【February 2017 No.391】Six Years From That Day: Loan Repayments by Quake-stricken Churches Begin Now

A Culmination of Ou District Churches’ Reconstruction: Dedication Ceremony of Esashi Church, the last church to receive support from the Kyodan East Japan Disaster Relief Projects Headquarters

                                                                                                                                    by Ohara Muneo, moderator Ou District


Nearly six years have passed since that earthquake. March 11, 2011, 2:46 p.m. was the time when disaster-stricken churches started to become restrained toward one another. The earthquake gave rise to a tsunami, which caused tremendous damage to churches along the coast. News of these events was reported in various media. Due to the magnitude of damage along the coast, some other areas were overlooked. They were not forgotten, but churches in the inland areas of Ou District could not raise their voices, even though many had suffered severe damage. As district moderator, I traveled directly to the disaster areas in an effort to gain a detailed understanding of the earthquake damage and to listen to the voices of church members. Immediately after the earthquake, we formed an Emergency Support Committee under the Standing Committee and began relief and support activities.


Miyako Church and Shinsei Kamaishi Church were both hit by the tsunami. The most heavily damaged of the inland churches (Senyama Ichinoseki, and Esashi), would receive long-term support from the Emergency Support Committee. We determined that the Kitakami, Tono, Sannohe and Shunan Churches, which were also damaged, could be handled by support from within the district. Based on these assessments, we immediately provided financial aid to start short-term support work. Ofunato Church had no structural damage but experienced human suffering, so we also provided support to individuals at this and other churches in the names of the Kyodan and Ou District.


Repairs and reconstruction of churches and ministers’ homes moved ahead, based on the decisions made by disaster-stricken churches.

•Senmaya Church acquired land, relocated, and rebuilt, and celebrated dedication of the new sanctuary on Aug. 30, 2013.

•Shinsei Kamaishi Church held a thanksgiving service on Aug. 27, 2014, for the completion of repairs.

•Ichinoseki Church performed extensive repair work on its church building, and this was completed on April 25, 2015.

•Miyako Church, which also acquired land, relocated, and rebuilt, held its dedication service on March 11, 2016, the fifth anniversary of the earthquake.

•Esashi Church purchased an adjacent property and house and then made renovations to create a manse. Its dedication service was held on Nov. 3, 2016.


This dedication service marked completion of the last project to receive support through the all-Kyodan relief program for churches impacted by the East Japan Disaster. Throughout this period, the prayers and gifts from within the Kyodan as well as from overseas churches have supported us. We thank you from the bottom our hearts.

Churches suffering relatively light damage have completed all repairs and restoration work with aid from within Ou District and through self-help projects. Among the churches suffering major damage, Shinsei Kamaishi Church was able to complete payments by using its own available funds (including the earthquake offering) and relief funds from the district and therefore borrowed no funds.


The following churches started their rebuilding projects with their own funds and district relief funds as well as with relief grants and loans from the Kyodan East Japan Disaster Relief Headquarters.

•Senmaya Church used 25 million yen in grants and ¥25  M yen in loans from the Disaster Relief Headquarters, and repaid the ¥25M loan in two years.

•Ichinoseki Church, which similarly required repairs, received through the headquarters ¥3.9M in grants and ¥3.9M in loans.

•Miyako Church, which erected a new building, used ¥40M in grants and ¥40M in loans from the headquarters, a ¥20M loan from the district, and an additional ¥70M in commercial bank loans.

•Esashi Church also received ¥33.5M in grants and ¥33.5M in loans from the headquarters.


All of these churches celebrated the completion of their reconstruction work with gratitude, but naturally the burden of loan repayments weighs heavily. In particular, the two churches with small membership, Miyako and Esashi, must make repayments over the next 20 years, so every church member is redoubling their efforts. Ou District must maintain a support framework to continue assistance for these churches. Please remember them in your prayers.


I take this opportunity to express our gratitude to the countless churches and believers in districts all across Japan whose support has made it possible to continue assistance until now, with special recognition of the Korean Christian Church in Japan’s Kanto District, the Presbyterian Church of Korea, Child Fund Japan, and the Kyodan’s Hokkai District and Tokyo District’s North Subdistrict.

Additional Comment by Executive Secretary Kato Makoto


I have heard many people say that Iwate Prefecture is as big as Shikoku Island. To use another comparison, the time required to drive from Esashi Church, where Ou District Moderator Ohara lives, to Ofunato Church is about the same as from Brussels, Belgium to Cologne, Germany. From Esashi Church to Miyako Church might be about the same as from Brussels to Paris.


