【June 2019 No.403】Work of Tohoku Disaster Relief Center, Emmaus, Ended

The Kyodan Tohoku Disaster Relief Center, Emmaus, which received much support, concluded its activities at the end of March 2019. On March 23, 2019, Tohoku District held a gathering to express its thanks to the relief center for all its activities during the past eight years.

 

The gathering commenced with a worship service that was followed by a time of fellowship. The 60 attendees included people from churches within the district, former staff workers, meal volunteers, staff who were involved in the initial establishment of the center, and the former chairperson of the Sasayashiki neighborhood association. There were reunions with old friends; and some who couldn’t make it to the gathering sent video letters, so we were able to listen to the words of many people concerning how they felt about Emmaus.

 

During a time when society was demanding efficiency, at Emmaus, the importance of “moving close to wounded people,” which places a high value on “slow work,” had become a common slogan of which we consistently reminded each other.

 

The following comments have been received from the disaster survivors: “Thanks to the help of Emmaus, I recaptured the courage to continue my farm.” “Though the tsunami was the cause of much that made life difficult for us, I am deeply grateful for the opportunity it gave us to meet all of you.” “Please don’t forget us.”

The connections we made at Emmaus will continue. While many experienced blessed encounters through the work of Emmaus, there were some among those helping through Emmaus that experienced a great deal of pain as well. We pray for God’s comfort and blessings for all experiencing both of these aspects. We remain deeply grateful to all those who prayed and provided support for Emmaus.

(Tr. DM)

—Ogawa Sachiko, pastor, Sendai Aisen Church,

Tohoku District Former Head, Kyodan Tohoku Disaster Relief Center, Emmaus

 

 8年間皆さまに支援していただいた東北教区被災者支援センター・エマオKyodan Tohoku Disaster Relief Center, Emmausは、この3月末ですべての活動を終えます。東北教区では、3月23日(土)に被災者支援センター委員会主催で「被災者支援センター・エマオの8年を感謝する会」を開催しました。第一部礼拝、第二部感謝会(茶話会)で、教区内諸教会をはじめ県外の各地から元スタッフ、ワーカー、食事ボランティア、初期の立ち上げにかかわった方々、笹屋敷の前町内会長など60名の参加がありました。懐かしい出会いがあり、都合で参加できない方はビデオレターを送って下さり、いろいろな方のエマオへの思いを聞くことが出来ました。

 効率を求める現代において、エマオは「より添い」を大切にする「スローワーク」を合言葉にして歩んできました。「エマオさんが手伝ってくれたから畑を続ける気になった」「津波は辛いことだけれど、これがきっかけでみんなと会えたのは嬉しい」「これからも忘れないでほしい」と被災地の方々はおっしゃいます。

 エマオを通して出来たつながりは、これからも続きます。エマオを通して嬉しい出会いがあった一方で、支援する側にとっての心の痛みを感じた方もいらっしゃいます。それらすべてを主が受け止めて下さいますように。

 エマオを覚えて祈り、支えて下さった皆さま本当にありがとうございました。(元東北教区被災者支援センター長)

【June 2019 No.403】Learning from LGBT(*1) People and Seeing the Love of God in Sexual Diversity

Shinto no Tomo (Believers’ Friend) by the Kyodan Board of Publications’ periodical recently issued this article as the first in a series entitled as above.

by Taira Aika, pastor, Kawawa Church, Kanagawa District

                                                                                 Theological Seminary for Rural Mission teacher

 

Christianity often sees “sexuality” as a taboo subject. It is a private matter but something that everyone should take seriously. Some people are even hesitant to look at an article on such a subject. But many others find it hard to live when things related to it are hidden away. The attitude toward gender(*2) difference that says, “Males are like this, and females are like that” leads to, solidifies, and makes real the distorted view that men look after women and women are looked after by men. It also can mean that your natural sexuality(*3) is not understood by those around you, which can be very painful. When people suffer because their gender identity(*4) is different from their physical body, they may actually suffer even more if the people around them do not understand what they are and their pain.

 

LGBT is an abbreviation  of the words lesbian(*5), gay(*6), bisexual(*7), and transgender(*8). More than a reference to the people themselves, the letters symbolize the difficulty some people have as they live in a society where it is taken for granted that people will love someone of the opposite sex or accept their own physical body. There are people who use other terms, such as “asexual”(*9) or “x-gender”(*10) to identify themselves as well.

