by Ishimaru Yasuki, executive secretay
Since the Kyodan and the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan (PCT) signed a joint mission covenant in 1985, a Kyodan-PCT Consultation has been held every other year, with the site alternating between Japan and Taiwan.
At present, five PCT churches in Japan are affiliated with the Kyodan, and six PCT missionaries are serving in Japan. Two of the churches are located in Tokyo District's Kita (northern) Subdistrict and one each in Chiba Subdistrict, West Tokyo District, and Osaka District. In addition, one missionary is active in Hokkai District.
The 12th Kyodan-PCT Consultation was held April 21-23 in Osaka at Osaka Taiwan Church, where Liu Fu-Ching serves as the pastor. The theme of the consultation was "The Joy of the Lord" (Nehemiah 8:10), and the aim was to bring together as many representatives as possible from men's and women's groups and from all the districts of each church in order to have a rich and rewarding time of interaction and exchange.
The 11 participants from the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan included PCT Moderator Lin Tsung-Jeng, Vice-moderator Lai Hsien-Chang, Secretary Chiohh Lyan-Syian, General Secretary Chang Te-Chien, as well as representatives of PCT men's and women's groups, indigenous groups, and youth groups. The 21 Kyodan participants included Moderator Yamakita Nobuhisa, Vice-moderator Sasaki Michio, Secretary Suzuki Nobuharu, General Secretary Naito Tomeyuki, Kyodan Commission on Ecumenical Ministries Chair Kishita Nobuyo, Taiwan Church in Japan and joint covenant committee member Lee Meng Jer, representatives of the National Federation of Kyodan Women's Societies, district representatives, and Jonah Chang [a former U.S. missionary to Japan], who provided simultaneous interpretation during the three-day meeting.
On April 21, after an amiable and relaxing dinner at the guests' hotel, the group moved about ten minutes on foot to Osaka Taiwan Church for the opening worship. The sermon was delivered by Kyodan Moderator Yamakita, who used Mark 1:16-20 as his text. The service included dynamic singing of the same hymns in both Japanese and Taiwanese. The planning for the consultation truly reflected the cordial and meticulous care taken by Osaka Taiwan Church, which set up the site and prepared refreshments. Thanks to the members of Osaka Taiwan Church, the three-day program ran smoothly and pleasantly.
Participants were introduced to the activities of the churches in both countries and had ample opportunity to learn from each other. This produced lots of questions, laughter, and exclamations of surprise and delight. The discussions on the wording of the final joint statement produced a skillful and competent translation and provided a chance for both churches to deepen mutual understanding and to become aware of differences. As an expression of "the joy of the Lord," both churches affirmed their commitment to do their utmost to cooperate in mission in the midst of the complexities of international relations.
In November 2008, the PCT sent to the world's churches "An Appeal for Awareness of and Prayer Concerning the Suppression of Justice and Human Rights Violations Occurring in Taiwan." The PCT requested that the Kyodan also prayerfully respond to this appeal. The Kyodan representatives pledged to take the joint statement and the appeal for prayers and to treat them with utmost seriousness.
During the optional program on April 24, participants from Taiwan visited Nijo Castle, Kinkakuji Temple, and Doshisha University in Kyoto. At Doshisha, the visitors were given an explanation of the history and tradition of the grounds and buildings by Hara Makoto, former head of the Divinity School. In addition, pastors from Taiwan who had once studied at Doshisha were introduced, and lasting impressions of the deep links between the two churches were forged. (Tr. DB)