In the 16 months after the March 2011 disaster, while I served as executive secretary of the Kyodan East Japan Disaster Response Headquarters, I traveled to the Tohoku disaster region over 100 times. Each time I visited Esashi Church, I was shown how the cracks in its sanctuary were growing. Leaving his own church to the last, Pastor Ohara literally dashed around Iwate Prefecture, attending to the needs of each church and flock. It is hard to imagine the degree of his toil without knowing the size of Iwate. I pray for God’s continued blessings upon the restored churches, as well as upon Pastor Ohara. (Tr. DM)

あれから6年、被災教会は今    これから返済 がはじまる

  ≪奥羽教区会堂再建の総括 教団東日本大震災救援対策本部の最後の支援教会 江刺教会の 献堂≫

奥羽教区総会議長 邑原宗男

あの地震からもうすぐ丸6年が過ぎようとしています。2011年3月11日午後2時46分、この時刻を 境に被災教会同士で遠慮が始まりました。地震と共に、津波が発生し、沿岸地域の教会は、甚大な被害を受けました。そのニュースはあら ゆるメディアでとりあげられました。あまりに甚大な被害の沿岸地域の故に、そのことで忘れられた地域があったのです。忘れられたので はなく、奥羽教区内の内陸部に位置する教会も相当数が大きな被害に遭遇していましたが、大きな声をあげることができないでいました。 教区総会議長としては、被災状況の詳細な把握をすることに努め、直接被災地に出かけては、教会員の声を聴くことにしました。地震直 後、直ちに常置委員会のもとに緊急支援委員会を設置して、救援・支援活動に入りました。

宮古(みやこ)教会、新生釜石(しんせいかまいし)教会は津波被災。千厩(せんまや)教会、一関(いち のせき)教会、江刺(えさし)教会は内陸部の地震被災には緊急支援委員会として長期支援すること。さらに北上(きたかみ)教会、遠野 (とおの)教会、三戸(さんのへ)伝道所、秋南(しゅうなん)教会には、被害はあったが教区の支援で対処できると判断し、直ちにお見 舞いをもって短期支援を実行しました。大船渡(おおふなと)教会には建物被害はなく津波による人的被害で、他の教会をも含め個人に対 しても教団と奥羽教区の名によりお見舞いをしました。

被災教会の決議に基づいて、礼拝堂・牧師館の修復・新築は進められました。千厩教会は、土地取得・移転 新築し、2013年8月30日献堂式を挙行しました。新生釜石教会は、2014年8月27日修築完了感謝礼拝を奉げました。一関教会 は、礼拝堂の大幅修復工事をし、2015年4月25日完了しました。宮古教会は、土地取得・移転新築し、2016年3月11日献堂式 を挙行しました。江刺教会は、2014年12月建物付きの隣地を購入し牧師館としてリフォームしました。2016年11月3日礼拝堂 の献堂式を挙行しました。この献堂式は、教団全体の東日本大震災被災教会支援活動の最後の支援事業となりました。このために教団全体 からの祈りは勿論、海外の教会の支援に支えられました。心より感謝いたします。


大規模被災となった各教会のうち、新生釜石教会は自己資金(地震見舞金を含む)と教区の援助金で支払い を完了し借入金はありません。

また、以下の教会は自己資金と教区援助金のほかに、教団救援対策本部からの支援金と借入金を受けて再建 事業を進めました。千厩教会は本部支援金2500万円と借入金2500

円を用い、借入金については二年で返済しました。同様に修復しました一関教会は本部支援金390万円と借 入金390万円。新築の宮古教会は本部支援金4000万円と借入金4000万円、市中銀行借入金7000万円、教区借入金2000万 円。江刺教会も本部支援金3350万円と借入金3350万円により再建事業は感謝のうちに完了しました。しかし借入金は返済が当然の こととしてのしかかってきます。特に少数の現住陪餐会員で、宮古教会と江刺教会は20年間の返済を担っていかなければなりませんの で、教会員一同一層の努力を重ねています。これらの教会への支援体制を奥羽教区として継続することが必要です。ご加祷ください。

在日大韓基督教会関東地方会、大韓イエス教長老会、チャイルドファンドジャパン、北海教区、東京教区北 支区はじめ全国各教区の多くの教会並びに信徒の方々の支援により支援活動は継続されてきましたことを感謝申し上げます。


補足(注?)Comment from Kato Makoto, Executive secretary

良く言われることだが、岩手県は四国ほど広い。感覚的な表現で申し訳ないが、邑原宗男教区議長のおられ る江刺教会から大船渡教会までは、ベルギーのブリュッセルからドイツのケルンくらいの車での移動時間である。江刺教会から宮古教会ま ではパリくらいであろうか。私は2011年3月の東日本大震災後、1年4か月震災対策本幹事として東北には100回近く行った。江刺教会に伺うたびに、少しずつ広がった会堂の「ひび」を見せていただいた。邑原議長はご 自分の教会を一番後回しにし、広い岩手県を文字通り駆けずり回ったのである。そのご苦労は岩手の「広さ」を知る者しか実感できない。 献堂された教会と先生のお働きの上に更なる神様の栄光が現されますよう祈ります。(加藤誠)

【February 2017 No.391】Trip to Visit Missionaries in the U.S. Includes Attendance at EMS General Meeting in South Africa

by Kato Makoto, Kyodan executive secretary

I. The United States

I visited missionaries sent to the U.S. by the Kyodan, Nov. 19-26, 2016.

