been participating in this work for several days, so the commission too was able to begin relief activities.Some people said that compared to other nearby disaster areas, reconstruction of the Nishihirashima area progressed more quickly. This was partly due to the help received from experienced volunteers. They soon finished removing mud, disinfecting, and drying floors. By August, they were at the point where the carpenters could begin necessary repairs. With the help of the Kyodan, volunteer carpenters from the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan were dispatched to the disaster area.

During a period of 39 days, from Monday, Aug. 27, through Thursday, Oct. 4, major and minor repairs were carried out on about 20 homes by a total of ten volunteers and three inspectors. I cannot forget the sight of the members of one family shaking hands with a carpenter from Taiwan, their eyes filled with tears as they said, “When we were looking at the ground covered with mud every day, we could not motivate ourselves to do anything. But now it seems that we can finally take one step forward.” During this same time period, a lot of damage was being caused by natural disasters occurring also in Taiwan. I want to thank the members of the family of God in Taiwan, who sent the carpenters to help Japan.

 

大澤求 山口教会牧師

 2018年7月の西日本豪雨災害で、「岡山県西平島地区」は県内二番目となる、浸水家屋2230棟の被害を受けた。被害発生直後から、教団の世界宣教委員会を中心に各地の視察が繰り返され、よりニーズに合った具体的な働きが展開できる(地域として)、西平島地区での活動が八月から始まった。

 常に「人と人とのつながり」が、支援活動を可能にすると実感させられる。七月六日(金)から大雨が降り続き、砂川が決壊した直後、「NGOチームはるはる」が八日(日)から現地入りし、一日も休むことなく活動を続けていたことによって、地域との信頼関係が構築されていたこと、その働きにすでに和気教会の延藤好英)牧師が繰り返し参加されていたことで、我々も活動を始めることができた。

 経験豊富なボランティアたちの助けもあり、西平島地区は周辺被災地に比べ、復興進捗が速かったと言われる。泥出しや消毒、床下の乾燥などもすでに終えられ、八月には、専門的な大工仕事が必要とされる段階にあった。そこに日本基督教団を通して、台湾長老基督教会の大工ボランティアが派遣された。

 8月27日(月)~10月4日(木)まで、39日間にわたり、のべ10名のボランティアと3名の視察により、大小の修繕を合わせた約20棟の家屋が直された。

 「泥がむき出しになった地面を毎日眺めていた時は、何もやる気が起こらなかったけど、ようやく一歩が踏み出せそうです。」涙を浮かべ、台湾の大工さんと握手をするご家族の姿が忘れられない。同時期に、台湾国内も自然災害が続き多くの被害があった。日本のために彼らを送り出してくれた、台湾にある主の家族に感謝したい。

*               *               *

Kyodan Churches Join Interdenominational Relief in Hiroshima

by Kobayashi Katsuya, pastor, Kure Heian Church,

      Nishi-Chugoku District

       Steering committee member, Hiroshima Christian Church

       Disaster Relief Projects Planning Headquarters,

        Kure Volunteer Center

The flood-causing rains also severely damaged Kure City in Hiroshima Prefecture. In cooperation with several churches in Kure, the Hiroshima Cooperative Mission, Hiroshima Disaster Response Office, which had worked hard to offer support during another muddy disaster five years ago, launched an interdenominational organization called the Hiroshima Christian Church Disaster Relief Project Planning Headquarters, Kure Volunteer Center, which provided immediate support following the disaster.

The center provided housing for volunteers, limited to the first four weeks. This time limit was decided before starting so that the pastors and other people in the damaged areas would not collapse from exhaustion by doing relief work. Kure Heian Church also became a place that offered lodging. Many Christians, and many people interested in Christianity, crossed denominational lines and came from all over Japan, and from overseas too, to participate in the volunteer work. They met the needs of the victims, first helping churches, church members, the families and acquaintances of church members, and the regions where the churches are, in that order, by removing mud, disinfecting, etc. They carried out activities that included cooperating with the Social Welfare Council to bring in heavy equipment, like excavators and dump trucks, etc. In addition, since Akitsu Christian Church of the Nihon Fukuin Senkyodan (an independent evangelical denomination) was damaged, the volunteers also helped with its reconstruction project.

The volunteers intended to take responsibility for all the areas to which they had some connection until the end of the crisis. So they continued activities, such as removing mud and disinfecting, volunteering two days a week until the end of September. After that, the focus of volunteer efforts shifted to providing support for daily activities and providing emotional care. They started by giving out blankets to meet the needs of people in temporary housing. The circle of fellowship got bigger until it included the people in temporary housing and the members of the residents’ association who had experienced a lot of damage. The volunteers were able to send kotatsu sets (a small table with an electric heater underneath and covered by a quilt) and insulation sheets, along with Christmas cards. Akitsu Christian Church finished the construction, and on Dec. 24 a celebration was held to give thanks for the work completed and offer praise for the Lord’s mighty deeds.

