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

【February 2019 No.401】60th Ou District Retreat Highlights History and Hope


by Hirasawa Noboru, pastor Morioka Matsuzono Church

It is with a grateful heart that I make this report on our annual Ou District Retreat from July 30 to Aug. 1. It was held at the Yumori Hotel Kaikan in Tsunagi hot spa area. The main speaker was Fujimoto Mitsuru, pastor of Immanuel General Mission Takatsu Church. The theme of the retreat was “A Church Living In Hope; Learning From History.” The lecture titles were “The Gospel Shared in the Course of Our Calling” and “Hope in God, Hope in Us.” The retreat began with a message by Muraoka Hiroshi, pastor of Hirosaki Church and chair of the Commission on Ou District’s Commission on Mission.


While introducing himself and sharing with us his relationship with the Kyodan, in his first lecture Fujimoto spoke about missionaries who were called to evangelism in Japan. He pointed out that our journey in mission begins when we encounter Jesus Christ and that mission itself is the work of Jesus Christ. Then he spoke about Paul: how he was chosen and how, in the midst of hardships, he continued in hope to follow Jesus and pass on the baton of mission and evangelism.


In his second lecture, Fujimoto challenged us by asking if we were not much like the early disciples who, when told to go to the other side of the lake, lost sight of Jesus while looking at the stormy sea. The church in Japan, which seems to be struggling in its evangelistic mission, is faced with what is called the "2030 Dilemma": decreasing number of pastors, aging congregations, and fewer children. However, our mission is Christ’s mission, and he walks with us and shares in the hardships we face. Fujimoto continually stressed to us that our hope is in Christ, and his impassioned words energized and encouraged all of us.


For our optional tour, we visited four churches in Morioka, using a microbus and a minivan. Over 40 participants joined us, and we visited Yotsuya Church (Roman Catholic), Uchimaru Church (Kyodan), Morioka Anglican Church, and Morioka Orthodox Church in Japan. During our visits, we were able to hear about the traditions of each church and the challenges they are facing. The decline in membership and pastors was mentioned. We felt the seriousness of the problems, but we were grateful for the warm welcome we received at each church. The participants said that the tour was a good experience.


There were also three workshops. One dealt with cults and possible countermeasures; another dealt with the problems connected to the nuclear fuel cycle; and the third workshop dealt with sexual discrimination. These workshops were followed by a full group discussion and closing worship. I give thanks for God’s guidance and blessings throughout the retreat.

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Ou District Children’s Retreat, A Welcoming Event

                                                  by Kato Naoki, pastor Kitakami Church

As children gathered in the tatami (rice-mat) room on the first day of the Ou District Retreat, you could see the mixture of expectation and tension in their facial expressions. Among the three staff members, the feeling was the same. The “Retreat for Children” began with three youngsters, varying in age from the last year of kindergarten to junior high school, who sat awkwardly at a table. However, after listening to Pastor Matsuura Yusuke of Shimonohashi Church speak about “Shalom” (peace), then working together to make attractive door plates, there were comfortable smiles on the faces of everyone.


On the second day we went outside, in spite of some concern about the heat. In front of us was a public square with a water fountain. It wasn't long before the children were playing together in the water—at first up to their ankles, then up to their knees, and finally, getting their clothes wet. One of our staff, Sato Midori, member of Kitakami Church got into the water with the children. During the break afterward, everyone tried different challenges on the adventure playground next to the square.


On the third day, the children and staff used a variety of rubber stamps in various sizes and shapes to make colorful images on a large piece of paper as we recalled our experiences during the retreat. In between the stamps we attached origami and pictures that reminded us of what we had seen and shared during our three days together. We were able to create a work that brought smiles and reflected the joys we had experienced. The junior high student who had gotten sick was able to rejoin us, bringing our three days together to a very happy conclusion. I should add that some of the children younger than five, were in the nursery that shared the same room with us.


I give thanks to Jesus, to the churches, and to the families for sending their children to participate in our retreat. (Tr. JS)

From Ou Kyoku Tsushin (Ou District News) , No. 325 Summarized by KNL Editor Kawakami Yoshiko



   盛岡松園教会 平澤 昇牧師


 宣教部長の村岡博史牧師(弘前教会)のメッセージで始まり、講演一では、藤本先生が自己紹介や日本基督教団との関係などにも触れ れ、日本伝道へと選ばれた宣教師について語られました。また、主イエスとの出会いからすべての歩みが始まることを通して、宣教は主イエスの働きであること。そして、パウロが選ばれ、パウロは試練の中にあっても希望をもって主イエスを見上げ、宣教に励み、宣教のバトンを繋いだことが語られました。







 北上教会 加藤直樹



 三日目は、一緒に過ごした三日間を思い出しながら、全員で一つのものを作りました。 子どもたちやスタッフが、大きさや形も様々な、色とりどりの手のスタンプを(大きな紙に)押しました。スタンプの間には、この三日間で一緒に見たものの絵や折り紙がいっぱいに貼られ、笑顔になれる思い出が、ぎゅっとつまった作品を一緒に作ることができました。体調不良でダウンしていた中学生も合流でき、本当に嬉しい三日目となりました。


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