【April 2018 No.397】Feeling the Breath of God through Biotechnology

by Ueno Keiichiro, head of Research Planning

Kagoshima Prefectural Institute for Agricultural Development

Member, Kagoshima Kajiyacho Church, Kyushu District

 My parents met each other through the mukyokai (non-church) movement’s nationwide aino (meaning “love agriculture”) agricultural activities.  So I grew up watching my father engaged in farming, with him sometimes being in tears while at other times singing hymns. Also, my hometown of Fukuoka in Kyushu was rich in natural beauty, and I was fascinated by the beautiful world that God had made, so I chose to study science. My goal was to go to a university in Hokkaido, but the school I was able to get into was down south, in Kagoshima, where I studied agriculture for six years. During that time, I met my wife at an event that was attended by young people from several churches, and then we got married. I put down roots as an agricultural researcher of Kagoshima Prefecture, and I have been here in Kagoshima ever since.

 Because I am the eldest son in my family, even after I got married and got a job, I thought about returning to Fukuoka. However, I kept in mind the words of my parents. “What you can save by returning to your hometown is only our household, just one farming family. You must do work in Kagoshima, as that will bring joy to many farming families.”

 That is how I became engaged in my job as a researcher. For many years, I have been working on using biotechnology to produce improved varieties of chrysanthemums, sweet potatoes, and other types of produce. I think there are many people who, when they hear the word “biotechnology,” feel that it is against the laws of nature, or that it infringes on God’s domain. However, biotechnology is something that draws out the power that living things originally possess. Whenever we encounter some new knowledge or discovery, we can become more skillful in realizing the depth and splendor of God’s creation. And we can feel the breath of God.

 To give a concrete example, from autumn until spring, one can see white ring chrysanthemums at flower shops and funeral homes all over Japan. Those chrysanthemums are mostly a variety called jinme, (literally “sacred horse.”) They are pure white and beautiful, but it is necessary to remove the side sprouts one by one by hand, which is a very time-consuming task. So I began my research by producing thousands of chrysanthemums from the leaves of jinme chrysanthemums and then choosing only the best of those. Among the types I chose, two varieties had few side sprouts, making the task of removing them much easier. Then I started to have a little fun with the words. I said, “Now we have a new jinme.” I took the word “now,” which is ima in Japanese, and the jin of jinme, and put them together to make imajin (which is how the English word “imagine” is transliterated into Japanese). Then I took the word “new,” which is ara in Japanese, and the jin of jinme, and put them together to make arajin (which is how “Aladdin” is transliterated). I called the two new varieties “Imagine” and “Aladdin.” The flower of Aladdin is big, and this new type of jinme is now being produced all over the country, as if it really did come out of a magic lamp!

 Ten years ago, I relocated to Tanegashima Island. At that time, though it was the beginning of the sweet potato boom, the quality and yield size were unstable. Through repeated research, we developed a way to stabilize the yield and provide a steady flow of healthy, excellent seedlings to farming families. Now, moist Anno sweet potatoes are lined up in stores all over Japan. I am so happy that people appreciate the delicious flavor of the authentic Anno sweet potatoes produced in Tanegashima.

 This kind of achievement is greatly influenced by the presence of the members who worked together with us. It is not just about research and technology. When many people—including municipalities, agricultural cooperatives, and producers—combine their efforts, they can create something new. In the same way, my life was greatly influenced by getting to know my research companions. Thirty years ago I made some friends from all over the country when I went to Tsukuba for training to learn biotechnology, and this experience resulted in me going to America 20 years ago to study for one year. It was my first time to live overseas in an unfamiliar place, and I was so anxious. However, when I found out that it was the same city as Amherst College, where William Smith Clark had served as president, and where Uchimura Kanzo and Niijima Jo (also known as Joseph Hardy Neeshima) had studied as international students, it impacted me greatly. I felt that God was telling me this about my life: “You did not choose me, but I chose you.” (John 15:16) I realized that God’s plan, though it may start out as just a point, the point becomes a line, the line becomes a plane, the plane becomes a solid, and God’s plan transcends the dimensions and comes close to us. God said to Abraham, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.” As for me, I left my household in Fukuoka, and now I can finally accept that these words are also about myself.