1. New York, Nov. 19-22

On Sunday, Nov. 20, I attended a 10:30 a.m. worship service held at Union Japanese Church of Westchester. After the service, I had an interview with Rev. Nishikawa Akimitsu, a missionary. Nishikawa will finish his term of service in March 2017, but after his resignation from Union Japanese Church of Westchester, his hope is to stay with his whole family in New York.


After the interview with Nishikawa, I had another interview with the board members of Union Japanese Church of Westchester. The church cannot hire a full-time missionary. However, they are moving towards searching for a missionary who can work part-time. In the evening, I visited Amy Nyland, executive minister of the Regional Synod of New York of the Reformed Church in America. We discussed future support of Union Japanese Church of Westchester.


On Nov. 21, I attended the committee meeting of the “Special Ministry to the Japanese” camp, held by the Japanese American United Church. The Japan side announced that next year (2017) is the final year it will recruit participants.


2. California, Nov. 22-24

On Nov. 22, I traveled to Los Angeles and stayed at the home of a missionary, Rev. Kuyama Yasuhiko.


On Nov. 23, I visited retired missionary Rev. Ito Hidemi. I also visited Faith United Methodist Church.


In the morning of Nov. 24, I joined the young people of Centenary United Methodist Church in making free Thanksgiving meals for the neighborhood facilities. After that, we delivered the meals to Japanese people who live in an apartment building for low-income persons and had a time of fellowship. Kuyama is working with Boys Town, which is a non-profit corporation started by a Catholic priest that is well-known all over the U.S. He works to encourage children with developmental disorders and their parents and guardians. This kind of work is also beginning to spread to Japan.


In the afternoon of Nov. 24, I flew to San Francisco and visited the parsonage of Rev. Yoshioka Yasutaka, a missionary sent to Sycamore Congregational Church in El Cerrito. A Thanksgiving party was held at the parsonage, and 30 people participated, including children. Yoshioka’s children are attending Sycamore Kindergarten, and that fact led some parents and guardians of the kindergarten children to participate in the party. Two people are planning to be baptized and four joined on Christmas! Yoshioka has used his soccer skills to form a club. A musical group has been assembled at the church, mostly for young people, and he is active in the group as a rapper. All of these activities are opportunities for evangelism.


II. South Africa

I visited Stellenbosch, a town in South Africa, in order to attend the Evangelical Mission in Solidarity (EMS) General Meeting, Dec. 4-11. There were 68 participants, including 10 EMS staff members. As for participants from Asia, 9 came from Indonesia, 4 from Korea, and 1 from Japan.


The Rev. Dr. Frank Chikane, currently a pastor of the Apostolic Faith Mission of SA in Naledi, Soweto, is the president of the AFM. He was a deputy secretary of the Cabinet during the presidency of Nelson Mandela, and secretary of the Cabinet during Mbeki’s and Motlhanthe’s presidencies. Dr. Chikane lectured on Public Theology, which was the theme of the meeting.


EMS is involved in planning and supporting at least 70 mission-related programs in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. The content of the work of EMS was presented at the general meeting. The financial report, the planned program for 2017 and 2018, and the proposed budget were approved. (Tr. KT)

アメリカ・南アフリカ出張報告      2016年12月18日 加藤誠

1, 2016年11月19日(土)~26日(土)に米国に派遣されている宣教師方を訪問した。

1)ニューヨーク 19日~22日

20日(日)は午前10時半から持たれているユニオン日本語教会礼拝に出席した。礼拝後に西川晃充宣教師と面談。西川牧師の任期は2017年3月で満了となるが、ユニオン日本語教会辞任後もニューヨークに家族で残ることを希望。西川 宣教師との面談後、ユニオン日本語教会の役員と面談。教会としてはフルタイムでの宣教師は招聘できないが、ハーフタイムな可能な宣教師を 探す方向である 

夕方にはReformed Church of Americaのニューヨーク教区のAmy Nyland主事を訪問。今後のユニオン日本語教会のサポートについて協議。

21日(月)14:00~ 日米合同教会で開催されたSpecial Ministry to the Japanese キャンプ委員会に出席し 日本サイドは来年を最後の年にして参加者を募ることを報告。

