【December 2018 No.400】From the General Secretary’s Desk: Mission Agreement with Indonesian Church; Change of Situation in Korea

The 41st Kyodan General Assembly has ended, and the 2018-19 general assembly period has begun. One of the highlights of the assembly was the signing of the mutual mission agreement with the Christian Evangelical Church in Minahasa, known as GMIM, the acronym of its name in Indonesian, Gereja Masehi Injili di Mynahsa.

Beginning some 20 years ago, Indonesian Christians from the Minahasa area coming to Japan on work visas formed two churches in Oarai, Ibaraki Prefecture and one each in Oyama, Tochigi Prefecture and Suzuka, Mie Prefecture. There are now four such churches in Japan, so the signing of this mutual mission agreement further cements the cooperative relationships that have been formed with local Kyodan churches as well as at the district level. This is an historic development that needs to be celebrated, as it opens a new window of cooperation and fellowship among the churches of Asia.

There are presently about 2.56 million foreigners living in Japan, and when people of non-Japanese origin who have Japanese citizenship and the children of foreigners are included, that figure increases to more than 4 million. Many of these people have Christian backgrounds, so as we cooperate with churches around the world, being involved with common mission issues with them is a great opportunity and challenge for us.

The Kyodan was born under the shadow of World War II and cooperated with the Japanese war aggression against the nations of East Asia. We deeply understand that without confessing our sin and extending reparations, the Kyodan has no chance to recover full fellowship with our Asian neighbors, so we must not be hesitant to take concrete actions. Therefore, keeping this history in mind at all times, we seek to work together on common issues in our common mission.

In mid-September, I participated in the pre-conference and general assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea, which was held on the island of Jeju. Just prior to the general assembly, South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean President Kim Jong-un had held a meeting, and previous to that, Kim Jong-un had met with U.S. President Donald Trump in Singapore.

Thus, this is a time of great geopolitical change on the Korean peninsula. The theme of the pre-conference was “Reconciliation, Peace and Unity in Northeast Asia,” and representatives from churches around the world gathered to discuss this theme. It was in this climate of monumental movement towards reconciliation and reunification of the Korean peninsula that we were reminded anew of what church leaders had termed the “Tozanso Process.” This is in reference to an international Christian conference held at the YMCA Tozanso retreat center in Gotemba, Japan from Oct. 29 to Nov. 2, 1984 under the theme, “Peace and Justice in Northeast Asia, the Peaceful Resolution of Conflict,” which was the beginning of our present efforts

It was at the behest of the World Council of Churches and the Christian Conference of Asia that the way was opened up for the National Council of Churches in Korea and its North Korean counterpart, the Korean Christian Federation, to begin dialog. It was at the ecumenical gathering in Glion, Switzerland in 1986 that the North Korean representatives first participated, and ever since then, on a yearly basis, representatives from the two Korean governments have met for dialog even amidst the frosty relationship between the two countries. It is this process of reconciliation and unity, with the desire to remove military threats and to denuclearize, that has been called the “Tozanso Process.”

Our voice may seem distant and small in the process of making this dream come to fruition, but we unite our hearts in prayer with churches around the world as we join together in concrete actions, seeking a world that is led by the Word of God. (Tr. TB)

—Akiyama Toru, General Secretary


グミンとの協約と東山荘プロセス   秋山 徹

 教団総会を終えて、第41期の教団の歩みが始まりました。この総会ではインドネシアのミナハサ福音教会(GMIM)との宣教協約が結ばれたことが一つのハイライトでした。ここ20年来、茨城県の大洗に二つ、栃木県の小山、三重県の鈴鹿でインドネシアのスラウェシ島から日本への移住労働者として来ておられたキリスト者がそれぞれの地に教会をたて、礼拝してこられました。GMIMの教会として4つの教会があります。この度の宣教協約によってこれらの教会と教団のそれぞれの教区や近隣の教会とが協力し連携して宣教にあたる確かな絆が築かれ、また今後のアジアの諸教会との交わりにも新しい窓口が開かれる 記念すべき時となりました。




【October 2018 No.399】Executive Council Considers Structural Reform & Mutual Mission Agreement

The sixth Executive Council meeting of the present two-year (40th) general assembly period was held July 9-10 at the Kyodan headquarters, with all 30 members in attendance. The first order of business was a report on the damage caused by floods in Nishi-Chugoku District. In fact, all eight districts to the west of Chubu District had damage to report. Fortunately, however, the churches in Nishj-Chugoku and Shikoku district, where severe destruction was reported by the media, escaped with only minimal harm.