 

呉平安教会牧師 小林克哉

キリスト教会広島災害対策室呉ボランティアセンター運営委員

 今回の豪雨で、広島県の呉市も大きな被害を受けた。5年前の土砂災害で支援の働きをした広島宣教協力会広島災害対策室は、呉の諸教会と協力して超教派による「キリスト教会広島災害対策室呉ボランティアセンター」を立ち上げ、災害発生直後より支援活動を行った。

 まず4週間に限り、宿泊を伴うボランティア活動を行った。被災地の教会や牧師が支援活動で疲れ果て倒れることがないように予め期限を設けた。呉平安教会も宿泊場所の一つとなった。日本全国と、海外からも教派を超えキリスト者・求道者が多数、ボランティアに参加し、被災した教会、教会員、教会員家族や知人、教会の建つ地域の順で、ニードに対応した。社会福祉協議会と協力した、ショベルカーやダンプカーなどの重機も投入した活動や、被災した教会員やその家族・知人、教会関係者の声に応えた泥だし・消毒などを行った。当教会員家族も助けてもらった。被災した日本福音宣教団安芸津キリスト教会の再建プロジェクトも進めた。

 その後、関わりをもった所については最後まで責任を持とうと、週2日のボランティアで、泥出しや消毒などの活動を9月末まで続けた。その後は生活支援や心のケアに関するボランティアへと移行している。仮設住宅の方の必要に応え、毛布をお贈りしたことから、仮設住宅や被害が大きかった自治会の方々との交わりが広がり、クリスマスカードを添えて、こたつセットや断熱シートをお届けすることができた。安芸津キリスト教会は工事を終え、12月24日に完成感謝会を行って、主の御業を賛美した。

  *               *               *

Kyodan Churches Work with Ecumenical Relief Group in Okayama

by Otsuka Shinobu, moderator

                                           Higashi Chugoku District

                                           Pastor, Okayama Church

One week after the downpour in western Japan, the Okayama Prefecture Mission Gathering, a group made up of several evangelical churches in Okayama Prefecture, held a meeting. I was invited and attended as moderator of Higashi Chugoku District. There was discussion about how to support the churches in the prefecture that had been damaged, and the Okayama Mission Gathering, Okayama Christian Disaster Support Headquarters was set up. After the meeting, the Kyodan’s Higashi Chugoku District also confirmed that it would assist with reconstruction together with the other churches. The Support Headquarters was moved into Nihon Seiyaku Kyodan Hiroe Seiyaku Christ Church. Volunteers gathered there at 7:30 a.m., and after holding a worship service, headed toward Mabicho, one of the disaster areas. Oda River and Takama River had overflowed, so some houses were submerged in water up to the second floor. Volunteers removed mud, cleaned the inside of the houses, and between periods of work, listened to the voices of the people who had experienced harm. In the Hirashima area of Okayama City’s Higashi Ward, both the Kyodan and the Taiwanese Volunteer Team assisted with reconstruction. Support work was continued until November, and as a result of discussions among the Okayama Christian Disaster Support Headquarters, the YMCA Setouchi, the Kyodan and Kyodan Nishi-Chugoku District, it was decided that the base of activity would be located in Mabicho, so it has served as our base of operations. On Saturday, Dec. 8, a ceremony was held to celebrate its opening. It was decided that the base would be active in the disaster areas for two years. Some of our volunteers who had started in the last half of July 2018, were baptized at Christmas. It was a source of great joy for all of us, too. As we listen to the voices of the people who have suffered harm, praying and talking with them, we want to follow through on the task that has been given to us.(Tr. KT)

 

