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

【April 2020 No.407】The 3rd Ecumenical Project Learning from our Differences and Worshipping as One


On Saturday, Oct. 19, the 3rd EcuPro (Ecumenical Project) event was held, joining the voices of our staff and participants at the Tokyo Lutheran Church, Japan.

The overarching theme of our work is "Let Christian unity begin from the youth!” The many young people who joined in the planning and management were from various church backgrounds, including Roman Catholic, Kyodan, and Anglican/Episcopalian. Originally, this work began during the 2017 lead-up to the celebration of the 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. Our first ecumenical gathering was held under the banner "Let's Do Something Together!" These events became an important meeting place for Christian young people to gather beyond the usual circles of our respective churches, denominations, schools, and companies. Through these events, we were able to meet and to pray together.

The theme of this third event was “prayer,” so it was entitled “PrayStation3.” In addition to the 40 members of the steering committee, more than 70 young people attended the event, for a total of more than 100 participants. Furthermore, about one-third of the participants were first-timers, and two-thirds were early career people from the business world.

One of the steering committee members, Ms. Ikemoto Anna, a believer from Totsuka Catholic Church and a career woman, explains about the theme "PrayStation3" as follows.

1. First, the key to understanding this theme is that "play" and "pray" have nearly the same pronunciation in Japanese. Remember that our first meeting was about “doing something together” while our the second gathering was centered more on matters of "faith." Now in this third session, we gathered to ask, "When young people of the same faith meet together, let’s ask each other what we pray for?” We had questions about "prayer."

2. The second key word in this theme is "station." A station is a place where people gather, but it is also a turning point from which those who have gathered head to their respective destinations. Here young people gather, meet, gain something, and are sent out to their respective destinations. "EcuPro" is a place that plays such a role.

3. Lastly, there is the allusion between our theme “PrayerStation3” and the common game machine "PlayStation 3," which was popular when we were growing up. The desire of our staff is to value prayer. This is at the heart of the entire project. We are a prayer-centered gathering. We begin with an opening prayer and we pray together in the last joint service.

This event included a rock-style service led by Pastor Sekino Kazuhiro, who is famous as a "Rock 'n' Roller" within the Japanese Evangelical Lutheran Church. He taught about the Lord's Prayer. There are four versions of the Japanese translation of the Lord’s Prayer used in different denominations, and all were included in the program.

Then after we worked up a sweat in an ice-breaker game, we went into small group sessions to reflect on our prayers and there shared our feelings about prayer. Then, we continued to consider how to make progress toward someday holding a joint Sacrament of Communion. We need to recognize our differences but also find our agreement in Christ. We made time to meditate on unity, hoping that the day will come when we will be able to share a joint sacrament of communion.

At the joint service, Father Sato Naoki of the Order of Salegio presided over the ceremony along with Pastor Masuda Shohei from Aoyama Church of the Kyodan. They were responsible for the sermon and for leading the prayers during the session.

Ms. Miura Kotono, who is a member of the Japanese Evangelical Lutheran Church in Ikebukuro, participated in “EcuPro” for the first time and shared her impressions of the meeting. “In the small group session, I learned for the first time that there are differences in the way we pray. For example, some pray using a Catholic rosary, whereas, others use meditation, such as in Protestant devotions.I was moved to see how Father Sato Naoki, Pastor Sekino of The Lutheran Church, and Rev. Masuda of the Kyodan talked to God, and later talked to each other, like friends. Through this experience it has become my honest prayer to become able to say anything to God without inhibitions.”

Although there is some unfortunate history of criticism between our various backgrounds and denominations, here we transcend this through prayer-centered fellowship. It was encouraging to have participants from so many backgrounds, including the Non-church Movement. Many of the participants enjoyed talking together even after the meeting and many want to meet again. Based on these experiences, we think that we are gradually achieving our objective. We could glimpse the hope of the Church in Japan as we learned from each other's differences and worshiped as one. (Tr. NB)

—From Shinto no Tomo (Believer’s Friend), January 2020 issue

Summarized by Kofukada Yutaka, KNL Editorial Committee member


















教派はどちらかといえば否定的に捉えられところがあるが、ここではそうではない。無教会の青年も参加している。集会終了後も話し込む人、再会を約する人たちが多く、会の目的は達成されたようだ。互いの違いから学びつつ一つになって礼拝する姿に日本の教会の希望を見た。       (「信徒の友」編集部)2020年1月号。小深田裕KNL編集委員要約

Kyodan News
〒169-0051 東京都新宿区西早稲田2-3-18-31
Copyright (c) 2007-2024
The United Church of Christ in Japan