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

【December 2020 No.408】Hiroshima Church Shares War’s Realities to Promote Peace


As a church damaged by the nuclear explosion in Hiroshima, we have endeavored to preserve and communicate the reality of war. By teaching the public this history, including the negative parts of wartime cooperation, we desire to contribute to the realization of peace.

In August 2020, Hiroshima commemorated the 75th anniversary of the nuclear bombing. Those who experienced and know first-hand of that event are becoming few indeed. Of the 45 people who participated in drafting the “Peace Commemorative Questionnaire,” which was compiled in 2005 by Hiroshima Nagarekawa Church to solicit input from those who had experienced the nuclear bombing, 15 are no longer alive, and the others are of advanced age. It is in the midst of this situation that Hiroshima Nagarekawa Church has been displaying artifacts from the bombing and sharing the reality of exposure to the blast for the purpose of working towards a peaceful world without nuclear weapons.
Placing of the Cross that Was Exposed to the Blast
The church building of that time had been designed by the famous architect John Voorhees and was located about 800 meters from the center of the nuclear explosion. The remains of the wooden cross that had been in the building was preserved, and in 1995, 50 years after the bombing, it was placed on the wall in the front of the sanctuary.  That blackened cross was something that survivors of the bombing found very difficult to look at, as it reminded them of Aug. 6, the day when in an instant, their city of Hiroshima had been turned to ash and so many people were burned to death. However, for the generations of people afterwards who had not experienced the nuclear bombing, it is a symbol that causes them to think about what happened that day. When our present building was rebuilt in 2013, we carefully placed that cross in the center of the sanctuary again. In 2017, we celebrated the 130th anniversary of the founding of the church, and as a special tribute, we placed the cornerstone of the bombed-out church next to the cornerstone of the new building (see picture at http://www.hiroshimapeacemedia.jp/?p=71512). On display in the sanctuary, we also have pictures of Hiroshima and the church from shortly after the bombing and have produced an explanatory pamphlet for people to view anytime.
Video Recordings of Eyewitness Accounts
During 2010 and 2011, we recorded on video the testimonies of seven of our members who directly experienced the nuclear bombing (of whom four have since died). Beginning last year, we decided to show one of these videos every year following the worship service on the second Sunday of August. During these last ten years, our membership has been increasing, so many people are hearing these stories for the first time. The testimony of a woman who went to be with the Lord in 2018 ends with the following statement. “As I think back on it, I was so focused on just escaping from that tragic situation that I tried not to look around at the destruction. But I feel regret now that I ran away without taking it all in. I feel that we must avoid war in all situations....I always thought that I didn’t want to talk about my experience of the bombing, but as many eyewitnesses as possible must tell the children who haven’t experienced war so that we will never go to war again.” It is our goal to continue to listen to these eyewitnesses who feel the same way and who speak to us through their pain.
Facing Up to the History of War Cooperation
