Executive Council Votes to Admonish Pastor, Abolish Mission Commission

The Executive Council of the 35th Kyodan General Assembly period met for the

5th time, July 14-15, in the Kyodan conference room. The main issues

addressed at the previous meeting, namely the “recommendation for a minister

to resign” and his “admonition,” were carried forward to this meeting, and

the debate was vigorous indeed. Before the vote was taken, four council

members walked out in protest, deepening the division further. Likewise,

there was strong debate concerning the proposal now being drafted for

presentation to the upcoming Kyodan General Assembly this fall to change the

Kyodan structure radically through a revision of its bylaws. With only three

months to go until the assembly, it is uncertain what will happen.

The following two articles taken from Shinpo (The Kyodan Times) summarize

these two points.?

I. Resolution to “Pursue the Admonition” Passes: Debate is Hot Concerning

the Legal Basis and Appropriateness of the Procedures

As the second day of deliberations came to an end, the “Petition to Carry

Out Admonitions Against Kitamura Jiro”was passed. This means that the matter

will be taken up by the Commission on the Ministry, which will determine

what actions will be taken against him.

Based on the decisions of the third meeting of the Executive Council in

October 2007, Kyodan Moderator Yamakita Nobuhisa sent a formal letter to

Pastor Kitamura stating that if he did not immediately cease from offering

communion to unbaptized persons, he would be asked to resign as a minister

of the Kyodan. Since Kitamura did not respond to this letter of admonition,

a new resolution was passed at the next meeting in February, to the effect

that if he continued this practice without the consensus of the Kyodan as a

whole, the Executive Council would be forced to follow through with its

admonition. He was asked to respond by June 20, 2008.

As Kitamura did not abide by this request, a formal admonition was passed on

the basis that his continued offering of communion to unbaptized persons was

in violation of the first and second articles of the Kyodan Constitution and

brought disorder to the church. During the debate swirling around this

issue, council member Umezaki Koji expressed his dissent, stating that the

Executive Council could not itself be the plaintive in this dispute, and

following Moderator Yamakita’s response, Umezaki walked out, stating, “I

cannot be a part of this illegitimate discussion, as you have not spelled

out the legal basis for this in the bylaws.” Council member Matsubara Shigeo

likewise walked out after expressing his opposition to the proceedings.

Council member Mukai Mareo expressed his opposition by posing this question:

“You say that offering communion to unbaptized persons is not permissible,

but where is this stated in the Kyodan Constitution and Bylaws? The Kyodan

is based on local church autonomy, and there are also examples of churches

in other countries where this is practiced.” Ushiroku Toshiya claimed that

the procedure under consideration was outside the stipulations of the Kyodan

Constitution and Bylaws, and expressed doubts that the motion should have

even been introduced. Likewise, since such an indictment and admonition

require a two-thirds majority of council members to pass, he urged caution.

Others also expressed their opposition, including Saito Jin’ichi, who

likewise left the room, followed by others who walked out as the roll was

called.?

Those who supported the admonition were led by Moderator Yamakita, who

stressed that the regulations for church membership in the Kyodan

Constitution and Bylaws clearly included baptism as a prerequisite, and so

the very concept of unbaptized persons receiving communion was

inconsequential. Likewise, since unbaptized persons cannot participate in a

local church’s annual assembly, they would be left in limbo. Council member

Sasaki Michio chastised those who walked out, saying, “This debate requires

us to all be on the same playing field. I want these illegitimate actions to

stop.” He further stated that since it is the role of the Commission on

Ministry to carry out an admonition and it is the Kyodan General Assembly

that handles matters pertaining to the administration of communion, it is

only natural for the moderator to bring to attention any practices in this

regard that causes discord.

In response to one lay member’s remark that this “is not a matter of life

and death or one that involves human rights,” another lay member countered

that the matter is of? “supreme importance to the laity, since it relates

directly to our walk of faith.” The exit of the several council members

caused the session to be extended for 15 minutes. When the final vote was

tallied, 16 of the 19 remaining council members had voted in favor of the

measure.?

II. Elimination of the Commission on Mission Proposed

On the second day of the meeting, after revision of church regulations

related the Board of Publications was dealt with, the following issues were

also discussed:?

1.? Revision of the Regulations on the Research Institute on the Mission of

the Church,?

2.? Dissolution of the Commission on Mission and Revision of related Bylaws,

3.? Revision of the Regulations Concerning Ministerial Qualifications,

4.? Application Process for Recognition as a Minister Under Special

Appointment, etc., and

5.? Cooperative Mission Covenants with the Presbyterian Church USA and the

Reformed Church of America.

