by Ito Mizuo, former Kyodan Vice-moderator
The Berlin Mission was founded in 1824 as a united church of the states of Berlin-Brandenburg-Silesian and Upper Lusatia. It is the organization for overseas missions of the Evangelical Church of Anhalt and is called the Evangelical Church of Berlin-Brandenburg-Silesian and Upper Lusatia (EKBO). Thus, this year is the 190th anniversary of its founding, and the event was celebrated at a conference with its partner churches, which was held Aug. 30-Sept. 2. I attended on behalf of the Kyodan as its vice-moderator.
EKBO has maintained fellowship with the National Federation of Kyodan Women’s Societies since before the unification of East and West Germany and has held exchanges with Japanese youth since 2002. It has also reached out to add the Japanese-speaking Church in Berlin (Akiba Mutsuko, pastor) into its circle.
Last year, representatives from the EKBO visited the Kyodan office as well as the disaster area in Fukushima; later Moderator Ishibashi paid a visit to EKBO. This deepening of relationship between our two churches has been continued through my attendance at the celebration conference.
The celebration was held in a courtyard at the headquarters on the afternoon of Aug. 31, and there were participants from 16 overseas churches with greetings from more than 40 representatives. The interesting thing was that all the church representatives were requested to bring a rock from their respective countries and talk about that rock in their greetings. Often, a long series of greetings gets rather boring, and I think this was an effort to prevent that. I decided to take a small piece of lava rock from the base of Mt. Fuji and shared with the participants how Mt. Fuji symbolizes Japan in so many ways.
On Sept. 1, the plenary session of the conference was held under the theme of “Reconciling the World.” It was on that day 75 years ago that Germany invaded Poland, bringing about the start of World War II, so this was an especially appropriate way to commemorate that event. EKBO Bishop Markus Droege and representatives from England, South Africa, and the Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea gave presentations on this theme. In the evening of the same day, there was a memorial worship service held at St. Mary’s Church that was jointly conducted by Bishop Droege and a bishop of the Evangelical Church of Poland, with a Bishop of the Catholic Church giving the sermon. As representatives from overseas churches, we participated in the precession up to the stage in front, as well as in the recessional at the end. It was symbolic of our joint prayer for “Reconciling the World.” (Tr. KY)