【December 2019 No.405】From the General Secretary’s Desk: International Conference on Interreligious Dialog Expands Horizons

In early October, I visited Germany for two reasons. First, I went to the Evangelical Mission in Solidarity (EMS) headquarters in Stuttgart to initiate a conversation on how to maintain a responsible dialog in our relationship. Afterward, I attended the “Interreligious Study Program as a Task for the Church,” hosted by EMS in Frankfurt, and spoke on mission cooperation between the Kyodan and the main German churches.


At the Frankfurt meeting, I heard speeches mainly by German ministers and seminarians from various study institutions who reported on interreligious dialog in India, Lebanon, and Japan. The passionate and refreshing three-day programs addressed the meaning of such dialog and the importance for churches to have a dialog with each other. In the globalized world in which we now live and face the reality of unrelenting antagonism, it is very important for us to have interfaith dialog.


At the Henry Martin Institute (HMI) in Hyderabad, India, a thorough and theologically designed program is offered to give participants firsthand experience in dealing with issues of how to open up to others in a land where Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, and Christians must all live among each other. The purpose is to help one another broaden our horizons of faith. A “Studies in the Middle East” course is offered from October to June each year at the Near East School of Theology in Beirut, Lebanon. People of various Muslim sects and Christian sects, including differing Orthodox sects, Maronite Christians, and Assyrian Christians that all have differing faiths and worship styles, consider together how to dialog with one another. At the same time, there is the issue of how Christian minority churches are to exist in this environment. I learned about the concept of “a community of unity in reconciled diversity.”


The NCC Center for the Study of Japanese Religions in Kyoto has an Interreligious Studies in Japan program. German ministers and seminarians participate each year from September through December to study Shintoism, Buddhism, and new religions in Japan to learn about these worlds from experts in their fields and also to visit actual shrines and temples. This is a very important EMS program to promote and encourage understanding. Unfortunately, only a few of us Japanese Christians are even aware of this research center. However, members of the German churches recognize the study center in Kyoto and the importance of its work. German Christians are given the opportunity to learn about the religious essence of Eastern religions like Shintoism and Buddhism and to experience Zazen (sitting cross-legged while meditating). Following the seminar, some German pastors have participated in Buddhist ascetic practices or gone on a pilgrimage of temples in Shikoku.


As Japanese Christians and churches are so few in number, it is urgent that we recognize the need to evangelize and build up the body of Christ, and at the same time, state our thoughts to the Christian world and make known that there is this area of thought as well. (Tr. WJ)

—Akiyama Toru, general secretary


秋 山  徹


 10月の初めにドイツに行き、シュトゥットガルトのEMSの本部を訪ねて、教団とEMSとのこれからの関係を整えてより責任を持ったかかわりができるようにするための話し合いの時を持ちました。さらに、フランクフルトで開かれたEMS主催の国際会議、“Interreligious Study Program as Task for the Church”に参加して、教団のドイツを中心とした教会との宣教協力関係について発題しました。この二つの働きが今回のドイツ訪問の課題でした。


 インドのハイデラバードにあるHenry Martin Institute(HMI)では、ヒンドゥー教、イスラム教、仏教、キリスト教が混在する中で、違った宗教的な背景を持つ人々がどのようにして互いに心を開いて友好的な関係を構築してゆけるかをめぐって、かなり深く立ち入った神学的研究や他の宗教の信仰と生活を体験するプログラムが提供されています。「自分たちの信仰の地平を広げる助けをすること」(helping to broaden our horizon)をめざしているのです。レバノンではベイルートにあるNear East School of Theology の中にあるStudies in the Middle East(SiMO)では、毎年10月~6月までの研修プログラムがあり、イスラム教各派とキリスト教内でもマロン派やオーソドックス教会系の各派、それにアッシリア教会など多様な信仰と礼拝形態があり、その中での宗教間対話をどのように進めるかが課題となっています。また同時に、少数者として生きるキリスト教会の在り方も問題になっています。「多様な違いがありつつ和解する中で一致してゆく共同体」(Community of unity in reconciled diversity)という概念があることを教えられました。



【October 2019 No.404】Executive Council Hears “Youth Platform” Appeal, Evangelism Promotion Proposals

The fourth Executive Council meeting of the present (41st) biennial general assembly period was held July 8-9, 2019, at the Kyodan headquarters. All members of the Executive Council were present, and Vice-moderator Kuze Sorachi led the opening worship service. General Secretary Akiyama Toru reported that one of the Kyodan’s four executive officers had participated in each of the 17 district assembly meetings.