 The church I belong to, Kagoshima Kajiyacho Church, operates a kindergarten called Keiai Yochien on the same property. My wife was a teacher there, so I also got involved in the events at both the church and the kindergarten. Again this year (2017), I am on the committee in charge of the Christmas events. The candlelight service, complete with the sound of the pipe organ playing hymns, has been held on Dec. 24 in the evening, every year. This event has a 40-year history. Including visitors, more than 250 people attend this event, which is more than three times as many as attend our normal worship service. The sanctuary is overflowing with God’s blessings! Christmas is a time to wait expectantly for the Lord of reconciliation, blessing, and peace. This year’s theme is “Joyful News From Heaven.” We want to prepare to spread the joyful news to as many people as possible! (Tr. KT)

—From Shinto no Tomo (Believers’ Friend), December 2017 issue

 

バイオテクノロジーに神の吐息を感じる

上野敬一郎(うえのけいいちろう)
鹿児島県農業開発総合センター研究企画課長鹿児島加治屋町教会員

 両親が無教会主義の全国愛農運動で出会ったこともあり、賛美歌を歌いつつ、涙しつつ農業を営む父の姿を見て育ちました。また、故郷の福岡は自然豊かな環境で、神の創られた美しい世界に魅せられ、理系を選択しました。目標の大学は北海道でしたが、進学できたのは南の鹿児島で、ここで6年間農学を学びました。その間、複数の教会の青年が集う会で妻と出会って結婚し、そのまま、鹿児島県の農業関係研究員として根を下ろして、現在に至っています。

 私は長男ですから、結婚と就職の後も、福岡へ帰ることを考えました。しかし、「帰郷して救えるのは、わが家、一農家にすぎない。鹿児島でたくさんの農家に喜んでもらえる仕事をしなさい」という両親の言葉に思い留まりました。

 そのようにして携わった研究員としての仕事で、バイオテクノロジーを活用した作物の改良を長年手がけ、菊やサツマイモの品種改良に関わってきました。「バイオテクノロジー」と聞くと、自然の摂理に反するとか、神の領域を侵害すると感じる方も多いと思います。でも、これは生物が本来持っている力を引き出すものであり、新たな知識や発見に出会うたびに、神の創造の奥深さとすばらしさを堪能できます。そして、神さまの吐息を感じるのです。

 具体例を示すと、秋から春に全国の花屋さんや葬儀場で見かける白輪ギクは、ほとんど「神馬」という品種です。純白で美しいですが、手でひとつずつ、わき芽を摘みとる大変な作業が必要です。そのため、「神馬」の葉から数千のキクを再生し、良いものを選び出す研究を始めました。選んだ中には、わき芽が少なく作業が楽になる品種が2つありました。そこで、「今」時の「新」しい「神馬」はこれだ!と少し遊び心をもって、新品種に「今神」(Imagine)と「新神」(Aladdin)という名を付けました。「新神」は花も大きく、まさに魔法のランプから出てきた「新しい神馬」として、今でも全国で生産されています。

 10年前には種子島へ異動になりました。ちょうどいもブームが始まった時期でしたが、当時は品質や収量が不安定でした。そこで研究を重ね、収量が安定した無病の優良苗を農家に供給する流れを作りました。今では全国の店頭にしっとり甘い安納いもが並びます。本場・種子島産安納いものおいしさが理解され、うれしく思っています。

 このような成果は、一緒に取り組んだメンバーの存在が大きく影響します。研究や技術面だけでなく、市町村や農協、生産者など、たくさんの方々の力を結集して、新たなものを生み出すことができるのです。

 研究者仲間との出会いも同様に、人生に大きな影響を与えます。30年前、バイオ技術の習得に行った筑波での研修で全国に仲間ができ、20年前の1年間の米国留学につながりました。見知らぬ地で初めての海外生活、不安でいっぱいでした。しかし、その場所こそ、クラーク博士が学長を務めた大学、内村鑑三や新島襄が留学したアーマスト大学のある街だと知ったときは、大きな衝撃を受けました。私の人生にも「あなたがたがわたしを選んだのではない。わたしがあなたがたを選んだ」(ヨハネ15・16)と神が語りかけてくださっていると感じました。神さまのご計画は、点から線へ、線から面、そして立体へと、次元を越えて迫って来るのだと実感しています。