 

In church, by using the words from Genesis to say “God made us man and woman; people will marry to become one; and they will be blessed with children,” we will often go on to say that LGBT people have disobeyed God, and therefore attack them and drive them out of the church. But modern theology is becoming much more diverse. Some people will say, “The Bible says ‘no,’ so the answer is ‘no’,” but others will raise the question, “Are you really obeying every place in the Bible where it says ‘no’?” There are rules about food, impurity and uncleanliness, but not many people say, “The Bible says ‘no,’ so we must say ‘no’ to them.” We read certain parts of the Bible as they are and go beyond some other parts in our interpretation.

 

In doing so, some people will insist we cannot allow this with regard to LGBT, saying that our sexuality is a gift from God that allow us to create progeny, and will take the position that any other form of sexuality is an abuse of the Bible and a misuse of our sexuality. Behind a such claim, there is the view that human beings are created as male and female, each has their own roles, and that sexuality should only be expressed in a marriage relationship. Some people think God did not create homosexuals and others think that God created homosexual people but test them to overcome it. Such people also do not accept transgender people whose gender identity is different from their assigned sex and gender.

 

However, others see that just as there are left-handed and right-handed people, with regard to sexual ori-entation(*11) there are homosexual and heterosexual people, bisexual people, and asexual people; and they will reinterpret the Bible to say that we are all called by God to build sincere and true relationships, who-ever we are. Procreation is not the only act to be blessed by God. We need to think about and raise a question about how men and women should be and the legitimacy of marriage itself. Whatever position we choose, it may be connected to our faith. But we must remember those who are struggling and suffering. I am one who suffered as a Christian.

 

I was born into a minister’s family in Okinawa. The name of Aika has two meanings.The Chinese characters used for my name “Aika”(愛香)mean “fragrance of love.” On the other hand, I was given this name because aika sounds like a cry for peace in Okinawa. The title of the Book of Lamentations in the Bible is also  pronounced Aika but is written with other Chinese characters (哀歌). My name is often mistaken for that of a female, but I am actually male and even have a beard. And I am homosexual. From an early age, I noticed that I was attracted to other males. But when I reached junior high school, I realized society as a whole thought this was strange, and I felt isolated. I went to a church-related senior high school and was taught that homosexuality is an unforgivable sin that rejects God’s order of creation. Being rejected by society, and feeling that I was disliked by God, every day I thought only of dying. What kept me from dying was what my parents had taught me from a young age. I learned from them that “even if the whole world is against you, Jesus is on your side.” I suffered because of Christianity, but it was also Christianity that supported me and kept me alive.

 

Little by little, I came to understand that there were differences among Christians. There were those who continued to say homosexuality is a sin, but there was also a pastor who said, “God has created you as a homosexual person and has blessed you.” I wanted to learn more about the Bible, and that’s what led me to the Theological Seminary for Rural Mission in Machida, Tokyo, where I was able to come out(*12) as a homosexual person. Then, I became one of the first persons to come out and become a pastor. A lesbian woman came out several months before I did and became the first openly LGBT pastor in Japan.

 

As an openly gay pastor,  I have heard many stories from LGBT Christians. Some told me that after they came out, their pastors continuously told them, with anger, that they were lacking in faith.  Some told me that they were suddenly and unexpectedly surrounded by church members who prayed for them—a very frightening experience. Others were told by Sunday school staff that they could no longer work with the children because they would have a bad influence on them. Still others spoke to their pastor about wanting to value their faith as a homosexual person and were told, “That is not the faith of our church,” and were expelled from membership. One woman was told, “Have a relationship with man to cure yourself”—a clear example of sexual harassment; and a man being forced to marry a woman was told, “If you get married you will be cured.”