大塚忍 東中国教区総会議長 岡山教会牧師

 西日本豪雨から1週間後、岡山県内の福音派諸教会で構成されている「岡山県宣教の集い」の会議が行われました。私は(教団の)東中国教区総会議長という立場で陪席を促され、出席しました。県内の被災した教会への対応が協議され「岡山宣教の集い・岡山キリスト災害支援室」(岡キ災)が設置されました。会議後に、東中国教区も、共に復興支援に関わることを確認しました。支援室の事務所は、日本聖約教団広江聖約キリスト教会に置かれました。ボランティアはここに午前7時30分に集合し、礼拝後、被災地真備町へと向かいました。小田川、高馬川の決壊によって、2階まで水に浸かった家々で、家の中の泥かき、清掃を行いました。合間には被災者の方々の声を伺いました。岡山市東区平島地区では、日本基督教団と、台湾のボランティアチームが復興支援に携わってくださいました。支援作業は11月まで続けられ、岡キ災、YMCAせとうちと教区、教団の協議により、活動拠点を真備に設置することが決議され、拠点が与えられました。12月8日(土)に開所式が行われ、2年間被災地で活動することを決定しました。クリスマスに、7月の後半からボランティア活動をしてくださっていた仲間が受洗されたのは、わたしたちにとっても大きな喜びでした。被災者の声に耳を傾け、祈りながら語り合いながら与えられる働きを担っていきたいと存じます。

【April 2019 No.402】Missionary Commissioned to Serve in Paraguay

The Commissioning Ceremony for Missionary Ehara Yukiko was held at 3 p.m. on March 10, 2019 at Asagaya Church. Rev. Kato Makoto, executive secretary of the Commission on Ecumenical Ministries, presided over the service, and Rev. Kokai Hikari, a commission member, gave the sermon. The commissioning service was attended by more than 100 persons from Asagaya Church as well as several pastors of other nearby churches. Asagaya Church Pastor Furuya Haruo is heading up the support group for Ehara.

 

Ehara is scheduled to be sent to Sakai Keishi Memorial Free Methodist Church in Pirapo, Paraguay in early May. The nation of Paraguay is located in the central part of South America, and Pirapo is one of seven areas where Japanese immigrants settled, beginning in 1937. Pirapo is about an 8-hour drive from the capital city of Asuncion.

 

The church had been without a pastor for about 40 years until 2016, when Missionary Chibana Sugako was sent there and served until January of this year. After completion of the process of purchasing property, construction of a new church building was begun in October 2018. The sanctuary is to be finished by the end of March. After her arrival, Ehara will officiate at the dedication service of the new church and at a wedding.

(Tr. TB)

Kato Makoto, executive secretary

 

江原有輝子宣教師派遣式

 2019年3月10日(日)、午後3時から阿佐ヶ谷教会において江原有輝子宣教師の派遣式が行われました。司式は加藤誠世界宣教委員会幹事、説教は小海光世界宣教委員が担当いたしました。

 江原宣教師はパラグアイにあるピラポ自由メソヂスト酒井兄妹記念教会へ5月初旬に派遣される予定です。パラグアイは南米のほぼ中央に位置し、ピラポは7箇所あると言われている日本人移住地の一つです。首都はアスンシオン。ピラポまでは車で約8時間の距離にあります。日本人の移住は1937年から始まりました。

 ピラポ自由メソヂスト酒井兄妹記念教会は、40年間の無牧期間を経て、2016年から今年1月まで知花スガ子宣教師が赴任されておりました。土地購入を経て礼拝堂建築が2018年10月から始まり、2019年3月末には完成予定です。江原宣教師には赴任後、新会堂での結婚式、献堂式の奉仕が待っています。

 派遣式には100名以上の阿佐ヶ谷教会員と近隣の教会教師の出席がありました。支援会会長は阿佐ヶ谷教会主任担任教師の古屋治雄牧師です。(加藤誠報)

【April 2019 No.402】Atami Church’s 100 Years of Witness and Ministry

As Atami Church celebrates its centennial anniversary year, the current pastor shares its history and present ministry, and a long-time member remembers its nurturing role in his own life.

A Church Built in a Resort Area

by Noguchi Kei, pastor

                                       Atami Church, Tokai District

The Atami Church, located on the Izu Penninsula, is believed to have begun as a house meeting at the home of Morimura Ichizaemon, an entrepreneur who was a Christian. In 1919 the location was changed, and it was formally established as Japan Christian Alliance Association (Nihon Domei Kirisuto Kyokai) Atami Church. In 1941, it was incorporated within the Kyodan, and when several of the former Alliance churches withdrew after World War II, Atami Church decided to remain in the Kyodan, as it is today.

Over this period of 100 years, Atami Church has survived several trying periods, such as the Great Kanto Earthquake (1923), World War II, and the Great Atami Fire (1950), while continuing to shine the Gospel light. Atami (meaning “hot ocean”) is a rural hot springs area that rode on the wave of economic growth after World War II and was transformed into a town of buildings standing in a row, flourishing as a tourist area. But in the 1990s, it was adversely affected by the collapse of the bubble economy and other factors.