In his report, General Secretary Akiyama Toru noted that in response to the recent, strong earthquake in Osaka—6.1 on the Japan Meteorological Agency’s Seismic Intensity Scale, the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan sent a donation of $10,000 to help in the recovery effort. Okamura Hisashi, chair of the Committee on the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation, reported that the youth conference held on March 21 at Aoyama Gakuin University’s chapel had 1,000 attendees, including about 200 from the Kyodan.

The first item of business on the second day was discussion of the “Kyodan Evangelism Promotion” program. The debate centered around which entity would take the lead in planning structural reform. No conclusion was reached so Secretary Kumoshikari Toshimi suggested that the issue be tabled until the October Executive Council meeting since the budgetary issues are not settled yet, and this was accepted.

Discussion turned to the mutual mission agreement between the Christian Evangelical Church in Minahasa (Gereja Masehi Injili di Minahasa [GMIM] in Indonesia) and the Kyodan. It was proposed that once finalized, there should be a signing ceremony at the Kyodan General Assembly. The question was raised as to whether this agreement would be like the one with the Korean Christian Church in Japan, by which the ministerial credentials of each denomination are mutually recognized by both denominations. General Secretary Akiyama answered that at present, the aim of the agreement is to recognize each other’s statement of faith and sacraments but does not include provisions for ministerial exchange.

The introduction to the agreement begins with a recognition that the relationship between GMIM and the Kyodan began during Word WarⅡthrough the role the Kyodan played in pacification of the conquered areas. With respect to this, the opinion was voiced that it is important how the Kyodan views its history and that this should be clarified as the agreement is finalized. Moderator Ishibashi Hideo then tabled action on the agreement, saying it would be reworked further for finalization at the October Executive Council meeting. (Tr. TB)

            —Kato Makoto, Kyodan executive secretary



 第40総会期第6回常議員会が7月9,10両日教団会議室において議員30名全員が出席して開催された。議事の最初は西中国豪雨の被害報告であった。中部教区から西に位置する8教区が被害報告を行った。大きな被害が出たと新聞等で報じられている西中国、四国地方では教会の被害は軽微であった。総幹事報告では秋山徹総幹事から震度6弱を記録した大阪・関西地震に対して台湾基督長老教会Presbyterian Church in Taiwanから1万ドルの見舞金が寄せられた事。熊本・大分地震の募金状況が報告された。宗教改革500周年記念事業委員会報告では、岡村恒委員長は3月21日に青山学院礼拝堂で開催されたユースカンファレンスに1000人の出席があり、教団からは200名の出席であったと報告した。

 二日目は最初に「教団伝道推進に関する件」が上程された。機構改定の検討をどこが担うのかについての議論があり、結論には至らず雲然俊美書記は予算などを詰めた上で10月の常議員会に再提案する方向を示し議場は承認した。「ミナハサ福音キリスト(GMIM)との宣教協約合意書に関する件」では、第41回教団総会において「宣教協約合意書に関する件」を議案とし、可決された場合には総会において締結式を行うことが提案された。審議においては、この協約が在日大韓キリスト教会との協約のように、職制を認め合うことまで含むものなのかが問われた。秋山総幹事は今回の協約は、信仰と聖礼典を認め合い、礼拝において交わりを持つことを目的とするもので、現段階では職制の交流までは含んでいないと答えた。合意書の冒頭で両教会の関係が戦時下の宣撫工作に始まったと述べている点について、教団が歴史をどう振り返り展望するのかを確認しつつ締結に向かってほしいとの意見があった。石橋秀雄議長は合意書は一旦取り下げ、整えた上で10月の常議員会で締結を目指すと述べた。(加藤 誠)

【October 2018 No.399】Japan Recently Hit with 4 Major Natural Disasters

The following major natural disasters have struck Japan between mid-June and mid-September.