 

Some people just had no place to go. People thought they were being kind by saying things like, “I’ll introduce you to a person of the opposite sex with whom you can build a relationship,” but that made it difficult for some people to continue going to the same church. The words from the Bible, “Be fruitful and multiply,” were spoken as a blessing but also made it difficult for some people—and not only LGBT people—to continue going to the same church. Many left the church after experiencing pressure by being told, “We will pray that you will be cured.” One pastor said, “We will openly welcome LGBT people to our church,” while not being aware that at least two LGBT people were already there. Saying “we will welcome you if you come” reveals an unawareness of the fact that LGBT people may already be there. From a bisexual person, I heard with pain that the leader of the church spoke ill of such a person for being totally immoral. From now on, let us think together and let us know and experience that God loves us all just as we are.(Tr. RW)

 

1. “LGBT” is an abbreviation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender. It is also used as an umbrella term that refers to people who have diverse sexuality and gender identities. Sometimes Q is added and it stands for “questioning,” representing people who are still exploring their sexual orientations or gender identities.

 

2. “Gender” refers not only to biological sex but also to socially constructed differences (gestures, hairstyle, clothing, language, and gender roles) that separate male and female. The term is also used more broadly to denote a range of identities that do not correspond to established ideas of male and female.

 

3. “Sexuality” is a broad term that may include biological sex, sexual orientation, sexual activity, gender expression, and gender identity.  It is also used to express a way of being true to oneself in terms of sexuality.

 

4. “Gender Identity” is a personal sense of one’s own gender. It can correlate with assigned sex at birth or can differ from it. Some people understand “gender identity” as  “mental sexual identification” (in contrast to physical sex) but it is not accurate expression because there is no “gender” in our spirit itself.

 

5. “Lesbian” refers to women whose primary sexual orientation is toward people of the same gender. Today, some people use this term not only to indicate their sexual orientation but also to verbalize the fact that they are oppressed as a woman and a homosexual person.

 

6. “Gay” refers to men whose primary sexual orientation is toward people of the same gender. This term was originally used to mean “bright and showy.” It is sometimes used as a synonym of “homosexual people” including lesbian.

 

7. “Bisexual” refers to a person whose primary sexual and affectional orientation is toward people of the same and other genders, or towards people regardless of their gender (pansexual).

 

8. “Transgender” refers to someone whose gender identity or expression does not fit assigned sex and gender. The term “gender identity disorder” is often used to describe this condition as an illness. The opposite of transgender is “cisgender.”

 

9. “Asexual” refers to a person who feels no sexual attraction to a person of any gender.

 

10. “X-gender” refers to a person who recognizes oneself as neither male nor female. X-gender people will express their feelings in a variety of ways, saying: “I am neither male nor female”; “Either is OK”;  “I am between female and male”; and “I experience changes.” This term is thought to be coined in Japan. In English, the terms “non-binary” and “third gender” may be used to express “X-gender.”

 

11. “Sexual Orientation” refers to a person’s physical, romantic and/or emotional attraction towards other people. It could be homosexual, heterosexual, bisexual or asexual. It is not something one can choose freely.

 

12. “Coming out” or “coming out of the closet” refers to the act of voluntarily making public one’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity. For many LGBT people, the purpose of their “coming out” is  not to expose their secret but to share it with others in order to build a new relationship. The opposite of coming out is “staying in the closet.” (Tr. KM)

 

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

 

教団出版局の「信徒の友」誌上で「LGBT(*1)から学ぶ シリーズ  性 その多様性にみる神の愛」という連載が始まった。その第一回を紹介する。(KNL編集部)

平良愛香

神奈川・川和教会牧師、セクシュアル・マイノリティ・クリスチャンの集い「キリストの風」集会代表、カトリック中央協議会HIV/AIDSデスクメンバー、農村伝道神学校教師、立教大学・桜美林大学非常勤講師。

 キリスト教は「性」をタブー視しがちです。性はプライベートなことであると同時に、すべての人たちがきちんと考えていくべきことです。そうした記事を目にすることすら抵抗があるという人もいるでしょう。しかし「性に関すること」が隠されてしまう中で、生きづらさを感じている人たちがいます。「男は、女はこういうもの」というジェンダー観(*2)が、男性は女性を守り、女性は男性に守られるものだといった偏った知識を固定化させてしまっている現実もあります。また、自分らしさとしての性(セクシュアリティ(*3))が周りに理解されずに苦しんでいる人もいます。自分の性自認(*4)が、体の性と異なることで苦しんでいる人たちは、実は「体と異なることに苦しんでいる」以上に、周りから理解されないことで苦しんでいると言えるかもしれません。

