【December 2019 No.405】Executive Council Considers Structural & Budget Proposals

The fifth Executive Council meeting of the present 41st General Assembly period was held Oct. 7-8 at the Kyodan headquarters with 29 members in attendance. General Secretary Akiyama Toru gave a report on the damages caused by Typhoon 15 (called Faxai in international media), and Tokyo District Moderator Kishi Toshihiko detailed the damage to Habu Church on one of the Izu Islands, thanking council members for their expressions of support.

 

During the discussion, questions concerning Kyodan activities related to the succession of the emperor were addressed, and General Secretary Akiyama explained that the policy decided at the last General Assembly was that individual churches should conduct activities on the local level. He also stated that the Kyodan offices would not observe the special holiday that the government has designated for the ceremonies and would remain open.

 

Next followed a report on the fall licensing examinations for ministers in full standing and licensed preachers: 42 persons took the exam for ministers in full standing, with 32 passing; and 13 took the exam for licensed preachers, with 7 passing. Those passing were recognized.

 

The report of the Task Force on Evangelism in the Kyodan was shared by the chairpersons of its two subcommittees.

1. Kishi Toshihiko, chair of the Subcommittee on the Implementation of the Basic Policies on the Promotion of Evangelism in the Kyodan, reported that the church magazine Shinto no Tomo (Believer’s Friend) is featuring a series of articles entitled “Churches to Remember in Prayer,” naming ones in each district.

2. Kuze Sorachi, chair of the Subcommittee on Structural Reform in the Kyodan, reported its recommendation that the number of General Assembly delegates be cut in half to 100 clergy and 100 laity, with 16 or fewer appointed voting delegates.

 

The Commission on Faith and Order’s report included a discussion from various points of view on the validity of ordination by the Evangelical Church Alliance. The report was accepted, but a question submitted by Kanto District was referred back to the Commission on Faith and Order for further deliberation.

 

During the financial report, a debate arose regarding the following two specific proposals in the budget for the 2020 fiscal year:

1. to increase the subsidy of the Solidarity Fund for Mission in Okinawa from 400,000 yen to 1,200,000 yen, and

2. to allocate 7.2 million yen as funding for the National Christian Council in Japan.

As the apportionments for National Christian Council in Japan (NCCJ) members are determined every three years, it was decided to discuss with the NCCJ the reduction of the Kyodan’s apportionment for the next period. The vote on the budget proposal ended in a tie, so the moderator cast the deciding vote. (Tr. TB)

—Kato Makoto, executive secretary

 

第5回常議員会報告

 第41総会期第5回常議員会が10月7,8日、教団会議室で常議員29名の参加をもって開催された。総幹事報告において秋山徹総幹事は台風15号被害を報告。岸俊彦(Kishi Toshihiko)東京教区議長がお見舞いに対する感謝を述べ、伊豆諸島の波浮(Habu)教会の被害と現状について報告した。

 質疑に中で天皇代替わりに対する教団の活動が問われ、秋山総幹事は前回の教団総会決議の趣旨に従い各教会で行動してほしい。事務局は10月22日を休みにしないことで姿勢を示すと述べた。

 秋季教師検定試験合格者承認の件では、正教師受験志願者42名中合格32名、不合格10名。補教師受験志願者13名中合格7名、不合格2名、継続4名の報告があり、合格者を承認した。

 教団伝道対策委員会報告では、そのもとにある2つの小委員会が活動を報告した。

 教団伝道推進基本方針展開検討小委員会では、岸俊彦委員長が「信徒の友」に各教区からの「祈りに覚える教会」を掲載する企画について報告した。

 次に教団機構改訂検討小委員会の久世そらち(Kuze Sorachi)委員長が総会議員数を従来の半分とする教職100名、信徒100名推薦議員16名以内の案を提案した。

 信仰職制委員会報告では福音主義教会連合の按手の有効性について様々な立場からの意見表明がされた。報告は承認されたが関東教区から出されていた諮問への答申は、信仰職制委員会へ差し戻すこととなった。

