The General Secretary's Diary:The Kyodan's Commemorative Events for the 150th Year

The year 2009 was a particularly memorable year as it marked the 150th anniversary of Protestant Christianity in Japan. In preparation for its celebration, the Kyodan formed a committee that planned and carried out three main commemorative events. Recalling now each of those events, we can give thanks as we enter this new year.
June 24, at Fujimicho Church in Tokyo: On the same site that served as the venue for the organizing conference of the Kyodan in 1941, we held a service of commemoration for the 68th anniversary of the Kyodan, followed by a ceremony commemorating the 150th anniversary of Protestant evangelism in Japan. Sixty-one pastors who have been serving for 50 or more years were given a special commendation.
Nov. 22, at Tokyo Yamate Church: The church was packed with some 950 people for the Laity Rally under the banner of “Giving Thanks for 150 Years and Aiming for 200 Years Together With Our Lord.” At the opening worship service, Kyodan Moderator Yamakita Nobuhisa encouraged us all with his message, “Entrusted with the Gospel.” Following that, we were treated to a pictorial presentation that reviewed Christian evangelism over the past 150 years, and then a representative from each of the 17 districts gave a brief testimony of their faith as well as highlights from their districts.
We concluded the event with everyone singing together a song that had been written specifically for this event, entitled, “The Church Goes on Forever.” It was a very moving event and strengthened our resolve to increase our efforts in evangelism. The melody of the song was composed by Naito Shinya. The words, which were written by Tsunakawa Megumi, are as follows:
Verse 1. In 1859, foreign missionaries came to spread the word, and the history of a small church began. It has continued to this day through a strong faith in Jesus. We went through a bitter period of war and overcame numerous trials. The Church, as it goes from age to age, still exists, and there are so many people here now. From tomorrow, we aim toward the future and single-mindedly run the race, with the help of Jesus.
Verse 2. The gathering of the Church, through the fellowship groups of men and women and youth, as well as church school children, all come together to learn from Jesus. It is because these gospel seeds that have been planted continue to grow that the Church, as it goes from age to age, still exists, and there are so many people here now. Today, we work together to further the gospel, for we are the salt of the earth and the light of the world.
Verse 3. As a member of the Church and a child of the Church, what is it that I can do? Let’s put our minds together and find something to do for the evangelism of the Church for the Church, as it goes from age to age, still exists, and there are so many people here now. The Church will go on into the future forever, giving thanks to God the Father through our joyful prayers.
Nov. 23, at Aoyama Gakuin University: Approximately 1,500 people came together for a gathering of commemoration under the banner of “Christ: Our Salvation.” Saemoonan Presbyterian Church, the oldest church in Korea, sent its Yebon Choir to help celebrate the event, and former Kyodan moderator Ojima Seiji gave the sermon: “The ‘Foolishness’ of Evangelism.” Moderator Yamakita also gave his greetings and introduced the numerous foreign guests in attendance. Following that were two presentations, one by the former head of Fuji Bank and member of Hijirigaoka Church, Hashimoto Toru, who gave a talk entitled “The Role of the Layperson in Evangelism,” and the other by retired pastor Kato Tsuneaki, entitled “Lift Up Your Hearts.”
While looking back at the past 150 years, these sermons and presentations focused on the theme that the only true form of the biblical and apostolic Church is one that properly administers the sacraments, and so it is time to consider further the Church as it ought to be. (Tr. TB)
–Naito Tomeyuki, general secretary
 2009年は日本にプロテスタント・キリスト教が伝道されて150年の記念すべき年でした。教団は記念事業準備委員会を立ち上げ、十分な準備の後、三つの大きな記念集会を実施しました。今、その一つ一つの集会をふりかえり、感謝の思いを新たにしています。
 ☆6/24(水)、富士見町教会(東京)を会場にして、教団創立68周年記念礼拝を行いました。(この教会は1941年教団創立総会が開かれた由緒ある教会)
 礼拝後に日本伝道150年を記念して在任50年以上の現任牧師(61名)を表彰できたことは感謝。
 ☆11/22(日)夜、東京山手教会を会場にして信徒大会が行われました。「ありがとう150年、つなごう200年、主とともに」との兵庫を掲げ、超満員の信徒が集まりました(950名)。第一部礼拝。山北のぶひさ教団総会議長の「共に福音にあづかる」と題した説教に励まされました。第二部は映像を見ながら150年にわたる日本におけるキリスト教伝道の歴史を振り返り、第三部は全国17教区から一人づつ信仰の証しと教区報告がなされました。そして最後に超満員の全参加者で大会イメージ・ソング「いつまでも続く教会」を歌い、深い感動を覚えつつ、伝道に励もうとの志を強められました。「いつまでも続く教会」(作詞・つなかわめぐみ、作曲・内藤しんや)はこんな歌詞です。
 1、1859年に外国から宣教師が来てみことばが伝えられ、小さな教会の歴史が始まった イエス様を信じる強い信仰をもって、この日まで。苦しい戦争の時代やいくつもの試練を乗り越えてきた。うつりゆく 時をこえて 教会は今もここにある。こんなに多くの人たちがここにいる。明日からも前を目指し、走り続ける ひたすらにキリスト・イエスに助けられ 
 2,教会の集いはいつでも教会の交わりの場をつくる 青年や婦人や壮年、教会学校の子たち、 イエス様の教えを聞いて だんだん大人になってゆく 福音の種は確実にこの地に播かれて育ってるから うつりゆく時をこえて 教会は今もここにある こんなに多くの人たちがここにいる 今日もまた 力をあわせ 伝えてゆこう 福音を 僕らは地の塩 世のひかり
 3,教会の一人として教会の子として僕に 私に 何ができるのだろう自分たちで考えて 何かを見つけてしよう 教会の伝道のためにうつりゆく時をこえて 教会は今のここにある こんなに多くの人たちがここにいるいつまでもずっとずっと続けてゆこうこの教会 喜び祈って 感謝しつつ ららら・・・父なる神様 感謝します
 ☆11/23(月)祝日、青山学院講堂で「キリストこそ我が救い」との標語のもとに記念大会を行い、千数百名が参加しました。
 礼拝では韓国で最古のセムナン教会(Saemoonan Presbyterian Church)イエボン讃美隊の奉仕があり、おじませいし前教団総会議長による説教「宣教という愚かな手段」に続いて礼拝後山北議長の挨拶があり更に、国内外の来賓の紹介、午後には橋本とおる氏(元富士銀行頭取・ひじりがおか教会員)の講演「伝道における信徒の役割」と加藤つねあき牧師の講演「心を高く上げよう!!」があり、150年の歴史を振り返ってみことばの説教と正しい聖礼典執行こそが聖書的使徒的教会の真の姿であると、教会のありかたが問われる時となりました。

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