1. An earthquake occurred on June 18, centered in the northern part of Osaka, with a magnitude of 6.1 on the Japan Meteorological Agency’s (JMA) Seismic Intensity Scale. Over 40,000 homes were damaged; 285 structures were destroyed; and 5 people were killed.

2. Major flooding took place between June 28 and July 8 in several sections of western Japan due to heavy rains caused by the effects of Typhoon No. 7, which was given the international name of Prapiroon. Floods also extended northward as far as Hokkaido. The heavy rains caused numerous landslides, which in addition to the flooding resulted in severe damage to many homes and the deaths of over 200 people.

3. Typhoon No. 21 came ashore on Sept. 4 in Shikoku as a major typhoon called “Jebi” in the international press, then crossed over Honshu and out into the Sea of Japan along Hokuriku on Sept. 5. It also continued up the western side of Hokkaido with strong winds and heavy rains, leaving a trail of destruction. Kansai International Airport in Osaka was forced to close due to flooding and damage to the bridge connecting it to the mainland. Over 2 million people were issued an evacuation advisory, and 9 people lost their lives.

4. A major earthquake on Sept. 6 struck the Iburi region in Hokkaido, with a magnitude of 7 on the JMA’s Seismic Intensity Scale. Occurring so shortly after the typhoon passed by Hokkaido, the resulting widespread landslides swallowed up many homes, killed 41 people, and caused the entire island to loose electric power due to the failure of a major electric power plant. As these events have occurred while this issue of KNL was being prepared, further details will be reported in the next issue. (Tr. TB)


*6月18日に大坂北部地震が起きた。マグネニュードMj6.1 最大震度6弱。5名が亡くなり、建物の全半壊は合わせて285軒。損傷を受けた家は四万軒を超した。




【October 2018 No.399】4 Kyodan Youth Attend “I Love Taiwan” Mission Event

The “I Love Taiwan” (ILT) mission event, sponsored by the Youth Ministry Committee of the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan (PCT), was held again this year, July 4-21, with the theme “The Beginning.” The planning and operation of the ILT are all conducted by PCT youth, who began preparations for this event at the end of last year. Watching these energetic Taiwanese youth enjoy being involved in church activities leaves a deep impression on Japanese youth every year, and they return to Japan feeling somewhat envious of the fact that there is a place in the church for youth.

The original purpose of the ILT was for foreign-born youth with Taiwanese roots to return to Taiwan during their summer vacation to encounter God and Taiwan by serving at a local church. However, now the focus is on international and domestic youth worshiping together with the local church and serving each other in order to experience “the Lord’s extended family.” This year, 107 domestic and international youth from 11 countries gathered for the event.

The main part of the ILT was ten days of service at local churches. Participants were sent to churches all over Taiwan to work at summer camps. During the camps, overseas youth shared their culture, history, food, dance, and hymns. This year, some of the participants were sent to churches of the indigenous people of Taiwan, where they heard local church youth telling children about Inoue Inosuke, the first Japanese Christian to reach out to Taiwan’s indigenous people, and how he caused the PCT to begin to evangelize them.

What left a lasting impression on the participants was the tremendously warm and tender look on the faces of the Taiwanese church adults towards the youth and of the Taiwanese youth towards the children and the overseas youth. Some participants said they were reminded of Jesus’ teaching to love “the least of these” (Matt. 25:40) through the example of the look on the their faces.

