2008 Christmas Offering Theme: "Living Together"

Every year during the Christmas season, the Kyodan’s Committee on
Education sponsors a Christmas Offering. This year’s theme was “Living
Together.” Japanese children strive to live with children of the world
in friendship — sharing joys as well as pain and suffering. Many
children participate in the “Living Together” Christmas Offering.

In 2007, the offering was given to mothers and children in Tanzania, for
the Ghana Youth Peace Project, and for Japanese children adversely
affected by two strong earthquakes in Japan.

The offerings from 2008 will be distributed among the following ministries.

1. To help the children of Bangladesh. The Asian Christian Education
Foundation (ACEF) is an organization that collects donations from all
over Japan and uses those contributions for the education of children in
Bangladesh. Bangladesh is one of the world’s younger nations, as it
became independent in 1971, and education is essential for building up a
new nation.

ACEF established private kindergartens and elementary schools for
children in areas without any public education and has supported such
schools for the past 18 years. ACEF has also established 73 vocational
training schools, making it possible for about 13,000 students to
enroll. However, last year Bangladesh was hit by a gigantic cyclone,
causing extensive damage and taking the lives of many persons.

Many of the schools that had been supported by ACEF were completely
destroyed. Some of the schools have been rebuilt, but there are still
many schools in need of repair. Our earnest desire is that as many
students as possible continue to go to school.
2. To help children in China. On May 12, 2008, our friends in the
central area of China’s Sichuan Province experienced an earthquake. The
damage caused by the earthquake was not confined to houses and other
buildings. Roads, water pipes, and electric power lines were also
severely damaged, and almost 15 million people fled from the area. In
addition, the number of persons known to have lost their lives reached
70 thousand.

The earthquake took place during classes and about 7 thousand school
buildings were severely damaged or collapsed. Several thousand students
and teachers lost their lives. Many Chinese friends mourned the loss of
family and friends, and even now there are some who are experiencing
difficulties.

When the Christmas Offering was collected in 2008, we remembered our
Chinese friends who had suffered loss and damage due to the earthquake.

3. To help Japanese churches and other institutions.
a. There is an institute called Hikari no Ie Gakuen (“House of Light”
School) in Yamanashi Prefecture, a place famous for its delicious fruit.
Thanks to the members of nearby Ichikawa Church, Hikari no Ie Gakuen was
established as a place for children who are still too young to attend
elementary school. Even small children sometimes have health problems ,
such as physical or emotional illnesses. Likewise, some children need
the assistance of adults, in addition to their parents. We remembered
Hikari no Ie Gakuen in our prayers, asking that those in need will be
able to send their children there confidently.

b. Located along the banks of the Shimanto River in Kochi Prefecture,
“Wakakusaen” (literally, “Young Grass Garden”) is an institution for
children 18 years old or under. This home has traditionally had a strong
and deep relationship with the church. For a variety of reasons, 47
children, of ages varying from infancy to 18 years old, are living
together. Many of these children have had very difficult and trying
experiences. However, at the children’s home, they live together as a
new family. Their lives show enthusiasm and a positive attitude. So, we
remembered our friends at the Young Grass Home.

c. When children read the Bible together in church, they come to
understand God better. When they sing songs from the children’s hymnal
and when they see Bible story picture books or paper theater stories,
they become even more enthusiastic. Nevertheless, when churches want to
begin such a children’s program, some of them do not have the financial
resources needed to put together all of the necessary materials, and so
we remembered these churches in our offering as well. (Tr. WGK)

─Katsuyama Ken’ichiro, executive secretary

Kyodan Signs Mission Covenants with 2 North American Churches

Following the adoption of Proposals #37 and #38 on Oct. 22, 2008, the
second day of the 36th Kyodan General Assembly, an Agreement Ceremony
was conducted to establish a Cooperative Mission Covenant between the
Kyodan and the Presbyterian Church (USA) and a Cooperative Mission
Covenant between the Kyodan and the Reformed Church in America.
Representatives from both overseas partner churches signed the covenant,
as stated in the related proposals, and a new era following the
dissolution of the Japan-North American Council on Cooperative Mission
(JNAC) began. Among the signators, Moderator Yamakita Nobuhisa and
General Secretary Naito Tomeyuki represented the Kyodan; Moderator Bruce
Reyes-Chow and World Mission Ministries Director Hunter Farrell
represented the Presbyterian Church (USA); and General Synod President
Carol Bechtel and General Secretary Wesley Gandberg-Michaelson
represented the Reformed Church in America.