As the proposals on revision of the regulations of the Research Institute on

the Mission of the Church and the dissolution of the Commission on Mission

and revision of related bylaws overlapped, they were discussed

simultaneously. Moderator Yamakita presented both proposals on the basis of

the report of the Special Committee on Church Structure. The proposed

revision of church regulations on the Research Institute on the Mission of

the Church is intended to clarify both the original purpose for establishing

the institute and its present role. The moderator explained that part 1 of

Article 41 of the Bylaws and Articles 3 and 8 of the regulations on the

Research Institute on the Mission of the Church have not been adhered to

since the time of the Kyodan’s internal struggles. Thus, clarifying the role

of the Research Institute will result in the clarification of the

overlapping activities under the jurisdiction of the Commission on Mission,

which supports a proposal to eliminate the research institute.

Other reasons cited for the proposal include the fact that while the

research institute rethinks such things as basic mission strategies and

basic social action policies, it is the committees under the Commission on

Mission that actually do the work, so the committees under the Commission on

Mission could not do overall basic strategy planning. Therefore, the

proposal is to abolish the Commission on Mission and have its committees on

evangelism, education, and society become separate commissions. Various

bylaw changes will be necessary. There were 17 votes in favor of adopting

the changes in the regulations on the research institute. Likewise, the same

number approved presenting to the General Assembly this fall the proposed

changes in the bylaws that would abolish the Commission on Mission.

The regulations on the Research Institute on the Mission of the Church can

be revised by the Executive Council, but abolishment of the Commission on

Mission involves changes in the bylaws, which requires the consensus of the

Kyodan General Assembly. Council members opposed to the proposal stated that

bylaw changes should be dealt with first, before revision of regulations on

the research institute. On the other hand, the following quotes were

representative of those in support of the proposal: “The research institute

has not operated according to the purposes of its inception.”? “Because

evangelism was placed under the Commission on Mission, evangelism has

stagnated.”? “This is representative of the face of the Kyodan to come.”

Other proposals that were approved included sending aid to churches that

suffered typhoon damage, resolutions relating to the celebration of the

150th anniversary of Protestant Christianity in Japan, and revision of

Article 4 of the ministerial qualifications. (Tr. TB)

Katsuyama Ken’ichiro

?Executive Secretary

Sign of Growing Relationship Between Japanese and Korean Churches

Under the above headline, the Korean Christian News published the following

report on the visit of Kyodan representatives to the Korean Methodist Church

in Seoul, Korea.?

‘Bishop Shin Kyoung Ha, president of the Bishop’s Council of the Korean

Methodist Church, held an interview with representatives of the Kyodan in

Japan on June 8 at the Korean Hotel, thus promoting exchange between

Japanese and Korean Christian Churches. The various churches in Taiwan,

Japan, and Korea gather periodically, and various representatives of the

Kyodan who had participated in the Northeast Asia Church Mission Conference,

where the churches share their vision about mission, came especially to

visit the Korean Methodist Church to broaden their interaction with them.

‘In 1967, three Christian churches in Korea established an agreement with

the Kyodan and have promoted continual, reciprocal exchange. This agreement

was revised in 1992, and the Kyodan continued to engage in ongoing exchanges

with the Presbyterian churches in Korea but has not been able to actualize

exchanges with the Korean Methodist Church.

‘During his meeting with Kyodan representatives on June 8, KMC’s President

of the Council of Bishops Shin Kyoung Ha took steps to improve that

relationship and to develop reciprocal interchange. He is planning to attend

the Kyodan General Assembly this fall and then to invite representatives

from the Kyodan to the Korean Methodist Church’s Assembly in October,

intendng for this reciprocal exchange to be the starting point for expanded

interaction. ?

‘The representatives of the Kyodan who visited this time were Kyodan General

Secretary Naito Tomeyuki; Katsuyama Ken’ichiro, pastor of Takeoka Church in

the Chiba Subdistrict of Tokyo District; Kishi Norihide, pastor of Chiba

Honcho Church in Chiba Subdistrict of Tokyo District; and Takada Kazuhiko,

pastor of Tachikawa Church in West Tokyo District.” (Tr. RT)

Recalling the visit, General Secretary Naito made the following entry in his

diary.?

