【October 2019 No.404】2019 Japan-Germany Youth Mission

 by Rev. Naka Yoshiyuki, Bible Teacher,

 Seirei Christopher High School

The 2019 Japan-Germany Youth Mission was held from July 25 to August 3. The eight members from Japan this time ranged from second-year middle school students through first-year college students: three boys, five girls, and two leaders (a man and a woman). The receiving church group in Germany was the Kirchenkreis Wittstock-Ruppin District, with District Superintendent Matthias Puppe bearing most of that responsibility.


The overall theme was “Genesis,” and after arriving, participants were divided into two groups to make artistic creations related to the first and second chapters of the Book of Genesis. We used such items as clay and tree leaves and displayed our creations at St. Marien Church where the Sunday worship service was held. Compared to Chapter 1, the realistic creations of Adam and Eve in Chapter 2 made a deep impression.


Continuing with the theme of “Genesis,” several other events were planned, including a discussion about the environmental issues of both countries, long-distance cycling and camping, and a time of prayer in a historic sanctuary, making for a full schedule. On the eighth day, we visited Berliner Missionswerk’s mission center and had a chance for interchange with Pfr. Dr. Christof Theilemann, Director of Berliner Missionswerk. He passionately related his recollections of feeling inferior as a believer during the former period of East Germany and stated that the tragedy of Hiroshima and Nagasaki “must never, NEVER be repeated.”


Preparation was done this time by three members in their 20s, who were the core of the task team; Rev. Kataoka Hoko of Kamakura Sensui Church and I served in the role of advisors. I am grateful for the place the young people were given for enthusiastic interaction. (Tr. RT)






 今回は20代3名のタスクチームを中心に、私と片岡宝子牧師(鎌倉泉水教会)がアドバイザーという立場で準備を進めました。それも含めて青年たちが生き生きと活躍できる場が与えられたことに感謝する次第です。(聖隷クリストファー中・高 教務教師 仲 義之)

【October 2019 No.404】From the General Secretary’s Desk: “Unto the Least of These” Places of Worship

The Kyodan’s most critical issue these days is that of structural reform. The organizational structure that has been in place since 1968 is facing numerous problematic areas, including the impact of its declining and aging membership, the need for effective evangelization of the younger generation, and the need to maintain financial stability. How can the organizational structure be revamped to function more smoothly within these realities while strengthening evangelistic outreach and reinvigorating the denomination? We are presently deliberating these issues in order to make concrete proposals to the 2020 Kyodan General Assembly.


To help revive the Body of Christ through such structural reform, we are endeavoring to activate movements to propel evangelism forward on a national scale, under the leading of the Word and the Holy Spirit. We are using  three slogans to give concrete direction to these movements:


1. Prayer Movement —Let us pray together;

2. Laity Movement—Let us proclaim together; and

3. Offering Movement—Let us present our offerings



As part of this effort, the third Sunday of each month is being designated “A Day of Prayer for the Promotion of Evangelism in Japan.” Likewise, we will encourage each district to identify churches with less people, which are also the only church in a rural town or city, so that we can pray for those churches and offer encouragement as we share in the issues they face.


Of course, struggling churches with low attendance that are the only ones in such rural towns and cities are not all alike, but they do represent the realities facing Japanese society, which has many depopulating areas — particularly in rural areas — along with a rapidly aging population in which only a small percentage are Christians. However, we can also see these situations as opportunities for the remarkable work of the Gospel.  At any rate, we want all our members to focus their prayers on such churches and their mission issues. By not focusing on places with great potential for attracting lots of people but focusing instead on seemingly evangelistically inefficient locations, there will be opportunities to see how the promises of God’s grace being poured out on the weakest places and Christ’s Great Commission to go into all the world will be fulfilled. We will see how the strength of the Kyodan’s nationwide network of bases of operation is maximized. (Tr. TB)

                                   —Akiyama Toru, general secretary



秋 山  徹




【June 2019 No.403】2019 Missionary Conference Highlights Current Concerns

The 2019 Missionary Conference was held at Seisen-ryo in Yamanashi Prefecture March 25-28 and was attended by 25 missionaries serving in Kyodan churches or associated schools, 9 of their family members, and 8 Kyodan staff members.


The Missionary Conference is an annual event offering a chance for Kyodan missionaries to gather, establish mutual support, and experience physical and spiritual refreshment. This year missionaries, their family members, and Kyodan staff enjoyed wonderful fellowship and fruitful discussion in the beautiful environment of Seisen-ryo. During the discussion session, each participant joined a group focused on one of the following six topics.


1. Preaching to Young Adults at Schools

Missionaries serving at schools shared their experiences of preaching to students. Visual clues, such as PowerPoint slides, were suggested to enhance the understanding of students when the message is preached in English.


