【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。

【October 2019 No.404】National Federation of Kyodan Women’s Societies Holds 50th Assembly

by Watanabe Taeko, chair of Preparatory Committee

50th Anniversary Central Committee Conference

This year’s National Federation of Kyodan Women’s Societies’ (NFKWS) National Assembly, held June 7-8, marked the 50th anniversary of the first NFKWS National Assembly. The theme was “Living in Love and Truth: Listening to the Gospel of John.” Participants came from locations that ranged from Hokkaido to Okinawa. Including the ecumenical guests, more than 900 participants met in one location, Makuhari Messe, Inc. International Conference Hall. At this year’s conference, participants were told, “Let’s bridge the generation gap and connect!” It had been decided that the second day of the conference would be Saturday, in order to make participation easy for everyone, including women with young children as well as women who are employed.


After the opening worship service, there was a ceremony commemorating the 50th anniversary. As participants listened to a cello performance, they watched “The 50-Year Journey of the NFKWS” on a large screen in the Conference Hall. It was a time to look back once again on the organization’s history. After that, participants attended the breakout session of their choice. The five breakout sessions planned by the committee in charge of NFKWS activities were entitled “Listening to what the Bible says about Peace,” “The Church and Evangelism,” “The Environment and Our Children,” “Solidarity with our World,” and “The Blessings of Growing Old.” During the evening “Federation Hour,” each district gave a report on its activities. Every report was thought-provoking, and participants felt that they shared each other’s tasks. At the close of the first day, a soloist led the entire assembly in singing a hymn together.


After the morning prayer on the second day, Saya Church (Shikoku District) Pastor Shinoura Chifumi spoke on the assembly theme in a message about the women mentioned only in the Gospel of John. These comments were among the many received on the follow-up questionnaire:  “It was a powerful lecture that was also easy to understand. It echoed in my heart.” “I received the words as words spoken for me, and it was encouraging for me.” “God loves me, and every single person has been given a gift.”


The hearts of all the participants were touched when their youngsters sang children’s gospel hymns. After that, the participants separated into these three groups for a time of fellowship: “A Deeper Look at the Theme,” “Lectures for the Younger Generation,” and “Fellowshiping Freely.” This year there was a program for the children called “Did You Know That? / A Story About When You Were Born.” The planners realized that there was a wide range of participants, so they prepared many ways to get them involved. The closing communion worship service was a special time to recognize the blessings of being in fellowship with the Lord.


It is our hope that in every activity on the schedule, this conference expressed thankfulness and praise to God, who has led the NFKWS throughout its journey. We are also mindful of our position that we are an autonomous organization within the Kyodan, an organization of church women who are in solidarity with, and involved with, the mission of the Kyodan. We will move forward and continue to have hope! During this conference, we experienced the solidarity of church women who are involved in churches throughout the nation. All participants will take this solidarity to heart, listen to and follow the Word of God, and enthusiastically work for the Lord, wherever the Lord sends them. That kind of strength was given to us at this NFKWS National Assembly. Let us be thankful for the grace of God, which is greater than we can imagine!

(Tr. KT)







 全日程を通して、婦人会連合の歩みを導いてくださった神への感謝・賛美を表す集会になったことを願う。そして教団の宣教にかかわる教会婦人の連帯する組織として、教団内自主活動団体の立ち位置を覚えつつ、今後も希望をもって歩んでいきたい。この集会で体感した全国の教会に連なる教会婦人の連帯を心にとどめつつ、参加者それぞれが御言葉に聴き従い、遣わされたところで活き活きと主のために働く。そのような力が与えられた全国集会であった。私たちの思いを越える主の恵みに感謝!(50周年全国集会準備委員長 渡辺多恵子)

【October 2019 No.404】NCCJ Mission Conference Highlights Peace and Service

by Ishida Shinichiro, executive secretary

The Mission Conference organized by the National Christian Council in Japan (NCCJ) was held at the YMCA’s  Asia Youth Center and the Japan Christian Center, July 14-16. In attendance from the Kyodan were General Secretary Akiyama Toru, Executive Secretary Ishida Shinichiro, and Miura Hiroto, a member of Sendai Kita Church.  The NCCJ is made up of 30 member and associate-member churches and organizations.