2)22日(火)ロサンゼルスへの移動日 久山康彦宣教師宅泊

・23日(水)伊藤秀美隠退宣教師訪問。 Faith合同メソジスト教会訪問

・24日(木)午前、センテナリ合同メソジスト教会にて青年たちとサンクスギビングに近隣の施設に無料で届けるお弁当作りに参加後、日本人低 所得者用アパートに届けて交わりの時を持つ。

久山宣教師はカトリックの神父が始めたボーイズタウンという全米で知られる非営利法人の働きに加わり、発達障 害の子どもたちと保護者への働きかけを行っており、その働きは日本でも広がりをみせ始めている。

・24日午後、サンフランシスコに飛びエルセリートにあるシカモア組合教会に派遣されている吉岡恵生宣教師を牧師館に訪問。牧 師館ではサンクスギビングのパーティーが開かれ子供を含めて30名が参加。シカモア幼稚園に吉岡宣教師の子どもが通っていることを通して、園児の保護者が パーティーに参加。クリスマスには2名が受洗、4名 が転会!吉岡宣教師はサッカーの 特技を生かしクラブを結成。教会では青年を中心にバンドを組みラッパーとして活動。すべて伝道に役立てている。

1. 南アフリカ出張

2016年12月4日~11日には、EMS(Evangelical Mission in Solidarity)総会に出席するため、Stellenbosch in South Africaを訪れた。


・主題講演はRev. Dr. Frank Chikane on Public Theology

Rev. Dr. Frank Chikane is currently a pastor of the Apostolic Faith Mission of SA in Naledi, Soweto, and the president of the AFM. He was a Deputy Secretary of Cabinet during the Presidency of Nelson Mandela, and Secretary of the Cabinet during Mbeki’s and Motlhanthe’s Presidencies.

・EMSはアフリカ、中東、アジア における70以上の宣教プログラムを企画・支援 している。総会ではその内 容が紹介され会計報告と、2017年、2018年のプログラム及び会計予算が承認された。

【December 2016 No.390】14 Guests, including Missionaries, Attend the 2016 General Assembly

At the 40th Kyodan General Assembly, a total of 14 guests from both overseas and within Japan were officially introduced to the assembly at 5 pm on Oct. 25. Due to time limitation, those giving greetings were restricted to the chairpersons from overseas churches and Nishihara Renta, a member of the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches (WCC). All the salutations were translated and printed beforehand, so the speakers made their presentations without oral translation. The persons who gave addresses were:


Rev. Dr. Lee Sung-Hee, general chairman of the

Presbyterian Church of Korea (PCK),

Rev. Kwon Oh-Ryun, chairman of the Presbyterian

Church in the Republic of Korea (PROK),

Mr. Sudu Tada, chairman of the Presbyterian Church in

Taiwan (PCT), and

Nishihara Renta, a member of the WCC Central



The other guests introduced to the assembly were as follows:


Rev. Lyim Hong-Tiong, PCT general secretary,

Rev. Ng, Tiat-Gan, PCT executive secretary,

Kim Byung-Ho, missionary of the PCK,

Mrs. Kim Mi-Ja of the PROK,

Rev. Lim Choon-Shik, the Presbyterian Church USA’s

regional liaison for the Far East,

Rev. Chang Kokai Hikari of the United Methodist


Missionary Kawano Shinji of the United Church of


Rev. Ferdinand Kenning of the Evangelischen Kirche in


Rev. Kim Sung-Jae, general chairman of the Korean

Christian Church in Japan (KCCJ), and

Kobashi Koichi, chairman of the National Christian

Council in Japan (NCCJ).


After these introductions, Matsumoto Akihiro, the missionary sent by the Kyodan to the Singapore Japanese Christian Fellowship, gave his report. While overseas, especially in Southeast Asia, many Japanese people encounter Jesus Christ through such Japanese Christian fellowships. His report focused on how such new Christians who are baptized overseas can fit into churches in Japan once they return. It was the first time such a report by a missionary sent overseas by the Kyodan has been made at the assembly, and we hope to continue this practice from now on.


From 9:30 am Oct. 26, Akiyama Toru, chair of the Commission on Ecumenical Ministries, led a time of fellowship with the guests from overseas, then the guests were taken on a study tour to Yokohama. The main places we visited were Yokohama Kaigan Church of the Church of Christ in Japan (a separate denomination from the Kyodan) and the Yokohama Archives of History. Yokohama Kaigan Church was established in 1872 as the first Protestant church in Japan, and it is still an active church with about 200 congregants in Sunday worship. We listened to Pastor Ueyama Shuhei with great interest as he told the story of how eleven young men became the first Christians at a time when Christianity was still prohibited in Japan. (Tr. KY)