Noda Taku, a pastor heading up the Student Christian Fellowship and serving on the support committee for the Youth Platform, gave a presentation and appeal concerning that venture. The purpose of this “Youth Platform” is to provide a place within the Kyodan structure for youth to get to know each other and share information. Specifically, this includes operating a website for the Youth Platform, planning and operating various events, as well as arranging exchanges and cooperation with the various Kyodan-related schools and other organizations. One response to this by the council emphasized the importance of carefully guarding the personal information of participants.


Uda Makoto, chair of the Commission on Finance, presented the second revision of the budget and financial report on the 2018 fiscal year and explained the Kyodan’s financial situation. Following the report on the Buraku Liberation Center’s financial accounts by BLC Steering Committee Chair Saito Seiji, Kyodan Secretary Kumoshikari Toshimi pointed out that the amount transferred from the Kyodan to the BLC account differed from the amount recorded in the BLC account, although they should be identical. Also addressed was the large sum of over 26 million yen being carried over in the BLC operating budget. Action on this issue, along with the discussion on the related budget proposal was tabled until the next meeting. Next, Yamakita Nobuhisa, chair of the Kyodan Board of Publications’ Board of Directors, announced that Shindo Atsushi, current head of the Board of Publications, will be submitting his resignation and that Ii Hikari will become acting head for the remainder of Shindo’s term of office.


On the second day, the time was divided between discussion of the report on the Task Force for Evangelism in the Kyodan and the agenda item on the Promotion of Evangelism in the Kyodan. Both were accepted and approved by majority vote. In his report on the Task Force for Evangelism in the Kyodan, Vice-moderator Kuze Sorachi noted that a proposal to reduce the number of delegates to the Kyodan General Assembly from 400 to 200 was being considered. Likewise, in the report on the Promotion of Evangelism in the Kyodan, Kishi Toshihiko, chair of the Subcommittee on the Implementation of Basic Policies for the Promotion of Evangelism, proposed the designation of the third Sunday of every month, beginning in October 2019, as a “Day of Prayer for the Promotion of Evangelism in Japan”  as well as the establishment of a fund to be called the “National Evangelism Promotion Fund.” (Tr. TB)

                                   —Kato Makoto, executive secretary



  2019年7月8日、9日の両日、教団会議室において第41総会期第4回常議員会が開催された。常議員全員が出席、開会礼拝は久世そらち副議長が担当した。秋山徹総幹事は17教区への教団4役・総幹事の問安について報告した。続いて総幹事室に設置された青年プラットフォームについて学生キリスト教友愛会の主事であり青年プラットフォーム世話人会の1人である野田沢牧師から説明とアピールがなされた。活動の目的としては、教団内の青年たちが出会って互いに知り合い情報を共有する仕組みを教団総幹事室に設置することである。具体的な内容は、①教団青年プラットフォームWebsiteの構築と運営  ②関連するイベントの企画運営③関係団体・学校との協力と交流、情報の共有、などである。

