As part of celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, the Kyodan sent participants to an International Youth Conference in Germany, July 24-Aug. 8, as well as to a nearby Boy Scout Camp. Both events were conducted entirely in English so the contents were challenging, but it appears that the youth were all able to participate without difficulty. We hope that after returning to Japan, they can work to advance youth evangelism in the Kyodan, based on the valuable experiences they gained at the camps.
A Kyodan conference for junior and senior high school students from all over Japan convened at Megumi Chalet in Karuizawa, Aug. 9-11. Another youth conference is being planned for March 21, 2018, to be held at Aoyama Gakuin University. This will be the first youth conference in which the Kyodan will cooperate with the Kirisutosha Gakusei Kai (KGK) and the Japan Evangelical Association (JEA), which are organizations that work with what are usually termed evangelical denominations.
In 1941, the Japanese government forced the more than 30 Protestant denominations to join together as one denomination—the Kyodan. After World War II, many of the groups associated with evangelical denominations in North America and Europe became independent again. KGK and JEA mostly consist of these denominations. Having invested every means of energy into youth evangelism, they have succeeded in accomplishing the formation of a “Christian church of youth.” It may be difficult for us to agree at every point, but in regards to the evangelism of youth, I think we can cooperate together.
In the midst of facing an aging society with a low birth rate, evangelism of and with the generation of youth is a pressing need. Today this issue is a matter that must be addressed by transcending denominations. As the commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation is an opportunity to hold programs focused on youth, I look forward to the beginning of a new era of “youth evangelism.”
Continuing Education Opportunities for Kyodan Clergy
Clergy in the Kyodan go through a three-step process in their development: training, testing, and continuing education. Training is done in both the Kyodan-founded Tokyo Union Theological Seminary and other seminaries approved by the Kyodan. Testing is done by the Commission on Ministerial Qualifications twice a year, in the spring and in the fall. Available continuing education basically consists of seminars held at seminaries for their graduates, together with district-wide clergy retreats and self-run interest groups. In the past, there were clergy retreats held by the Kyodan as a whole, but these have not happened for quite some time.
In recent years, however, the Kyodan’s Office of Evangelism Promotion and the Commission on Ministry have jointly sponsored a “Clergy Summer Retreat,” begun at the initiative of pastors wanting to hold a “Clergy Continuing Education Summer Retreat.” Not only are recent seminary graduates invited but also pastors who had taken the “C Course” (without seminary training), and every August, more than 40 pastors have participated. This year’s event was held Aug. 15–17 at the Japan Biblical Theological Seminary under the theme of funerals. A variety of speakers made presentations to the 41 participants.
The opportunities for continuing education of Kyodan pastors following their ordination exams has been rather limited. In this age when the training of effective evangelists is such a critical task, the Kyodan is finally beginning to put an emphasis on providing continuing education for its pastors. (RT)
—Acting General Secretary Dohke Norikazu
Executive Secretary of General Affairs
来年、３月21日には、青山学院を会場として「青年大会」 の開催を計画しています。教団としては、Kirisutosha Gakusei Kai(KGK)（学生キリスト者会）やJapan Evangelical Association (JEA)（日本福音同盟）