While it is true that Hiroshima experienced nuclear destruction, we must also keep in mind that our church did not resist the war effort but instead participated in it. We have been digitalizing the church bulletins that remain from that era, and they include statements of cooperation with the war effort. For instance, the Jan. 31, 1943 bulletin records that following the prelude, the church performed a wartime ceremony called the “Kokumin Girei”, a very formal ceremony that included deep bows and the singing of the national anthem (to the Emperor). The announcements section includes the following: “Let’s all cooperate with the program to collect metal.” “As you can see, our church has delivered every possible metallic object to the government....Let us resolve to bear up under every circumstance until we greet that day of glory.” Likewise, the Nov. 7, 1943 bulletin states, “The purpose of the ‘Prayer Meetings for Victory in this Holy War’ (a week-long event of the churches in the city) is to ‘pray for the victory of our soldiers under the Emperor and that on the front lines, our soldiers will receive luck in the fortunes of war, and also that through the strong support of all of us at home, they will be able to fight this holy war to the finish.’” We challenge the people who come to visit from various churches and church-related schools to think about what prayer means, when you consider that the Enola Gay, the plane that dropped the nuclear bomb, was sent on its mission with a “prayer” by a military chaplain, while at the same time, the Hiroshima churches were offering their “prayers for victory” in the “holy war.” Prior to the decision to preserve the famous “A-Bomb Dome,” which is now a World Heritage Site, many people thought it should be torn down. Thus, we are endeavoring to preserve every site that contains a record of the war and the nuclear bombing in order that as many people as possible can experience what it was like. We believe this will help to promote the path towards peace. (Tr.TB)by Mukai Mareo, pastorHiroshima Nagarekawa ChurchFrom Shinto no Tomo(Believers' Friend), August 2020記憶を引き継ぐために被爆教会の役割 被爆教会として、戦時の事実を伝えるものを積極的に保存し、公開してきた。戦争協力という負の側面も含めた歴史を多くの人に知らせることで、平和の実現へとつながっていくことを願っている。 向井希夫 広島流川教会牧師 今年8月、広島は被爆75年を迎えます。先の戦争、被爆を直接知っている人が少なくなってきました。広島流川教会が2005年に実施した被爆体験などについての「平和記念アンケート」に回答した45名のうち、すでに15名が天に召され、存命の方々も高齢です。そのような中、広島流川教会では長年、被爆の事実を語り継ぎ、史料を展示することで核なき世界、平和を実現するための努力を続けています。 被爆十字架の設置ヴォーリズ設計の当時の会堂は、爆心地から800メートルの地点で被爆しました。その会堂の木材で作られた十字架を保管していましたが、被爆50年にあたる1995年、会堂の正面に設置しました。黒く焦げ、ほぼ炭化している十字架は、被爆者の方々にとっては見るに堪えないものです。8月6日、一瞬で黒焦げになった広島、黒焦げになり亡くなっていった人々を思い起こさせるからです。しかし、経験していない世代の視覚に訴え、実際の出来事を思い浮かべる入り口となっています。2013年に献堂した現会堂でも、正面に掲げています。2017年には創立130周年記念事業として、被爆定礎板を現会堂定礎板の横に設置しました。また、被爆直後の広島の街、会堂の写真を会堂ロビーに常設展示しています。パンフレットも作成して、いつでも見てもらえるようにしています。このような取り組みが平和学習の一環にもなっていることに大きな意味を感じます。全国のキリスト教学校から地元の公立小学校まで、多くの子どもたち、若い世代が当教会を訪れます。そして、被爆の事実を伝えるこれらのものを実際にその目で見て、平和について考えるのです。 被爆証言の映像記録2010年から2011年にかけ、教会員7名(内4名は既に召天)の被爆証言を映像で記録しました。昨年から年に1名ずつの被爆証言を8月第2主日礼拝後に見始めました。この10年で新しい教会員も増え、初めて聞く人が多くいます。2018年に召天された女性の証言は、「今、思えば、あの惨状の中で一刻も早く逃げたいばかりに、悲惨な現状を見ても、その場を横目で見ながら立ち去ったことが残念でたまりません。どんなときであっても戦争だけはしてはいけないと思いました。……原爆の体験は言いたくない、語りたくないと常に思っていましたが、一人でも多くの人が語り続けることによって、戦争を知らない子どもたちのために、また二度と戦争を起こさないために……」と締めくくられています。多くの被爆者が同様の思いで、痛みを抱えながら語ってくださったことを受け止め続けたいと思います。 戦争協力の歴史に向き合う広島は原爆被害を受けた地ではありますが、教会が戦争に対し否を唱えなかった事実も避けて通ることはできません。残されている戦争中の週報を整理しデータ化していますが、その中に教会が戦争に協力していた記録があるのです。1943年1月31日の日曜礼拝次第を見ると、奏楽(前奏)の次に国民儀礼があります。報告欄には次のような記述があります。「金属回収運動に協力しませう」「御覧の通り当教会は供出しうる全ての金属を供出致しました。(中略)栄光の日を迎ゆるまで一切の事を忍びませう」。また同年11月7日には、「聖戦必勝祈祷報国会」(市内の教会が集まり1週間開催)の目的として「国土防衛皇軍の必勝、前線将兵の武運長久、銃後生産の増強熱願し以て我が聖戦の完遂を祈り抜き……」とあり、戦争協力していた様子がわかります。訪れる教会・キリスト教学校関係者には、原爆投下した爆撃機エノラゲイが従軍牧師の「祈り」によって飛び立ったこと、広島の教会では「聖戦必勝の祈り」がされていたことを話し、祈りとは何であるのかを考えてもらうようにしています。世界遺産の原爆ドームでさえ、保存が決まる前には取り壊しの意見がありました。私たちは、それぞれの場所に残されている戦争、被爆に関わるもの、記録を残し、それをできるだけ多くの人に触れてもらう努力を続けなければならないと思います。それが平和を実現することへとつながっていくと信じています。(信徒の友2020年8月号より)
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