 LGBTとはレズビアン(*5)、ゲイ(*6)、バイセクシュアル(*7)、トランスジェンダー(*8)の人たちの頭文字を並べたものですが、この4種類の人たちという意味ではなく、「異性を愛することや、体の性別を受け入れて生きていくのが当たり前である」と考えられている社会の中で生きづらさを感じているさまざまな人たちの総称としても用いられます。アセクシュアル(*9)やXジェンダー(*10)など、さまざまな性を名乗る人たちもいます。

 教会では「神さまは人を男と女に造り、人は結婚して一体となり、子どもをもうけるのが祝福である」という創世記の言葉によって、LGBTの人たちを「神に逆らっている」と攻撃したり排除したりするということが度々起きています。

 けれど現在の神学はとても多様化しています。「聖書にダメだと書いてあるからダメである」と言う人もいますが、それに対しては「ではあなたは、聖書にダメと書いてあることはすべて守っているのですか」という問いが残ります。食物規定や、汚れについての規定などを「聖書に書いてあるからダメ」と言う人は、あまりいません。私たちは、多かれ少なかれ「この部分はそのまま読む」「この部分はこう解釈して読み越えていく」といった方法で、「解釈しながら」聖書を読んでいるのです。

 その中で、LGBTについては「ここは譲れない」と考える人たちもいます。性というのは子孫を残すために神さまから与えられた賜物であり、それ以外の用い方は神からの賜物の誤用・悪用である、と考える立場です。そこには「人間は男と女に造られ、それぞれにその役割がある」「性を用いることが許されるのは結婚という特別な契約のみ」という考えがあるからかもしれません。「神は同性愛者を造っていない」と考える人たちもいますし、「神は同性愛者を造ったが、同性愛行為を克服するという試練を与えておられる」と考える人たちもいます。そういう人たちは、体の性別と異なる性別を生きようとするトランスジェンダーの存在も良しとはしません。

 しかしその一方で、「左利きと右利きがいるように、性的指向(*11)が同性に向く人も異性に向く人も、両方に向く人も、どちらにも向かない人たちもいるのだ」ということに気付き、その中で誠実な人間関係を作ることこそが神が求めておられることだと考えて、聖書を再解釈する人たちもいます。子孫を残すことだけが祝福なのではない。男女はこうあるべき、結婚はこうあるべきということこそが問われなければならない、という考えです。どちらの立場を選ぶかは、それぞれの信仰によるものなのかもしれません。けれどひとつ考えてほしいのは、そこで苦しんでいる人たちがいるということです。私自身、キリスト教の中で苦しんできた一人なのです。

 私は沖縄の牧師の家庭に生まれました。「愛香」という名前は、沖縄の平和を求める叫び声と重ねて、旧約聖書の「哀歌」から付けられました。日本語では、発音が同じで、漢字が異なります。その漢字のイメージから、女性に間違われることが多いのですが、ヒゲづらの男性です。そして同性愛者です。私は自分の性的指向が男性に向いていることに幼いころから気づいていました。

 しかしそれが社会からヘンに思われると知った中学生のころ、孤独を感じるようになりました。キリスト教の高校に進んでからは、「同性愛は創造の秩序に反する罪。神への反逆。赦されない」と学びました。社会からも受け入れてもらえず、神からも嫌われていると感じる中で、死ぬことを毎日考えていました。ただ幸い私が死ななかったのは、幼いころから親に言われていた「世界中の人が敵になったとしても、イエスさまだけは味方」という言葉を知っていたからでした。キリスト教によって苦しめられた私を、死なないように支えてくれたのもキリスト教だったのです。

 やがて、キリスト教の中にもいろいろな考えがあることを知るようになりました。「やはり罪である」と言い続ける人たちもいますが、「神さまはあなたを同性愛者として造って祝福してくださっている」と言ってくれた牧師もいました。しっかり聖書を学びたい、そういう思いもあって農村伝道神学校に入学し、在学中に自分が同性愛者であることをカミングアウト(*12)したのです。かくして、男性同性愛者であることを公にして牧師になった最初の1人になってしまいました。私が牧師になる数カ月前に、すでに牧師をしていた1人の女性がレズビアンであることをカミングアウトしたので、「カミングアウトした最初のLGBTの牧師」としては彼女が第1号になります。

