【April 2020 No.407】Executive Council Focuses on Structural and Financial Issues

The sixth Executive Council meeting of the present 41st General Assembly Period was held Feb. 3-4 at the Kyodan headquarters, with 28 of the 30 members in attendance. Executive Secretary Akiyama Toru reported that the Kyodan will cooperate with the operations of the Multi-Faith Center of the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Chaplaincy as the chair of the Japan Confederation of Christian Churches.


The 2018 Disaster Relief Response Committee detailed its relief efforts following the northern Osaka earthquake, the western Japan floods, the Iburi Tobu Earthquake in Hokkaido, and on the damage caused by Typhoons 21 and 24. By the end of January 2020, a total 39,210,000 yen was received to support those efforts. Next, Sugahara Tsutomu, chair of the Council for Reviewing the System of Clergy Development, reported on his visit to Kyushu District to discuss the issue of two levels of ordination for clergy, with final consideration to be made by the Council.

Purpose and Plan for Kyodan Restructuring

Then, Kuze Sorachi, chairperson of the Subcommittee on Structural Reform in the Kyodan, gave an overview of the purpose of structural reform, clarifying the efforts to address the looming financial crisis in the Kyodan and laying out a road-map for how to reduce Kyodan expenditures and local church apportionments so as to help in the maintenance and growth of local churches. Specifically, the expenses related to general assemblies would be curtailed by reducing the number of delegates from the present 400 to 216 and changing the venue from a hotel to a church. This would reduce that expenditure from 22,400,000 yen to 6,800,000 yen. Likewise, Executive Council membership and activities would also be reduced, with Executive Council membership being reduced from 30 to 15, and Executive Committee membership being reduced from 10 to 5.

In the proposed Kyodan organizational structure, a Board of Evangelism and a Board of Church Affairs would be formed. The Board of Evangelism would oversee related activities, establishing short-term committees as needed and coordinating voluntary organizations while reducing standing committee and meeting expenses. The Board of Church Affairs would oversee the Department of General Affairs, the Department of Finance and the Department of Clergy Affairs, and the newly named Department of External Affairs (which would deal with world mission relations and ecumenical ties both overseas and in Japan, along with interactions with other religious bodies).   The Chairperson of the Commission on Ecumenical Ministries, however, did express an opposing opinion about the new name, “Department of External Affairs.”

Board of Publications’ Financial Concerns

Much of the deliberations on the second day were taken up with reports relating to the Board of Publications. In his report, Board of Directors Chair Yamakita Nobuhisa described how the Board of Publications has been dealing with the red ink experienced since 2014, mostly due to personnel costs. Ii Hikari, representing the head of the Board, reported on efforts to resolve the approximately 13 million yen of royalties that still must be paid out and to reduce the 9-million-yen cost of storing publications.

Kyodan Secretary Kumoshikari Toshimi also touched on the written opinion submitted by the Auditing Committee to  Moderator Ishibashi  concerning the finances of the Board of Publications. This document urges the Kyodan to take decisive action to rectify the financial crisis of the Board of Publications, as its available funds in the bank are less than the money owed to the bank. It was decided that the directors of the Board of Publications would meet together with the Executive Council and the Kyodan Board of Directors to consider how to stabilize the finances and operations of the Board of Publications. (Tr. TB)

—Kato Makoto, executive secretary




【April 2020 No.407】Kyodan Missionaries Share Covid 19 Situations where They Serve

Kyodan missionaries around the world have reported the following effects of and response to Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Pandemic  as of March 19, 2020.


North America: The United States

As of March 16, Kyodan missionaries sent to New York and to the San Francisco and Silicon Valley areas in California are facing shelter-in-place orders.


Japanese Churches in California

From March 8, worship services have been suspended for at least a month.  Messages are being disseminated via YouTube and other online services.


Japanese Churches in New York

An emergency situation was declared on March 13. People are living with a sense of eminent danger, their minds filled with fear, anxiety, and doubt. It is especially in times like this that we would want to gather at church on the Lord’s Day, but for the time being we can only resort to praying quietly by ourselves.


South America:*Paraguay

The government directed the suspension of all large meetings, but as there are no cases in the town of Pirapo and we only have about five attendees, we intended to hold the March 15 worship service, simply maintaining hygienic conditions. However, no one at all came. Then the president issued new orders, first on March 15 to close the borders for two weeks, and then on March 16 to establish a nighttime curfew. Thus our normally quiet town became even quieter. We have thus canceled the service for March 22, telling our folks simply to spend time in prayer in their own homes.



As of March 16, there was still no one testing positive in the city of Salvador so our small church service of ten or fewer is continuing to meet every week. However, we are avoiding the traditional greeting-style of embracing (abrazo) and handshaking. Another church that was to hold a celebratory service on March 22, the anniversary of its founding, had to postpone that event as well as the ordination and installment of the pastor.



