The General Secretary's Diary:The Kyodan's Commemorative Events for the 150th Year

The year 2009 was a particularly memorable year as it marked the 150th anniversary of Protestant Christianity in Japan. In preparation for its celebration, the Kyodan formed a committee that planned and carried out three main commemorative events. Recalling now each of those events, we can give thanks as we enter this new year.
June 24, at Fujimicho Church in Tokyo: On the same site that served as the venue for the organizing conference of the Kyodan in 1941, we held a service of commemoration for the 68th anniversary of the Kyodan, followed by a ceremony commemorating the 150th anniversary of Protestant evangelism in Japan. Sixty-one pastors who have been serving for 50 or more years were given a special commendation.
Nov. 22, at Tokyo Yamate Church: The church was packed with some 950 people for the Laity Rally under the banner of “Giving Thanks for 150 Years and Aiming for 200 Years Together With Our Lord.” At the opening worship service, Kyodan Moderator Yamakita Nobuhisa encouraged us all with his message, “Entrusted with the Gospel.” Following that, we were treated to a pictorial presentation that reviewed Christian evangelism over the past 150 years, and then a representative from each of the 17 districts gave a brief testimony of their faith as well as highlights from their districts.
We concluded the event with everyone singing together a song that had been written specifically for this event, entitled, “The Church Goes on Forever.” It was a very moving event and strengthened our resolve to increase our efforts in evangelism. The melody of the song was composed by Naito Shinya. The words, which were written by Tsunakawa Megumi, are as follows:
Verse 1. In 1859, foreign missionaries came to spread the word, and the history of a small church began. It has continued to this day through a strong faith in Jesus. We went through a bitter period of war and overcame numerous trials. The Church, as it goes from age to age, still exists, and there are so many people here now. From tomorrow, we aim toward the future and single-mindedly run the race, with the help of Jesus.
Verse 2. The gathering of the Church, through the fellowship groups of men and women and youth, as well as church school children, all come together to learn from Jesus. It is because these gospel seeds that have been planted continue to grow that the Church, as it goes from age to age, still exists, and there are so many people here now. Today, we work together to further the gospel, for we are the salt of the earth and the light of the world.
Verse 3. As a member of the Church and a child of the Church, what is it that I can do? Let’s put our minds together and find something to do for the evangelism of the Church for the Church, as it goes from age to age, still exists, and there are so many people here now. The Church will go on into the future forever, giving thanks to God the Father through our joyful prayers.
Nov. 23, at Aoyama Gakuin University: Approximately 1,500 people came together for a gathering of commemoration under the banner of “Christ: Our Salvation.” Saemoonan Presbyterian Church, the oldest church in Korea, sent its Yebon Choir to help celebrate the event, and former Kyodan moderator Ojima Seiji gave the sermon: “The ‘Foolishness’ of Evangelism.” Moderator Yamakita also gave his greetings and introduced the numerous foreign guests in attendance. Following that were two presentations, one by the former head of Fuji Bank and member of Hijirigaoka Church, Hashimoto Toru, who gave a talk entitled “The Role of the Layperson in Evangelism,” and the other by retired pastor Kato Tsuneaki, entitled “Lift Up Your Hearts.”
While looking back at the past 150 years, these sermons and presentations focused on the theme that the only true form of the biblical and apostolic Church is one that properly administers the sacraments, and so it is time to consider further the Church as it ought to be. (Tr. TB)
–Naito Tomeyuki, general secretary
 2009年は日本にプロテスタント・キリスト教が伝道されて150年の記念すべき年でした。教団は記念事業準備委員会を立ち上げ、十分な準備の後、三つの大きな記念集会を実施しました。今、その一つ一つの集会をふりかえり、感謝の思いを新たにしています。
 ☆6/24(水)、富士見町教会(東京)を会場にして、教団創立68周年記念礼拝を行いました。(この教会は1941年教団創立総会が開かれた由緒ある教会)
 礼拝後に日本伝道150年を記念して在任50年以上の現任牧師(61名)を表彰できたことは感謝。
 ☆11/22(日)夜、東京山手教会を会場にして信徒大会が行われました。「ありがとう150年、つなごう200年、主とともに」との兵庫を掲げ、超満員の信徒が集まりました(950名)。第一部礼拝。山北のぶひさ教団総会議長の「共に福音にあづかる」と題した説教に励まされました。第二部は映像を見ながら150年にわたる日本におけるキリスト教伝道の歴史を振り返り、第三部は全国17教区から一人づつ信仰の証しと教区報告がなされました。そして最後に超満員の全参加者で大会イメージ・ソング「いつまでも続く教会」を歌い、深い感動を覚えつつ、伝道に励もうとの志を強められました。「いつまでも続く教会」(作詞・つなかわめぐみ、作曲・内藤しんや)はこんな歌詞です。
 1、1859年に外国から宣教師が来てみことばが伝えられ、小さな教会の歴史が始まった イエス様を信じる強い信仰をもって、この日まで。苦しい戦争の時代やいくつもの試練を乗り越えてきた。うつりゆく 時をこえて 教会は今もここにある。こんなに多くの人たちがここにいる。明日からも前を目指し、走り続ける ひたすらにキリスト・イエスに助けられ 
 2,教会の集いはいつでも教会の交わりの場をつくる 青年や婦人や壮年、教会学校の子たち、 イエス様の教えを聞いて だんだん大人になってゆく 福音の種は確実にこの地に播かれて育ってるから うつりゆく時をこえて 教会は今もここにある こんなに多くの人たちがここにいる 今日もまた 力をあわせ 伝えてゆこう 福音を 僕らは地の塩 世のひかり
 3,教会の一人として教会の子として僕に 私に 何ができるのだろう自分たちで考えて 何かを見つけてしよう 教会の伝道のためにうつりゆく時をこえて 教会は今のここにある こんなに多くの人たちがここにいるいつまでもずっとずっと続けてゆこうこの教会 喜び祈って 感謝しつつ ららら・・・父なる神様 感謝します
 ☆11/23(月)祝日、青山学院講堂で「キリストこそ我が救い」との標語のもとに記念大会を行い、千数百名が参加しました。
 礼拝では韓国で最古のセムナン教会(Saemoonan Presbyterian Church)イエボン讃美隊の奉仕があり、おじませいし前教団総会議長による説教「宣教という愚かな手段」に続いて礼拝後山北議長の挨拶があり更に、国内外の来賓の紹介、午後には橋本とおる氏(元富士銀行頭取・ひじりがおか教会員)の講演「伝道における信徒の役割」と加藤つねあき牧師の講演「心を高く上げよう!!」があり、150年の歴史を振り返ってみことばの説教と正しい聖礼典執行こそが聖書的使徒的教会の真の姿であると、教会のありかたが問われる時となりました。