“On June 8, I made an official visit as Kyodan General Secretary to the

Korean Methodist Church in Seoul, Korea. In 1967, the Kyodan joined in a

mission covenant to promote exchange with three Korean churches: the

Presbyterian Church of Korea, the Korean Methodist Church, and the

Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea. In 1992 the covenant was

revised, with the aim of adapting to a new era and striving to improve

cooperation further. However, as compared to interaction with the

Presbyterian Church of Korea and the Presbyterian Church in the Republic of

Korea, fellowship with the Korean Methodist Church had come to a standstill

in recent years. Therefore, the Kyodan needed to work toward improved

relations and broader opportunities for fellowship.

‘On that very evening, in the plaza in front of Seoul’s city hall, there was

a large-scale candlelight demonstration mostly attended by Korean youth. On

their placards were slogans protesting the importation of American beef and

sharp criticism of the current government’s anti-American policies. The

shouting of the thousands of protesters echoed among the buildings in a

noisy uproar. I think that the juxtaposition of this candlelight

demonstration and the meeting with the Korean Methodist Church’s President

of Bishops will always remain firmly etched in my memory.” (Tr. TVB)

2007 Missional Planning Conference Held in Tokyo

The 2007 Missional Planning Conference was held on March 10-11 at Fujimicho Church. The main topic was “Kyodan’s Evangelism and Cooperative Efforts in that Endeavor” and the subtitle was “150 Years Since the Beginning of Protestant Evangelism in Japan.” The 72 participants were able to delve deeply into the topic at hand and significant insight and learning were achieved as they fellowshipped together.

Takahashi Jun, chairperson of the Commission on Ecumenical Ministries, stated that “although the question has been raised as to whether it is even possible to have a missional planning conference without a plan, we all agreed that without the delegates coming together to deliberate, there would be no progress.” In his greeting the host said, “It is important to have representatives from all the districts gather together to reach a mutual understanding of the present circumstances unique to the various Kyodan districts and churches and to learn lessons from history as we plan for the future.” Korean Christian Church in Japan General Secretary Park Sookil expressed his prayer that a fruitful harvest would come out of this conference as he shared greetings filled with humor.

Three lecturers made presentations. In his presentation entitled “Reflecting on the History of the Kyodan,” General Secretary Naito Tomeyuki stated that the 150-year history of the Protestant Church in Japan can be divided into three 50-year periods. The first period focused on ecumenism. There was a great emphasis on church unity as opposed to the sectarianism and denominationalism that was prevalent in Europe and America. The second period was a time of militarism and war. It must be acknowledged that the church was unable to escape this influence while attempting to protect its confessional beliefs. At the same time, although political and military pressure cannot be denied, it was this conviction of the ideal of ecumenism that played an important role in the formation of the Kyodan.

In his discussion of the third period, Naito shared vivid recollections from his own experience of the Kyodan General Assembly and other events and examined them through the paradigm of the ecumenism of the church. Given his historical perspective and ecclesiology, Naito was critical of some of the events that have occurred since the 16th (1969) General Assembly. However, he concluded by referring to the hope that lies ahead.

While all three presenters dealt with very deep subjects, Yamaguchi Takayasu particularly did so in his lecture. Just as he promised, he condensed the contents of his book into one hour. The lecture was entitled “Evangelism from the Viewpoint of the (Kyodan’s) Confession of Faith and Constitution.” Organizationally independent from the government, the Kyodan is founded on its own constitution and confession because ecclesiology is the characteristic of a church and not of an association. Yamaguchi’s boldness was persuasive as he went against what is often considered to be common-sense understanding of the meaning of the Kyodan’s Constitution and its Confession of Faith.

Tomisato Church Pastor Uchida Hiroshi presented the third lecture, which was entitled “Cooperating in Evangelism.” From his background in church planting and cooperative mission, Uchida gave a very practical and well thought-out presentation. His first example was of how Shikoku District is working together cooperatively to do church planting. He emphasized how Shikoku District’s cooperative system has created the fellowship that exists between pastors and supporting churches. The second example was “church planting with the cooperation of a parent congregation.” The parenting church congregation organized a loose union to found a church located on the Hokuso train line. There are three reasons that were offered for why Chiba Hokusou Church was able to be established: responsible people, trust relationships, and the vision borne out of home gatherings.