At present, Atami is a small town with a population of 37,000 people. The trend is toward a decrease in population, with signs of few births and an aging society. There are very few colleges in the area, and since there is limited work outside of tourism and service occupations, many young people are leaving for Tokyo or other large cities. The present condition of the town also directly impacts the vitality of Atami Church. Due to the aging of its members, every year there is a decrease in the number of believers who frequently attend church. And since this is a tourist area, believers cannot take off work on Sunday, so many are unable to observe Sunday worship.

However, the resurgence of activity in Atami in recent years is a very hopeful sign. Tourism has revived in the shopping area where there were many closed stores, and with the restoration of the town’s business condition, tourists and newcomers to the town are attending worship frequently. The baptism of four persons at Christmas in 2017 and one person at Christmas in 2018 were great blessings for us. We have done nothing special. We have only spoken the Word in a slow but sure way, observed worship services, and entrusted everything else to God. I think the seed sown, after the passing of many years, now at last has borne fruit.

The people of Izu Peninsula have been raised in a scenic region. On the one hand, they are gentle and affectionate, and on the other hand, they love freedom and have a thriving spirit of independence. Enrolled together as members at Atami Church are many who were reared in Atami as well as more recent arrivals from Tokyo and elsewhere. To become one in heart, believers with different personal histories, personalities, and church backgrounds have made the Word of Jesus Christ their foundation and are intentionally developing a worship-centered corporate body structure.

The year 2019 is the 100th anniversary of our church’s establishment, and in January we held a founding celebration worship service. The sanctuary was built 20 years ago and now needs repair. For a small church, we are fortunate to have a splendid sanctuary. Repairs are not an easy thing, but as a witness to our faith, we plan to tackle a “2020-and-beyond” goal. (Tr. RT)

 

「観光地に立たされた教会」

熱海教会牧師 野口 敬(Noguchi Kei)

 熱海教会の始まりは、実業家の信徒であった森村市左衛門宅での家庭集会だったと言われています。1919年に場所を変え、日本同盟基督協会熱海教会として、正式に発足しました。1941年、日本基督教団成立の際に編入、戦後に、旧同盟協会の幾つかの教会が教団から離脱する中、熱海教会は教団に残る決断をして、現在に至っています。

 この100年の間に熱海教会は、関東大震災、太平洋戦争、熱海大火などの数々の試練を乗り越え、福音の灯をともし続けています。ひなびた温泉地であった熱海(直訳すると、熱い海)は、戦後の高度経済成長の波に乗り、高層ビルが立ち並ぶ街に変貌し、観光地として賑わいましたが、1990年代には、バブル崩壊などの影響を大きく受けました。
 
 熱海市は現在、人口3万7千人の小さな町です。人口は減少傾向にあり、少子高齢化も顕著です。周辺に大学も少なく、観光・サービス業以外の仕事も限られているため、多くの若者は東京など大都市へと巣立って行きます。この町の現状は、熱海教会の教勢にも直結しています。高齢のため、教会から足が遠のく信徒が年々増え、観光地ゆえに、日曜日の仕事が外せず、聖日礼拝を守ることができない信徒もいます。

 一方で、近年、熱海の街が活気を取り戻しつつあるのは、大きな希望です。閉店した店が多かった商店街に観光客が戻り、町の景気回復に伴って、観光客や新しい移住者が足繁く礼拝出席するようになり、2017年のクリスマスには、4名の受洗者が与えられました。今年2018年のクリスマスにも、受洗者が1名与えられます。何か特別なことをしたわけではありません。ただ地道に御言葉を語り、礼拝を守り、後は全てを神様にお委ねしてきました。蒔かれた種が何年もの時を経て、今ようやく実を結んだのだと思います。

 風光明媚な(scenic)風土に育まれた伊豆の人たちは、温和で人懐っこい一方で、自由を愛し、独立心旺盛な一面があります。熱海教会には、多数の生粋の熱海っ子と東京や地方からの移住者が、共に在籍します。経歴も性格も教派のバックグラウンドも異なる信徒たちが心を1つにするために、イエス・キリストの御言葉を土台とした、礼拝中心の共同体形成を心掛けています。

 2019年は創立100周年で、1月には、創立記念礼拝が予定されています。会堂は築20年たち、改修工事が必要となってきています。小さな教会には身に余るほどの立派な礼拝堂です。改修は容易なことではありませんが、私たちの信仰の証しとして、2020年以降を目途に取り組む予定です。

*               *               *

The Sown Seed

by Fujima Takao, member

                                      Atami Church, Tokai District

Now 87 years old, I am healthy and continue to attend worship services every week and do various church jobs. However, for a long time my life of faith was one of continual twists and turns.