—Kato Makoto, executive secretary


加藤 誠


 第40回教団総会には国内外から14名の来賓をお招きし、25日午後5時から紹介と挨拶の時を持った。時間の都合で挨拶は海外の議長と世界教会協議会WCC(World Council of Churches)の西原廉太中央委員にお願いした。いただいた挨拶 文は全て翻訳されており、スピーチは通訳なしで行われた。挨拶いただいた方々は、リ・ソンヒ(Rev. Dr. Lee, Sung-Hee

)総会長(大韓イエス教長老会 The Presbyterian Church of Korea )、クォン・オリュン(Rev. Kwon Oh Ryun

)議 長(韓国基督長老教会The Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea)、スドゥー・タダ(Sudu Tada)

議長(台湾基督長老教会The Presbyterian Church in Taiwan )、西原廉太中央委員(世界教会協議会)。加えて台湾基督長老教会PCTの(Rev. Lyim, Hong-Tiong)リム・ホンティオン

総幹事とン・テッカン(Rev. Ng, Tiat-Gan)幹事、大韓イエス教長老会PCKのキム・ビョンホ(Kim Byung-Ho)宣教師、韓国基督長老教会PROKの キム・ミジャ(Mrs. Kim, Mi Ja)氏、アメリカ合衆国長老教会The Presbyterian Church in the USA のリム・チュンシック(Rev. Lim, Choon Shik) Reginal Liaison for East Asia

東アジア担当幹事、合同メソジスト教会The United Methodist Church の小海光(Rev. Chan, Hikari Kokai)宣教師、カナダ合同教 会The United Church of Canada の川野真司(Kawano Shinji)宣教師、ドイツ福音主義教会Evangelischen Kirche in Deutschland のフェルデナント・ケニング(Rev. Ferdinad Kenning)牧師、在日大韓基督教会Korean Christian Church in Japan KCCJのキム・ソンジェ(Rev. Dr. Kim, Sung-Jae)総会長、日本キリスト教協議会National Council of Churchの小橋孝一Kobashi Koichi議長が議場に紹介された。

後半ではシンガポール日本語キリスト教会(Singapore Japanese Christian Fellowship)に派遣されている松本章宏宣教師による宣教報告が行われた。海 外、特に東南アジアで数多くの日本人が主イエスと日本語教会を通じて出会っている。海外で受洗して帰国したキリスト者をどのように日 本の教会に根付かせるかが課題であるとの報告であった。教団総会で派遣宣教師の宣教報告が行われたのは今回が最初であり、今後も継続 してゆきたいと願っている。

26日は午前9時半から教団世界宣教委員会の秋山徹委員長が司会を務め、海外ゲストとの交 流の時を持った後、横浜にスタディツアーを行った。主な訪問先は日本キリスト教会・横浜海岸教会と横浜開港資料館である。横浜海岸教会は1872年に設立された日本で最初のプロテスタント教会である。現在も200名近い礼拝出席者が与えられているアクティブな教会である。上山修平牧師より当時の日本ではまだキリスト教が禁止されていた時代に、いかにして11名の青年が最初のキリスト者になったのか、という話を興味深く伺った。

【December 2016 No.390】Union Japanese Church of Westchester: Its Ministry and Challenges

by Nishikawa Akimitsu, pastor Union Japanese Church of Westchester, New York City

Union Japanese Church of Westchester began a worship service in the Japanese language in September 1989. While receiving support from the Reformed Church in America (RCA) and the United Methodist Church (UMC), it was given a place to hold services at Hitchcock Presbyterian Church, where it has continued to do church work as an interdenominational church.


New York State is in the middle of the Atlantic coastline and ranks third in population among the states and 27th in area. In the United States, New York City is located in the southeast end of the state and is the city with the largest population (approximately 8 million people). Our church is located in the outlying suburbs about 40 to 50 minutes by car north of Manhattan, the center of New York City. Scarsdale, in Westchester County, is a town with abundant natural beauty and affluent families.


In general, it can probably be said that missionary work among expatriates in New York is tied to and inseparable from world economics. During the period of economic growth in Japan, many enterprises in New York expanded, and the number of Japanese resident workers increased, resulting in vigorous activity by Japanese-language churches. At present, the number of resident Japanese people is slowly decreasing and being replaced by many Chinese and Hispanic people.


The number of Union Japanese Church members has also slowly decreased for several years now, and without the aid of its support group in Japan, the continuing existence of the church is precarious. In the midst of all this, having gone through several months of waiting for approval of a missionary visa, I arrived at my post in December 2014 as the Reverend Asada Yoko’s successor.


Due to visa concerns, ministerial changes do not go smoothly in churches outside Japan, and they often experience periods of being without a pastor, as our church did for a year and had to start again. Thus, many of the meetings other than the worship service had been suspended. Soon after arriving at my post, I reopened the house meeting in the Trumbull area in Connecticut. Nearly all the participants at the Trumbull meeting are non-Christians, but because it is a very homey gathering, the numbers are slowly beginning to increase.