Late on the night of Thursday, March 12, the Belgian government made an emergency announcement designed to stop the spread of the virus.  Irrespective of private or public, small or large, all meetings were to be canceled from the evening of March 13 until April 3. Thus, the Japanese Christian Church of Brussels had no choice but to cancel all of its worship services and meetings for that time period.



As of March 16, about 270 people have been infected in Berlin. Schools and kindergartens, etc. are to be closed for some five weeks following their last day on Monday, March 16 until the end of what would have been the Easter break. Sports facilities, clubs, libraries, and other indoor facilities have already been closed and all gatherings of more than 50 people banned.  Among the state and free churches, some had already canceled their worship services and meetings from the previous week for at least a month.



Travel between Korea and Japan (including the cancellation of visas) has been shut down, so entry into Japan will have to be postponed for a while.  Presbyterian University and Theological Seminary postponed its scheduled graduation and degree awards ceremonies from February until August.  Likewise, entrance and new school year ceremonies were canceled, delaying the beginning of lectures for two weeks. Presently, all instruction is online only.



When the SARS epidemic occurred in 2003, Taiwan, which could not become a member state of the WHO because of relations with China, was isolated and unable to receive aid from other nations, resulting in a severe aftermath. Thus, the lesson learned was the need for self-protection. So when this new form of viral pneumonia began in China in January, Taiwan closed all travel to the affected areas and began a campaign of alcohol disinfecting, wearing facemasks, tracking body temperatures, etc. The Chinese New Years’ vacation time for schools was extended into February, and almost all churches suspended all meetings other than worship services from the beginning of February. There are Christian broadcasting channels that feature worship services, theological courses, praise, and overseas Christian programs, and since there are lots of choices for Internet worship, the attendance at churches in general is down to half or a third of what it was before.


From the beginning of March, the International Japanese Church in Taipei decided to hold its weekly services online only, and since even elderly people are accustomed to using LINE and YouTube, for the most part, care of the church community is being done through a Social Networking Service (SNS) and by phone. On March 18, the Taiwanese government announced that essentially all travel into Taiwan from around the world would be suspended from March 19; those who had entered the country prior to the shutdown would, with a few exceptions, be required to quarantine for 14 days, with fines for up to 3.5 million yen for offenders. We have much to learn from these radical, yet courageous actions by the government, which were done in love, and also from the good cooperation of everyone involved. We are also now having to consider how we as a church are going to support our people who are losing their jobs and facing financial problems. (Tr. TB)


—Prepared by Takada Teruki, a staff of the Commission on Ecumenical Ministries and Kawakami Yoshiko, an editor of the KNL Editorial Committee, from the report filed by Rev. Nishinosono Michiko, chair of the Commission on Ecumenical Ministries.





■ アメリカ

※ 3月16日現在、教団宣教師たちが派遣されているサンフランシスコやシリコンバレーエリア、ニューヨーク等に外出禁止令が出されている


3月8日より1ヶ月程度教会での礼拝を休止。Youtube 等を用いてメッセージを配信している。




■ パラグアイ


■ ブラジル



■ ベルギー



■ ドイツ



■ 韓国

日韓間の往復も(ビザ停止処置も含めて)ままならず、日本への入国はしばらく見合わせなければならない。長老会神学大学(Presbyterian University and Theological Seminary)は、二月中旬に予定されていた卒業式・学位授与式は8月に延期、入学式・始業式も中止、講義は二週間延期の上、現在はオンラインでの授業。

■ 台湾




3月に入るや否や、国際日語教会International Japanese Church in Taipeiでは 元々毎週行っていた礼拝のネット配信のみに決定した。高齢者も日常的にLINEやYouTubeを利用する方が多く、SNSや電話を利用して、互いに教会内外の方々のケアを行っている。また3月18日台湾政府から発表があり、19日より世界中からの入国が原則として禁止措置となり、それ以前の外国からの来台者は例外的なケースとして14日の隔離措置が義務づけられ、違反すると最高額350万円ほどの罰金となる。愛をもっての勇気ある政府の決定に、大胆な政策であろうと、皆が尊重して協力しあう姿勢など、多くのことを学んでいる。私たちの教会でも、仕事がなくなり、経済的に困っている方々を、今後どのように教会でサポートしていけるか検討している。

世界宣教委員長・西之園路子牧師作成のレポートより(高田輝樹)&(KNL 川上善子)

【April 2020 No.407】The KNL Editorial Committee’s Prayers during the Current Pandemic

Our hearts go out to the families of those who have lost loved ones to the COVID-19 virus. We lift our prayers for God’s healing of those who are infected with the virus and for God’s protection of the medical staff and researchers who are doing everything possible to combat this pandemic. We pray that the many people whose lives are affected by this situation and who face anxiety and difficulties will receive the help that they need. So many churches around the world have had to close their facilities, so their members are no longer able to meet together. Nevertheless, we can lift up our prayers together as one Church in the Lord. (Tr. TB)

—KNL Editor Kawakami Yoshiko




【April 2020 No.407】160th Year Celebration of Protestant Evangelism in Japan: Second National Convention of Kyodan Laity Held in Tokyo

On Monday, Oct. 14, 2019, the Second National Convention of Kyodan Laity convened at Fujimicho Church, with 155 ministers and lay members in attendance. It was a celebration of the 160th Year of Protestant Evangelism in Japan.