After the signing, the various documents were exchanged, and Moderator
Yamakita responded with enthusiastic applause. As commemorative gifts,
the Kyodan presented each church representative with a framed
cloisonne’* picture of Mt. Fuji reddened by the sun’s rays and the pens
they had used to sign the documents. In return, the Presbyterian Church
(USA) presented the Kyodan with commemorative books, as pictured in
several of the photographs taken that day. (RT)
─Katsuyama Ken’ichiro, executive secretary Shinpo (The Kyodan Times)

*Aka-fuji done in shippo-yaki (enameled metal)

——————————————————————————————————
The Cooperative Mission Covenant with the Presbyterian Church (USA)
(excerpts)

Our reciprocal ministry and mission will be carried out in accordance
with the basic principles guided by the mission policies of our
respective churches, especially the following:

1. We will promote mission-partner relationships and the sharing of
people so as to provide opportunities for participation in the lives of
ministries of our respective churches, as our two churches will mutually
acknowledge each other’s Confession of faith and Church Order.
2. Our partnership in mission will be holistic. That is, as we seek the
spiritual, psychological, physical, and social liberation and salvation
of all people in our specific contexts, we will endeavor to embody the
whole Gospel in our mutual words and actions, with focus on evangelism,
church development, education, and social welfare ministries.
3. We will further seek to realize our vision for mission through the
visits of church representatives or volunteers, various exchanges, and
the sending of mission personnel. As a way of strengthening our
fellowship, the United Church of Christ in Japan will invite leaders of
the PC (USA) to its General Assemblies, District Assemblies, and other
church meetings involving pastors, youth, women, and men, and the
PC(USA) will invite representatives of the Kyodan to its General
Assembly and other national and local church events.
4. All communication in carrying out the partner relationship shall take
place between the office of the General Assembly of the United Church of
Christ in Japan and World Mission of the General Assembly Council of the
PC (USA).
5. We agree to review and evaluate this partner relationship
periodically, trusting God will lead us into a deeper mutual
understanding and relationship in mission.
——————————————————————————————————
The Cooperative Mission Covenant with the Reformed Church in America
(excerpts)

We agree first and foremost that our ministry together will be guided by
the principles which provide the foundation for both of our mission
programs, especially these:

1. That our mission together will be HOLISTIC, that is, that we will
seek to bring the whole gospel, in word and deed, through our mutual
endeavor, ministering to the spiritual, physical, intellectual,
emotional, and relational needs of those with whom we interact.
2. That our PARTNERSHIP in mission will be reciprocal, both in our
relationship with one another, and with the Christians with whom we
share ministry, and further, that as the church in Japan further
develops and our relationship deepens, we will seek to strengthen our
partnership through different expressions of ministry and fellowship.
3. That we will seek out opportunities by which the churches in Japan
can minister to and strengthen the RCA through visits, exchanges, or
actual placement of mission personnel in North America.
4. That our mutual goal is to strengthen the UCCJ in its mission and
vision. As the number of Christians in Japan is extremely low,
evangelism and church formation are the most important issues.
5. In order to accomplish the above objectives, both the RCA and the
UCCJ must mutually acknowledge each other’s confession, ordination,
ministry, and polity.


Executive Council Begins Work of the 36th General Assembly Biennium

The 36th Kyodan General Assembly was held at Tokyo Metropolitan Hotel,
Oct. 21-23, 2008.* Soon afterwards, on Dec. 9 and 10, the three newly
elected executive officers and Executive Council members convened the
first council meeting of the 2009-10 biennial period.

As the Executive Council convened on Dec. 8, the three executive
officers and the Executive Council members who had been elected by the
36thGeneral Assembly gave self-introductions; participants shared their
thoughts about the Executive Council; and the Executive Council started
anew. The members of the various committees established by the General
Assembly were named by the Selection Committee for approval by the
Executive Council on Dec. 9. These committees, which are responsible for
church activities during the present Executive Council period until the
37th General Assembly in 2010, will begin their work in January 2009. No
other outstanding resolutions were passed.