Following the reestablishment of the house meeting, I also reopened the Bible study. However, church members are few in number, and nearly all are working. So we hold Bible study after the “Living in America” class at Hitchcock Presbyterian Church on Thursday mornings, and I have begun an introductory Bible class aimed at the Japanese persons who attend. Fortunately, the time for it immediately follows the “Living In America” class. So a few persons have started to attend, and we are continuing to have good fellowship.


Including these kinds of meetings, there are three Japanese-language churches serving in Westchester District: Union Japanese Church of Westchester, New York Japanese Church, and Metropolitan Japanese Ministry. Since they are all small, we wondered if there was not something the three churches could do cooperatively, so they started holding an interdenominational exchange worship service. (At present, Japanese-American United Church members, Japanese Christian Church of Greenwich members, and Japanese Christians from the Queens area are attending).


Japanese-language churches on the outskirts of New York State, with the exception of Manhattan Japanese American Church, are struggling with membership and financial hardships. The reason is that the majority of participating families reside in New York for a short period and then return to Japan. Likewise, those permanent residents who have ties to the church (and house meetings) are also beginning to attend English worship services.


At the same time, many of the U.S. denominations are proposing to cut their support because there is little result from evangelism among Japanese people. That alone would cause a crisis among the Japanese-language meetings that are also struggling to continue while facing membership and financial issues.


However, looking back at history and realizing that many of the Christians of the Meiji Era who came in contact with Christianity while studying abroad in the U.S., did wonderful work following their return to Japan, I feel that the evangelistic work mainly done here should definitely not be stopped, even if it does not substantially connect with church development. I request you, by all means, to please remember to pray for our church and for each of the Japanese-language churches outside Japan and to join with us in supporting them. (Tr. RT)

ユニオン日本語教会牧師 西川晃充

ユニオン日本語教会Union Japanese Church of Westchesterは、1989年の9月に日本 語による礼拝を始め、米改革派、米合同メソジスト派の支援を受け、ヒッチコック長老派教会Hitchcock Presbyterian Churchに場所を提供していただいて教会活動を続けている超教派の教会です。


私たちの教会は、このニューヨーク市の中心マンハッタンから北へ車で40分~50分ほど移動した郊外にあります。そこは、ウェストチェスター郡スカーズデールScarsdale, Westchester Countyという場所で、自然が豊かで富裕層が多く住む町です。

ニューヨークでの宣教(海外宣教全般にも言えることかもしれませんが)は、世界経済と不可分に結びついています。日本の経済成長期にはニューヨークに多くの企業が進出し、それに 伴い多くの日本人駐在員が増え、結果的に日本語教会の働きは活発化いたしました。そのため、現在は日本人は徐々に減少し、中国や ヒスパニック系の方々が多くなっているのが現状です。

このような中にあって、ユニオン日本語教会も教会員が徐々に減少し、日本の支援会の支えなくしては教会の存 続が危ぶまれる状況がここ数年続いております。

このような中、数か月の宗教ビザの認可待ちの期間を経て、浅田容子Yoko Asada牧師の後任として2014年12月に私が着任させていただくことになりました。

海外の教会はビザの関係で牧師交代スムーズに行かず、無牧期間を経ることが多くありますが、私たちの教会も 1年間の無牧の時を経ての再スタートでしたので、礼拝以外のいくつかの集会が閉じられておりました。

そこで、着任後すぐにコネチカット州トランブルTrumbull地区の家庭集会を再開しました。このトランブル集会は、ノンクリスチャンの方々がほとんどの集会ですが、と てもアットホームな集会であったため、少しずつ人数が増え始めました。

また家庭集会に続き、聖書研究会も再開いたしました。ただし、教会員の人数が数名のみにであり、そのほとん どが仕事をもっておられるため、木曜日の午前中にヒッチコック長老教会行われているLiving in Americaの終了後に聖書研究会を行うようにし、そこに参加する日本人向けに入門バイブルクラスとして始めました。幸 い、時間がLiving in America終了後ということで、数名の方が参加くださるようになり、楽しい交わりを継続できております。

こうした集会に加え、ウェストチェスター郡の3つの日本語教会(ユニオン日本語教会Union Japanese Church of Westchester、ニューヨーク日本語教会New York Japanese Church、メトロポリタン・ジャパニーズ・ミニストリーMetropolitan Japanese Ministry)のそれぞれが小さい教会であるため、3教会が連携して何かできないものか、と考え、3教 会が連携して行う超教派の交流礼拝もスタートいたしました(現在は、日米合同教会Japanese American United Church、グリニッジ福音キリスト教会Japanese Gospel Church of Greenwich、クイーンズ地区の日本人クリスチャンの方々も参加くださって います)。

