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

【April 2018 No.397】Ways to Bring Churches Together: Three Examples


The following examples of efforts to bring churches together were shared by a city church, a church in the far-reaching Hokkaido region, and a church inviting the participation of its local community. These appeared in three separate Shinto no Tomo articles that were condensed by the KNL Editorial Committee.

I. Children of Churches Deepen Friendship 

by Oshio Hikaru, pastor

Kamata Shinsei Church, Tokyo District

 For the past 50 years, Tokyo District’s Minami (southern) Subdistrict has held an annual "Sports Day" to promote friendship among members of local church schools. One extant record shows that in 1977, 442 children from 12 churches gathered for this event. As this event was held outdoors until 2000, there were times when inclement weather caused cancellations. Since 2001, however, we have been using the gymnasium of Tamagawa Seigakuin, making weather irrelevant. Of the 160 participants from nine churches who attended the Sept. 24, 2017 event, about 100 were children, ranging from toddlers to high school students. We played six games, including charades, tamaokuri (using spoons to pass a ping pong ball along a line), tamaire (throwing balls or beanbags into a basket on a high pole), and so on. Then we separated into “children’s relay” for elementary and younger children and “adults’ relay” for middle school and older participants. Each person had to run once around the gym. All did their best.

 In earlier days, we awarded points to competing churches, but the opinion surfaced that competition is not in line with deepening fellowship, and so each church divides its members into white and red teams, with the only competition now being in relay races. So this year, most events included all members with no competition between churches, and the relay race was divided into red and white teams. In this way, even if there is only one participant from a particular church, that person will not be competing alone. Through this way of holding our Sports Day, children are made aware of the vertical relationship with God and the lateral relationship with other friends under God.

From Shinto no Tomo (Believers' Friend), December 2017 issue


II. Stamp Rally*

by Han, Soohyeon, pastor

Asahikawa Toyooka Church, Hokkai District

 Hokkai District’s Dohoku (northern) Subdistrict is made up of ten churches and the Dohoku Mission Support Christian Center. Three churches are located within seven kilometers of Asahikawa City’s center. The other churches are 30 to 80 kilometers away from Asahikawa, and the northernmost, Wakkanai Church, is 160 kilometers away. In such a broad area—especially one that experiences harsh winters—it is particularly important for churches to have a sense of connection. It was suggested at our November 2015 subdistrict meeting that we “hold a Stamp Rally as a fun way of connecting churches with each other.” So we took up the challenge and passed out Stamp Rally cards from May to gather stamps from the 16 places named in the “Dohoku Subdistrict Stamp Rally.”

 On the Stamp Rally card are the ten churches, the Christian Center, the Ainu Information Center that is located inside one of the small churches, and the names of gatherings in Dohoku Subdistrict. People can get their cards stamped for participating in worship services or gatherings at the locations listed. As we wish to strengthen our ties with distant churches, participants got two blanks stamped for going to distant churches.

 We prepared rubber stamps for each church. For example, the Asahikawa Tomioka Church stamp was created from a combination of its children’s drawings of their own faces. Various prizes were given according to the number of stamp impressions acquired, and participants were recognized at the Dohoku Subdistrict Gathering in October. Goda Mitsuyuki was recognized for completing the card in four months. Goda lives next door to one of the small churches without a pastor and attends worship without fail at its once-a-month worship service, even though he has not yet received baptism. However, Goda was so excited about the stamp race that he was willing to pay for a hotel room in order to be able to attend Wakkanai Church.

 There were even some participants from outside Dohoku Subdistrict, which was very encouraging to us. In order for churches to know and support each other, we wish to hold this event in coming years as well.

*"Stamp Rally" is a term coined from English in Japan and refers to a card with blank squares, each of which can be marked by a rubber stamp naming a specific place. The resultant collection of marked squares shows that the person holding the card has been to all the places named by the stamps.

From Shinto no Tomo (Believers' Friend), January 2018 issue


III. Toy Exchange for Children 

by Funabiki Mikio, member

Suzurandai Church, Hyogo District

 Suzurandai Church, which is about ten kilometers from the center of Kobe, was founded 53 years ago. We have held a bazaar each year since our founding to provide a good place for people to meet and for church members to work together and fellowship with one another. An event we started about ten years ago as part of our annual bazaar is our Toy Exchange for Children, which was designed to include neighborhood children so that they could feel comfortable in church.

 At the event, one point is stamped on the children’s cards for each toy they bring, and with their points, they can “buy” a toy that another child has brought. Because of this, the more toys a child brings, the more can be bought. Children who do not bring any toys can get points for watching a picture story, painting a picture, or playing with a taketombo (a simple helicopter-like bamboo toy that flies when spun by hand) or paper airplane, or by playing with acorn tops (little tops made from acorns that can spin). For toys that are really popular, we hold an auction in which the child who bids the most points gets the toy.

 We held our most recent bazaar on Nov. 23, 2017. People who live nearby provided the taketombo and acorn tops. Next year, we are considering not only holding the toy exchange but also creating a handicraft corner that these people can help lead as well.

 On this day only, the church sanctuary fills with people from the area. Children come every year to this event, but we have yet to have a child participate in the worship service or church school. We pray that evangelizing by sowing this seed will bear fruit. (Tr. WJ)

From Shinto no Tomo (Believers' Friend), February 2018 issue

—Summarized by KNL Editor Kawakami Yoshiko



東京・蒲田新生教会牧師 大塩光




北海道・旭川豊岡教会牧師 韓守賢







「子どものためのおもちゃ交換会」 兵庫・鈴蘭台教会員 船曳仁雄





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