2. Bringing Young People to Church

The participants are aware that the younger generations are absent from most of the Kyodan churches. It was suggested that churches should collaborate together to organize public events like music festivals, game competitions, or intercultural parties to attract young people to church. Including contemporary music in worship services was also considered as an effective means of encouraging young people to participate in worship.


3. Serving as a Missionary at a Church

Missionaries serving at churches usually face a dilemma: whether to introduce new ideas to the congregation or to respect the tradition, culture, and authority of the church. Missionaries should be aware and learn from churches’ histories and should be in agreement with and committed to the mission of the local congregation. However, at the same time, missionaries want to share their ideas and gifts with the congregation. Participants hope to convey the message that missionaries are not trying to take over the church but instead want to enrich the community by sharing their gifts.


4. Best Topics to Talk about at Church

Participants stated that the Christian community should be vocal on social and ethical issues like abortion and the practice of homosexuality. In order to make a concrete stand, discussions among churches and communities are necessary.

5. Evangelism Events

In spite of the fact that outreach is one of the fundamental responsibilities of Christian individuals and Christian communities, outreach ministries in Kyodan churches are rather limited. Ideas on how to address this issue included organizing concerts as well as sports events following the Olympics boom.


6. The most Difficult Part of our Mission

Missionaries work with various people. Dealing with interpersonal relationships is the most difficult part of mission work. Besides cultural differences and barriers, missionaries and local pastors sometimes face offensive opinions or even attacks from the congregation. Prayer support and understanding from loved ones is essential during such critical times.


Seisen-ryo is located on spacious grounds surrounded by the bounteous natural beauty of Kiyosato in Yamanashi Prefecture, so groups take advantage of this location to hold a variety of programs. On the morning of the second day, the participants split into three groups. One group made butter on a dairy farm; another hiked through the forest under the guidance of a ranger; and a third group toured the Paul Rusch Memorial Museum. Paul Rusch was the founder of the Keep Association, which operates Seisen-ryo, and he is well known as the person who introduced American football to Japan. Rusch drilled three wells on the spacious property, and even today those three wells provide the drinking water for the main Seisen-ryo facility, the Seisen-ryo School of Nature, and the camping grounds. As the missionaries were really impressed by this place, the plans are to hold next year’s conference at Seisen-ryo again.

The conference ended with a memorial worship service, a reflection session, and a closing worship service, with communion. The memorial worship service honored missionaries who served in Japan and have gone to their heavenly reward. They were individually named, along with their years and places of service. This was a very special moment when current missionaries could learn about and remember former missionaries and embrace their spirit of dedication to God and to the people God gave them to serve. A new planning committee was elected at the end of the conference to carry out the next conference and nurture the spirit of fellowship among missionaries who serve in the Kyodan.


The missionary conference has been a 2-night, 3-day affair, but this year, it was a 3-night, 4-day event. Also, as a firsttime experiment, a continuing overnight conference for mission personnel sent from Korea was held as a second session. Of the approximately 60 mission personnel working within the Kyodan, only 2 of those serving as senior pastors in Kyodan churches are from countries other than Korea, while 9 Korean missionaries serve in that capacity. Missionaries from Korea are becoming increasingly important to the functioning of the Kyodan. The Kyodan moderator, vice moderator, secretary, general secretary, an executive secretary and a staff member joined together with three representatives from the PCK and KMC and eight Korean missionaries for this important event in which the missionaries could share their concerns and issues.

                           —Kennis Lam, Kyodan missionary and

                              Kato Makoto, executive secretary





















【June 2019 No.403】Kyodan Representatives Attend 64th PCT General Assembly

The 64th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan was held April 23-26, 2019 at Mackay Memorial Hospital in Taipei, with the theme “Members bound together in love—Lives bear witness to Christ.” Kyodan General Secretary Akiyama Toru, Vice-moderator Hattori Osamu of Higashi Chugoku District, and Executive Secretary Kato Makoto of the Kyodan’s Commission on Ecumenical Ministries represented the Kyodan. Higashi Chugoku District’s Vice-moderator Hattori attended to express gratitude to the assembly for sending 5 teams totaling 20 carpenters from throughout Taiwan following the flooding of the Okayama Hirashima area of western Japan to do reconstruction work on damaged homes.


There were approximately 600 participants at the general assembly, including 40 overseas guests. Mobile receivers were passed out among the guests to enable simultaneous English or Japanese translations. This time PCT provided a team of translators, consisting of seven young adults. Taiwan is a country composed of many nationalities, with many languages and cultures. However, PCT has firmly persisted in using mainly Taiwanese at the general assembly from before the time of Japanese rule. Although the young adults received their compulsory education in Chinese, they managed to translate from Taiwanese, which they were unaccustomed to hearing, into Japanese.