 2020年度教団歳入歳出予算案の審議では、沖縄宣教連帯金を現行40万円から120万円とすることについて議論になった。

 次にNCCの分担金が720万円と高額なことも議論になった。分担金は3年に1度の更新の為、次の更新時に減額できるようNCCと協議する方向性が示された。予算案は賛否同数のため議長採決で可決した。 (加藤誠)

【December 2019 No.405】Visiting Churches Damaged by Recent Typhoons

by Kato Makoto, executive secretary

Typhoons 15 (early September) and 19 (mid-October), referred to in Western media as Faxai and Hagibis, caused damage from Kanagawa District and Tokyo District’s Higashi and Chiba subdistricts to areas northeast and even beyond Tohoku District. I will report on only some of the districts that were affected.

 

As I had been planning to visit Tohoku on a missionary personnel matter, I combined that with visits to the offices of both Ou and Tohoku districts as well as to Kawamata and Motomiya churches in Fukushima prefecture during the time period of Oct. 16 to 18. I was personally able to deliver relief funds from General Secretary Akiyama Toru to each of those districts and, at Tohoku District’s Mission Committee meeting on Oct. 18, heard the report listing all the damage suffered throughout the district. Although the damage was widespread and severe, I was left with the impression that the lessons learned from the 2011 Great East Japan Disaster had been well implemented so the response had been swift and effective. On Oct. 17, I visited Kawamata Church, which was hard to find, so I depended greatly on my car’s navigating system. I had heard that the river had flooded over its banks, but at first the effects were rather difficult to discern. The church parking lot was covered with sand from the flooding, but it was only as I was led inside the building that it became evident that the water had risen above the floor. Fortunately, the sanctuary and the newly rebuilt manse were high enough to avoid damage, but the Bibles, hymnals, etc. on the lower floor, along with the furniture, toilet, etc. all had water damage. While I was there, two representatives from the city hall came by, but one said that while the living quarters were eligible for assistance in the removal of debris from under the house, the church building itself was not. Nevertheless, removing debris and drying out and sanitizing the space under the floor is necessary, so financial assistance is still needed. I then went to visit Motomiya Church and kindergarten. Because of the flooding of the Adatara River, both the kindergarten and church were under water. The waterline could clearly be seen along the walls and windows, and it was almost at the same level as the church had experienced when it was inundated during the 2011 tsunami. The fatigue of the people involved in cleaning up the mess was clearly evident on their faces. The church, which had just recently been rebuilt, had been reduced to ruins, so one can only imagine how dejected the pastor and parishioners must feel. Thus we need to ask ourselves how the Kyodan and the district should respond. (Tr. TB)

 

台風19号被災教会訪問

加藤 誠

 台風15号と19号の被害は、神奈川、東京・東支区、東京・千葉支区、東北教区に及んでいるが、今回は、その一部を報告する。

 元々、宣教師人事の関係で東北に出張予定が入っていたことに併せて、10月16日~18日に、奥羽教区事務所と東北教区事務所そして福島県の川俣教会と本宮教会を訪問した。それぞれの教区事務所には秋山徹総幹事から託されたお見舞金を手渡した。東北教区事務所を訪問した18日は、午前10時30分から教区宣教部委員会が開催され、教区内の被災教会の情報が一覧出来る報告書が配られた。福島県内の被災地域が複数ある深刻な状況にもかかわらず、2011年の東日本大震災の時の教訓が教区に生かされていたがゆえに、教区としての対応が素早く正確なのであろうと思わされた。17日にはまず川俣教会を訪問した。教会にたどり着くにはナビの指示が必要であった。川の氾濫と聞いていたが、注意して見ないと被災状況は分かり辛い。教会の駐車場は砂にカバーされていたため、氾濫の痕跡が残っていたが、案内されて教会の中に入り改めて床上浸水であったことを認識した。幸いにして礼拝堂部分と新築されたばかりの牧師館に被害はなかったが、書籍類や家具、トイレや壁が被害を受けた。滞在中に町役場から視察に人がきたが、住宅は床下の消毒や被災ゴミ撤去の援助の対象になるが教会は入らないと言う。衛生上の観点から床下の乾燥、消毒は必要なので経済的援助が求められる。続いて本宮教会・本宮幼稚園を訪問した。安達太良川の氾濫により、幼稚園、教会は水没状態であった。窓や壁に濁流の到達点が分かる横線が残されている。2011年に津波の被害を受けた東北の教会堂の中に残されていたのと同じ線である。そして片づけに追われている町の人々の表情には疲れの色が滲み出ていた。

