The 5th Executive Council meeting of the 37th General Assembly biennium (2011-12) met Feb. 13-14 at the Kyodan headquarters. The opening worship service was led by Executive Council member Okamura Hisashi, who expounded on Romans 8:26-30. He talked about his experiences prior to entering the ministry: how God spoke to him through the sharing of Holy Communion with a brother in the faith on the verge of death, who taught him that this was truly the table of God’s Kingdom. Likewise, he shared his experience of living with his mother, as she fought pancreatic cancer during the last few months of her life, and how that experience confirmed for him that God alone is the only firm basis we have for salvation. His concluding remarks were that it is not we who search out God and thereby find salvation, but it is God who searches us out and saves us through his grace.
In his report, General Secretary Naito Tomeyuki first announced the decision of the National Christian Council in Japan to elect both a new moderator and a new general secretary who are members of the Kyodan. Next, he reported the establishment of the Japan Ecumenical Disaster Response Office (JEDRO) as an emergency measure and the Kyodan’s full cooperation with the NCCJ in that endeavor. He then reported on the meeting of the National Christian Liaison Committee on the issue of the Basic Law for Foreign Residents in Japan, held Jan. 26-28 at the Korean YMCA. General Secretary Naito was in attendance, and he reported that the official name of the organization was changed to The National Christian Liaison Committee on the Establishment of the Basic Law for Foreign Residents in Japan.
The chairperson of the Subcommittee on the Clarification of Christian Center Issues, Takahashi Jun, reported on the proposed bylaws for Kyodan-related Christian Centers. His report included bylaws for the establishment of such centers, a model for center regulations, and bylaws for both financial standards and auditing.
At this Executive Council meeting, a significant amount of time was devoted to the report of the Committee on Strategies for Evangelism. Council members viewed detailed statistics of local churches, focusing particularly on the numbers of baptisms as a function of the numbers of resident communicant members and how that has changed through the years. In order to stay even over time, the number of baptisms in a year needs to average 3% of the number of resident communicant membership. The national average, however, is only 1.55%, and thus over the past ten years, the resident communicant membership has declined by 10%. Based on this data, the following nine items were proposed:
1. Establishing an Office of Evangelistic Support as a stepping-stone towards the establishment of a Board of Evangelism;
2. Strengthening of the process of calling local pastors: more Kyodan involvement designed to revitalize strategically central churches in local areas to strengthen growth regionally;
3. Developing a support structure for church-related kindergartens and child-care centers, especially as it relates to the government’s push to implement “Integration of Kindergartens and Daycare: A New System”—a development that bears watching as we develop a multifaceted response;
4. Revitalizing autonomous evangelism-oriented organizations within the Kyodan;
5. Strengthening ties with other organizations, including schools and social welfare organizations;
6. Promoting evangelism on the Internet;
7. Developing lay movements across the nation as a response to the prayers of the laity to fulfill the Great Commission;
8. Reinvigorating ministerial development: employing the means necessary to develop spiritually devout ministers who can preach clearly a message of the forgiveness of sin; and
9. A reconsideration and reinvigoration of the activities of the various subcommittees.
During the discussion of these proposals, a variety of opinions were expressed, including 1) that the reports on the data were too negative, 2) that there was insufficient data concerning those we are trying to reach through evangelistic efforts, and 3) that there was no mention of church school ministries and women’s activities, However, there was general approval of these proposals, and they were ratified.
Secretary Kumoshikari Toshimi gave a report on the Relief Task Force. In addition to publishing its task force newsletter and a report on the emergency symposium, the task force elected Nagasaki Tetsuo as its general secretary. He will participate on the subcommittee for the Overseas Donations Project to assist Kyodan Moderator Ishibashi Hideo. He will also interview and recommend candidates for on-site positions in the earthquake/tsunami relief effort, as well as prepare proposals on how best to disburse relief funds to churches damaged in the disaster.
Kato Makoto, the executive secretary in charge of the effort, reported that a special camp for children from Fukushima, called the Kohitsuji (Lamb) Camp, would be held March 9-11 at the Myoko Kogen YMCA campgrounds in an effort to help protect the children from radiation. The plan is for the camp to become a regular event. He also reported that representatives of affected kindergartens and daycare centers gathered in February to exchange information and to help insure fair and effective relief.
The Ou, Tohoku, Kanto and Tokyo districts each gave reports as to their situations and the Secretary reported that the total damages to churches and manses is now estimated to be 1,545,000,000 yen (about $19.3 million).
In preparations for the 38th General Assembly, a committee for organizing agenda items was selected. With respect to the Commission on Finance, a revised budget for fiscal year 2011 was approved. Also, the budget contribution to the NCCJ for 2012 was increased from 3.5 to 9 million yen. (Tr. TB)
—Kato Makoto, executive secretary
第３８回教団総会については、議案整理委員会を設 置することが可決された。予算決算委員会関連では、11年 度第2次補正予算を可決した。12年度予算ではNCC負担金が3