 神さまは、「あなたは生まれ故郷、父の家を離れて私が示す地に行きなさい」とアブラハムに語られました。福岡の家を離れた私ですが、今、ようやくこれを自分のこととして受け入れることができます。

 私が所属する鹿児島加治屋町教会は、併設する敬愛幼稚園と共に歩んでいます。敬愛幼稚園の先生をしていた妻とともに、私も教会や幼稚園の行事に関わってきました。今年も、委員として担当するクリスマスが近づいています。12月24日夜のパイプオルガンと賛美歌が響くキャンドルサービスは、40年ほどの歴史があります。一般の方も含め、当日は普段の礼拝の3倍以上、250名を超える人々が集い、礼拝堂が恵みに満ちあふれます。和解と祝福、平和の主を待ち望むクリスマス、今年のテーマ「天のかなたから、うれしい知らせ」を、ひとりでも多くの方々に伝えられるよう、準備を進めていきたいと思います。 (信徒の友2017年12月号より)

【April 2018 No.397】500th Reformation Anniversary Celebrated by Tokyo District

 On Oct. 9, 2017, the Tokyo District 500th Year Reformation Commemoration and Gospel Evangelism Convention was held in Goucher Memorial Chapel at Aoyama Gakuin University. Sponsored jointly by Tokyo District and the Tokyo Association of Laypersons, the convention was planned as an event to commemorate the Reformation, calling together not only churches in Tokyo but also the various churches in the suburbs. It was a half-day meeting, structured in three parts.

 For the first part, “Commemorative Worship,” Yamakita Nobuhisa, chair of the Kyodan Board of Publication’s Board of Directors, gave the message. He informed us that looking back at the amazement and love revealed in the meeting of Jesus with the paralyzed man and his four friends can be seen as the basis of what occurs in the midst of present-day progress and not just what occurred during the Reformation in the past.

 “The Commemorative Concert,” the second part, was performed by the Japan Bach Collegium. Suzuki Masato led the group with their four soloists, accompanied by organ, as they presented Bach compositions. With the guidance of Suzuki’s commentary between the compositions, we were able to trace the praise of the churches born during the Reformation. At the end of the concert, the performers and concert attendees united their voices in praise, singing “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.”

 In the third part, the “Sharing Time,” reports were presented by Kyodan youth participants in both the Japan/Germany and Japan/Taiwan Youth Mission programs, and an appeal was made for the Kyodan Young Adult Convention to be held in the spring of 2018.

 It was a large gathering, even for the Tokyo District, as there were 150 churches represented among the 822 participants. There were 126 participants who did not register a church affiliation, so there were probably many seekers and future believers among them. This not only will bring encouragement to pastors and believers but also appropriately relates to Gospel evangelism! (Tr. RT)

—From Kyodan Shinpo (The Kyodan Times)No.4872

 

 雨天、曇天の多かった10月、珍しく晴天に恵まれた9日に「東京教区宗教改革500周年記念・福音伝道大会」が青山学院大学ガウチャー記念礼拝堂で開催された。教区主催、東京信徒会共催による大会で、東京のみならず首都圏の諸教会に呼びかけて宗教改革を改めて覚える行事として企画された。3部で構成された半日のプログラムだった。

 1部「記念礼拝」は、出版局理事長・山北宣久(Yamakita Nobuhisa)氏が御言葉を取り次いだ。キリストと中風の人、4人の友人の出会いに示される驚きと愛に立ち返ることが、宗教改革を過去のものとせず現在進行中のこととして捉えることの根源にあると知らされた。

 2部「記念演奏会」は、バッハ・コレギウム・ジャパンによって行われた。鈴木優人氏が、メンバーの声楽ソリスト4名と共に、オルガン演奏によってバッハの楽曲を披露した。鈴木氏が曲の合間に入れてくれる解説に導かれて宗教改革で誕生した教会の讃美をたどることができた。演奏会最後には「神はわがやぐら」によって出演者たちと会衆が共に力強い讃美を捧げた。

 3部「交わりのとき」には、夏に行われた教団・日独、日台の両ユースミッション参加者の報告、また来春行われる教団・教会青年大会のアピールがあった。

 150教会、出席者822名は東京教区としても大きな大会となった。出席教会名が未記入だった126名の方々の中には多くの求道者、未信者の方たちが含まれていたことであろう。このことは、大会で教職、信徒が励まされるのみならず、福音伝道にふさわしいことであった。(教団新報4872号より)

【April 2018 No.397】Tokyo Youth Plan First Ecumenical Program (EcuPro) in 2017

by Sugino Nozomi, member of Tokyo Kiyose Catholic Church
Representative, Ecumenical Project Executive Committee

 The youth of the Tokyo area—Catholic, Japan Evangelical Lutheran, and Kyodan—have had some connection with each other by attending each other’s events over the years. In that connection, we (the youth of the Tokyo area churches) decided to do something together on this 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation.

