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

【February 2019 No.401】Executive Council Raises Restructuring Issues


The second Executive Council meeting of the present two-year (41st) Kyodan General Assembly period was held Dec. 27-28, 2018 at the Kyodan headquarters, with 28 members in attendance. After a period of self-introductions, Moderator Ishibashi Hideo began by saying he will pursue structural reforms while at the same time continuing to emphasize unity around the Kyodan Confession of Faith, the church constitution, and its bylaws, besides striving to recover the life and strength of evangelism in the Body of Christ.


General Secretary Akiyama Toru then explained the reason why systematic theology was added to the examination for licensed preachers by the Commission on Ministerial Qualifications during the 40th general assembly period: "the members of the commission were in agreement that the doctrinal understanding of recent candidates was weak." He reported on preparations for the establishment of the "Kyodan Youth Platform" within the General Secretary’s Office to create a place where youth activities of the various entities within the Kyodan can be integrated and engage with each other.


The first day's deliberations centered on discussions concerning Kyodan structural reforms. The facilitator, Secretary Kumoshikari Toshimi, explained that the purpose of this discussion was simply "to have everyone give their honest opinion so that we can get an idea of how to move forward and not to reach any specific agreements at this time." Each participant expressed a sense of urgency concerning the finances of the Kyodan, so the discussion began with a call to take this situation very seriously. One common sentiment was that since each local church is the nucleus of evangelism, a critical factor in restructuring is the relationship between issues of local church viability and that of the Kyodan as a whole. Another opinion was that besides efforts to eliminate wasteful duplication by streamlining the work of local churches, districts, and the Kyodan as a whole, the clarification of roles that only the Kyodan itself can fulfill would open the way to implementing reforms. Likewise, numerous comments stressed the need for focus on financial issues along with the fear that taking a defensive, protective position in this crisis could damage efforts to promote evangelism.


The main agenda of the meeting was the selection of the members of the various commissions and standing committees. It was evident at this Executive Council meeting, however, that the six members of the Commission on Ecumenical Ministries, with its subcommittees on evangelism, education, and social concerns, are all serving together on the three subcommittees although they were appointed to serve as two members on each subcommittee. The 16 members of the Task Force on Evangelism were also selected. (Tr. TB)

 —Kato Makoto, executive secretary






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