Through its Committee on Taiwan Church Relations, the Kyodan has been sending youth to the ILT continuously since 2009. This year, through information-sharing sessions by past participants in the ILT and other overseas programs, the Commission on Ecumenical Ministries was able to send four young people to Taiwan: Kuboshima Yuki from Higashi Omiya Church, Shimo Makoto from Yamato Christian Church, Kobayashi Nanami from Ashiyahama Church, and Oyama Echika from Saemoonan Church. We are thankful for everyone’s prayers and support. (Tr. DB)

                  —Hironaka Yoshimi, staff  Commission on Ecumenical Ministries


 今年も台湾基督長老教会(以下PCT)青年委員会が主催するI Love Taiwan Mission(以下ILT)が「初αThe beginning」というテーマで7月4日—7月21日に行われた。ILTの企画、運営はすべてPCT青年主体で行われており、今回は昨年末から準備を始めていたそうだ。「教会活動に関わることが楽しく」て活き活きしている台湾青年の姿に、日本の青年は毎年感銘を受ける。そして、教会に青年たちの居場所があることに羨ましさを覚えて帰国する。





【October 2018 No.399】United Church of Christ in the Philippines Celebrates Its 70th Anniversary

The 11th General Assembly of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) was held May 23-25 at Pilgrim Christian College in Cagayan de Oro. This was a special general assembly that incorporated a program to celebrate the 70th year of the church’s founding. On the morning of the second day, participants separated into eight groups (Music Workshop, LGBT, Gender Justice, Human Sexuality, Indigenous People, etc.), with time for study and discussion.

The election of officers was held in the afternoon, and the introduction of each candidate was shown on the screen in front by utilizing various sound effects and animation to give visual effects with originality. Bishop Melzar Labuntog was elected as general secretary, replacing Bishop Reuel Norman Marigza who had worked for many years as general secretary.

In the evening, we moved to a special meeting room in a giant mall to participate in the 70th Anniversary Congratulatory Party. Over 1,000 participants from various areas of the Philippines met together, overflowing with praise. The event ended with a slide presentation on Protestant evangelism in the Philippines from before the creation of the UCCP. The program also considered those of us guests from overseas.

On the third evening, we were transferred to a hotel in the city, and The UCCP Unsung Heroes Award was presented for the very first time. At this meeting thanks was expressed to the “heroes in the shadows” who had served in schools, seminaries, and churches in each area of the Philippines. The work of the eight heroes, almost all persons of advanced age over 80 years old, was introduced by videos, and each one was invited to the platform to give a speech. In the case of those who were deceased, a family member gave the speech in their place. It was a heart-warming gathering. (Tr. RT)

 by Kato Makoto, Kyodan executive secretary



 第11回フィリピン合同教会の総会が2018年5月23日(水)から25日(金)にかけてカガヤン・デ・オロ市のPILGRIM CHRISTIAN COLLEGE を会場にして行われた。今回は創立70周年を記念するプログラムが組み込まれた特別な総会であった。二日目の午前はInterest Groups/Workshopsの時間があり、Music Workshop, LGBT, Gender Justice, Human Sexuality, Indigenous People, など8グループに分かれて学びとディスカッションの時間が設けられていた。午後は選挙であったが、候補者の紹介が前方のスクリーンで候補者ごとに異なる効果音とアニメを用いた視覚的効果が用いられ斬新であった。今回の総会では、長年にわたって総幹事として働かれたReuel Norman Marigza ビショップに代わりMelzar Labuntog ビショップが新たに総幹事として選任された。

 夕方からは市内の巨大モールの特設会場に移動し、創立70周年の祝賀会が行われた。フィリピン各地から1000名以上が参加し、讃美に溢れた会であった。最後にフィリピン合同教会創立以前からの、フィリピンにおけるプロテスタントの伝道がスライドで紹介され、我々海外ゲストにとっても配慮されたプログラムであった。3日目の夕方からは市内のホテルに移動し第1回THE UCCP UNSUNG HEROES AWARD が開催された。これは長年にわたりフィリピン各地で学校、神学校、教会に仕えてきた「影のヒーロー」に感謝する会であった。8名のヒーローたちの仕事がビデオで紹介され、ほとんどが80歳以上の高齢者であったが、壇上に招かれスピーチをされた。故人の場合には家族が代わってスピーチをされた。心温まる会であった。
(加藤 誠)

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