by Okamura Hisashi, pastor, Osaka Church
Chair, Committee on the 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation
The first Kyodan event celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation was the Commemorative Service held at Fujimicho Church in Tokyo on June 22. Over 500 people came to this service to share the Lord’s Supper together and to enjoy the blessings of the Word. We have celebrated this anniversary year by confirming that our church does indeed inherit the evangelical tradition of the Reformation as we praise His name in one voice. Later in the summer, we held a German-Japanese youth exchange program called “Nichi-Doku Youth Mission 2017” and a program for junior and senior high school students entitled “Reformation Youth 500.”
The “Nichi-Doku Youth Mission,” an exchange program between the Church District Wittstock-Ruppin (the Evangelical Church of Berlin-Brandenburg-Silesian Upper Lusatia) and the Kyodan began in 2002 as a program of the National Federation of Kyodan Women’s Societies. Youth Mission 2017 was included as one of the anniversary programs of the Kyodan in cooperation with the Wesley Foundation.
From July 23 to Aug. 8, 15 youth along with six committee members and three support personnel traveled to Germany. Among them, five youth under the age of 16 and two leaders took part in the Christian Boy Scout Camp for ten days, and the other ten youth and one leader joined a combined German-Japanese team to attend the International Youth Camp held in Wittenberg for eight days. They experienced the joy of listening to the Gospel together as well as talking to and praying with each other in spite of various differences.
The participants gained much knowledge about the Reformation and thought deeply about it. They learned not only about the country and the region they visited but furthermore had a good chance to think about their own environment and the tasks they face, and they have matured as a result. May God bless the German church and our host families.
The Kyodan’s “Reformation Youth 500” event was held at Megumi Chalet in Karuizawa (a Christian campsite in Nagano), Aug. 9-11, with 91 students and 112 staff (pastors and leaders) who came from all 17 districts of the Kyodan. Rev. Shiotani Naoya of Aoyama Gakuin and Rev. Horioka Makiko of Hokuriku Gakuin Junior and Senior High School, gave the messages.
The Protestant Reformation can also be thought of as a liturgical reformation. In our Reformation Youth meeting, we planned the whole program so that the youth would be able to experience the blessing of participating in the service, something that was rediscovered by the Reformation. Participants were asked to choose one of eight workshops, which included tips on how to be a worship leader, make worship videos, lead worship singing, do liturgical dance, write lyrics for worship songs, use sign language in worship, tell Bible stories through pictures, and enact Bible stories through theatrical plays. They prepared for the Reformation Youth Service by learning about worship and using the story of Zacchaeus in each workshop.
The theme verse for this conference was “Come and see!” (John 1:46). There were no main lectures as such, but staff members endeavored to communicate the Gospel and testify about our Lord Jesus Christ to the youth participants throughout the various activities. Most of the leaders were in their twenties or thirties, and as they “came” and “saw” during these three days, they also experienced a special opportunity to listen afresh to the Gospel and to receive a new vision for their future through their encounters with these junior and senior high school students.
Another Reformation Youth 500 conference is being planned in March 2018 for high school and older youth at Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo, with approximately 1,000 participants expected. This will include youth not only from the Kyodan but also from other denominations. We are now prayerfully preparing for this conference in the hope and expectation that together we can look forward to the church of 10 to 20 years in the future.
宗教改革500周年記念事業報告 （大阪教会 牧師 岡村 恒）
・日独ユースミッション、リフォユース500 中 高生大会 報告
大会の主題聖句は「来て、見なさい。(Come and see!)」(ヨハネ1:46)でした。主題講演はなく、