【June 2016 No.388】Church Executives Visit Kumamoto Earthquake Site

The day after receiving news of the Kumamoto earthquake on April 14, the Kyodan formed the Kumamoto Earthquake Relief Committee, headed by General Affairs Executive Secretary Dohke Norikazu. Following discussion, the committee decided to dispatch Commission on Ecumenical Ministries Executive Secretary Kato Makoto to the affected area to assess the situation.


Flying immediately to Kumamoto, Kato joined Kyushu District Secretary Niihori Masayuki and traveled to Omuta Shozanmachi Church, where he delivered a message of condolence from the Kyodan. From there, Niihori and Kato headed to Yamaga Onsen, where they joined Kyushu District Vice-moderator Kusakabe Kenji. Hotels within Kumamoto City had suspended operations because of the earthquake. In the early hours of April 16, the strongest earthquake struck Kumamoto. The tremor was also severe in Yamaga, which is 20 kilometers to the north.


The first place visited was Yamaga Church. As it is currently without a minister, staff members of adjacent Reizen Kindergarten were consulted about the damage experienced. The church executives met Kyushu District Moderator Umezaki Koji at Kumamoto Kusabacho Church, and together they paid visits to the Kyodan’s Nishikigaoka Church, Musashigaoka Church, Kumamoto Shirakawa Church, and Kumamoto Joto Church, as well as to Kumamoto Church of the Korean Christian Church in Japan.


Among these churches, the most striking exterior damage was at Kumamoto Shirakawa Church, where many roof tiles had fallen and broken. Interior damage was most pronounced at Kumamoto Kusabacho Church and Nishikigaoka Church, which suffered damage to their pipe organs as well as to many of their dishes. In most of the churches, printed materials and furnishings were scattered around the meeting rooms and ministers’ offices. Amid this situation, every minister was busily trying to confirm the safety of church members. In addition, Kumamoto Shirakawa Church and Nishikigaoka Church were providing overnight accommodations and meals to church members and neighbors who came for shelter.


On April 17 Kyodan Moderator Ishibashi Hideo joined the other executive, and together they delivered most of the relief materials to Musashigaoka Church because it had been opened to provide food to anyone. On April 18, some of the broken water lines were restored, and relief materials were carried into the city with great speed. That night, while staying in Fukuoka City, they noticed the swaying, back and forth, which must have been due to the constant aftershocks. This caused them to consider again how much stress the people in affected are facing. (Tr. DM)


—Kato Makoto, executive secretary



加藤 誠


 2016414日(木)に起きた熊本地震の報道に接し、翌15日、道家紀一総幹事事務取扱のもとに熊本地震救援対策委員会が設置された。協議の結果、加藤誠世界宣教幹 事を現地視察のため派遣することを決定した。直ちに福岡に飛び、新堀真之九州教区書記と共に先ず大牟田正山町教会に向かい、梅﨑浩二 九州教区議長に教団からの見舞金を渡した。次に山鹿温泉に向かい日下部遣志九州教区副議長と合流した。熊本市内のホテルは地震のため 営業を停止していた。16日未明、本 震が熊本を襲った。約20キロ北にあ る山鹿でも揺れは強烈だった。

 最初の訪問は山鹿教会であった。現 在無牧のため隣接する霊泉幼稚園の職員に被害状況を聞いた。熊本草葉町教会で梅﨑議長と合流し、錦ヶ丘教会、武蔵丘教会、熊本白川教 会、熊本城東教会、在日大韓基督教熊本教会を問安した。外から見て一番目立った被害は、熊本白河教会の屋根瓦の崩落と亀裂であった。 教会内部では熊本草葉町教会と錦ヶ丘教会のパイプオルガン損傷及び食器類の被害。ほとんどの教会で集会室や牧師室の書類や備品が散乱 していた。そのような中、教師たちは教会員の安否確認、熊本白河教会、錦ヶ丘教会では礼拝堂に避難してきた近隣の住民や教会員に宿泊 と食料を提供していた。

 17日、福岡で石橋秀雄教団議長と合流し支援物資のほとんどを武蔵丘教会に搬入した。教会をオープンにして誰 でも食料を手にすることが出来るようにしていたからである。18日には、断水も一部回復し物資も驚異的なスピードで市内に入ってきていた。同日夜は福岡に宿を取ったが無 意識に前後に揺れていることに気付いた。絶え間なく続いた余震のせいであろうが、現地の方々のストレスはいかばかりであろうかと思わ された。

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