 It was this initiative that became the genesis of “EcuPro” (short for Ecumenical Program, which is an inter-denominational gathering of young people). The first official EcuPro event was held at Seijo Catholic Church in Tokyo on Aug. 19, 2017 with over 120 people in attendance, and we were able to schedule a meeting for 2018.

 We realized that we probably have not known enough about each other, including our faith. As one of the founders of EcuPro, I realize that this became part of our motivation. In an era when there is violence and repression in the name of religion, we considered that perhaps it is important for our generation to understand our religion correctly and to try to understand each other. We felt it necessary, especially at this historic milestone, for the young people to come together.

 The Ecumenical Project Executive Committee was established in February 2017. We planned “joint worship” and “conversation sessions” as the two pillars of this effort. In planning a joint worship service, the most difficult thing was the matter of the sacrament of communion, which the Catholic Church calls the Eucharist. We recognize that it might have seemed reckless for us as immature young people to tackle this question of communal sacrament, which has been a challenge all around the world. But this is precisely why we came to consider this a most appropriate theme for working toward a mutual understanding of the contours of our faith.

 Our long discussion resulted in the decision not to hold the sacrament together during worship but to share bread together. However, when we sat at table together, it was indeed a precious time. We would learn about the differences between us. We could make something together, and we could experience at least in some small scale what is so hoped for in ecumenical work.

 The 2017 program consisted of a joint worship service, “sharing bread” (the huge loaf we had all baked together), and a conversation session. On the platform at the service were Kyodan pastors, Catholic priests and sisters, and Japan Evangelical Lutheran Church pastors. Together we deepened our understanding of our various denominations and shared our common challenges and hints for Christian living. (Tr. NB)

—From Shinto no Tomo (Believers’ Friend), December 2017 issue

 

えきゅぷろ!教派を超えた青年の集い

共にパンを分かち合うまで

すぎの  のぞみ/東京  カトリック清瀬教会信徒、
エキュメニカルプロジェクト実行委員会代表

 東京近郊のカトリック教会、日本福音ルーテル教会、日本基督教団の青年たちはお互いの集会やイベントに行くなど、元々ゆるいつながりがありました。そうした中で「宗教改革500年の節目だし一緒に何かやろう」と、各教派の青年同士で交流会の実施を打診し合ったのが、「えきゅぷろ!」の始まりです。

 「私たちはあまりにも互いのことを知らないのではないか?自分たちの信仰のことも……」。発起人の1人である私には、「えきゅぷろ!」を企画した動機としてそんな思いがありました。宗教の名を標榜した暴力や、信仰故の弾圧があるこの時代において、自分の宗教を正しく理解すること、そして互いに理解し合うことは、私たちの世代の課題なのではないか。この節目に青年たちが手を取り合えたことは、必然なのではないかと感じています。

 エキュメニカルプロジェクト実行委員会が発足したのは2017年2月です。イベントの柱として設定したのは、「合同礼拝」と「トークセッション」。合同礼拝を行うにあたって、最も困難だったのが聖餐(カトリックでは聖体拝領に相当)の実施です。世界的にも課題となっているこの共同聖餐式に、未熟な青年たちが取り組むことは、無謀だと思われるかもしれません。しかしこれこそが、互いの信仰の形に理解を求め合うのに、最も適したテーマではないかと考えたのです。

 長い話し合いの結果、聖餐を礼拝中には行わず、「パンの分かち合い」を実施することになりました。共に食卓を囲んだとき、ここに至るまでのかけがえのない時間、相手との違いを知るために自分を知り、そして共に一つのものを作り上げていくという、エキュメニカル活動に求められているものの縮図を見たような気がしました。

 第一回えきゅぷろは、2017年8月19日に、東京のカトリック成城教会で行われ、120名を超える青年達が集った。来年、第二回目の開催も決定している。

 

