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

The General Secretary's Diary: Reviewing the District Assemblies


Between the end of April and June 26, all 17 Kyodan districts held their respective 2010 annual assemblies. There are several aspects of this year's assemblies that I would like to highlight.
1. Delegates were elected in each district for the upcoming 37th Kyodan General Assembly in late October. However, Okinawa District will again decline to send delegates to the assembly. Of course the district has its reasons for this decision, but strictly speaking, this is in violation of Article 1 of the Kyodan Bylaws and is thus very sad. Likewise, Kyoto District has joined with Okinawa District in refusing to allow an official Kyodan representative to be seated at their district assemblies. According to Article 6 of the Kyodan Constitution, the purpose of having districts is to facilitate the Kyodan's ecclesiastical functions and operations, so the presence of an official Kyodan representative provides a great opportunity for dialogue between the Kyodan and districts. Thus, I wish that such unilateral decisions would be given second thought. As a part of the body of Christ, the Kyodan functions as an orderly expression of that body. It is my profound hope that all of us would remember that fact and engage in free and open discussion, while at the same time abiding by our joint Confession of Faith and the Kyodan Constitution and Bylaws.
2. The continued decline in church membership and the accompanying financial squeeze is a serious situation that all of the districts face together. Societal factors, such as the depopulation of rural areas and the current economic hard times certainly exacerbate the problem, but we must also admit that the decline in evangelistic fervor plays a major role as well. I believe that the greatest cause of this decline is our loss of confidence in the truth as expressed in I Cor. 1:18, "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." An additional concern is the peculiar understanding of the sacrament of Holy Communion held by those who insist that it is permissible to offer the sacrament to persons who are not baptized. Thus, people end up thinking that baptism is no longer necessary, and it is difficult to deny that this way of thinking contributes to the steep decline in the number of baptisms. It is certainly a situation that causes me great grief.
3. The Kyodan shows signs of a split due to issues surrounding the admonitions over differences in understandings of Holy Communion. When the church was established, especially as the Kyodan's Constitution, Bylaws, and Confession of Faith were being formulated, there was a general consensus concerning the basic doctrines of the faith. While there were differences of opinion, no one held interpretations outside the pale. The sacrament of Holy Communion is one of those basic doctrines and is thus not something that individual churches can decide to modify at their convenience. My wish is that everyone would abide by this understanding as long as they are affiliated with the Kyodan.
4. Ordination and licensing ceremonies were held in each district, and new churches were authorized in some districts. As I watched the delegates at various assemblies give their blessings to these proceedings, I was encouraged, feeling that the Living Lord was shining a light of hope on the future of the Kyodan. The difficulty of evangelization is not something that has just been encountered recently. Indeed, in one sense, it is not an overstatement to say that the entire history of the Christian church has been one of difficulty. It is my sincere desire to strengthen our cooperation as we pray together in hope for the future of evangelism within the Kyodan. (Tr. TB)
--Naito Tomeyuki, general secretary
1, まず、第37教団総会議員が選出され、10月末の教団総会の準備が始まった。ただし沖縄教区は今回も教団総会議員を選出しなかった。それなりの言い分があるのであろうが、厳密に言えばこの事は教規則第1条違反であり、非常に残念なことである。また、今回も教団問安使を拒否した教区が二つあり、それは京都教区と沖縄教区である。教憲6条によれば、教区は、教団がその教会的機能および教務を遂行するために置いたものであり、教区総会は教団と教区との対話のよい機会として活かしていくべき場である。それを一方的に破棄するのは謹んで欲しい。教団は主キリストのからだとしての秩序をもつ制度的教会である。そのことを誠実に受け止め、信仰告白と教憲・教規を守りつつ自由に、また堂々と議論をしていってほしいと切望するものである。
2, 各教区に共通してみられた教勢の低迷と、それに伴う教会財政の悪化は深刻である。それは地方の過疎化、経済的不況など、現代社会的構造による外的理由も確かに大きいが、なんといっても教団教会の伝道力の衰退によるのではないかと鋭く反省を迫られる。「十字架の言葉は、滅んでいく者にとっては愚かなものですが、わたしたち救われる者にとっては神の力です」(Ⅰコリント1:18)という確信が失われつつあることにその最大の原因があるのではないかと思われる。
3, 聖餐理解の違いとそこから派生した戒規問題をめぐって教団は割れている観がある。もともと教団がスタートした当時、特に教憲・教規が整えられ、教団信仰告白が制定された頃は教団の基本的教理については一致していたといってよい。多生解釈に幅があったとしても度はずれた解釈はなかった。聖餐はそうした教理の基本条項であり、各個教会の考えや都合によってどうにでも解釈できるといった事ではない。このことは教団に属している以上は厳粛に受け止めてほしい。
4, 各教区総会で按手礼や准允式を執行した教区があり、また、教会設立の件が承認された教区もあった。多くの議員たちに祝された情景をみて、教団の将来 に生ける主が明るい光を差し込んでくださったことを実感して、希望を与えられたし、大いに励まされた。
 伝道の困難は今に始まったことではない。ある意味ではキリスト教会史は困難な伝道の歴史そのものといっても決して過言ではない。皆で祈りつつ、教団の伝 道の将来に望みを抱き、協力を深め強めていきたいと思う。

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