【December 2018 No.400】General Assembly Elects Officers, Signs New Mission Agreement

The 41st Kyodan General Assembly was held Oct. 23–25 at the Hotel Metropolitan in Ikebukuro, Tokyo, with the theme “Building Up an Evangelistic Kyodan—Recovering the Life and Vitality of Evangelism.” Of the allotted 400 delegates, 376 were in attendance.

Moderator Ishibashi Hideo began with an apology for the 17-month vacancy in the possition of general secretary and reported on the process of choosing a new candidate, which led to the election of General Secretary Akiyama Toru who officially assumed this role in April 2018. The moderator’s report contained the following statistic: The number of baptisms during 2016 was 939, the lowest number on record. Thus the need for the theme, “Recovering the Life and Vitality of Evangelism.” To address this need, it was proposed that a task force on evangelism in the Kyodan be established, consisting of the Kyodan moderator, vice-moderator, and secretary along with eight district moderators and eight Executive Council members. This task force would prepare a proposal on structural reform to the 42nd Kyodan General Assembly in 2020.

In his report, General Secretary Akiyama Toru reported on the continuing recovery programs related to the 2011 Great East Japan Disaster and the 2017 Kumamoto/Oita Earthquake, along with the response of the Natural Disaster Relief Task Force he set up to deal with the various disasters that occurred this year during the period of July through September. These included the earthquake in northern Osaka, the floods in western Japan, the earthquake in eastern Iburi in Hokkaido, and Typhoon #21 (called Jebi by Western media).

The election of Kyodan leaders resulted in the reelection of Ishibashi Hideo as moderator for a fifth term. In the election of vice-moderator, the top two nominees continued to the second round, with the result that Kuze Sorachi was chosen for his first term. The selection of secretary was based on the recommendation of the moderator and vice-moderator, with Kumoshikari Toshimi being confirmed for a fifth term. Of the 14 clergy elected to the Executive Council for the two-year term of the 41st General Assembly Period, 8 were first-timers, and 6 of the 13 lay members on the council will also be serving for the first time.

On the second day, the delegates discussed the mutual mission agreement with the Gereja Masehi Injili di Minahasa (GMIM) [Christian Evangelical Church in Minahasa]. The GMIM consists of about one million adherents in approximately 1,000 churches centered on the Minahasa Peninsula in the northern part of the island of Sulawesi.Relations with the Kyodan began in 1942, when the Japanese military began its occupation and the Education Ministry sent Japanese pastors there with a mandate to convince the Indonesians to cooperate with Japan’s war efforts. The Kyodan sent doctors and others to serve the people through “atonement activities” during the postwar years and then later under the Mission 21 Program. Other relationships were also formed, particularly with Kanto District. Following a question-and-answer session, the proposal was formally passed, and the signing ceremony for the mutual mission agreement was held in the afternoon. Following the signing, GMIM Moderator Hein Arina expressed his thanksgiving to God for divine guidance, and Moderator Ishibashi said, “I have signed this agreement in a spirit of repentance for our sins during Japan’s war of aggression while asking for forgiveness from our neighbors. I rejoice from the bottom of my heart at this signing ceremony.” (Tr. TB)

—Kato Makoto, executive secretary







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