ニュヨーク州周辺での日本語教会(集会)は、マンハッタンの日米合同教会Japanese American United Churchを除いていずれも人的財政的困難な抱えています。それは、ここニューヨークに短い期間滞在して帰国する駐在 員家族が出席者の大半であることに加え、教会(集会)の核となる定住者もまたアメリカの英語礼拝に出席するようになりつつあるためです。

こうした中、アメリカの教派の多くは、日本人宣教は実りが少ない、という理由から支援の打ち切りを申し出て きており、ただでさえ人的財政的困難を抱える日本語集会が存続の危機を抱えています。

しかし、歴史を振り返る時、明治期の中心的クリスチャンの多くが米国留学時に福音に触れ、帰国後日本で素晴 らしい働きをしたことを考える時、ここでの宣教が主として帰国者に仕える働きのため実質的な教会形成に繋がらないものであったと しても、決して途絶えさせてはいけない働きであるように感じております。

ぜひとも私たち教会、そして海外の一つひとつの日本語教会のために覚えてお祈りくださいますと共にご支援い ただけますようお願い申し上げます。

【December 2016 No.390】”Kids’ Diner” Becoming a Nationwide Movement

Recently, the relative poverty rate for children in Japan is rising, and of the 34 members of OECD (The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) Japan ranks 10th, which is higher than the OECD average. The relative rate of poverty among children being raised in single-parent homes is the highest among all members (according to the data for 2014). Poverty and parents working outside the home causes poor nutrition, which has led to the establishment of the “Kids’ Diner” movement that is starting to spread throughout Japan. We share below parts of an article about this movement that was introduced in the Kyodan periodical Shinto no Tomo (Believers’ Friend). (KNL Editorial Section)


In May 2016, a voluntary group of Yokohama Konandai Church in Kanagawa Prefecture started the Santa (Claus) Kids’ Diner at the suggestion of one if its members, Yoshida Noboru. He found supporters among the church members and, to make it more accessible, rented a space separate from the church. Yoshida was able to acquire the use of a multipurpose room with kitchen facilities free of charge from the Konandai Care Plaza of Konandai Ward, a place where he had already been involved in volunteer activities.


When the church engages in such an activity, it must be approved at a congregational meeting, but in order to get things started as soon as possible, it was decided to create a separate organization called the “Santa Kids’ Diner” and a steering committee from the church was established with the authority to carry out this project. The members included the minister, Yoshida, and five other members and associates of the church. When seeking support from the larger community, a worker at the ward office suggested that Konandai Ward was generally a well-off area and that he was unaware of any children in need, but the leader of the local neighborhood association offered support and declared that as long as there are single-parent homes, there is the likelihood of such children being in the area. In the end, this project received the support of both the neighborhood association and the Social Welfare Council.


The Konandai Care Plaza also sponsored the project and serves as the place to contact for information, helps distribute fliers at local elementary and junior high schools, as well as putting the fliers on municipal bulletin boards, including them in neighborhood bulletins, and even placing them in supermarkets. Yoshida and the others notified the Ward’s Sanitation Division of who the food hygiene supervisor would be and asked staff to sample every meal. Church member Nakamura Tomoko, who is an experienced cook, serves as the supervisor, creator of the menu, and kitchen leader.


All together there are six volunteers, including four from the church, the oldest of whom was Nakamura Takako who is 90 years old. In the beginning they decided to open the kitchen only once a month. The cost for each time, not including the cost for seasonings, was ¥5,000 for 30 meals, with 10 to 20 percent of the ingredients donated by church members. There is a small income from the fee and offerings from the church, but the overall cost has been in the red. Other than dishes, everything had to be provided, and Pastor Nakazawa Yuzuru has kept it all in the manse. And it was a given that there should be no indication of religion in a public place.


At the opening, which took place on May 6, 2016, enough food for 30 people was prepared; 14 children came, but food was provided for guardians and newspaper reporters as well. Three elementary school students came together after seeing the poster in a supermarket. Another elementary school student came alone. Kato Yuko, who was at the reception desk, learned anew the fact that some children eat their evening meal alone and shared how she was happy to receive such children at the cafe. From June, meal tickets were divided into those for infants, children, and adults, and more food was added. Yoshida told all the adults that “it was important to watch the children and see who was not eating and report it to the appropriate organization.” After 5 pm, previous users, parents with children, and groups of elementary school students kept on coming. The 30 meals that had been prepared were all gone by 6:30 pm. But no one left right after eating. Children meeting for the first time made friends, and parents also connected and conversed with one another.


Many people think of Kids’ Diner as a way to fight poverty, but the volunteers working here see another function as well. “There is an economic side and a mental side to poverty. Mothers also need a place like this to communicate, to help each other heal, and to encourage one another. If parents can smile, it will have a positive influence on the children as well.” Of course, how to help children without access to adequate food to connect with the program is also a concern that must be addressed.