The election of the PCT moderator was held during the proceedings on the first evening. The term of service is one year, and there is no re-election. Through this election process, the vice-moderator is usually elected as moderator for the next term. This year as well, Vice-moderator Rev. Chen Jiahn-yueh was elected as moderator. Rev. Abus Takisvilainan, a Taiwan native from Bunun Presbytery, was elected vice-moderator. On the second and third days, three special programs were prepared for overseas guests: visiting institutions for elderly persons, visiting the National 228 Memorial Museum, and attending the explanatory session of the Taiwan Ecumenical Forum. The 228 Memorial Exhibition commemorates what happened on Feb. 28, 1947. This is said to be Taiwan’s most sorrowful incident during which more than 28,000 persons were massacred throughout Taiwan. From then until 1987 the country was governed by martial law, and the PCT terms this period as the “White Terror Era.”*


During the morning of the third day, as an ecumenical sharing group, we were sent to the International Japanese Language Church. There Usuki Midori, a Kyodan missionary, spoke mainly about the relationship of the World Council of Churches, the PCT, and the Kyodan before and after 1991. (Tr. RT)


*The “White Terror Era” is the period of political repression in Taiwan begun in the 1940s by the Republic of China government.

                                 —Kato Makoto, executive secretary




 初日の夜のプログラムでは議長選挙が行われた。PCTでは議長の任期は1年であり再選はない。通例は選挙を経て副議長が議長に当選する。今年も陳見岳牧師 が副議長から議長へ当選した。副議長には原住民である布農中会から阿布絲・打給絲非來南牧師 が当選した。2日目と3日目には海外ゲストのために3つの特別プログラムが用意された。高齢者受入施設の訪問と228記念館訪問、そして台湾エキュメニカル・フォーラム説明会である。228記念館は1947年2月28日に起きた、台湾全土で2万8千人以上が犠牲になった台湾で最も悲しい事件と言われる。それから1987年まで戒厳令が布かれるが、この期間をPCTはWhite Terror Eraと表現する。


【June 2019 No.403】Kyoto District Church Holds Special Event on Earthquakes

“From Miyagi Prefecture to Kumamoto: How baked Sweet Potatoes Connect two Earthquakes” was the theme of an earthquake-preparedness gathering sponsored by Kyoto Aoi Church in Kyoto District.

It has been eight years since the Great East Japan Earthquake and three years since the Kumamoto Earthquake. In a country like Japan, where there are numerous earthquakes, this could happen again anywhere. Kyoto Aoi Church held a special event on Jan. 20, 2019 in an effort to learn more about the reality of earthquakes and what to do when an earthquake occurs. Suenaga Tsuyoshi and Horita Naotaka were invited to speak. Both men experienced earthquakes and have traveled all around Japan sharing those experiences. They told the 45 of us, including children, of their experiences and the current conditions in the areas affected. As a way of raising funds to support relief work in Kumamoto, baked sweet potatoes were prepared for the participants.


As a resident of Miyagi Prefecture, Suenaga experienced the Great East Japan Earthquake. However, as a volunteer at the Tohoku Disaster Relief Center, Emmaus, he also took part in relief efforts. From his experiences, he spoke about the response required following an earthquake.


When the Kumamoto Earthquake occurred, Horita was working at the Nishihara Town Office and took leadership in ensuring that 800 residents of the town were taking care of themselves at the local elementary school, which was the designated evacuation shelter. After three years, some normalcy has returned, but they are still in recovery, and rebuilding in some areas has yet to begin. At the home of Horita’s parents, who are sweet potato farmers, the storehouse where sweet potatoes are stored for their final ripening was destroyed. As a farming family that has continued over several generations, they are in the midst of efforts to rebuild and continue farming.


Geographically, Kyoto is quite far from the areas affected by the two earthquakes. However, listening to the personal accounts of Suenaga and Horita, the participants could keenly sense the reality of earthquakes. In particular, the following words of the speakers stayed with us. “At the time of an earthquake, of utmost importance are the personal relationships of those affected. In the midst of an emergency, communication with people leads to peace of mind, and peace of mind then leads to solidarity.”


The baked sweet potatoes that were sold at the event were grown on the farm of Horita’s parents. Suenaga, who came to Kumamoto as a volunteer from Miyagi, had become acquainted with Horita’s parents. Since that time, Suenaga has traveled across the country selling sweet potatoes that he bakes on hot stones in a small truck he has remodeled for that purpose.


Suenaga’s relationship with Kyoto Aoi Church began because the pastor of Kyoto Aoi Church, Rev. Uchiyama Tomoya, was also a volunteer at Emmaus in Sendai. While we learned about the considerable damage left in the wake of these earthquakes, we also learned how people have been connected through these experiences. (Tr. JS)

                  —From Shinto no Tomo (Believers’ Friend), April 2019


宮城県から熊本へ 焼き芋がつなぐ2つの震災







 末永さんと京都葵教会がつながったのも、当教会の内山友也牧師が仙台の「エマオ」でボランティアをしたことからだ。大きな傷を残した震災だが、人と人をつなげていることを知る機会ともなった。(まとめ 編集部)「信徒の友4月号」より

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