The First Christmas in Japan

he First Christmas in Japan
Christianity in Japan began with the arrival of Francis Xavier and Cosme de Torr?s in 1549, when they landed at Kagoshima, the southernmost area of Kyushu. Xavier left Japan after two years, whereas Torres engaged in mission work for over 20 years until his death. According to newsletters from Japan published by the Jesuits, the first Christmas in Japan was celebrated in Yamaguchi in 1552. On Christmas Eve, at a church built with the permission of Daimyo (Lord) Ouchi Yoshitaka in the compound of Daido Temple, a crowd of believers
gathered for an all-night mass, sharing a meal together and overflowing the venue. The hymns sang at the mass were the first-ever European music played in Japan. Participants gave offerings for the meal, with some non-Christians joining in the feast as well. There is arecord of steamed rice with beef being served at Shimabara, where the first seminary was built after ships began arriving from Portugal. People must have been surprised to be served beef, as beef was not customarily eaten in Japan at that time. During the Sengoku Era, Christians greeted each other by saying “Natala”, which comes from the Latin word natal for “birth,” instead of “Merry Christmas.”

Biblical dramas served an important role in the mission effort, with the first drama based on a story from the Bible being performed by Japanese believers in Kyushu in 1560. Its title was “Adam and Eve.” An apple tree was placed on center stage, and stables were also built as part of the stage setting. Through active efforts in evangelism, there were 600,000 believers by the 1580s.