今年のプログラム

1       合同礼拝

2       パンの分かち合い

      自分たちで焼いた巨大なパンを参加者全員で分かち合う

3       トークセッション

      日本基督教団の牧師、カトリック教会の神父、修道会のシスター、日本福音ルーテル教会の牧師が登壇。それぞれの教派について理解を深め、キリスト者として生きる中での課題やヒントを共有した。(信徒の友2017年12月号より)

【April 2018 No.397】Ways to Bring Churches Together: Three Examples

The following examples of efforts to bring churches together were shared by a city church, a church in the far-reaching Hokkaido region, and a church inviting the participation of its local community. These appeared in three separate Shinto no Tomo articles that were condensed by the KNL Editorial Committee.

I. Children of Churches Deepen Friendship 

by Oshio Hikaru, pastor

Kamata Shinsei Church, Tokyo District

 For the past 50 years, Tokyo District’s Minami (southern) Subdistrict has held an annual “Sports Day” to promote friendship among members of local church schools. One extant record shows that in 1977, 442 children from 12 churches gathered for this event. As this event was held outdoors until 2000, there were times when inclement weather caused cancellations. Since 2001, however, we have been using the gymnasium of Tamagawa Seigakuin, making weather irrelevant. Of the 160 participants from nine churches who attended the Sept. 24, 2017 event, about 100 were children, ranging from toddlers to high school students. We played six games, including charades, tamaokuri (using spoons to pass a ping pong ball along a line), tamaire (throwing balls or beanbags into a basket on a high pole), and so on. Then we separated into “children’s relay” for elementary and younger children and “adults’ relay” for middle school and older participants. Each person had to run once around the gym. All did their best.

 In earlier days, we awarded points to competing churches, but the opinion surfaced that competition is not in line with deepening fellowship, and so each church divides its members into white and red teams, with the only competition now being in relay races. So this year, most events included all members with no competition between churches, and the relay race was divided into red and white teams. In this way, even if there is only one participant from a particular church, that person will not be competing alone. Through this way of holding our Sports Day, children are made aware of the vertical relationship with God and the lateral relationship with other friends under God.

From Shinto no Tomo (Believers’ Friend), December 2017 issue

 

II. Stamp Rally*

by Han, Soohyeon, pastor

Asahikawa Toyooka Church, Hokkai District

 Hokkai District’s Dohoku (northern) Subdistrict is made up of ten churches and the Dohoku Mission Support Christian Center. Three churches are located within seven kilometers of Asahikawa City’s center. The other churches are 30 to 80 kilometers away from Asahikawa, and the northernmost, Wakkanai Church, is 160 kilometers away. In such a broad area—especially one that experiences harsh winters—it is particularly important for churches to have a sense of connection. It was suggested at our November 2015 subdistrict meeting that we “hold a Stamp Rally as a fun way of connecting churches with each other.” So we took up the challenge and passed out Stamp Rally cards from May to gather stamps from the 16 places named in the “Dohoku Subdistrict Stamp Rally.”

 On the Stamp Rally card are the ten churches, the Christian Center, the Ainu Information Center that is located inside one of the small churches, and the names of gatherings in Dohoku Subdistrict. People can get their cards stamped for participating in worship services or gatherings at the locations listed. As we wish to strengthen our ties with distant churches, participants got two blanks stamped for going to distant churches.

 We prepared rubber stamps for each church. For example, the Asahikawa Tomioka Church stamp was created from a combination of its children’s drawings of their own faces. Various prizes were given according to the number of stamp impressions acquired, and participants were recognized at the Dohoku Subdistrict Gathering in October. Goda Mitsuyuki was recognized for completing the card in four months. Goda lives next door to one of the small churches without a pastor and attends worship without fail at its once-a-month worship service, even though he has not yet received baptism. However, Goda was so excited about the stamp race that he was willing to pay for a hotel room in order to be able to attend Wakkanai Church.

 There were even some participants from outside Dohoku Subdistrict, which was very encouraging to us. In order for churches to know and support each other, we wish to hold this event in coming years as well.

_____________
*”Stamp Rally” is a term coined from English in Japan and refers to a card with blank squares, each of which can be marked by a rubber stamp naming a specific place. The resultant collection of marked squares shows that the person holding the card has been to all the places named by the stamps.