Ou District Moderator Ohara Muneo, Tokai District Executive Council Member Nishinosono Michiko and Higashi Chugoku District Vice-moderator Miyakawa Tsunenobu gave their reports. All three seemed to be eagerly working at the task of finding concrete solutions. (Tr. AK)

─Takezawa Chiyoshi, chief editor
Shinpo (The Kyodan Times)

The Students Engraved on My Heart

by Nonomura Noboru, chancellor
Kwassui Gakuin, Nagasaki City
The road that leads up the Higashi (east) Yamate hill in the city of Nagasaki has become known as “Dutch Slope.” This is because at the beginning of the Meiji Era a foreign settlement was established in this area, so it was usual to come into contact with foreigners here. Part way up the slope is the main gate of Kwassui Women’s College; by going through it and climbing up the stone steps, the view at the top suddenly becomes visible. On the right are the lawns of the campus grounds and the red roofs of the college buildings, while across the valley on the left is Glover Garden and the sea beyond.
Three camphor trees tower above the way into Kwassui’s college campus,their thickly growing branches and leaves stretched out as if they are holding out their arms to welcome visitors to the campus. The founder herself is said to have planted these trees, and this is also mentioned in the school song. At the time of Kwassui’s 126th anniversary in December 2005, the school erected a plaque near the camphor trees to commemorate the missionaries who have been sent to Kwassui throughout its history. On it are engraved the names of 76 missionaries, all of them women.
The inscription reads as follows. “In 1879, two missionaries crossed the Pacific from distant America and came to Nagasaki. They immediately opened a girls’ school with a Christian basis. This was how Kwassui Gakuin was established. Since then, for 126 years, undaunted by a great

Churches Damaged by Chuetsu Earthquake Celebrate Reconstruction

Reconstruction of two churches damaged by the Chuetsu earthquake in October 2004has been completed. Two related services were held on Jan. 14, 2008: at 11:00 a.m. a service of celebration and thanksgiving for the reconstruction of the Tokamachi Church parsonage and at 3:00 p.m. a dedication service for the parsonage and sanctuary of Mitsuke Church. With the prayers and support of churches throughout the country, these two points of evangelism have been reestablished.

Tokamachi Churchユs Service of Celebration and Thanksgiving. The snow that had been falling all night stopped as the service started. Tokamachi Church Pastor Arai Jun began his sermon by saying, “There was a moment I cannot forget,” then spoke about the annual assemblies of Niigata Subdistrict and Kanto District. “A motion that Kanto District raise 75 million yen, half of the total nationwide goal, was presented. When, after a tense moment of silence, it was overwhelmingly approved…” His voice broke; then, after a few minutes he continued: “the feelings I had been holding back just overflowed. When everyone offered their blessings and encouragement after the assembly, I could only prayerfully give thanks. I cannot tell you how much we were comforted and encouraged by the fact that members of churches far away were accepting our damage as their own pain. We were not alone. I felt clearly that we were not isolated. Many episodes since the earthquake have borne witness that the Lord is with us and living in our midst.”

In his congratulatory message, Kanto District Moderator Hikita Kunimaro commented, “Rebuilding a church is not just reconstructing a building; this building embodies power and courage from nationwide prayers and support. I hope Kanto District will be a district that continues to stand with all those who may suffer any kind of damage in the future.”

When structural evaluation of the former parsonage was officially changed from “partial destruction” to “virtually complete destruction,” it was decided to rebuild. Work that was begun on the light-steel frame, two-story parsonage in September 2007 has been completed. The cost of the 131 square meter building was 40 million yen, 30 million of which was aid raised by the Kyodan and 10 million raised locally. The building was used as a center for volunteer workers immediately after the earthquake.

Mitsuke Church’s Dedication Service: A sudden change of weather in the afternoon brought biting cold and heavy snow. In his greetings, Mitsuke Church Pastor Yanagida Takeyuki said,
“Rebuilding this church has been a heavy task for parishioners whose homes also suffered earthquake damage and flooding along with the church. But with the Lord’s guidance to change a pinch to a chance, and supported by the prayers of people throughout the country, we have been given a new vision.” Then he continued: “We have felt that God is alive and at work. Now I am struck with fear and trembling. I want to speak about two points. The first is the meaning of a service of dedication. We give back to God what is God’s. I think this is the meaning of a service of dedication. Today we give this church building back to God, and then we ask to borrow it again. The second is the purpose of a service of dedication. It begins with saving the soul of just one person of the 43,000 citizens of Mitsuke. Through repentance, a loser is resurrected. Today is the beginning of losers being resurrected through evangelism. In his words of congratulation after the service, Kyodan Vice-moderator Kobayashi Makoto stated:
“As I rejoice with you in the service of dedication, accomplished despite numerous difficulties, there is one more thing I want to say. As reflected in the words ‘holy catholic church’ in the Apostles’ Creed, the church is not just a building but the object of faith. There is confusion and lack of faith within the Kyodan, but the present offering of more than 170 million yen from peopoe throughout the country who believe in the church has great meaning.モ Kumae Hidekazu, moderator of Kanto District’s Niigata Subdistrict, remarked: “Standing here in this new church building 40 months after the earthquake is like a dream, but it is not a dream. Our vision of communicating the gospel to all people takes shape here. This new church building is a witness to the solidarity of our subdistrict, district, and the Kyodan as a whole. This day witnesses to the fact that the church truly is alive and working together.” Mitsuke Church suffered flood damage in 2004 and three months later the Chuetsu Earthquake caused a liquefaction phenomenon that caused the foundation to disintegrate, so rebuilding on that location was abandoned and a site was purchased in the Hanamizuki (Dogwood) housing development, about a five-minute walk from the former building.