Iemitsu, the third Shogun of the Tokugawa Shogunate, closed the country to the outside world and banned Christianity. That ban continued until it was lifted more than 200 years later in 1873, during the Meiji Era. At that time, Protestant missionaries were already in Japan, having established the first Protestant church in Yokohama. Hara Taneaki, who had been an official at the Minami-machi magistrate’s office, organized a Christmas party at the First Presbyterian Church in Tsukiji. The people were surprised when they beheld a Christmas tree decorated with various kinds of fruit, which appeared suddenly when the curtain was opened, and Santa was a samurai wearing a samurai-hairstyle wig and carrying a sword. (Tr. YY)

–Kato Makoto, pastor
Shizuoka Ichibancho church, Tokai District
KNL Editorial Committee chair
Based on article in Shinto no Tomo (Believers’ Friend)

Executive Council Notes Progress on Current Church Concerns

The 3rd Executive Council session of the 36th (2008) General Assembly Period met Oct.19-20. From the very beginning there was a lively interaction concerning whether to recognize calls for allowing observers to sit in attendance. Moderator Yamakita Nobuhisa explained, “At the first council meeting of this assembly period, we decided on a policy of allowing a moderate number of observers to attend.” The vote to permit the attendance of observers was 19 in favor out of the 28 delegates in attendance (with 2 absences). Likewise, questions concerning the focus of the debate at the previous meeting, namely the appointment of the executive secretaries, continued. Strong opinions were voiced concerning the need to avoid repeating the problems caused by the timing of the appointments and the voting on them individually as opposed to a block vote. General Secretary Naito Tomeyuki reported the decision of the Aug. 31 Executive Committee to appoint Fujimori Yuki, pastor of Fujisawakita Church in Kanagawa District, as the executive secretary of General Affairs and Doke Norikazu, pastor of Igusa Church in Nishi-Tokyo District as the executive secretary of the Commission on the Ministry and the Research Institute on the Mission of the Church. Their terms of office are until March 31, 2010.

Due to the fact that Seiwa College has decided to end its program of training students as Directors of Christian Education from this school year, it was decided to form a committee to look into the issue of the examination for the position of Director of Christian Education and how such personnel are to be trained in the future. Executive Council member Kishita Nobuyo was selected as chairperson of the committee, along with four other members of the Executive Council.

On the afternoon of the first day, the moderator of the Korean Christian Church in Japan, Choi Young-Shin, and its General Secretary, Hong Song-Wan, together with five other new KCCJ officers, paid a visit, being greeted with warm applause. Together, everyone pledged to further deepen cooperation and fellowship. There was also a report on the fundraising campaign to assist the churches that were damaged in the Noto Peninsula Earthquake, with additional efforts pledged to raise the remaining 23 million yen of the goal. Another report related to the various events surrounding the celebrating of the 150th Anniversary of Protestant Mission in Japan and the request for continued offerings in order to meet the complete budget. Also, copies of the “Proclamation of the Commemorative Gathering,” (quoted below), were distributed.*

The results of the fall ministerial certification examination, held Sept. 15-16, were reported, and the 56 persons who qualified for the status of ministers in full standing and the 7 who passed the examination for the status of licensed preacher were officially recognized. “The Research Institute on the Mission of the Church: A Progress Report” was presented regarding the development of two documents to be known as the “Basic Theory of Mission” and the “Basic Policies of Mission,” the formulation of which was carried over from the previous General Assembly Period. The plan is to present these before the end of this General Assembly Period, which ends in October 2010. Likewise, after a lively discussion following the report on the new “Kyodan Statement of Faith — a New Catechism,” the motion to move forward with its development was passed.