 議場からは個人情報の取り扱いについて慎重さが求められた。財務関連は、まず2018年度教団歳入歳出第2次補正予算と決算が取り扱われ、宇田真予算決算委員長が説明を行った。部落解放センターの決算報告では斉藤成二センター長による説明の後に雲然俊美書記が、本来同額であるべき教団の解放センター繰出し金と、センター側の教団繰入金の額に違いのあること、更に運営資金に2600万円超の多額の繰越金があることが指摘された。今回の採決は見送ることになり、付随して予算案の審議も見送った。出版局からは山北宣久出版局理事長が新藤敦局長の辞意を報告し、残任期間を飯光(Ii Hikari)氏が局長代行として務めることを報告した。二日目は「教団伝道対策検討委員会報告」と「教団伝道推進に関する件」の審議に時間を割き賛成多数で承認・可決した。「教団伝道対策検討委員会報告」の中で久世そらち副議長より教団総会議員を400名から200名に減らす方向で検討されている報告があった。「教団伝道推進に関する件」では伝道推進基本方針展開検討小委員会の岸俊彦委員長が、「日本伝道推進を祈る日」(毎月第3主日)を2019年10月から実施すること。「全国伝道推進献金」を行うことを提案した。(加藤誠)

【October 2019 No.404】Odaka Church in Tohoku District Resumes Monthly Services

by Hoshina Takashi, pastor of Odaka Church, Tohoku District

The Sunday Worship Service at Odaka Church in Soma City, Fukushima Prefecture, which had been discontinued for eight years, ever since the Great East Japan Disaster and the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant accident, was resumed at 3 p.m. Sunday afternoon, Jan. 27, 2019. For a little over a year following the disaster, admittance had been denied to this forced evacuation area and there was no way to continue worship services there. The church has a kindergarten, but it is still closed, as there are no children in the town.


Every year since April 2012, after daytime access to the area was again permitted, a Christmas worship service has been conducted at the church. I am grateful that one of the believers comes back to his home in Odaka from the Iwaki City evacuation center in Fukushima Prefecture for this Christmas Worship Service and makes preparations for it each time. I am hoping this will not become a burden to him. The seventh Christmas Worship Service was held in December 2018.


A “Consultation to Consider the Future of Odaka Church,” sponsored by Tohoku District, was held at the church in September 2018 to deal with the issues it faces, which includes that of radioactive pollution. Hereafter, as a norm, we are hoping to observe a Sunday Worship Service at 3 p.m. on the fourth Sunday of every month. Especially as the church is in Tohoku District, its support is necessary, as is that of the churches of the northeast Fukushima and south Miyagi area. (Tr. RT)

From Kyodan Shinpo (The Kyodan Times) No. 4901・02






【October 2019 No.404】A Visit with Kyodan Missionaries in Brussels and Cologne

by Nishinosono Michiko, chair Commission on Ecumenical Ministries

From June 4 through June 8, 2019, I was given the opportunity to visit Rev. Kawakami Yasushi and Rev. Kawakami Masaki, missionaries to the Japanese Language Protestant Church in Brussels, and Rev. Sasaki Ryoko, a missionary to the Cologne-Bonn Japanese Protestant Church, to inquire about their work and to pray with them.


Due to various circumstances, I had a very rushed schedule of only two days in the middle of this time slot to accomplish my mission, but I was able to visit the two countries of Belgium and Germany during this period. Actually, a one-way trip from Brussels to Cologne by express train takes a little less than two hours. From Noda Church, where I am presently appointed in Japan, traveling to Nishi Chiba Church for the Chiba District Assembly seems even “further.” European national boundaries can be crossed by plane or express train in one and a half to two hours to go to places where different languages are also spoken, and I realized anew that this is Europe.


On Wednesday afternoon I met missionary Sasaki Ryoko in Cologne and found that her health has been stable since her discharge from the hospital. I learned that she has been making good relationships not only with church members but also with Japanese residents of Cologne, so it appears that the possibilities for evangelism are broadening, beginning with house meetings and various other things that are being tried.


I met with the Kawakamis for lunch on Wednesday and again on Thursday afternoon. They gave me a tour of the church being borrowed for Sunday worship services and their parsonage and told me about their missionary activities in that area and their aspirations for the future. While I was there, Masaki received word of her father’s death, so for about a week from June 8, she hastily returned to Japan. I pray for God’s consolation.


Due to the frequent comings and goings of church members being transferred to other offices, the congregations in both Japanese language churches are small and face difficult situations. But despite that, there are persons fulfilling their life of faith as Japanese believers desiring to trust in God’s Word. Please remember and pray for their mission.

