日本基督教団 The United Church of Christ in Japan

【April 2018 No.397】From the General Secretary's Desk:Anticipating My New Role and Its Responsibilities


by Akiyama Toru, general secretary

 From April 2018, I assumed my responsibilities as Kyodan general secretary. I am writing this manuscript in March, spending my last month in the Lord’s church where I have served for 23 years as pastor of Ageo Godo Church and Ageo Fujimi Kindergarten, tying up the work I have done until now. The need to say goodbye to the close church fellowship I have enjoyed for so long while not yet feeling fully prepared for my future work is overwhelming. I will be preaching at Ageo Godo Church until the April 1 Easter Worship Service and from April 2 will begin my work as general secretary. On that day, I will greet the staff, and on April 16, I will leave to attend the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan’s General Assembly, so now I am looking forward to whatever kind of days may be awaiting me ahead. I will be beginning a new step in serving the Lord, and I want to answer His call faithfully each day in whatever type of situation the Lord Jesus Christ is calling me.

 The position of Kyodan general secretary had been vacant for over a year, and there is a mountain of issues that must be quickly handled with the assumption of office. First of all, the reform of the Kyodan’s organizational structure, which has already been raised at Executive Council meetings, and the critical situation of membership and finances are immediate concerns, while considering the future of the Kyodan and how to make needed structural changes. As general secretary, the issues I must deal with thoroughly are the reorganization of the current Executive Council’s structure and a broad reform of the Kyodan's structure and procedures, etc. We must wrestle with structural downsizing and proceed to reform the structure in ways that will actually assist evangelism. A revision of the Constitution and Bylaws will accompany this, so I will bear the responsibility of explaining the purpose of restructuring to gain broad consent. I think the days ahead will continue to involve the acrobatics of catching up with and jumping on a train that has already left and immediately explaining the situation to its passengers.

 Until now, I have been serving as the chair of the Commission on Ecumenical Ministries as well as moderator of Kanto District. I was also involved in the aid to and restoration of the churches damaged during the Great East Japan Disaster. In this work, the damaged churches struggled to their feet in the midst of the unique, painful situations each one faced, and we stood by them in their efforts to carry out restoration and rebuilding. But at the same time, this also became an opportunity to deepen our connections with churches around the world and to realize how important those connections really are.

 In the midst of the fellowship of global ecumenical churches, my work as general secretary will include responding sensitively to the issues of the various churches while not being indifferent to their mission advances and the various pains and struggles they face, thereby widely opening a window to move toward a joint living fellowship. I want to pursue this intentionally.

 An urgent issue of our Kyodan is how to develop a kind of evangelism of hope in the midst of an aging society in churches that are even more aged, so that young people will meet the Lord Jesus Christ and discover a place and chance to live vibrantly within the church. Therefore, seeking an evangelism activated in both these directions is what is needed. I would appreciate your prayers for my new work as general secretary.

 “Oh, Holy Spirit, who can even revive a mountain of dried out bones into a large crowd of the Lord’s flock, come and blow from all directions.” (Tr. RT)







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