The report of the Commission on Finance focused on a draft plan to maintain better oversight of all income and expenses by linking the accounting for the General Office, the Board of Publications, the Board of Pensions, and the Buraku Liberation Center. There was also considerable discussion on the issue of the Solidarity Fund for Mission in Okinawa, and the proposed budget for 2010 was accepted. (Tr. TB)

–Ishimaru Yasuki, executive secretary
Based on article in Shinpo (Kyodan Times)

Shikoku District Churches Conduct Cooperative Evangelism

“What thoughts arise in your mind when you hear the words ‘cooperative evangelism’?
Holding an evangelistic meeting in cooperation with a nearby church and supporting a church operating on a small scale, or a church in crisis due to a disaster, are all examples of ‘cooperative evangelism.’ However, as the church is fundamentally one in the Lord Jesus Christ, of which each and every local church is a part, bearing each other’s burdens and supporting one another are themselves examples of ‘cooperative evangelism. In the various areas of Japan many churches are in a crisis situation, with other churches supporting them. Let us try to understand the various churches’ struggles to evangelize and the work of the churches that are bearing these struggles together with them. Furthermore, in order to have a part in the grace of that “cooperative evangelism,” let us pray for other churches and take steps toward forming friendships through standing together. That we might know how abundant God’s grace is in this regard, I want to give one example of ‘cooperative evangelism’ that has given encouragement to new faith.”
With this introduction, the editor of the Kyodan monthly periodical Shinto no Tomo (Believers’ Friend), presented the following report by Kuroda Wakao, pastor of Susaki Church in Kochi about cooperative evangelism in Shikoku District.
One of the neighboring churches of Susaki Church is Chikanaga Church. The borderline between Kochi Prefecture and Ehime Prefecture, as well as the borderline between Kochi Subdistrict and Nan’yo Subdistrict, run between these two churches, which are about 90 kilometers (55.8 miles) apart. There is not even one church between them. Presently, Susaki Church is cooperating with Chikanaga Church and conducting evangelism in the mountain area by renting a home in the village of Yusuhara in Kochi Prefecture (approximate population 4,000 persons), which is about midpoint between the two churches, and holding evening worship services twice monthly. Seven persons attend the worship services, and two of those attending are seekers from Yusuhara Village.
Susaki Church had no pastor 20 years ago, which is how this mission cooperation started. Up to that time, Susaki Church had had two worship services a month in Higashitsuno Village, next to Yusuhara Village, but since the church had no full-time pastor, holding a worship service once a month in Higashitsuno Village was all it could manage. However, Sasaki Michio, the pastor then serving as Susaki Church’s legal guardian and presently as the pastor of Aki Church, said: “Particularly in a time of crisis, we must move forward.” With this word of guidance, the administrative board decided to continue the twice monthly worship services, and for that reason Chikanaga Church was requested to send someone to give the sermon at the monthly worship service in Higashitsuno.
Not only was there a request for someone to preach but also it was mentioned that from that point on, Susaki Church wanted to work with Chikanaga Church to evangelize the mountain area between them. In response to that request, Chikanaga Church sent Pastor Ashina Hiromichi to preach at Susaki Church. A change of circumstances caused the place of worship to be moved from Higashitsuno to Yusuhara Village, but this mission cooperation is still continuing, with the church pastors reciprocally in charge of preaching at the worship service.
Susaki Church was shown many things through this cooperative evangelism, and I would like to mention two of them. First of all, the meaning of evangelism in Yusuhara was set forth in a new way. With Chikanaga Church being located in a different prefecture and subdistrict, it had been
outside the consciousness of Susaki Church. The opportunity to cooperate together to evangelize the mountain area showed it to be a neighboring church. That is to say, the point of evangelism prepared in Yusuhara Village has become the line of relationship in evangelism between Susaki and Chikanaga. Furthermore, the six churches in Shikoku’s Southwest Subdistrict have recognized it as an aspect of cooperative evangelism in the churches in the subdistrict, and from a wider perspective, this has brought about a reevaluation of the meaning of evangelism in Yusuhara.
Second, God provided a means of engaging in cooperative evangelism through the situation of a church not having a full-time pastor. Through this kind of development, we have rediscovered that the real core of the work of evangelism is God, and from the awareness of protecting the extinction of the flame of evangelism in the mountain areas has come a changed consciousness of seeing God’s work there.
Considering only the situation, it is difficult to have a bright outlook, but we want to keep walking forward in hope, knowing that the work of God, who has led us this far, will be revealed in some way through the program of evangelism in Yusuhara Village. (Tr. RT)
–Anderson Reiko, member
Saidaidori Church, Kanto District
KNL Editorial Committee member
Based on article in Shinto no Tomo (Believers’ Friend)