From July, the Kids’ Diner has started receiving financial support from the ward, and the steering committee is working towards establishing an NPO, hoping that the diner might also become a place where children can play or study free of charge. For that reason they are seeking greater understanding of their work at the kitchen and praying together as they proceed towards their goal. (Tr. RW)


—From Shinto no Tomo (Believers’ Friend) September 2016 issue

                 Summarized by KNL Editor Kawakami Yoshiko

昨今、日本の子どもの相対的貧困率The relative poverty rateが高くなり、OECD加盟国34カ国中、10番目に高くOECD平均を上回っている。 大人が1人で子どもを養っている世帯の相対的貧困率は、OECD加盟国中最も高い。(2014年度資料よ り)。貧困や親が仕事に出ていることで、食生活が乱れ、栄養が摂りにくい子ども達の食生活を案じた人々による「こども食堂」 の取り組みが全国で始まっている。信徒の友誌の記事から、一部を紹介する。(KNL編集部)


神奈川県の横浜港南台教会では、会員の吉田登さんの発案で、2016年5月に「サ ンタこども食堂」を始めた。吉田さんは、教会員の中から数名の賛同者を得て、地域に受け入れられやすいように、ま ずは教会の外に 会場を借りることにした。吉田さんがボランティア活動で訪れていた港南区の港南台地域ケアプラザから、調理室付きの多目的ホールを無 償で貸してもらうことになった。



教会が主体になって行う場合、総会で承認を得る必要があるが、早く始めるために、教会外部に任意組織として「サンタこども食堂運営委員会」を設立。メンバーは牧師と、吉田さんを含む教会 員と求道者で計7名。地域との連携では、区 役所では「港南台は比較的裕福なエリアだから、そういう子がいるとは認識していない」と担当者から言われたが、地元自治会の会長が賛 同し、「ひとり親家庭がある以上、そうした子もいるはずだ」と説得した。最終的には自治会や社会福祉協議会の 協力を取り付けることができた。


港南台地域ケアプラザも共催として問い合わせを担当し、チラシを近隣の小・中学校に配布したり、町の掲示板や回覧板、スーパーにも掲 示するなど協力してくれた。吉田さんらは区の衛生課への食品衛生管理者の届け出を提出し、毎食*検食も行うことにした。食品衛生管理者であり、献立の作成者、調 理場のリーダーが、調理師経験がある教会員の中村ともこ登茂子さんだ。最年長90歳の中村たかこ孝子さんはじめ4人の教会員を含む6人のボランティアがいる。まずは月に一度の開催から始めることにした。1 回の開催でかかる金額は、調味料などを除き30食で約5000円。教会員からの献品は使用する食材の1、2割ほど。わずかな参加費と教会員からの献金もあるが、財政的には赤字である。食器類以外のものは全て自分たちで調達し、すべて中沢 牧師が牧師館で預かる。公共施設である会場では宗教色は出さないのが大前提である。

5月6日の開会式で用意した食事は30食。やって来た子どもは14人だったが、保護 者や取材記者などにも提供した。3人で来た小学生は、スーパーの掲示を見て来たという。1人で来た小学生もいた。受付をしていた 加藤夕子さんは「事情はわからないが、1人で夕食を食べなければいけない子がいる事実をあらためて知った。そういう子が食堂に来 てくれてうれしい」と話す。6月には、 食券は「幼児」「こども」「大人」の3種類で食事の量を変えた。吉田さんは「子どもを観察し、食べられていなさそうな子を見つけるの が大事。もしそうなら、しかるべき機関に連絡を取れるから」と大人たちに告げた。17時を過ぎると、前回も利用したという親子連れや小学生のグループなどが続々とやって来た。用意した30食は18時半過ぎにはなくなった。ほとんどの 人たちは、食べ終わってもすぐには帰らない。初対面の子どもたちが打ち解けるだけでなく、ここでは親同士も話が弾む。



こども食堂は子どもの貧困対策として捉えられることが多いが、ボランティアの一人は、別の役割が見えてきたと言う。「貧困には経済的 なものと精神的なものがある。お母さんたちにも、こうした所がコミュニケーションの場になれば、癒やし合ったり励まし合ったりでき る。親が笑顔になれば、子どもにも良い影響を与えていくと思う」。一方で、本当に食に事欠く子がどうしたら来てくれるのかが課題でもある。

 7月からは区の助成金を得られることになった。運営委員会はNPO法 人化を検討する一方、こども食堂が子どもの遊び場や無料の学習塾などの居場所にもなればと考えている。そのためにも、こども食堂の働 きがさらに理解されるよう、祈りつつ歩んでいく。 


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