 新しい会堂が全く使い物にならなくなってしまったことによる牧師・教会員の落胆を考えると、教区として、教団としてどのような援助が相応しいのかが問われるであろう。

【December 2019 No.405】Japanese and Korean Christians Jointly Pray for Reconciliation and Peace

Christians between Japan and South Korea held a joint prayer meeting at Nihon Kirisuto Kyokai (Church of Christ in Japan) Kashiwagi Church in Shinjuku, Tokyo on Oct. 9, amid the recent worsening political, economic, and societal relationships between the two nations. In addition to the Kyodan, representatives from the Korean Christian Church in Japan, the Anglican-Episcopal Church in Japan, the Japan Evangelical Lutheran Church, the Japan Baptist Convention, the Japan Baptist Union, the Japan Christian Church, and the Japan Catholic Council for Justice and Peace formed an organization committee to sponsor the event, and the more than 170 participants surpassed expectations.

 

This event was in response to prayer meetings held on Aug. 11 in South Korea  by church people concerned about the present situation between Korea and Japan. They expressed the hope that Christians in Japan could also hold such a prayer event. About 20 Christians from South Korea came to attend the meeting in Japan. So as fellow Christians who look up to our Lord, who brought reconciliation through the breaking down of barriers through the shedding of his own blood, we joined our hearts together in prayer.

Following messages by Kyodan Moderator Ishibashi Hideo and General Secretary Rev. Dr. Lee Hong-Jung of the National Christian Council in Korea (NCCK), written prayers from ten representative South Korean and Japanese churches and organizations, including the YMCA, were read as part of a litany of prayer. A choir from South Korea also sang hymns of praise, which made the prayers for reconciliation and peace all the more powerful. Likewise, there was a report from a team that had visited Pyongyang in North Korea in July, and although the flow is indeed only a trickle, the Lord of reconciliation and peace is working in that situation. (Tr. TB)

—Akiyama Toru, Kyodan general secretary

 

和解と平和を求める日韓キリスト者の共同祈祷会

 昨今の日韓の政治・経済・社会の関係が悪化しているなかで、表記の集会が10月9日夕に日本キリスト教会柏木教会で開かれた。本教団をはじめ、在日大韓教会、日本聖公会、日本福音ルーテル教会、日本バプテスト連盟、同盟、日本キリスト教会、日本カトリック正義と平和協議会などによる実行委員会の主催で、予想を超える170余名の参会者によって盛大に行われた。この集会は、去る8月11日にこの状況を憂える韓国の教会からの呼びかけで、ソウルで行われた集会の連続で、日本でもぜひこの祈りの会を開きたいとの願いを受けて開かれたもの。韓国からは20名ほどの参加者があり、同じ主を仰ぐキリスト者として、隔ての壁をご自身の血によって取り除き、和解をもたらしてくださった主イエス・キリストに心を合わせて祈った。

集会では石橋教団議長と韓国NCC総幹事のメッセージの後、両国の教会やYMCAなど各センター10数団体からの平和を求める祈祷文が読み上げられ、主の祈りをもとにしたリタニ―によって祈りがささげられた。韓国からこの集会のために来られた聖歌隊による力強い賛美もあって、和解と平和を求める祈りを熱くさせられた。

また、この集会で7月に平壌を訪れた訪問団の報告会も行われ、北朝鮮人民共和国のキリスト者との交流の、まだ細い流れではあるが、和解と贖罪の主の導きによる歩みが始まっていることの報告を受けた。(秋山 徹)

【December 2019 No.405】Regional Meeting Addresses Impact of Empires and Mission Responses

The Taiwan Ecumenical Forum for Justice and Peace (TEF) was constituted and inaugurated by the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan (PCT), partner churches, and ecumenical organizations to work with the PCT on its mission concerns related to the transitional justice and internal isolation of Taiwan. In order to deepen solidarity in northeast Asia as well as to provide and to clarify the issues involved, the TEF Steering Group has highlighted the nature of empires and its impact on Taiwan.

