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

【December 2020 No.408】EMS Convenes First Virtual Biennial Assembly


The Evangelical Mission in Solidarity (EMS), an international mission organization centered in Germany, held its biennial general meeting Nov. 12-14 via Zoom. In addition to representatives from each of the provinces in Germany as well as from Switzerland, South Africa, Ghana, Jordan, Israel, India, Indonesia, and Korea, there were denominational representatives from Japan, the Basel Mission (Switzerland), DOAM (Deutsche Ostasienmission), etc. for a total of about 70 participants. The Kyodan was represented by General Secretary Akiyama Toru, who participated from his home.

The conference began with the adoption of a Code of Conduct, particularly as it relates to sexual harassment, and two ombudspersons were selected to receive any related complaints. Establishing a process to deal with harassment issues is a concern at international conferences and is practiced by the World Council of Churches and other similar bodies. The Kyodan could use this as a basis for its own deliberations on how to handle such issues.

EMS conferences include not only business discussions but also a keynote speech, times of prayer, and Bible-based sharing, so I always learn something. The keynote address, entitled “For freedom Christ has set us free,” was given by Rev. Dr. Sathianathan Clarke, professor of Theology, Culture and Mission at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, DC., who hails from India. The Bible Sharing time, conducted in small groups, focused on Luke 4:18-19 and how each of us interpret that passage. Likewise, participants shared about their own situations, particularly in relation to the Corona Virus pandemic and how their churches are dealing with the consequences. It was my first experience of such a small group discussion within a large conference via Zoom.

The main theme of the conference was also the Corona Virus pandemic that has spread throughout the world and how the work of the Evangelical Mission in Solidarity can be maintained and strengthened in this situation. Conducting the conference itself via zoom, as well as holding the EMS Mission Council meeting via video conferencing, was one step taken, so a motion was passed to revise the bylaws to allow for the decisions of this zoom conference to be considered official.

The financial report for the 2018-2019 period was given; and the proposed budget for 2021-2022, proposals for personnel placement, along with membership fees for each participant were also discussed. The EMS budget has been mostly borne by the German churches, and since each of the German provincial churches is dependent on the national church tax that is being impacted by the Corona Virus pandemic, it appears that there will be a significant decrease in income from 2020 onward. How to deal with this prospect in regards to personnel and operational expenses is of great concern, so structural reforms and a reordering of relationships with other mission organizations will be necessary. As the extent of income reduction cannot yet be predicted, it was decided to delegate authority for revamping the budget to the EMS Mission Council and its finance committee.

In addition to these motions, the conference discussed the 5-year Activity Plan for EMS entitled “Free for the Future,” and approved the applications of “guest membership” status from the Church of North India and the Evangelical Church of West Sulawesi in Indonesia.

As an evangelical mission organization covering Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Southeast Asia and East Asia, EMS is facing numerous missional issues, including ecological sustainability in the face of climate change, the economic and social gaps being exacerbated by the Corona Virus pandemic, ethnic- and religious-motivated violence, the polarization of international relationships, and how to achieve economic and social fairness and stability. While facing all of these, the main focus must be on how to aid each other as we all engage in support ministries to those who are marginalized, those who are in poverty, and those whose basic human rights have been suppressed. The Kyodan has been a part of this effort from the foundation of the EMS in 1971, as we work under the motto of the organization, “We can do nothing on our own, as we are simply a part of the great ‘Missio Dei’ of God....We must continue to build up the networking and cooperation of those who are part of the EMS.” (Tr.TB)

by Akiyama Toru, general secretary



・今回は、会の始めに特にセクシャルハラスメント防止のためのCode of Conduct(行動規範)が制定され、それに基づいてこの会議のためにオンブス・パーソンが2名決められた。会議中のハラスメントの訴えの受付機関である。国際会議において懸念されるセクシャルハラスメントに関する規範であるが、これはWCCなどでも用いられているもので、教団としても、基本的な考えや施行方法について参考にしたい。

・EMSの会合では期間中ただビジネス・トークだけで終始すするのではなく、基調講演や祈り、Bible Sharing の時間が設けられており、いつも学ばされる。今回の基調講演はシャチアナタン・クラーク博士(ワシントンD.C.にあるウェスレー神学大学の宣教学教授・インド人)による講演「自由を得させるためにキリストはわたしたちを解放された」、また、小グループでのBible Sharingでは、ルカによる福音書4:18−19を読みそれぞれの受け取ったことを分かち合う時間、また参加者それぞれのおかれた状況、特にコロナ禍の状況を各国の教会がどのように受け止め、過ごしているかについての分かち合いの時が設けられた。Zoomを使って小グループの話し合いが出来ることを始めて経験。


・このほか、EMSの向こう5年間の活動計画”Free for the Future”について、などの審議や、新規加入申し込みのあった北インド教会と、西スラウェシ福音教会(インドネシア・The Evangelical Church of West Sulawesi(GKSB))の加入を承認した。

EMSはヨーロッパ、アフリカ、中近東、東南アジア、東アジアをカバーする国際的な福音宣教団体として、現代世界から求められる宣教課題を、気候変動に対応するエコロジカルな持続性の確保、コロナ・パンデミックによって生じる経済的・社会的格差の広がり、民族、宗教間の紛争、国際関係の分極化に抗して経済的・社会的な公平性、安定性の確保、これらの課題に直面しながら、特に、権力を持たない傷つけられやすい人々、貧しい人々、周辺に押しやられている人々の権利を守るための援助活動を連帯しつつ取り組むことを主眼としており、日本基督教団も1971年EMS創立以来その一員に加えられている。「我々だけで何かが出来るのではない。大きな『神の宣教』(”Missio Dei”)の働きの一部を担うに過ぎない。・・・EMSは今与えられているネットワークと協力の働きを更に進展させ根付かせなければならない」とのモットーの下での働きである。

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