The Kyodan Subcommittee on Dealing with Handicapping Conditions sponsored its 4th National Symposium, Sept. 2-3. It was held at “Toyama Sunrise” National Welfare Center for Persons with Handicapping Conditions, in Shinjuku, at which 35 people from 14 Kyodan districts were present. The theme was “Spiritual Care for Pastors and Their Families,” with Professor Fujikake Akira from Seigakuin University Graduate School as the main speaker.
On the first day, the theme of the lecture was “Stress and the Mental Health of Pastors.” Research on pastoral stress has revealed that such areas as power struggles among pastors and/or laity, the degeneration that comes from the care of laity, and personal and family problems of pastors are mentioned as some of the major causes of burnout. Pastors have an innate sense of their role as enabler/helper and tend to act as if there is no area where they cannot function as such. How can we solve this dilemma and integrate what can and cannot be done by pastors? The importance of diversion and frank dialogue as the means of self-observation (among pastors) and the revelation of SOS signs were discussed. The evening group discussions were used as an opportunity for participants to share insights from the earlier lecture, as well as to discuss freely the issues they face.
The theme for the second day was “The Church and Personality Disorders.” We learned about the handicapping conditions of narcissistic behavior and a lack of boundary awareness, both of which are growing problems in our churches. There is an increased awareness of personality disorders, but even among the experts, addressing the problem is still an area of research. How to deal with this in our churches is an ongoing task. We cannot deny that the special environment of the church presents a complementing factor to this problem. However, as our understanding of these handicapping conditions deepens, we can circumvent some of the dangers that are presented. Though this is not a condition that can be dealt with easily or at once, we were told that it is important that we continue to confront it.
In recent years, the problem of communication with churches has resulted in pain and illness for pastors and their families, as well as depression, embarrassment, and even suicide. This problem continues today. With no mechanism within the Kyodan to address this issue, the situation is worsening. The theme of this year’s symposium was born out of the need to develop a means of preventing the isolation of pastors and individual churches dealing with this problem. (Tr. JS)
—Uetake Yuko, pastor
Iwaki Church, Tohoku District
From Shinpo (The Kyodan Times), No. 4807
「障がい」を考える小委員会(Subcommittee on Dearling With Headicapping Conditions)が主催する第４回全国交流会が、９月２～