 

The Northeast Asia Regional Meeting on the Impact of Empires and Mission Responses is a small group of experts from northeast Asia (namely South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Japan) whose aim is to discern the nature of international conflicts and national oppressive forces and to formulate common mission strategies and cooperation. This year the group met Oct. 11-14 in Shinjuku, Tokyo in the Kyodan Conference Room and the TKP Star Rental Conference Room. The 13 attendees were from Taiwan [6], the Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea (PROK) [3], Hong Kong [1], and the Kyodan [3]. The following speakers addressed the impact of empires and mission responses to that: Rev. Toru Akiyama (Kyodan), Rev. Dr. Jae Chon Lee (PROK), Mr. Ljavakaw Tjaljimaraw (PCT), and a professor from Hong Kong.

 

Unfortunately, as Typhoon Hagibis hit Tokyo Saturday evening, Oct. 12, the conference schedule was shortened. On Sunday morning, participants joined the worship service at Waseda Church, which is adjacent to the Kyodan office. One-eighth of the population of Shinjuku Ward in Tokyo is from overseas. PROK representatives were so glad to meet their church members at Waseda Church. A public meeting was scheduled to be held at Ephphatha Church in Shinjuku, Kameoka Ken, pastor of its Church introduced its history. It was a significant time for us to learn about the local church.

—Kato Makoto, executive secretary

【December 2019 No.405】Connecting with the Worldwide Church A Shinto no Tomo (Believer’s Friend) special series

Asking a Missionary to Japan

The editorial staff of Shinto no Tomo asked this missionary, who had been

sent to Japan and ministered for almost 40 years, about how he viewed

the Japanese Church and what issues he sees that need attention.

 

A Church where Almost Everyone can Feel at Home

 

by Timothy D. Boyle, retired missionary

United Methodist Church and Presbyterian Church USA

During the 1960s, there was a growing recognition in the US of the importance of relationships with Asia, and thus a program was begun at the East-West Center in Hawaii to invite college students entering their third year to study either Japanese or Chinese. I applied and was one of twelve to study Japanese for 15 months. I had no idea how learning Japanese would be useful to my future career, but the attraction of living in Hawaii for a year at government expense was certainly a big part of my motivation. The last three months of the program was a “homestay” in Tokyo, and this was my first time to come to Japan.

 

I later came back in 1971 as a short-term missionary with the United Methodist Church and was assigned to Sapporo in Hokkaido. I had a great time interacting with other young people in Japan (eventually marrying one of them) and returned to the US in 1974 to study theology and become a pastor. My wife and I returned to Japan in 1982 as regular missionaries with the Kyodan and served until retirement in 2016.

 

During the first term of service back in Japan, I served as the pastor of Shintoku Church in Hokkaido, and after that, we transferred to the “international city” of Tsukuba as missionaries with the Ibaraki Subdistrict of Kanto District for 21 years. Scientists, researchers, students, and their families come to Tsukuba from many countries for extended periods, and so much of our work centered on meeting the needs of these people. I started Tsukuba International School to serve those with children and aimed to make their stay in Japan a more stable and fulfilling one, irrespective of religious background or lack thereof.

 

One other area of mission that stands out in my mind is that of helping with the ministry of Bethlehem Church of the Indonesian Minahasa Church in Oarai. As Kanto District was very active in helping to establish this work, I often went to that church to help, including preaching there numerous times. I even went to Indonesia to visit the Minahasa Church headquarters. The Kyodan, including many lay persons, played important roles in establishing and maintaining this ministry to Indonesians living and working in the area, and so it was with great joy that I heard that in November of 2018, the Kyodan and Minahasa Church signed a formal joint mission agreement that will facilitate further development of mutual ministry and fellowship.