The phrases “God is alive,” “One church,”and “Witness to solidarity” were weighty and filled with deep meaning. The face of every person there radiated with gratitude and joy, We would like to convey the blessings of that day to churches throughout the country. (Tr. WE)

─Shinpo (The Kyodan Times)

Churches Damaged by Chuetsu Earthquake Celebrate Reconstruction
The 2007 Missional Planning Conference was held on March 10-11 at Fujimicho Church. The main topic was “Kyodan’s Evangelism and Cooperative Efforts in that Endeavor” and the subtitle was “150 Years Since the Beginning of Protestant Evangelism in Japan.” The 72 participants were able to delve deeply into the topic at hand and significant insight and learning were achieved as they fellowshipped together.

Takahashi Jun, chairperson of the Commission on Ecumenical Ministries, stated that “although the question has been raised as to whether it is even possible to have a missional planning conference without a plan, we all agreed that without the delegates coming together to deliberate, there would be no progress.” In his greeting the host said, “It is important to have representatives from all the districts gather together to reach a mutual understanding of the present circumstances unique to the various Kyodan districts and churches and to learn lessons from history as we plan for the future.” Korean Christian Church in Japan General Secretary Park Sookil expressed his prayer that a fruitful harvest would come out of this conference as he shared greetings filled with humor.

Three lecturers made presentations. In his presentation entitled “Reflecting on the History of the Kyodan,” General Secretary Naito Tomeyuki stated that the 150-year history of the Protestant Church in Japan can be divided into three 50-year periods. The first period focused on ecumenism. There was a great emphasis on church unity as opposed to the sectarianism and denominationalism that was prevalent in Europe and America. The second period was a time of militarism and war. It must be acknowledged that the church was unable to escape this influence while attempting to protect its confessional beliefs. At the same time, although political and military pressure cannot be denied, it was this conviction of the ideal of ecumenism that played an important role in the formation of the Kyodan.

In his discussion of the third period, Naito shared vivid recollections from his own experience of the Kyodan General Assembly and other events and examined them through the paradigm of the ecumenism of the church. Given his historical perspective and ecclesiology, Naito was critical of some of the events that have occurred since the 16th (1969) General Assembly. However, he concluded by referring to the hope that lies ahead.

While all three presenters dealt with very deep subjects, Yamaguchi Takayasu particularly did so in his lecture. Just as he promised, he condensed the contents of his book into one hour. The lecture was entitled “Evangelism from the Viewpoint of the (Kyodan’s) Confession of Faith and Constitution.” Organizationally independent from the government, the Kyodan is founded on its own constitution and confession bec
ause ecclesiology is the cha
racteristic of a church and not of an association. Yamaguchi’s boldness was persuasive as he went against what is often considered to be common-sense understanding of the meaning of the Kyodan’s Constitution and its Confession of Faith.

Tomisato Church Pastor Uchida Hiroshi presented the third lecture, which was entitled “Cooperating in Evangelism.” From his background in church planting and cooperative mission, Uchida gave a very practical and well thought-out presentation. His first example was of how Shikoku District is working together cooperatively to do church planting. He emphasized how Shikoku District’s cooperative system has created the fellowship that exists between pastors and supporting churches. The second example was “church planting with the cooperation of a parent congregation.” The parenting church congregation organized a loose union to found a church located on the Hokuso train line. There are three reasons that were offered for why Chiba Hokusou Church was able to be established: responsible people, trust relationships, and the vision borne out of home gatherings.

