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

【April 2020 No.407】Hokkai District Holds Annual Enrichment Gathering


This year, the annual Beginning of the Year Enrichment Gathering, an important event of Hokkai District, was welcomed for the 69th time. It was held Jan. 13-14 at Hanabishi Hotel in Hakodate, with 270 participants, including about 20 children. Miyajima Yuko, the featured lecturer, spoke on the theme, “The Starting Step Opens the Road,” by sharing steps in the life of Christian author Miura Ayako, whom she served as her original private secretary.

Hokkai District has seven subdistricts, and each year one of the subdistricts takes responsibility and organizes this gathering, but not without bringing into play its area’s character or their original ideas. For more than ten years there were over 400 participants, but recently this has decreased to about 300.

A one-night, two-day event, this gathering is held in January, as its title indicates. Sometimes differing opinions on the timing are expressed, such as: “Since we are closed in with snow during this season here in Hokkaido, why not hold the meeting in the summer when there would be no icy roads to travel?” There are also other conclusions: “We could drive and gather during the season when the leaves are changing color.” However, directly and indirectly, many participants are engaged in farming or fishing, so the advantage of scheduling during the winter period, when there is scant need to fish or go to the fields, may be something particularly unique to Hokkaido.

The program consists of a lecture by the main speaker, a meal together, baths in hot springs, an independent program, an early morning prayer meeting, etc. But no matter what is shared or where it is held or who the lecturer is, the main point is that a decided number of people attend this gathering. Generally, there will be some change in attendance related to how well-known the speaker is and general interest in the theme. But otherwise, there is little change in regard to this gathering.

Participants do look forward to studying, but more than that they enjoy gathering once a year from throughout the vast area of Hokkaido and seeing nostalgic faces. The opportunity to meet colleagues who live far from you and those you seldom see is always a joy. Without a doubt, the atmosphere is that of a Hokkai District alumni meeting.

The strong ties of lay colleagues could be identified as a distinctive character of Hokkai District. The chief cause may be the heart for helping one another in the midst of a harsh natural environment, or perhaps it is the necessity of the many small churches to help one another. Or, it may be both. No matter what the reason, this gathering means seeing a broad smile. And nowadays, there are many attendees from other districts, which is a boundless joy. My hope and heart’s desire is that someday there will be a Kyodan-wide gathering at the beginning of the year. (Tr. RT)

by Hara Kazuto, moderator

Hokkai District

北海教区年頭修養会について                        北海教区総会議長 原和人







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