by Katsuyama Ken'ichiro, executive secretary
Article 6 of the Kyodan's Constitution states: "To carry out its function, i.e., the work of the church, the Kyodan will establish districts." Actually, 17 districts have been established. Each year, from April to June, the various districts convene their assemblies and hold meetings. In some districts, a three-day meeting includes a study session. Districts that hold two-day meetings are the most prevalent, but some district assemblies meet for one day. Among the district assemblies this year, many will include the election of district officers.
In accordance with the Kyodan's Constitution, the Kyodan moderator (or in his place, the vice-moderator, secretary, or general secretary) will attend each of the district assemblies. In Kyodan terminology, this "visiting Kyodan messenger" reports on the situation of the Kyodan and strives to garner support and understanding. This year, the officers of the Kyodan and the general secretary are sharing the responsibility and visiting the various district assemblies. Unfortunately, Okinawa District and Kyoto District have refused to allow anyone to visit, for various reasons. Also, because of the confusion and misunderstanding of intentions related to the visit, the Kyodan did not send anyone to attend the Nishi Chugoku District Assembly.
The protocol within the various district assemblies differs to some extent, but in general, the visiting Kyodan messenger's reading of the "greetings from the Kyodan moderator" is followed by a time for questions. Kyodan Moderator Yamakita Nobuhisa's greetings this year begins with an introduction that mentions the existing depressed condition of the Kyodan and proposes that the beginning of the 150th celebration of evangelism in Japan be utilized as a good opportunity for propagation of the gospel.
In his greetings, the moderator covers the following topics: proper administration of the sacraments, the position and details regarding preaching points, disaster relief related to the Niigata Prefecture/Chuetsu Earthquake and the Noto Penninsula Earthquake, Kyodan financial affairs, ministerial pension fund, world mission, domestic and foreign cooperation, and the Unification Association issue. Each subject is explained briefly but clearly. In conclusion, he urges the Kyodan district assemblies that are wrestling with Kyodan, district, and local church issues to have hope as they pray with and for each other, moving ahead to reveal God's glory.
A number of district assemblies have already been held. In addition to the designated "visiting Kyodan messenger," executive secretaries have also been sent to several of the assemblies. Following are the recorded impressions of two executive secretaries; one visited the Hokkai District Assembly and the other the Osaka District Assembly.
The executive secretary who visited Hokkai District related that much time was spent in lively discussion of district mission policy related to the 2009 activity plan. The assembly first separated into four subgroups; then engaged in enthusiastic debate. His impression was that with the approval of the plan at the plenary session, Hokkai District's 2009 activities have begun.
The executive secretary present at the Osaka District Assembly made the following observation. Osaka District had one proposal that is unique to that district and involves unpaid funds due to the Kyodan--a matter that has been pending between the district and the Kyodan for many years and relates to payments in arrears to the Joint Liability Fund. The assembly approved payment to the Kyodan in the amount of 14 million yen (about US$140,000).
The Kyodan's financial crisis originated with the dispute that arose at the time of the World Exhibition [in 1970, regarding the proposed participation in the Christian Pavilion at the Exhibition]. The executive secretary who attended the Osaka District Assembly noted in his impressions that he was especially grateful that through the prayers and efforts of the district's executive committee the proposal to make the payment was presented, and assembly's decision resolved the issue. (Trs. JM & RT)