Ou District Moderator Ohara Muneo, Tokai District Executive Council Member Nishinosono Michiko and Higashi Chugoku District Vice-moderator Miyakawa Tsunenobu gave their reports. All three seemed to be eagerly working at the task of finding concrete solutions. (Tr. AK)

─Takezawa Chiyoshi, chief editor
Shinpo (The Kyodan Times)

Reconstruction of two churches damaged by the Chuetsu earthquake in October 2004 has been completed. Two related services were held on Jan. 14, 2008: at 11:00 a.m. a service of celebration and thanksgiving for the reconstruction of the Tokamachi Church parsonage and at 3:00 p.m. a dedication service for the parsonage and sanctuary of Mitsuke Church. With the prayers and support of churches throughout the country, these two points of evangelism have been reestablished.

Tokamachi Church’s Service of Celebration and Thanksgiving. The snow that had been falling all night stopped as the service started. Tokamachi Church Pastor Arai Jun began his sermon by saying, “There was a moment I cannot forget,” then spoke about the annual assemblies of Niigata Subdistrict and Kanto District. “A motion that Kanto District raise 75 million yen, half of the total nationwide goal, was presented. When, after a tense moment of silence, it was overwhelmingly approved…” His voice broke; then, after a few minutes he continued: “…the feelings I had been holding back just overflowed. When everyone offered their blessings and encouragement after the assembly, I could only prayerfully give thanks. I cannot tell you how much we were comforted and encouraged by the fact that members of churches far away were accepting our damage as their own pain. We were not alone. I felt clearly that we were not isolated. Many episodes since the earthquake have borne witness that the Lord is with us and living in our midst.
In his congratulatory message, Kanto District Moderator Hikita Kunimaro commented, “Rebuilding a church is not just reconstructing a building; this building embodies power and courage from nationwide prayers and support. I hope Kanto District will be a district that continues to stand with all those who may suffer any kind of damage in the future.”

When structural evaluation of the former parsonage was officially changed from “partial destruction” to “virtually complete destruction,” it was decided to rebuild. Work that was begun on the light-steel frame, two-story parsonage in September 2007 has been completed. The cost of the 131 square meter building was 40 million yen, 30 million of which was aid raised by the Kyodan and 10 million raised locally. The building was used as a center for volunteer workers immediately after the earthquake.

Mitsuke Church’s Dedication Service: A sudden change of weather in the afternoon brought biting cold and heavy snow. In his greetings, Mitsuke Church Pastor Yanagida Takeyuki said, “Rebuilding this church has been a heavy task for parishioners whose homes also suffered earthquake damage and flooding along with the church. But with the Lord’s guidance to change a pinch to a chance, and supported by the prayers of people throughout the country, we have been given a new vision.” Then he continued: “We have felt that God is alive and at work. Now I am struck with fear and trembling. I want to speak about two points. The first is the meaning of a service of dedication. We give back to God what is God’s. I think this is the meaning of a service of dedication. Today we give this church building back to God, and then we ask to borrow it again. The second is the purpose of a service of dedication. It begins with saving the soul of just one person of the 43,000 citizens of Mitsuke. Through repentance, a loser is resurrected. Today is the beginning of losers being resurrected through evangelism. In his words of congratulation after the service, Kyodan Vice-moderator Kobayashi Makoto stated: “As I rejoice with you in the service of dedication, accomplished despite numerous difficulties, there is one more thing I want to say. As reflected in the words ‘holy catholic church’ in the Apostles’ Creed, the church is not just a building but the object of faith. There is confusion and lack of faith within the Kyodan, but the present offering of more than 170 million yen from peopoe throughout the country who believe in the church has great meaning.” Kumae Hidekazu, moderator of Kanto District’s Niigata Subdistrict, remarked: “Standing here in this new church building 40 months after the earthquake is like a dream, but it is not a dream. Our vision of communicating the gospel to all people takes shape here. This new church building is a witness to the solidarity of our subdistrict, district, and the Kyodan as a whole. This day witnesses to the fact that the church truly is alive and working together.” Mitsuke Church suffered flood damage in 2004 and three months later the Chuetsu Earthquake caused a liquefaction phenomenon that caused the foundation to disintegrate, so rebuilding on that location was abandoned and a site was purchased in the Hanamizuki (Dogwood) housing development, about a five-minute walk from the former building.

The phrases “God is alive,” “One church,” and “Witness to solidarity” were weighty and filled with deep meaning. The face of every person there radiated with gratitude and joy, We would like to convey the blessings of that day to churches throughout the country. (Tr. WE)

─Shinpo (The Kyodan Times)

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