European Christian Conference Attended
by Representatives of Japanese Christian Groups in Europe
The Japanese-speaking churches of Europe joined the European Christian Conference gathered in Prague of the Czech Republic from July 29 to Aug. 2, the 32nd convening of this annual event held every summer. This year, 2015, marks the 600th anniversary of the martyrdom of Bohemian Reformer Jan Hus, who was remembered in worship services by the words he left, “the truth to all people,” which was the theme of the Praha/Kobylisy Japanese Worship Service. A total of 225 participants attended from 14 European countries, Japan, Korea, Israel, Tunisia, Brazil, and other countries, together with kindergarten and elementary children and a youth group.
Clergy in Europe gave the messages at the six lectures and at the prayer meetings each morning, revealing the truth of the Bible that Hus pursued and analyzing it from many perspectives. In the afternoon of July 31, worship was held at Bethlehem Cathedral in the old part of the city. This cathedral was built to function as a Czech language worship venue in the 14th century, and Hus was the senior pastor there for ten years. At this conference, we heard about the church’s history from the Reverend Joel Ruml, moderator of the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethern, which inherited Hus’ faith tradition. In the 17th century, Hus’ followers were expelled, and Czech became a Catholic country. However, it is now one of the most secular countries in the world. The minority status of the Protestant church is similar to the Japanese situation. Strolling through the old city in the afternoon, we could experience walking in the footsteps of Hus. The works of Jan Hus are not widely known, but at this gathering, participants of the conference were moved by his life and teachings.
In the afternoon on Aug. 1, there were two special lectures. The first was by the Rev. Sato Akira of Fukushima First Bible Baptist Church, who spoke of the East Japan disaster and the present situation. Following him, Muraoka Munemitsu, a professor at Leiden University, spoke on the responsibility of Japanese Christians for the war fought some 70 years ago. Both lectures were very timely, and we were reminded that even though we are in Europe—a long way from Japan, as fellow believers it is necessary that we connect with one another on these issues.
Every time at the “Fellowship,” hymn singing played a very significant role. This time, praise team members from each church led the singing, including Czech hymns written by Hus. Especially at the “Evening Hymn Sing,” the program incorporated the theme of reformation inherited by Luther from Hus, and we were all blessed by it.
The “Fellowship” was a wonderful time for the believers who were scattered over Europe to come together and fellowship with one another. At the small group gatherings, there was so much to talk about and share that we wanted to continue, but we had to prepare to return to our homes following the final gathering at the concluding worship service. At this conference, participants carried back with them in their hearts Hus’ hope that the truth will be known to all people. (Tr. WJ)
—Son Sin-il, pastor Praha Kobylisy (Kyodan-related) Church, Missionary, Korean Christian Church in Japan