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

Evangelische Missionwerk Sudwestdeutschland (EMS) Conference Held in Germany


The EMS Mission Council 2010 was held July 9-12 at the academy of the regional State church in Bad Herrenalb in the State of Baden. Bad ("hot spring" in German) indicates that the area is a mountainous spar. But we had no chance to take a dip in the hot spring. In order to be in time for the 9: 30 a.m. meeting schedule, we stayed the previous night at a lodging facility for Catholic pilgrims, thanks to the arrangements by Pastor Lutz Drescher, EMS general secretary in charge of Asia and South India.
Pastor Vasantha Kumar, moderator of the Church of South India, also stayed with us, and we enjoyed a time of good fellowship. We learned that three percent of the Indian population is Christian and that the South India United Church has three million members. We ate our evening meal at an Italian restaurant and were overwhelmed at the large amount of pasta. The following morning all four of us managed to get into Executive Secretary Lutz's mini-car, literally jam-packed together with our four extra-large suitcases, and headed for Bad Herrenalb.
We arrived safely at Evangelische Akademie, our destination. After the opening service followed by lunch and recess time, the main meeting began. The total attendance was approximately 50 persons, 16 of whom were from partner churches in Indonesia, India, South Africa, Ghana, Jordan, Korea, and Japan. The largest group was from Indonesia, nine in all including two interpreters. EMS' overseas partner churches have faced financial difficulties. On the basis of their long-standing relationship, EMS lately has decided to invite all partner churches to the mission councils and general meetings and has given them decision-making rights. The meaning of "partner" was one of the agenda items for discussion this year.
The EMS' finances depend on the contribution of the State churches. Due to the financial pinch of the regional State churches, EMS' budget has been cut about 20 percent during the past two years. This has resulted in the reduction of the number of staff persons. EMS is facing the necessity of a drastic reform of its structure. Communication about the seriousness of this situation to its partner churches was one of the main purposes of this conference.
I first learned about EMS while I was a member of the Kyodan Committee on Education. Every year the Committee on Education makes a nation-wide appeal for Christmas contributions. The collected amount is divided, with one portion designated for domestic use and the other portion for overseas use. Both are targeted for children and youth. Several years ago, the EMS-assisted peace movement sponsored by the Ghana Presbyterian Church was selected as a potential candidate for our support. While reading various relevant website resources, I learned that EMS has been suggesting a vast range of social outreach projects. However, my participation in this recent Mission Council was indeed an eye-opening experience for me, as I learned about the structure of EMS and its relationship with its regional State churches.
In the afternoon of the second day of the conference, all the participants from partner churches were gathered to hear the explanation of EMS Executive Committee members who had been sent by the regional State churches. It took those of us from Asia and Africa some time to understand the explanation at a deep level, although we all were aware at least of the unique circumstances of the German church.
During the conference, the participants were all separated into four groups so as to organize respective committees. The committee I participated in discussed the revision of the EMS covenant as well as the possibility of sending coworkers to Korea, with which we were in agreement.
In the afternoon of July 11, we were just told that we would be moving to Bretten. The bus took us through Schwarzwald, the Black Forest, to bring us to the Melanchton Memorial Museum. The building is designed like the house Melanchton had lived in and preserves more than a thousand of his original writings. Thus, we were given a glimpse of that time of the Reformation long ago. (Tr. FK)
--Kato Makoto, executive secretary
 今年のEMS宣教会議はバーデン州のBad Herrenalbにある州教会所有のアカデミーを会場にして、6月9日(水)~12日(土)の間、開かれました。Badとはドイツ語で温泉を意味するとの事ですが、その名の通りの山間にある所謂温泉保養地でした。残念ながら温泉につかる機会はありませんでした。朝9時半の集合に間に合うように、前日は Stuttgartにあるカトリックの巡礼者宿泊施設に、EMSアジア担当幹事のLutz先生のご好意で泊めていただきました。南インド合同教会のKumar議長も同宿でしたので良き交わりの機会が与えられました。インドには3%のクリスチャンがいて、南インド合同教会の信徒は300万人です。夕食はイタリヤ料理を提供するレストランでしたが、パスタの量に恐怖を覚えたのは初めてでした。
 翌朝はLutz幹事の小型車に大人4人、特大スーツケース4個を押し込みBad Herrenalbに向けスタート。身動きの取れない車内も旅の楽しみの一つでした。
 無事にEvangelische Akademieに到着。開会礼拝、昼食休憩後、本会議が始まりました。出席は全部で50名ほどでした。そのうち16名がパートナー教会からの参加です。内訳はインドネシア、インド、南アフリカ、ガーナ、ヨルダン、韓国、日本です。最も多かったのはインドネシアからで、通訳2名を含めて総勢9名の参加でした。パートナー教会とは近年の財政難を受けて、EMSはこれまで関係深かった海外の教会に議決権を与えて宣教会議、総会に招くようになりました。それがパートナー教会であり、その実質的な意味も今回の会議では話し合われました。EMSの財政は州教会からの献金で成り立っています。その州教会の財政難を受けて、EMSもこの2年の内に財源が2割近く減少します。そのためにスタッフの削減、EMSの機構そのものの変革が必要とされています。そのことの理解と周知徹底が今回の宣教会議の目的と言えます。

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