A Message From General Secretary Reflections on the Great East Japan Earthquake Relief Effort

Nearly a year has passed since the Great East Japan Earthquake devastated Japan. The focus of the Kyodan’s efforts began with debris removal but has now shifted to local church sanctuary rebuilding. Even within that, the long-term goal is to rebuild the church. “Rebuilding the church” refers not only to constructing new buildings and repairing damaged ones but also to building a foundation to support reconstruction of the society that has been ravaged by the disaster.

As we look back on the Kyodan’s relief effort so far, my hope is that we can utilize that experience to move forward with our continued support efforts.

On March 12, the day following the earthquake, the Kyodan’s Relief Planning Committee was established under General Secretary Naito, and relief work was initiated. We were able to make immediate use of the emergency fund approved for such catastrophes on Dec. 20 and 21 at the first Executive Council meeting of the 37th General Assembly biennium.

1) From March 13 to 16, Kyodan Moderator Ishibashi and four others were dispatched to evaluate the situation in general.
2) A fundraising campaign was started by the Committee on Social Concerns.
3) Reporting of information began through Kyodan publications and on our website.
4) A total of 10,500,000 yen has been sent to the three most affected districts to begin relief activities.
5) Although the Relief Headquarters was organized late, in communication with each of the districts, decisions were made as to how we would support the region through the three hubs of Sendai, Ishinomaki, and Tono.

At the end of June, the Relief Planning Committee became part of the Great East Japan Earthquake Relief Headquarters.

The Great East Japan Earthquake Relief Headquarters was set up on March 22 by the permanent Executive Council members and officially approved by the Executive Council on April 18.

Ten people are at the headquarters: the moderator, vice-moderator, and secretary of the Kyodan, along with five members of the Executive Council and one representative each from the Japan Christian Social Work League and the mission schools. Our policy is to “support rebuilding churches that serve the people of the area in their salvation [restoration].” The entire Kyodan will work to fulfill its responsibility, with the Kyodan moderator serving as director of the headquarters, and moderators of the most devastated districts and the Kyodan general secretary attending meetings as well.

Already there have been nine meetings to decide many important issues.
1) Fundraising principles were established, and fundraising was begun. The goal for domestic contributions is 1 billion yen, and for foreign contributions, 1.2 billion yen.
2) Members of the Headquarters Committee have made trips to observe the earthquake disaster zone, and the committee has gradually changed its approach, in accordance with the various needs recognized. Particular attention has been given to children of church kindergartens and nursery schools through our project to protect the lives of children (such as clean air camps, etc.), with the realization that there are many issues.
3) Rebuilding Christian social welfare facilities.
4) Long-term scholarship support for students of devastated areas.
5) Mental healthcare for disaster victims, especially those living in temporary housing units.
6) The emergency symposium “Christianity and the Current Crisis in Japan,” which was held Aug. 29-30, was a wonderful gathering. Pastors, seminarians, teachers, and social work-related workers were given an opportunity to think and discuss what this great disaster means for us.

As I looked at the relief activities within the districts affected by the disaster, I realized that there were numerous cases in which the aid given was donated directly, without passing through the Kyodan Relief Planning Headquarters.

In this, we can see the individual character of each church and district and how each contributes in a meaningful way to the support of earthquake victims. However, thinking of the long term, I believe it is important that churches recognize the importance of belonging to the Kyodan and hope they will use the Kyodan’s relief effort route more extensively when trying to assist churches in need. (Tr. WJ)

—Naito Tomeyuki, general secretary

「総幹事室より」

東日本大震災救援対応を振り返って

東日本大震災発生からまもなく一年が経とうとしている。教団の救援体制は今、瓦 礫撤去に象徴される初動支援から『会堂再建』を中核とした『教会再建』という長期支援に移行しようとしている。『教会再建』は単に教 会のみの事柄ではなく、被災した地域社会の復興に仕えるための土台となることなのである

そこで今日までの教団の救援活動をふりかえり、今後の支援活動推 進に役立てたい。

大震災翌日の3月12日 (土)、内藤総幹事のもとに『救援対策委員会』を 設置し、救援活動を開始した。この委員会設置は、第37総会期第1回常議員会(2010年12/19-20)で 可決された緊急『救援対策基金に関する運用規定』に基づいてい る。直ちに実行したことは、

1)広範囲にわたる被災地の状況把握のための調査隊派遣(石橋議長 を隊長とした4名)それは3/13-16の四日間。

2)国内募金開始(社会委員長名で)

3)広報活動開始(新報・ホームページ、その他を活用して)

4)被災3教区に初動活動費として各1千 万円と見舞金50万円を送金

5)各教区との連絡を密にしながら、少し遅れて設置された『救援対 策本部』の活動に協力する形で支援活動を仙台、石巻、遠野の三箇所に拠点を定めていくことになった。

『救援対策委員会』は6月末をもって収束し、『東日本大震災救援対策本部』のもとに入った。

『東日本大震災救援対策本部』設置は3月22日 の常任常議員会の議を経て決まり、4月18日の常議員会で正式に承認された。

本部の構成員は10名(三役、常議員5)

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