Education for Girls and Deliverance of the Poor in the Meiji Era

Learning from the Canadian Methodist Church and its Zealous Evangelical Attitude
I saw in port
A little girl
With red shoes on.
Taken by a foreign person,
She went overseas.
At Yokohama
She went on board
Ship at the pier.
Taken by a foreign person,
By this time the girl,
Like the people there
Has blue eyes, I’m sure.
She is in the land
Where that foreign person lives.
Every time I see
Pairs of red shoes,
The girl comes to mind,
When I see a foreign person,
She comes to mind.
–Noguchi Ujo
Translated by Yanagisawa Yoshitoshi
Sano Kimi, the subject of this Japanese children’s song, was an orphan who was under the care of Nagasaka Kojoin, an orphanage for girls that was established in 1908. Since there was no charitable person in Japan to take her in and raise her at that time, a missionary couple decided to take her in as a foster child and planned to take her back to their country when they left Japan. Although the lyrics of the famous song includes the words, “she was taken by a foreigner,” in actuality, she died of an illness and was called to her heavenly home before departing for a foreign land. The famous poet, Ujo Noguchi, who had heard this sad story, rewrote it as a song in a form that would give people a bit of hope that she must still be living happily in a foreign country.
It was I.S. Blackmore, a woman missionary sent by the Canadian Methodist Church, and the third principal of Toyo Eiwa Jogakuin, who established the orphanage where Kimi lived. Moreover, the female students who cared for the orphans were Christians from Toyo Eiwa Jogakuin, which was located close to the orphanage. They were the gentle-hearted members of the King’s Daughter’s Society (which later became the YWCA), who practiced the school motto, “Honoring God through service.” Members of the King’s Daughters’ Society also built Keifu Gakko, an educational institution with a strong spirit for evangelical work and education, which served the poor children of the Azabu area. We can imagine how difficult it must have been to nurture a spirit of service in Japanese society, which was deeply rooted in Buddhism and Daoism. However the Canadian missionaries successfully raised the girls to embrace the Christian faith strongly. We should not forget that because the King’s Daughters’ Society could not provide enough funds to maintain this social service, many Christians in Canada gave their precious offerings as well as their heartfelt prayers toward the project.
According to records from 1873, the Canadian Methodist Church then numbered 682 clergy and 70,682 members. Although it was not a large denomination, they had a passionate heart for spreading the gospel by sending missionaries not only domestically but also to foreign countries. We Japanese Christians need to learn from their passion.
Two missionary pastors, George L. Cochran and Davidson McDonald, who was also a doctor, came to Japan in 1873 and worked in the Tokyo, Shizuoka, and Kofu areas. They realized that Japanese girls had no opportunity for education at that time, so they put much energy into building a boarding school. They were determined to reach out to girls through education. In 1882 the first woman missionary, Martha Julia Cartmell, who was then a principal of a public school in Canada, was sent to Japan. The missionaries established Toyo Eiwa Jogakuin in 1884 and positioned Cartmell as the first principal of the school.
More women missionaries were sent, one after another, who helped establish other mission schools, such as Shizuoka Eiwa and Yamanashi Eiwa. We believe that those missionaries were spirit-filled people with gifted abilities. However, what made their strong walk possible, in addition to God’s blessings and guidance, was their careful planning based on their sense of mission and the zealous prayers of the Methodist Church. During this commemoration of the 150th anniversary of Protestant missions in Japan, we need to learn from the legacy of the Canadian Methodist Church and make it our own. That legacy is their firm faith and their two pillars of mission in Japan, which are education and social service. (Tr. NB)
–Akuzawa Tadao, former vice-principal
Toyo Eiwa Jogakuin
KNL Editorial Committee member

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