 カミングアウトしている牧師として、たくさんの相談を受けるようになりました。教会で牧師にカミングアウトしてから「信仰が足りない」と叱責し続けられている人、無断で他の信徒にバラされて無理やり囲まれて祈られた人(とても恐怖です)、「子どもたちに悪影響があるといけない」といって教会学校のスタッフを外された人、同性愛者として信仰生活を大切にしたいと牧師に話したら「それはうちの教会の信仰ではない」といって除籍になった人、「治すために異性と性関係を持て」と言われた女性(明らかにセクシュアル・ハラスメントです)、「結婚したら治る」と言われて女性と結婚させられそうになった男性……。

 居場所を失った人たちもいます。「いい人(異性の交際相手)を紹介しますよ」という「親切心」によって、その教会に行きづらくなったという人もいます。産めよ増やせよという聖書の言葉が無批判に祝福として語られたために、教会に行けなくなった人もいます(これはLGBTだけでなく多くの人を傷つけています)。 「治るように祈る」という圧力をかけられて教会に行けなくなった人を何人も知っています。ある牧師は「LGBTの人がうちの教会に来たら丁寧に受け入れたいです」と言ってくれましたが、すでにその教会には当事者が少なくとも2人いることを私は知っていました。「来たら受け入れる」という姿勢は、「すでにいるかもしれない」という意識を薄れさせます。バイセクシュアルの人からは「教会のリーダーに、ふしだらだとののしられた」という嘆きを聞いたことがあります。これから共に考え、「ありのままの私」を愛してくださる神の愛を体感していきましょう。

1  LGBT

 文中の説明に加えて、自分のセクシュアリティ(3)を模索中の人クエスチョニング(Questioning)を加えて、LGBTQと言うこともある。

2  ジェンダー

 生物学的な性差だけでなく、社会的・文化的なものによって作りだされる男女の差異(身振り、髪型、服装、言葉づかい、社会的役割など)を含めた人間の性。

3  セクシュアリティ

 生(生活・人生)のあり方と密接に結びついたものとして捉えられる人間の性のあり方。「自分らしさとしての性」とも言われる。生物学的な性(sex)や社会的・文化的な性(gender)ジェンダーを含めることも多い。

4  性自認

 生物学的な性と関係なく、自分で自分の性をどのように認識しているか、その認識の仕方。日本では「心の性」と言われることもあるが、心そのものに性別はないのだから「心の性」という表現を避けてほしいと言う人も多い。

5  レズビアン

 女性の同性愛者のこと。ただし「女性であること、あるいは女性同性愛者であることで抑圧を受けていることを積極的に言葉化するための語」として意味を持たせる人も出てきている。

6   ゲイ

 欧米で男性同性愛者が、自分たちのあり方を肯定的に表現するために使い出した言葉。アメリカなどでは女性同性愛者を含むことも多い。

7   バイセクシュアル

 性的指向が「女・男」のどちらにも向く人。あるいは相手の「性別」が重要な要因にならない人(後者についてはパンセクシュアルとも言う)。

8   トランスジェンター

 自分の性別に対する違和感を持つ人の総称。狭義では体の性と異なる性自認を持っている人。「性同一性障害」という診断名をつけられることもある。対義語はシスジェンダー。

9   アセクシュアル

 性別に関わりなく、他者に対して性的な欲求を持たない人または状態。

10  Xジェンダー

 性自認が男女どちらにも固定されてない人、または状態。「男女どちらでもない」「どちらでもある」「中間である」「ゆらぎのなかにある」など、さまざまな人がいる。

11  性的指向

 自分の性的意識の向く方向。同性、異性、両性、どちらにも向かない、などがある。自分の意志で変更・選択できるものではない。

12  カミングアウト

 セクシュアル・マイノリティの人たちが、自分自身を肯定的に受け入れた上で、自分自身のことを自分以外の人に告白することを、「クローゼットから出る」ことに例えている。自分の秘密を暴露することではなく、相手との関係性を変えていくことが目的。対義語はクローゼット。

【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。

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