Several committees established by the Executive Council during the
previous biennium will continue and begin their work in early 2009,
including the committee that will plan activities for the celebration of
the 150th Year of Protestant Evangelism in Japan. Even before the
formation of the Kyodan, that is, during the former denominational
church period prior to 1941, interaction with many overseas churches was
maintained through their mission work. The Kyodan is particularly
grateful for the long relationship with churches in North America as it
looks forward to celebrating the 150th Year of Protestant Evangelism in
Japan in 2009. In addition to expressing thanks again to these overseas
churches and in anticipation of further deepening those relationships in
the future, the 36th Kyodan General Assembly conducted an Agreement
Ceremony to establish Cooperative Mission Covenants between the Kyodan
and two North American churches, the Presbyterian Church (USA) and the
Reformed Church in America. Hopefully, relationships with many other
churches in North America can be established by this kind of mission
agreement. (Tr. RT)

─Katsuyama Ken’ichiro, executive secretary

*For details, see article in the previous KNL issue.

The General Secretary's Diary

Recently, a wide range of issues for discussion are arriving from various Kyodan churches to the general secretary’s desk from all over Japan. Among them, a common, ardent one is, “Please introduce a minister to us whom you would recommend as particularly fitting for our church.” The condition they want met is summed up in the following sentence: “As we have been faithfully keeping the tradition of the body of Christ as the holy catholic church, we absolutely do not wish to receive a minister who will offer communion to unbaptized persons.” With nearly no exception, this is the type of request received from all church consistories.?

As the general secretary, while seriously pondering the words of these pastoral search committees, I am strongly encouraged to know of these healthy, evangelical churches that have preserved the true faith coming out of the Reformation.?

If the majority of churches belonging to the Kyodan “preach the gospel grounded in the Bible, listen to the Word, correctly administer the sacraments (baptism and communion), and evangelize,” I believe that Kyodan churches will strongly be edified as “a covenant community of God and faith, which is the holy catholic church.”?

Recently, it is regrettable that while belonging to the Kyodan, there are ministers who do not take seriously the Kyodan Confession of Faith, disrupt the order of the church, and failing to respect the Rules of Church Order, administer communion to unbaptized persons. If this kind of minister wishes to be connected to the Kyodan, he/she should immediately restore order to the church, and if he/she takes seriously the unity and solidarity of the Kyodan, I would strongly recommend that incorrect practices be discontinued. (Tr. WJ)?

?

Naito Tomeyuki

Kyodan General Secretary?

Coffee Shop Evangelism Enhances Local Churches' Ministries

The Church of the Twelve Apostles, Hokkai District established in 1978, grew out of the ministry of coffee shop evangelism started at the Good Hour coffee shop in downtown Sapporo in 1971. From the very beginning of the church, the coffee shop Ecclesia/Branch has functioned as an adjoining ministry. While taking in the natural beauty of nearby Tsukisappu Park, customers can enjoy both their food and meaningful conversation. The coffee shop helps to lower barriers (in Japanese “Shikii wo Hikuku suru,” which may be translated “everybody can drop in easily”) and allows people to get closer to the church in an unthreatening way. Although some consideration is being given to taking a regular day off each week, there are presently two paid staff and a number of volunteers from the church who keep the coffee shop operating every day, including Sunday afternoons. (Tr. RW)

by Himukai Kyoji, pastor, Teine Hakobune Church

interim pastor, The Church of the Twelve Apostles

From Shinto no Tomo(Believers’ Friend)

Worship at Kakogawa Higashi Church, Hyogo District always begins with the singing of Hymn 162 in the Kyodan’s hymnal Sanbika 21: “How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity”. The catch phrases on the church’s website introduce it as “a fun church” or “a church where you can relax as if you were in a tea room”.

In fact, until 1989, the initial church sanctuary actually was a coffee shop called Again. The church bought and renovated the shop and, at first, all church activities were held in the one building. In 1996 the church acquired the neighboring clothing factory, which later functioned as a preparatory school, and joined the two buildings together, shifting the sanctuary to the factory. The part that formerly was a coffee shop is now used for tea and coffee, for conversation, and for pot luck parties. It is well known, and even today, people come in off the street, thinking that it is actually a commercial coffee shop.? (Tr. RW) ?

by Takasaki Hiroshi, pastor, Kakogawa Higashi Church?

From Shinto no Tomo (Believers’ Friend)

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