by Nitta Kyohei, pastor of Inawashiro, Aizubange, Kawageta and Aizuhongo churches
It is striking that for many churches, the sharing of joys and burdens is not the ordinary reality. Since April 2015, the Rev. Takahashi Makoto and I have been responsible for sharing the pastoral care of four churches: Aizubange Church, Aizuhongo Church, Inawashiro Church, and Kawageta Church. We alternate Sunday worship services with morning and afternoon services at two churches each, and both pastors attend the administrative board meetings of each church.
Serving four churches is quite bewildering, but I have been given many insights that I would not have understood by serving only one church. Each of the four churches is struggling with differing types of issues and difficulties. Through publishing the church bulletin as well as sharing information when issues are raised during tea-drinking time, we “share our pain.” And, from time to time, we hold a common administrative board meeting, working together on a plan for solutions.
Of course, we do not just share our pains. There is active participation in the events that each church is promoting, and four times a year there are joint worship services, held in rotation at each church, when we mutually see each other’s faces. Recently as well, when a special guest was invited to one of the churches, we held a joint worship service and shared our joys together. The issues or joys of one church are not limited to that one church; instead we are working at developing a relationship of mutual sharing and bearing.
I do not think that the Lord Jesus desires the kind of relationship revealed by such attitudes as “If it’s good for my church, that's enough” and “Even if another church is hurting, it doesn’t bother me.” We are involved in a new experiment as we grope our way forward, but I believe that a way will be given to us, without fail, as we walk together with the four churches, holding hands. (Tr. RT)
—From Senkyo Tohoku (Tohoku District News), No. 172
重荷と喜びを分かち合う 新田 恭平