The mission activities of the 40th General Assembly period (2016-2018) have now begun. As at every general assembly, various commissions and committees gather together to support the work of local churches and schools and other organizations related to the Kyodan, which is where our mission actually takes place. The standing committees of the Kyodan are:
• the Commission on Mission,
• the Commission on Cooperative Ecumenical
• the Commission on the Ministry,
• the Commission on Ministerial Qualifications,
• the Commission on Faith and Order, and
• the Commission on Finance.
Likewise, the following focus committees also operate under the Commission on Mission:
• the Committee on Evangelism,
• the Committee on Social Concerns, and
• the Committee on Education, including the
Office of Evangelism Promotion.
In addition to these committees and commissions, the assembly established the Research Institute on the Mission of the Church, which began the process of revising the "basic theory of mission" during the 36th General Assembly Period (2008-2010). This process is still ongoing, with the discussion during the 40th General Assembly focusing on the very premises of the debate, that of "mission" and "evangelism." "Our conclusion is that 'mission' is primarily communicating the gospel message—in other words, 'evangelism.' However, true evangelism must give birth to 'witness.' (Revised Basic Theory of Mission draft, I-2-4)*" [*Social action and activities] There is much debate within the Kyodan concerning this draft. It is my hope that this debate will not end merely with definitions of words but with the gospel of Christ spreading in various ways to every place.
As the National Christian Council in Japan (NCCJ) celebrates its 70th anniversary next year, "Mission Conference 2018" and its lead-up gatherings are being planned. The four events, each with a separate theme, have been or will be held on the following dates:
1. "Mission: Kerygma and Youth": Sept. 24, 2016
2. "Service: Diakonia and Life”: Feb. 4, 2017
3. "Witness: Marturia and Collaboration Between
Generations”: Sept. 9, 2017
4. "Prayer and Worship: Leitourgia and Diversity”
: Feb. 3, 2018
Not only are the member denominations, churches, and other organizations participating but there will also be a Roman Catholic presence, thus making this a truly ecumenical mission conference. Preparations for the main conference are well underway, and the Kyodan intends to cooperate in every way possible to make it a success. (Tr. TB)
—Dohke Norikazu, acting general secretary Executive Secretary of General Affairs