 

Finding it Hard to Fit in

There is one thing I’ve often heard from Japanese students who have studied abroad and came to faith in overseas churches. And that is that when they come back to Japan, they often find it hard to fit in when they try to become part of Japanese churches. Like many foreign students coming to Japan, they find the atmosphere of Japanese churches to be rather dull and somber. I sometimes still help out at Kobe Union Church, which was the second church to be founded in Japan after it opened up to the outside world at the beginning of the Meiji Era. Services are conducted in English but are also translated into Japanese over earphones, and so in addition to people from many countries, there are many Japanese, having either spent time overseas or being interested in becoming more international, who participate in the lively service.

 

A number of these people have had little exposure to Christianity before, but they are interested in improving their English and experiencing the foreign atmosphere, and so they come. Some people might think that this is not the mission of the church, but having such a place where people can feel comfortable and be welcomed into a fellowship that can be used by God to draw them to himself is surely pleasing to God.

 

I am, of course, not saying that Japanese churches in general should become like North American churches that are lively, open communities, as Japan has its own culture. Having a certain amount of solemnity in worship is a worthy goal. But it is also important to recognize that many people desire a more casual atmosphere, and so there are things that can be done to try to accommodate this.

 

This desire certainly isn’t limited to students. While it is not true of all Japanese churches by any means, what I have seen in many of the Japanese churches I have visited is that there is something about them that creates difficulty for outsiders to enter in. It’s not that such people are not welcomed, but it’s difficult to go much beyond that. Churches with few members naturally develop strong ties with each other, which is a good thing. However, I think it is important to be on guard that these don’t become exclusive relationships. For instance, if members subconsciously think that someone should understand something, even if it is not explained, that may make things difficult for newcomers who don’t have the necessary background information.

 

While I did experience some minor difficulties in adapting to Japanese churches, the “preacher’s wife” had even more. We were both commissioned as missionaries, but Japanese Christians often didn’t really understand that. Likewise, church members often had expectations of the pastor’s wife that were vague and not clearly explained. When this was pointed out, they would say they understood, but we didn’t really see any improvement.

 

Making the Church a Welcoming Place for Everyone

In the future, Japan will experience more and more people coming from particularly other Asian countries to work in Japan. Whether they like it or not, Japanese churches will need to recognize that they have a mission to reach out to these people. So, how are they to do that? While it may be difficult for Japanese Christians to visit and directly learn from overseas churches, they can visit churches such as Kobe Union Church and see how they can incorporate useful elements of other cultures and traditions, while not denying their own, and through this make their own church into one that can serve all people.

 

世界の教会とつながる

『信徒の友』特集 10月号

来日宣教師に聞く

『信徒の友』編集部が日本に派遣され40年近く宣教のわざに携わってきた宣教師に、日本の教会についてどのように思うか、課題と感じるところは何かを聞いた。

 

誰もの居場所となる教会

ティモシー・ボイル

アメリカ・合同メソジスト教会引退宣教師

 1960年代アメリカにとってアジアとの関係が重要になりつつあり、ハワイの東西センターが全米の大学の2学年を修了した学生を対象に日本語もしくは中国語を学ばせるコースを開設した。私はそれに応募し、15カ月間の日本語コースで学ぶ12人に選ばれた。日本語を学ぶことが将来どんな役に立つかわからなかったが、国費で1年間ハワイで生活できるというのは大変な魅力だった。ハワイで日本語を1年間習得した後、東京で3カ月間のホームステイがあり、それが私の初来日となった。

 その後1971年に合同メソジスト教会より日本に信徒宣教師として短期派遣され、札幌に赴任した。日本の若者と交流し大変楽しい時を過ごし(その中の一人と結婚することにもなり)、1974年にアメリカに戻り、神学を学んで牧師となった。妻と私は1982年に日本に戻り、2016年に引退するまで日本基督教団に遣わされた。