In the first part of the celebration worship service, Kyodan Moderator Ishibashi Hideo gave a sermon on the theme “The Restoration of the Life and Power of Evangelism,” stating that “The compassion of the Lord has flowed into the Kyodan’s history, and along with gratefulness for God’s having led us, we embrace hope.” He ended the message strongly, saying: “Let us unite and move ahead with the motto ‘Let us pray together; let us proclaim together; and let us present our offerings together.’”—a promotion of the Kyodan’s basic evangelism policy. Following the worship service, Mochizuki Katsuhito, chair of the National Laity Association, appealed for “two persons to invite one non-believer to church.”

During the second part of the program, a lecture followed by a forum, Rev. Masuda Shohei explained the theme of the convention: “Youth Evangelism.” Then Oshima Shigenori, pastor of Hatogaya Evangelical Free Church, Evangelical Free Church of Japan ascended the platform to speak on the subject “Joyful Worship with Devoted Young People.” He asked the question: “During our history we have evangelized youth, but haven’t we neglected to connect them to faith? During my college days, one of the church elders asked me to pray for him, and I clearly remember now praying with no knowledge of how to pray.” Through reading Luke 24, which tells how the eyes of two men on their way to Emmaus are opened and they return to Jerusalem and begin to evangelize, we receive hints as to how we can be changed through fellowship.

By introducing examples of youth worship, with the theme “10 persons reaching 1,” Rev. Saito Atsushi presented various images of youth leading worship. At the forum that followed, questions and opinions were received regarding the lectures and the examples, during which a vital appeal was made for the young and old to spend time together. The conveners of the Tokyo Convention of Kyodan Laity appealed for messages of 160 written characters, and 76 persons responded. In the Commemorative Pamphlet, the voices of lay persons in the 160th year of evangelism were recorded, which will connect them to the 200th year of Japan’s evangelism. (Tr. RT)

—Suzuki Isao, Mejiro Church member

North Subdistrict, Tokyo District

From Kyodan Shinpo (The Kyodan Times) No. 4916

プロテスタント日本伝道160年記念 全国信徒会第二回大会








【April 2020 No.407】Hokkai District Holds Annual Enrichment Gathering

This year, the annual Beginning of the Year Enrichment Gathering, an important event of Hokkai District, was welcomed for the 69th time. It was held Jan. 13-14 at Hanabishi Hotel in Hakodate, with 270 participants, including about 20 children. Miyajima Yuko, the featured lecturer, spoke on the theme, “The Starting Step Opens the Road,” by sharing steps in the life of Christian author Miura Ayako, whom she served as her original private secretary.

Hokkai District has seven subdistricts, and each year one of the subdistricts takes responsibility and organizes this gathering, but not without bringing into play its area’s character or their original ideas. For more than ten years there were over 400 participants, but recently this has decreased to about 300.

A one-night, two-day event, this gathering is held in January, as its title indicates. Sometimes differing opinions on the timing are expressed, such as: “Since we are closed in with snow during this season here in Hokkaido, why not hold the meeting in the summer when there would be no icy roads to travel?” There are also other conclusions: “We could drive and gather during the season when the leaves are changing color.” However, directly and indirectly, many participants are engaged in farming or fishing, so the advantage of scheduling during the winter period, when there is scant need to fish or go to the fields, may be something particularly unique to Hokkaido.

The program consists of a lecture by the main speaker, a meal together, baths in hot springs, an independent program, an early morning prayer meeting, etc. But no matter what is shared or where it is held or who the lecturer is, the main point is that a decided number of people attend this gathering. Generally, there will be some change in attendance related to how well-known the speaker is and general interest in the theme. But otherwise, there is little change in regard to this gathering.

Participants do look forward to studying, but more than that they enjoy gathering once a year from throughout the vast area of Hokkaido and seeing nostalgic faces. The opportunity to meet colleagues who live far from you and those you seldom see is always a joy. Without a doubt, the atmosphere is that of a Hokkai District alumni meeting.

The strong ties of lay colleagues could be identified as a distinctive character of Hokkai District. The chief cause may be the heart for helping one another in the midst of a harsh natural environment, or perhaps it is the necessity of the many small churches to help one another. Or, it may be both. No matter what the reason, this gathering means seeing a broad smile. And nowadays, there are many attendees from other districts, which is a boundless joy. My hope and heart’s desire is that someday there will be a Kyodan-wide gathering at the beginning of the year. (Tr. RT)

by Hara Kazuto, moderator

Hokkai District

北海教区年頭修養会について                        北海教区総会議長 原和人







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