From Shinto no Tomo (Believers’ Friend), January 2018 issue

 

III. Toy Exchange for Children 

by Funabiki Mikio, member

Suzurandai Church, Hyogo District

 Suzurandai Church, which is about ten kilometers from the center of Kobe, was founded 53 years ago. We have held a bazaar each year since our founding to provide a good place for people to meet and for church members to work together and fellowship with one another. An event we started about ten years ago as part of our annual bazaar is our Toy Exchange for Children, which was designed to include neighborhood children so that they could feel comfortable in church.

 At the event, one point is stamped on the children’s cards for each toy they bring, and with their points, they can “buy” a toy that another child has brought. Because of this, the more toys a child brings, the more can be bought. Children who do not bring any toys can get points for watching a picture story, painting a picture, or playing with a taketombo (a simple helicopter-like bamboo toy that flies when spun by hand) or paper airplane, or by playing with acorn tops (little tops made from acorns that can spin). For toys that are really popular, we hold an auction in which the child who bids the most points gets the toy.

 We held our most recent bazaar on Nov. 23, 2017. People who live nearby provided the taketombo and acorn tops. Next year, we are considering not only holding the toy exchange but also creating a handicraft corner that these people can help lead as well.

 On this day only, the church sanctuary fills with people from the area. Children come every year to this event, but we have yet to have a child participate in the worship service or church school. We pray that evangelizing by sowing this seed will bear fruit. (Tr. WJ)

From Shinto no Tomo (Believers’ Friend), February 2018 issue

—Summarized by KNL Editor Kawakami Yoshiko

 

教会同士の出会いの試みを、都市部、広域の北海道、そして地域の人々を招く企画の、三つの例を通して紹介する。(信徒の友の記事より。KNL編集部)

「教会の子どもたちが親睦を深める」
東京・蒲田新生教会牧師 大塩光

 東京教区南支区では、50年ほど前から年に1度、教会学校間の親睦を深めるために「合同運動会」を開いています。1977年には12教会から442名が集まったと記録が残っています。2000年までは屋外で行っていたため、雨天中止の年もありました。2001年からは玉川聖学院の体育館を会場とし、天候を気にせず開催しています。2017年は9月24日日曜の午後に開催されました。9教会から約160名が参加し、約100名が幼児から高校生までの子どもたちです。ジェスチャーゲームやピンポン球送り、玉入れなど6種目を行い、最後は特に白熱する「みんなでリレー」です。小学生以下の「こどもリレー」と、中学生以上の「おとなリレー」に分かれます。走る距離は1人体育館1周。皆が全力で走り切ります。

 当初は教会対抗で点数を競っていましたが、競技性を前面に出すことは教会の交わりとしてふさわしくないという意見もあり、各教会の中で紅白の2チームに分け、リレーのみ教会対抗とする形式が長らく続いてきました。今年は競技性のないものは全員一緒に、競技性のあるものは例年どおり紅白のチームで、さらにリレーも紅白のチーム行いました。これならば教会から1人だけの参加でも寂しくありません。教会には神さまとの縦のつながりのもとに、横につながる友だちがいることを子どもたちがこの運動会によって知り、そしてみんなが神さまのもとに一つであると実感することを願っています。(信徒の友2017年12月号)

 

「スタンプラリーによる教会の連帯」
北海道・旭川豊岡教会牧師 韓守賢

 北海教区道北地区は、10教会・伝道所と宣教支援をする道北クリスチャンセンターで構成されています。旭川市内にある3教会は7キロ圏内ですが、それ以外は隣の教会まで30〜80キロの距離があり、特に日本最北端の稚内教会は一番近い名寄教会まで160キロ以上離れています。広大な寒冷地に小規模教会が点在するこの地区では、教会の連帯は大切です。2015年11月の道北地区集会で、「教会のつながりを楽しみながら持つきっかけとして、スタンプラリーを始めてはどうか」という提案が信徒からありました。これを受け、2017年度始めに各教会でスタンプラリーカードを配布し、5月から16カ所を回る「道北地区スタンプラリー」を実施しています。

 カードのマス目には10教会・伝道所とセンター、伝道所内にあるアイヌ民族情報センター、道北地区集会の名前が書いてあり、礼拝や集会に参加したり、訪問したときにスタンプを押してもらいます。遠い教会との交流はより大切にしたいとの思いから、隣の教会と距離がある稚内教会、伝道所、留萌宮園伝道所は2マスずつ設けました。