 始めは北海道の新得教会の牧師として働き、次に妻と共に関東教区茨城地区の国際都市つくばへ宣教師として派遣され、そこで21年間働いた。つくばでは多くの国から科学者、研究者、学生やその家族が訪れ、長期滞在するため、そういった人々の世話をすることが多かった。つくばインターナショナルスクールの開設に関わり、宗教の違いや信仰のあるなしに関わらず、子どものいる外国人の快適で安定した日本滞在を手助けした。

 茨城県のインドネシア・ミナハサ福音キリスト教会大洗ベツレヘム教会への協力活動も思い出深い。関東教区が積極的だったこともあり、私は何度も行き、よく説教もした。インドネシアのミナハサ教会本部も訪ねた。日本キリスト教団は多くの信徒とともに、大洗に在住・在勤するインドネシア人への宣教を確立・維持するために尽力したので、2018年に日本キリスト教団とミナハサ教会が宣教協約を締結し、今後も宣教協力と交流が進められることは大変うれしい。

 

なじみにくい日本の教会

 留学先で信仰をもつようになった日本人学生からよく聞く話がある。日本に帰って、日本の教会に通おうとするのだが、なじみにくいということだ。日本に来る多くの外国人学生もそうだが、日本の教会はまじめ過ぎて暗いと感じるのだ。今でも時々神戸ユニオン教会で説教をしているが、明治時代の始め、開国後2番目に建てられたこの教会では、礼拝は英語で行われ、イヤホンで日本語訳を聞くことができる。そのため多くの外国人だけでなく、外国滞在経験があったり、国際交流に興味のある日本人が多く訪れて、活気のある礼拝に参加している。

 ほとんど教会経験がないが、英語力をつけたい、あるいは外国の雰囲気を経験したいと思って来る人たちもいる。それは教会の宣教活動とはいえないと言う人もいるかもしれないが、人々が心地よく感じ、気軽に交流できる場所があり、そこで神と出会える可能性があるならば、それは神に喜ばれる業ではないだろうか。

 もちろん日本には固有の文化があり、教会がみな北アメリカの教会のように活気があって交流が盛んになるべきだというのではない。礼拝にある程度の厳粛さがあるというのは、それはそれで価値がある。しかし多くの人がもっと礼拝に出席しやすい雰囲気を求めていることも無視できない。そのような教会にするためにできることがあるはずだ。

 このような気持ちは学生だけに限らない。日本のすべての教会がそうだというのでは断じてないが、私自身、多くの教会に外部の人間が入りにくいと感じる何かがあるように思う。新来会者を歓迎しないというのではない。迎え入れられたあと、それ以上の関係を築くことが難しいのだ。信徒の少ない教会は、自然と信徒同士が固いきずなで結ばれるようになる。それは良いことだが、それが排他的な関係にならないよう注意することが大切だ。例えば言葉にしなくてもわかってくれるはずだと教会員が無意識に思うようなことがあると、それを知らない新来会者は困った立場に置かれる。

 私も日本の教会に適応するのに多少の苦労をしたが、「牧師夫人」はそれ以上の苦労があった。妻も私も共に同じ宣教師であるのに、日本のクリスチャンはなかなかそれを理解しようとしなかった。さらに、口には出さないが漠然とした「牧師夫人の役割」というものを教会員はよく期待した。それに対して反論すると「わかりました」と言われるが、改善されることはほとんどなかった。
 

すべての人を迎え入れる教会に

 今後さらに多くの外国人が、特に同じアジアの国の人々が日本に働きに来るだろう。彼らが好むと好まざるとに関わらず、日本の教会はこれらの人々に手を差し伸べるミッションを負っていくだろう。では、どうすればよいのか。日本のクリスチャンが外国の教会に行って直に学ぶことは難しいかもしれないが、神戸ユニオン教会のような教会を訪ねて、他の文化や伝統から役に立つ部分をさがすことはできる。そして教会の文化や伝統を大切にしながらそれらを取り入れていく方法を見つけることによって、すべての人に仕える教会へと変えてゆくことができるのではないだろうか。(今回KNLのために改めて書きおろした)

  • 日本基督教団越谷教会

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