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

【April 2020 No.407】Kyodan Missionaries Share Covid 19 Situations where They Serve


Kyodan missionaries around the world have reported the following effects of and response to Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Pandemic  as of March 19, 2020.


North America: The United States

As of March 16, Kyodan missionaries sent to New York and to the San Francisco and Silicon Valley areas in California are facing shelter-in-place orders.


Japanese Churches in California

From March 8, worship services have been suspended for at least a month.  Messages are being disseminated via YouTube and other online services.


Japanese Churches in New York

An emergency situation was declared on March 13. People are living with a sense of eminent danger, their minds filled with fear, anxiety, and doubt. It is especially in times like this that we would want to gather at church on the Lord’s Day, but for the time being we can only resort to praying quietly by ourselves.


South America:*Paraguay

The government directed the suspension of all large meetings, but as there are no cases in the town of Pirapo and we only have about five attendees, we intended to hold the March 15 worship service, simply maintaining hygienic conditions. However, no one at all came. Then the president issued new orders, first on March 15 to close the borders for two weeks, and then on March 16 to establish a nighttime curfew. Thus our normally quiet town became even quieter. We have thus canceled the service for March 22, telling our folks simply to spend time in prayer in their own homes.



As of March 16, there was still no one testing positive in the city of Salvador so our small church service of ten or fewer is continuing to meet every week. However, we are avoiding the traditional greeting-style of embracing (abrazo) and handshaking. Another church that was to hold a celebratory service on March 22, the anniversary of its founding, had to postpone that event as well as the ordination and installment of the pastor.



Late on the night of Thursday, March 12, the Belgian government made an emergency announcement designed to stop the spread of the virus.  Irrespective of private or public, small or large, all meetings were to be canceled from the evening of March 13 until April 3. Thus, the Japanese Christian Church of Brussels had no choice but to cancel all of its worship services and meetings for that time period.



As of March 16, about 270 people have been infected in Berlin. Schools and kindergartens, etc. are to be closed for some five weeks following their last day on Monday, March 16 until the end of what would have been the Easter break. Sports facilities, clubs, libraries, and other indoor facilities have already been closed and all gatherings of more than 50 people banned.  Among the state and free churches, some had already canceled their worship services and meetings from the previous week for at least a month.



Travel between Korea and Japan (including the cancellation of visas) has been shut down, so entry into Japan will have to be postponed for a while.  Presbyterian University and Theological Seminary postponed its scheduled graduation and degree awards ceremonies from February until August.  Likewise, entrance and new school year ceremonies were canceled, delaying the beginning of lectures for two weeks. Presently, all instruction is online only.



When the SARS epidemic occurred in 2003, Taiwan, which could not become a member state of the WHO because of relations with China, was isolated and unable to receive aid from other nations, resulting in a severe aftermath. Thus, the lesson learned was the need for self-protection. So when this new form of viral pneumonia began in China in January, Taiwan closed all travel to the affected areas and began a campaign of alcohol disinfecting, wearing facemasks, tracking body temperatures, etc. The Chinese New Years’ vacation time for schools was extended into February, and almost all churches suspended all meetings other than worship services from the beginning of February. There are Christian broadcasting channels that feature worship services, theological courses, praise, and overseas Christian programs, and since there are lots of choices for Internet worship, the attendance at churches in general is down to half or a third of what it was before.


From the beginning of March, the International Japanese Church in Taipei decided to hold its weekly services online only, and since even elderly people are accustomed to using LINE and YouTube, for the most part, care of the church community is being done through a Social Networking Service (SNS) and by phone. On March 18, the Taiwanese government announced that essentially all travel into Taiwan from around the world would be suspended from March 19; those who had entered the country prior to the shutdown would, with a few exceptions, be required to quarantine for 14 days, with fines for up to 3.5 million yen for offenders. We have much to learn from these radical, yet courageous actions by the government, which were done in love, and also from the good cooperation of everyone involved. We are also now having to consider how we as a church are going to support our people who are losing their jobs and facing financial problems. (Tr. TB)


—Prepared by Takada Teruki, a staff of the Commission on Ecumenical Ministries and Kawakami Yoshiko, an editor of the KNL Editorial Committee, from the report filed by Rev. Nishinosono Michiko, chair of the Commission on Ecumenical Ministries.





■ アメリカ

※ 3月16日現在、教団宣教師たちが派遣されているサンフランシスコやシリコンバレーエリア、ニューヨーク等に外出禁止令が出されている


3月8日より1ヶ月程度教会での礼拝を休止。Youtube 等を用いてメッセージを配信している。




■ パラグアイ


■ ブラジル



■ ベルギー



■ ドイツ



■ 韓国

日韓間の往復も(ビザ停止処置も含めて)ままならず、日本への入国はしばらく見合わせなければならない。長老会神学大学(Presbyterian University and Theological Seminary)は、二月中旬に予定されていた卒業式・学位授与式は8月に延期、入学式・始業式も中止、講義は二週間延期の上、現在はオンラインでの授業。

■ 台湾




3月に入るや否や、国際日語教会International Japanese Church in Taipeiでは 元々毎週行っていた礼拝のネット配信のみに決定した。高齢者も日常的にLINEやYouTubeを利用する方が多く、SNSや電話を利用して、互いに教会内外の方々のケアを行っている。また3月18日台湾政府から発表があり、19日より世界中からの入国が原則として禁止措置となり、それ以前の外国からの来台者は例外的なケースとして14日の隔離措置が義務づけられ、違反すると最高額350万円ほどの罰金となる。愛をもっての勇気ある政府の決定に、大胆な政策であろうと、皆が尊重して協力しあう姿勢など、多くのことを学んでいる。私たちの教会でも、仕事がなくなり、経済的に困っている方々を、今後どのように教会でサポートしていけるか検討している。

世界宣教委員長・西之園路子牧師作成のレポートより(高田輝樹)&(KNL 川上善子)

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