The opening day’s 70th anniversary worship, which recalled the 70th  year celebration of its founding in 2018, was followed by a panel discussion on the theme “The Past, Present, and Future of the Ecumenical Movement.”  On the second day, there were reports from each section and committee, and separate sessions were held on the themes of mission, service, witness, and prayer and worship. The discussion topic of the Peace and Reconciliation Committee on East Asia, in which I participated, was “Japan’s Colonial Rule and North Korean Schools in Japan.” The People with Disabilities and the Church Committee’s topic was “People with Disabilities and Peace.” The Peace and Nuclear Issues Committee focused on the topics of “Aid for the Children of Chernobyl,” “The Issue of Nuclear Power Plants,” and “The Nuclear Weapon Problem.”


In the session on service that I attended, the meaning of service (diakonia) in the New Testament was affirmed, and participants talked about what they themselves are doing, such as the Kids’ Diner, feeding the homeless, volunteering after the 2015 flooding in Joso, Ibaraki Prefecture, and creating an ecumenical network to prepare for the major earthquake expected to hit the Tokyo area. It was stimulating to come into contact with the variety of ways Christians are living lives of service, starting with worship and extending to service to their neighbors.


On the third day, the NCCJ Mission Declaration 2019 was adopted. “The groaning of youth isolated in this ‘law of the jungle’ society,” “the cries for peace of an Okinawa that has been sacrificed,” “the cries of those exposed to nuclear threat,” “the cries of the women made into ‘comfort women’”—listening to all these and asking ourselves whether we have been able to be a neighbor to these women and men, the declaration states, “We declare here that we will be ‘the fellowship, the community (koinonia) of the Lord’, working for ‘God’s mission’.’’ (Tr. RB)


National Christian Council in Japan(NCC)主催・宣教会議報告





【October 2019 No.404】Romania, Site of Conference for Japanese Christians in Europe

by Park, Heon-Wook, member

Kyodan Commission on Ecumenical Ministries

The 36th Conference for Japanese Christians in Europe was held July 25-28 at the Grand Hotel Napoca in Cluj Napoca, the second-largest city in Romania. More than 200 Japanese Christians residing in Europe, together with other constituents of their churches and 30 to 40 of their children, participated in the event. The conference initially began after a Japanese church in Düsseldorf invited two nearby Japanese churches to join them in sponsoring such a conference once each year. The event has been held every year since that first meeting in 1983, each year attracting a broader group of participants than the previous year and from various denominations.


The theme for this year was: “Live as One who has been Liberated – The 30th Anniversary of the Liberation of East Europe in Romania.” This year was the first time the event had been held in an East European country. Citizens of the various countries represented, people who had been freed from oppression after the collapse of the East European communist countries’ regimes in 1989, were celebrating the 30th anniversary of their liberation this year. The planning committee’s efforts to create an opportunity for reexamining the meaning and challenges of freedom and liberation, while redefining the two within the context of faith, bore fruit as a result of invitations received from a Japanese missionary who has been serving in Romania for 30 years.


For the first time, the Kyodan Commission on Ecumenical Ministries sent Executive Secretary Kato Makoto and myself, a commission member, to participate in this conference. Although this annual event is an ecumenical conference, many of this year’s participants came from evangelical churches who encouraged the faith of other attendees through their passion for praise, testimony, prayer, and evangelism. Missionaries sent from Japan by the Commission on Ecumenical Ministries and their church members attend this conference and enjoy fellowship with the other participants every year.


As part of an optional two-night/three-day tour held after the conference, approximately 60 people participated in a tour of the Judetul Maramures region in Northwestern Romania, visiting the wooden churches and monasteries that symbolize the ancient orthodox faith. In addition, testimonies were given by three Japanese people at the Baptist Church’s Sunday evening service. One of the three, Rev. Kato Makoto, gave a powerful testimony about the hidden Christians and the persecution of Christians during World War II. He also shared the solidarity he felt with the Christians in Romania who had endured their own period of suffering and how that relates to our calling as Christians. (Tr. JM)


「ヨーロッパキリスト者の集い European Christian Conference」

報告 朴 憲郁 Park Heon Wook





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