 スタンプは各教会で用意しました。旭川豊岡教会では、教会の子どもたちが描いた自分たちの似顔絵を組み合わせたスタンプです。

 スタンプの数によって幾つかの賞を設け、該当者を道北地区集会で表彰します。10月の地区集会では、4カ月間でコンプリートした合田みつゆきさんが表彰されました。合田さんは伝道所の隣に住み、月1回の礼拝に欠かさず出席していますが、信徒ではありません。しかしながら稚内教会訪問時は前日からホテルに泊まるほどの熱意を持って参加してくれました。

 道北地区以外からも参加者が与えられ、励まされています。互いの教会を知り、支え合っていけるよう、来年度以降も続けていきます。(信徒の友2018年1月号)

 

「子どものためのおもちゃ交換会」 兵庫・鈴蘭台教会員 船曳仁雄

 鈴蘭台教会は神戸の中心地から10キロほど離れた場所にあり、今年創立53年を迎えます。地域の人たちとの良き出会いの場として、また教会員同士がつながり、共に働く喜びを得ることを目指して、創立以来、教会バザーを続けています。この恒例の教会バザーと同時開催しているのが、子どものためのおもちゃ交換会です。地域の子どもたちにも親しみを感じてもらおうと10年ほど前に始めました。

 当日、使わなくなった玩具を教会に持ってきた子どもに、1個につき1ポイント以上、ポイントカードにスタンプを押します。そのポイントで、他の子が持ってきたおもちゃの中から欲しい物を「購入」できます。そのため、大量のおもちゃを持ち込んでポイントを多量にゲットする子どもたちがいます。おもちゃを持ってこなかった子どもも、聖書紙芝居を楽しんだり、塗り絵をしたり、竹とんぼや紙飛行機、どんぐりのコマで遊ぶことでポイントがもらえます。人気のおもちゃはオークションを開催し、一番高いポイントを示した子が購入できます。

 2017年は11月23日(祝日)に開催されました。竹とんぼやどんぐりのコマは、近隣に住む人が提供してくれました。来年以降は遊ぶだけでなく、この人を中心とした工作コーナーも開けないかと検討しています。

 この日ばかりは、礼拝堂が地域の人たちであふれます。毎年来てくれる子どもたちもいますが、礼拝や子どもの教会(CS)につながった子はまだいません。伝道の種まきが結実することを祈っています。(信徒の友2018年2月)

【April 2018 No.397】From the General Secretary’s Desk:Anticipating My New Role and Its Responsibilities

by Akiyama Toru, general secretary

 From April 2018, I assumed my responsibilities as Kyodan general secretary. I am writing this manuscript in March, spending my last month in the Lord’s church where I have served for 23 years as pastor of Ageo Godo Church and Ageo Fujimi Kindergarten, tying up the work I have done until now. The need to say goodbye to the close church fellowship I have enjoyed for so long while not yet feeling fully prepared for my future work is overwhelming. I will be preaching at Ageo Godo Church until the April 1 Easter Worship Service and from April 2 will begin my work as general secretary. On that day, I will greet the staff, and on April 16, I will leave to attend the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan’s General Assembly, so now I am looking forward to whatever kind of days may be awaiting me ahead. I will be beginning a new step in serving the Lord, and I want to answer His call faithfully each day in whatever type of situation the Lord Jesus Christ is calling me.

 The position of Kyodan general secretary had been vacant for over a year, and there is a mountain of issues that must be quickly handled with the assumption of office. First of all, the reform of the Kyodan’s organizational structure, which has already been raised at Executive Council meetings, and the critical situation of membership and finances are immediate concerns, while considering the future of the Kyodan and how to make needed structural changes. As general secretary, the issues I must deal with thoroughly are the reorganization of the current Executive Council’s structure and a broad reform of the Kyodan’s structure and procedures, etc. We must wrestle with structural downsizing and proceed to reform the structure in ways that will actually assist evangelism. A revision of the Constitution and Bylaws will accompany this, so I will bear the responsibility of explaining the purpose of restructuring to gain broad consent. I think the days ahead will continue to involve the acrobatics of catching up with and jumping on a train that has already left and immediately explaining the situation to its passengers.