I remember going to Sunday school sometime before World War II, but when I became a fourth grader, education became militaristic. The dream boys had of the future was to become an army general. After the war, the church gate that had been locked was opened once again. Many young people seeking culture with a foreign fragrance gathered at the church, and I myself was also among them.

Mukoyama Jisuke, Atami Church’s pastor at the end of the war, had not yet returned from the war-front, and every Sunday, Pastor Matsumoto Hiroshi of Ito Church preached at Ito Church in the morning, Atami Church in the afternoon, and Usami Church for evening worship. I went to church half-heartedly, attending worship services while hoping that the sermon wouldn’t be long. One day, while surrounded by other young people, the subject of baptism was raised. Not even understanding what it was, I thought, “Well, if we all receive it…,” and was baptized together with a group of five or six persons. When the service was over, members of the church said “Congratulations” and gave words of blessing. I still was not understanding this very well, but when we went to the parsonage on the second floor and I saw that a meal had been prepared, at last the meaning of “congratulations” became real. (At that time there was little rice to eat each day, and it was distributed according to a rationing system.)

Atami is a town of hot springs and rest and was not an object of B29 bombing; we only experienced a few times the deafening roar of the Grumman F6F Hellcat planes on strafing runs. But following the war, in 1950, the central part of the town was almost totally burned by a great fire. Atami Church was also in danger, and as we prayed a parting prayer at the church, thinking the church would soon be burned, a fire truck from another town rushed in, and it was saved. After graduation from high school, I became a salaried
worker for a short time, but as being “self-employed” had become a trend in Japanese society, I dared to begin my own business.

The life of faith for me has been like a single thin stake driven into the current of a river, and every day like constantly fighting the current. Isn’t what I am today the product of the Sunday school of my boyhood, and before that the single seed sown in the church kindergarten, being nurtured over a long period of time in the midst of weeds, having come into bud?

“Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, “I find no pleasure in them…..” (Ecclesiastes 12:1)

(Tr. RT)

「播かれた種」

熱海教会員 藤間孝夫

 私は今、満87歳になり、元気に毎週日曜礼拝に出席し教会の色々な奉仕を続けております。しかし、私の信仰生活は長い間、紆余曲折の繰り返しでした。

 戦前に、当時の日曜学校へ行った記憶はありますが、小学校4年生になった時、教育はすべて軍国主義となりました。少年たちの将来の夢は陸軍大将になることでした。戦後、閉ざされていた教会の門は再び開かれ、多くの若者が外国の香りがする文化を求めて教会に集った、その中に私の姿もありました。

 終戦当時の熱海教会は、向山自助牧師が戦地からまだ戻らず、伊東教会の松本廣牧師が、毎週日曜に朝は伊東教会、午後は熱海教会、夕拝は宇佐美(Usami)教会を廻り説教しておりました。遊び半分に教会へ行っていた私は、早く説教が終わればいい、と思いながら礼拝に出席しておりました。ある日、青年たちに取り囲まれて、洗礼の話が出ました。何のこととも分からず、皆が受けるならと思い、5~6名の方と一緒に集団で受洗しました。式が終わって教会員の人たちから、おめでとうございます、と祝福の言葉を受け、良く分からないまま二階の牧師館に行くと、お膳(食事)が用意されているのを見て、ようやく「おめでとう」の実感がわいてきました(その頃、日常の食べるお米も少なく配給制度でした)。

 熱海の町は温泉と静養の町なので、B29の空爆対象ではなくグラマン戦闘機(The Grumman F6F Hellcat)の雷のような轟音で機上掃射が数回あっただけでしたが、戦後の昭和25(1950)年に大火で町の中心部がほとんど焼けました。熱海教会も危険となり、もはやこれまでと会堂でお別れの祈りをしていた時に、よその町から応援に駆け付けた一台の消防車によって類焼は逃れたのでした。私は、学校を卒業後しばらくサラリーマンになりましたが、世の中に“脱サラ”の掛け声が広がり、思い切って事業を始めました。

 信仰生活は私にとって丁度、川の流れに細い一本の杭を打ち込んだようなもので、絶えず流れに逆らっているような毎日でした。今日の私があるのは、子供時代の日曜学校、その前の教会幼稚園で播かれた一粒の種が、長い時間をかけて、雑草の中から、芽が出てきたものでしょうか。

 「青春の日々にこそ、お前の創造主に心を留めよ。苦しみの日々が来ないうちに。『年を重ねることに喜びはない』と言う年齢にならないうちに」(コヘレトの言葉12章1節)。
(東海教区報No. 167, 18.11.2)

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