Message from the General Secretary: Welcomed by PCK & PROK Churches and Assemblies

This year I have participated as an official observer in several general assemblies, including of course, the Kyodan General Assembly as well as several district assemblies where I gave greetings and participated in the discussion. Most memorable for me personally, however, was participating in two such assemblies in sister churches in Korea, where I went for the first time in my life. Those were the Presbyterian Church of Korea (PCK), Sep. 22-25, and the Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea (PROK), Sep. 23-26. Even though I have many friends in Korea and have had opportunities when I could have gone for visits, I had not been able until now to actualize them. Part of the reason for that was simply my inability to travel to the places where Japan had done such terrible things as though nothing like that had transpired.

 

Come to think of it, however, when I mentioned this in my prayer at the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan in April, as well as when representatives from churches in the Philippines and Southeast Asia paid visits to the General Secretary’s Office, they seemed quite surprised by my references to this issue, as it was to them ancient history from the generation of their grandparents. So I mention it as something that is an integral part of my remembrance as one who lived through that generation.

 

With respect to the two denominations that I visited in Korea, there were numerous roles that I played. One was to give greetings to the Saemoonan Presbyterian Church, which had so quickly responded with aid after the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami, and also to preach a sermon at the Japanese-language service they have there. Dr. Nag Woon-hae of the Presbyterian College and Theological Seminary of the PCK had set things up for me. At the regular service, I was introduced and welcomed so kindly by the head pastor, Rev. Dr. Lee Soo-Young. Then at the much smaller Japanese-language service that afternoon, the church elders came and listened via simultaneous translation into the Korean language.

 

The other thing I did there was to accompany General Secretary Kim Byung-Ho of the Korean Christian Church in Japan to a presentation ceremony at the Yonsei University Medical Division’s Severance Hospital to receive the generous offering they had collected for the relief of foreign women victims of the East Japan Disaster. We really had a deep and warm time of fellowship there, and in my greetings to them, in addition to expressing our gratitude for their generosity, I described the situation of the many foreign women in the Fukushima area who are not fluent in Japanese and whose families have become separated.

 

The general assemblies of both these Korean churches involved gatherings of more than 2,000 delegates each, with the PCK Assembly taking place in Seoul at Somang Church. A main topic of discussion there was the issue of pensions for pastors. The PROK Assembly took place at the Bien Xanh Resort along the coast, where more than 300 lives were lost in the Sewol Ferry disaster, and the issue of retroactive laws concerning that was one topic of discussion. However, what is important to note about these two assemblies is the atmosphere that was established in the opening and closing worship services, which were well beyond my expectations.

 

The way the general assemblies were conducted was in both cases superb, and I sensed how both were in continuous prayer for the reunification of their country. As guest observers, we able to fit several presentations into breaks in the proceedings, including one at the PCK Assembly on “Healing and Reconciliation,” along with commemorating the 30th anniversary of their joint mission agreement with the KCCJ and touching on such issues as hate speech in Japan and the “comfort women” issue. We were also able to visit the work the PCK is doing with immigrant evangelism among many ethnic groups.

 

While at the PROK Assembly, we visited a ministry site where the evangelism of foreigners, mostly Chinese, is taking place, and we also went to the memorial site that has been set up by the government for the victims of the Sewol Ferry disaster to share in the grief of the Korean people over their great loss. Of the more than 300 victims, about one-third of them were Christian high school students. Thus, even though our two countries have difficult political relations at the present time, as fellow Christians, we were able to complete our mission in daily gratitude for being so warmly received. (Tr. TB)

 

—Nagasaki Tetsuo, general secretary

今年は総幹事として内外の幾つかの教団総会や教区総会の問安師として招きを受け、そこでの挨拶や論議にも加わった。忘れられないのは、生涯初めて隣国韓国に渡り、第99回大韓イエス教長老会Presbyterian Church of Korea(PCK)及び同回韓国基督長老教会(PROK)総会に出席した日々である。自分にも隣国には多くの友人がいて渡航の機会はあったのにそれがなかなか実現出来なかったのは、やはり戦前から今日まで日本の彼の国々に及ぼした大罪を差し置いて、普通の顔では行けぬという長い間の拘りがあったからである。   

そう言えば、春四月の台湾基督長老教会(PCT)総会の折りや、時として訪問されるフィリピンをはじめ東南アジア諸教会から総幹事室を訪問される方々には最早彼らの祖父祖母の時代のことと思われるのか、それらのことを挨拶の中に入れてもポカンとされてしまうが、一つの世代を生きた自分には欠かせぬ思いがあり、それ(過去への気持ち)を言葉にする。

さて冒頭の二教団訪問に際しては、多くの役目があった。一つは、あの3.11東日本大震災にはいち早く救援の手を延ばして戴いたソウルのセムナン教会(Saemoonan Bresbyterian Church)への挨拶と其処での日本語礼拝説教であった。これには,PCK 神学大学Presbyterian College and Theological Seminary of PCKの洛雲海教授のNag Woon-haeの仲立ちがあり、大きな主日礼拝の中での李秀永(Rev. Dr. Lee, Soo-Young)主任牧師の懇切な紹介と歓迎の辞が語られ、その後の礼拝説教(ハングル同時通訳付)には教会の長老方が集まって戴いた。          

二つ目は、在日大韓基督教会金柄鎬(Kim Byung-Ho)総幹事と共に参加した延世大学医学部セバランス病院Severance Hospital – part of the Yonsei University Health Systemが集めてくださった東日本大震災被災外国人女性のための多額の献金の贈呈式への席であった。ここでは、友情にあふれた真に暖かな時となり、私は感謝の挨拶と共に、特に福島県を中心とした日本語の不自由な外国人女性方、その離散の家族の状況を説明した。

両教団総会は、それぞれ二千名を超える代議員による大規模のものであり、PCKはソウルのソマン教会Somang Churchで、特に牧師の年金問題等を、PROKはビエンサンBien Xanh Resortの海辺リゾ-トホテルで三百人余の命を失ったセオ-ル号沈没事件Sewol ferry調査遡及律法問題などを主要議題として開催された。しかし、注目すべきはこれらの議事を両教団共に開・閉会礼拝の予想以上の充実が基調となって、総会全体の運営がなされていたのは見事であり、両教団とも朝鮮半島統一のための連祷があることが分かった。わたしたちゲスト集団は、総会の合間を縫い、PCKの「癒しと和解」をめぐるプレゼンテテ-ションの時を持ち、教団としてKCCJとの宣教協約30周年や国内にあるヘイトスピ-チ、慰安婦等への取り組みの課題などにも触れた。またPCK多民族移住者伝道の現場を訪れて学んだ。

PROKでも外国人特に中国人伝道の現場研修及びフェリ-沈没事故犠牲になった高校生の安山に置かれたセオウル号犠牲者政府公式合同焚香所を訪ね、韓国の人々の悲しみを共にした。此処には三百人を上回る犠牲者 の内ほぼ三分の一のキリスト者高校生がいたことが明らかにされていた。

かくして現在両国間政治情勢に厳しいものがある中、わたしどもは 教会人として暖かに受け入れられた日々を感謝しつつその任務を終わった。長崎哲夫総幹事

 

 

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