 Until now, I have been serving as the chair of the Commission on Ecumenical Ministries as well as moderator of Kanto District. I was also involved in the aid to and restoration of the churches damaged during the Great East Japan Disaster. In this work, the damaged churches struggled to their feet in the midst of the unique, painful situations each one faced, and we stood by them in their efforts to carry out restoration and rebuilding. But at the same time, this also became an opportunity to deepen our connections with churches around the world and to realize how important those connections really are.

 In the midst of the fellowship of global ecumenical churches, my work as general secretary will include responding sensitively to the issues of the various churches while not being indifferent to their mission advances and the various pains and struggles they face, thereby widely opening a window to move toward a joint living fellowship. I want to pursue this intentionally.

 An urgent issue of our Kyodan is how to develop a kind of evangelism of hope in the midst of an aging society in churches that are even more aged, so that young people will meet the Lord Jesus Christ and discover a place and chance to live vibrantly within the church. Therefore, seeking an evangelism activated in both these directions is what is needed. I would appreciate your prayers for my new work as general secretary.

 “Oh, Holy Spirit, who can even revive a mountain of dried out bones into a large crowd of the Lord’s flock, come and blow from all directions.” (Tr. RT)

 

 2018年4月より日本キリスト教団総幹事としての職務を担うことになりました。この原稿を書いているのは3月で、上尾合同教会牧師、上尾富士見幼稚園園長として23年間主の教会に仕えてきた働きの最後の一か月の時を過ごしており、これまでの働きの総括と、長い間の親しい教会の交わりとの別れのために心が一杯になっていますので、これからの働きについてはまだ十分な心の準備ができていません。4月1日のイースター礼拝まで、上尾合同教会で礼拝説教をし、4月2日から、いよいよ総幹事としての働きが始まります。その日に、職員にあいさつをして、その日のうちに台湾長老教会の総会のために台湾に出かけるというスケジュールになっているそうで、さて、これからどんな日々が待っているのか楽しみです。主イエス・キリストはどのようなところにわたしを呼び出しておられるのか、その呼び出しに忠実に応える日々でありたいと願いながら、また新たに主に仕える歩みを始めます。

 教団総幹事の職務はこれまで1年以上空席になっており、就任早々に取り組まなければならない課題は山積しています。まず教団機構の改定のことがすでに常議員会で日程に上っており、教団の教勢と財政の危機的な状況に即して、教団の将来を見通しながら機構をどのように改定してゆくか、総幹事として最も深くかかわらなければならない課題となります。現在の委員会組織の改編や教団総会の規模とあり方の大幅な改定など、機構のスリム化と実際の伝道に資する機構にしてゆくための改定と取り組まなければなりません。教憲・教規の改訂を伴いますので広く合意を形成するための各教区や教団総会議員への説明責任を負わされます。すでに走り出している電車に追いかけて行って飛び乗り、さっそく乗客に状況を説明するようなアクロバティックな日々が続くと思います。

 これまで、教団では世界宣教委員長として、また、関東教区議長として、東日本大震災の被災教会支援と復興の働きに加わってきました。この働きの中で、被災した教会がそれぞれに抱えた特別な課題や大きな痛みの中から立ち上がり、教会の復興・再建を果たす歩みに伴ってきましたが、同時に、日本キリスト教団と世界の教会とのつながりがどんなに深くあり、またその関わりがどんなに大切なものであるかをとりわけ強く感じさせられる機会ともなりました。総幹事としての仕事は、グローバルなエキュメニカルな教会の交わりの中で、それぞれの教会の宣教の前進とさまざまな痛みと戦いに無関心ではなく、鋭敏に反応し、生きた交わりに連帯することに向かって大きく窓を開くことも課題としたいと思っています。

 わたしたちの教団の緊急の課題は、高齢化してゆく社会の中で超高齢化した教会がどのような希望をもった宣教を展開できるか、若い人たちが主イエス・キリストに出会い、生き生きと教会の中で働ける場と機会を見出すか、この両方向の宣教の活性化が求められています。教団総幹事としての新しい仕事のためにお祈りいただければ幸いです。

「枯れ果てた骨の山をも、生きた主の群れの大群に生き返らせる聖なる霊よ、四方から吹き来たれ」。秋山徹総幹事

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