The first Christian Education Seminar sponsored by the Kyodan Committee on Education was held March 3 at Nankoku Church in Kochi Prefecture. The purpose for which the committee planned this seminar was to learn and pray together with pastors and church school teachers who are engaged in Christian education. These days, the number of children attending church schools is decreasing. Therefore, the committee thought that this kind of seminar would be helpful. The theme of the seminar was "The Joy of Being Called to His Ministry." Kishi Norihide, pastor of Chiba Honcho Church and chair of the Committee on Education, led the opening worship service, using Mark 3:13-19 as his text. A conference of leaders of Christian education in the districts was held both before and after the seminar.
About 70 persons, including participants from 14 districts, gathered for the seminar from 7 p.m. Some participants came to the seminar by car after more than a four-hour drive from neighboring Ehime Prefecture. Hirata Kazuko, director of Christian Education at Handago Church and a member of the Commission on Education, was the lecturer. The lecture began with her self-introduction. She studied Christian education at Seiwa College in Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture. Then, she was called as a director of Christian education, a status authorized by the Kyodan as a special ministry of Christian Education. Under the Lord's guidance, she was sent to several churches as a director of Christian education. Handago Church is located close to Mt. Kongo near Yoshino, which is famous for its cherry trees. She said that the Handago area was once called Handago Village, and the scenery of Handago is still like an agricultural village. Nevertheless, about 35 children are coming to the church every Sunday morning. Hirata stressed two points. First, God desires children to be invited to our church schools. Second, church school education contributes to the building up of the church. She said that without giving up and without getting impatient, we should expect God's blessing on the church school each Sunday. She finished her lecture with a reading of Mark 4:30-32. Her lecture was based on the situation of not only Handago Church but also the other churches that had sent representatives, so it gave great encouragement to the participants. She passionately related how happy she was to be called to Christian education by Jesus.
The second day, after the closing worship service, we were given an optional tour of Seiwa Junior and Senior Girls' High School and Geisei Church. Seiwa is located at the eastern edge of Kochi City. Seiwa is the smallest private junior and senior high school in Kochi, as it has only 120 students. The 20 teachers, including of course the principal, are all Christians. We learned that they had been called to Christian education at the school. Their honest attitude about education gave us hope and encouragement.
Kato Makoto, secretary
Committee on Education
Church's Monthly Birthday Party Celebrates God's Gift of Life
Every third Sunday, our pastor introduces persons who have birthdays that month.He presents birthday cards he has made, then offers prayers of blessings. Afterwards, a birthday party is held under the theme "Let us celebrate together!"
"When we were very young, we used to have very happy birthdays, but people close to us do not celebrate our birthdays anymore, and we have forgotten the joy of these days." "I wish I could celebrate my birthday with joy and gratitude because it is 'the anniversary day' of the life God has given me." These sentiments expressed by members of the congregation prompted the organization of the monthly birthday party project. Each person shares how it feels to have a birthday, and we all sing each one's favorite hymn together. Our worship service every Sunday is observed by people of all ages together, including kindergarten children, teachers, and mothers. We come to worship "as children who are like adults and as adults who are like children." Since our motto is to do every activity together, we celebrate our birthdays together, and everyone is invited to come to the party table, too. "We are all God's family!" (Tr. HL)
Iizuka Takuya, pastor
Ryugasaki Chruch, Kanto District
Shinto no Tomo (Believer s' Friend)