(Tr. RT)








【October 2019 No.404】Methodist Church in Britain Holds Annual Conference

by Kato Makoto, executive secretary

I attended the 2019 Annual Conference of the Methodist Church in Britain, held at the Hilton Hotel in Birmingham, England’s second largest city, from June 29 through July 4. The program began with Assistant secretary of the Conference Rev. Ruth Gee’s declaration, stating that the conference has been held in the same fashion since 1744. Everybody stood to sing a Charles Wesley hymn, as the outgoing president and vice-president entered in procession. (A clergy member is always elected as president and a lay person as vice-president, with no possibility of reelection after their one-year terms of service.) In keeping with the tradition since 1844, incoming president Rev. Dr. Barbara Glasson received a copy of John Wesley’s Bible and incoming Vice-president Prof. Clive Marsh received a copy of Charles Wesley’s 1739 Hymnal.


About 20 ecumenical foreign guests were introduced on the stage, with those from Asia including two from the China Christian Council, one from Myanmar, and another from Japan. The foreign guests were each assigned to one of the 33 districts and participated in all the agenda as regular delegates. I was assigned to the London District and participated, though I was dealing with jetlag.


Sunday worship was held at the conference site, concluding with a sending-out ceremony for the ministers and deacon ministers who would be ordained in the afternoon at the local churches. Some of this year’s discussion focused on the role of deacon ministers in the ministry of the church, with the confirmation that they should take a leadership role that includes preaching. We sang more than ten hymns in the worship service. I have never heard of any other assembly with more hymn singing than that.


On Monday the real deliberations began. Due to the nation’s low birthrate and the aging of the population, this denomination is also confronted with declining membership, causing much heated discussion about the budget. The same-sex marriage issue which had been assigned to a special committee three years ago, was discussed under the topic of Marriage and Relations.

About half of the 350 representatives took the opportunity to speak on the stage for the two-minute time period allotted to speakers. There was also impassioned discussion on the topic of calling. As I look back on it, I felt as though I had been to a church retreat. (Tr. AKO)



 2019年6月29日から7月4日にかけて、イギリス第二の都市バーミンガム、ヒルトンホテルで開催された英国メソジスト教会の年会に参加した。最初のプログラムは年会補助書記のRev. Ruth Geeによる「メソジスト教会は1744年以来このような形で年会を行っている」との宣言で始まり、一同起立してチャールズ・ウェスレーの讃美歌を歌いつつ退任する議長と副議長を迎えた。任期一年で、議長は教職が、副議長は信徒が代々選ばれ再任されることはない。1844年以来の伝統で、新議長のRev. Dr. Barbara Glassonにはジョン・ウェスレーのフィールドバイブルが、副議長のProf Clive Marshにはチャールズ・ウェスレーの1739年度版の讃美歌がそれぞれ贈呈された。約20名の海外ゲストも名前を呼ばれ壇上で紹介された。アジアからはCCC(China・Christian Council)から2名、ミャンマーと日本から各1名であった。海外ゲストはそれぞれ33教区に割り振られ、正議員としてすべての議事に参加する。私はロンドン教区に席が与えられ、時差ボケと戦いながら議事に参加した。翌日曜日は午前に会議場で礼拝が行われた。プログラムの最後は午後に地域の教会で按手を受ける教職と執事の派遣式であった。年会の議事の中には執事の職務についての話し合いがあり、説教を含めてミニストリーの指導者的な位置づけが確認された。礼拝では10曲以上が賛美された。これほどに讃美する総会を他に私は知らない。月曜日から本格的な議事が始まった。英国メソジストも少子高齢化からくる教会員の減少の影響を受け。予算の審議は白熱した。同性婚も3年前の年会で専門委員会が発足して、Marriage and relationshipsという大きな枠の中で協議された。議員数はおよそ350、発言者には2分が与えられ、4日間で約半数の議員が壇上で発言した。Callingについても熱心な議論が展開された。終わってみれば教会修養会に参加した気分であった。

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