by Watanabe Taeko, chair of Preparatory Committee
50th Anniversary Central Committee Conference
This year’s National Federation of Kyodan Women's Societies’ (NFKWS) National Assembly, held June 7-8, marked the 50th anniversary of the first NFKWS National Assembly. The theme was "Living in Love and Truth: Listening to the Gospel of John." Participants came from locations that ranged from Hokkaido to Okinawa. Including the ecumenical guests, more than 900 participants met in one location, Makuhari Messe, Inc. International Conference Hall. At this year's conference, participants were told, "Let's bridge the generation gap and connect!" It had been decided that the second day of the conference would be Saturday, in order to make participation easy for everyone, including women with young children as well as women who are employed.
After the opening worship service, there was a ceremony commemorating the 50th anniversary. As participants listened to a cello performance, they watched "The 50-Year Journey of the NFKWS" on a large screen in the Conference Hall. It was a time to look back once again on the organization's history. After that, participants attended the breakout session of their choice. The five breakout sessions planned by the committee in charge of NFKWS activities were entitled "Listening to what the Bible says about Peace," "The Church and Evangelism," "The Environment and Our Children," "Solidarity with our World," and "The Blessings of Growing Old.” During the evening "Federation Hour,” each district gave a report on its activities. Every report was thought-provoking, and participants felt that they shared each other's tasks. At the close of the first day, a soloist led the entire assembly in singing a hymn together.
After the morning prayer on the second day, Saya Church (Shikoku District) Pastor Shinoura Chifumi spoke on the assembly theme in a message about the women mentioned only in the Gospel of John. These comments were among the many received on the follow-up questionnaire: "It was a powerful lecture that was also easy to understand. It echoed in my heart." "I received the words as words spoken for me, and it was encouraging for me.” “God loves me, and every single person has been given a gift.”
The hearts of all the participants were touched when their youngsters sang children's gospel hymns. After that, the participants separated into these three groups for a time of fellowship: "A Deeper Look at the Theme," "Lectures for the Younger Generation," and "Fellowshiping Freely." This year there was a program for the children called "Did You Know That? / A Story About When You Were Born." The planners realized that there was a wide range of participants, so they prepared many ways to get them involved. The closing communion worship service was a special time to recognize the blessings of being in fellowship with the Lord.
It is our hope that in every activity on the schedule, this conference expressed thankfulness and praise to God, who has led the NFKWS throughout its journey. We are also mindful of our position that we are an autonomous organization within the Kyodan, an organization of church women who are in solidarity with, and involved with, the mission of the Kyodan. We will move forward and continue to have hope! During this conference, we experienced the solidarity of church women who are involved in churches throughout the nation. All participants will take this solidarity to heart, listen to and follow the Word of God, and enthusiastically work for the Lord, wherever the Lord sends them. That kind of strength was given to us at this NFKWS National Assembly. Let us be thankful for the grace of God, which is greater than we can imagine!