【April 2020 No.407】Multi-church Support Activities of Dohoku Subdistrict’s “Ring no Kai”

Founded in 2010, the “Ring no Kai” is mainly a lay work group in Dohoku Subdistrict of the Kyodan’s Hokkai District whose goal is “service and fellowship.” It includes all the church members in the subdistrict. Dohoku Subdistrict encompasses 270 kilometers from north to south and 180 kilometers from east to west and has ten churches. We experience great joy as we work together and support one another, because almost all the churches are small.

This organization began as the continuing form of what was originally the subdistrict women’s society whose numbers had decreased, and finding persons willing to serve as board members had become difficult. Thus, the Ring no Kai has no designated board. As the group operates spontaneously, each church has only a designated contact person. It’s an organization that has as its chief characteristic, “There is nothing that just has to be done.”

Why is the work chiefly for the purpose of helping other churches; or in other words, what is the purpose of having this unofficial group? The reasons are likely so that the churches in this expansive subdistrict do not become isolated and because they have cherished their connections with each other.

For example, presently the three official members of Wassamu Church hold a Thursday worship service once a month. The middle-aged group at Asahikawa Rokujo Church, where I belong, decided to send two people to attend each worship service and also to cover the cost of their travel expenses. Many members from the various subdistrict churches eagerly come, so an average of 23 persons attend the worship service. The people of Dohoku Subdistrict know Wassamu Church’s situation as well as each of its members.

When there is a pastor’s installment service in the subdistrict, a bus is provided and everyone avidly gathers; and families attend the subdistrict enrichment meetings as well. The Asahikawa Rokujo Church Bazaar offers space for Bibaushi Fukuin Church and Asahikawa Seiko Church. I understand that Asahikawa Seiko Church was able to hold its own bazaar in 2019. There is joy that comes with mutual growth through relationship, and Dohoku Subdistrict members know that.

The Ring no Kai has no membership fees. In October, the blueberries supplied at no charge by Asahikawa Rokujo Church are made into jam, and the jam is sold at some subdistrict meetings and by various churches at gatherings in their areas. These sales bring in about 30,000 yen, which basically becomes the organization’s management fund.

The churches are contacted about decisions made regarding the year’s activities, including making jam, cleaning, grass cutting, etc., and this information is passed on via weekly church bulletins, etc. In this way volunteers are solicited for each activity, and the needed number of persons is provided.

The Ring no Kai has been able to function, even without a board, due to the periodic gatherings at Wassamu Church worship services, which perhaps has become the activity base. The worship service at Wassamu Church is followed by a shared potluck lunch that is delicious and fun, and necessary information is exchanged.

One activity of the Ring no Kai since its beginning is mowing the grass at Bibaushi Fukuin Church. Finding someone to mow the grass on the church’s extensive property had become a real concern, so everyone went to help. Every year since then, people have gone to cut the grass. Even if they cannot take part in mowing the grass or shoveling the heavy snow off the church roof, when the Ring no Kai takes responsibility for helping with the Wassamu Church worship service, elderly members also take part, so this has become a subdistrict activity.

Within the district as well, there are discussions both for and against the Ring no Kai’s service and a questioning of whether the group has been too aggressive about helping other churches. However, I think there are times when a church is experiencing difficulties but cannot say, “Please help us.” So, it’s important to make relationships daily when you sympathize with its perplexing issues and can address them. If there is something that can be done, the subdistrict members act. I think that making preparations for that kind of system throughout the Kyodan will become more and more important from now on. (Tr. RT)

by Kaneko Tomoko, member

Asahikawa Rokujo Church, Hokkai District

Ring no Kai Organizer

—Compiled by the January 2020 Shinto no Tomo

(The Believer’s Friend) Editorial Committee

Summarized by KNL Editor Kawakami Yoshiko



金子智子 リングの会世話人


リングの会は2010年10月に結成された日本基督教団北海教区 道北地区の「奉仕と交わり」を目的とした信徒の自主活動団体です。地区の教会員全員が会員です。道北地区には、南北270キロ、東西180キロの地域に10の教会があります。規模の小さい教会の多い道北地区にあって、共に奉仕し、支え合うことが大きな喜びを生み出していると実感しています。














【April 2020 No.407】The 3rd Ecumenical Project Learning from our Differences and Worshipping as One

On Saturday, Oct. 19, the 3rd EcuPro (Ecumenical Project) event was held, joining the voices of our staff and participants at the Tokyo Lutheran Church, Japan.

The overarching theme of our work is “Let Christian unity begin from the youth!” The many young people who joined in the planning and management were from various church backgrounds, including Roman Catholic, Kyodan, and Anglican/Episcopalian. Originally, this work began during the 2017 lead-up to the celebration of the 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. Our first ecumenical gathering was held under the banner “Let’s Do Something Together!” These events became an important meeting place for Christian young people to gather beyond the usual circles of our respective churches, denominations, schools, and companies. Through these events, we were able to meet and to pray together.

The theme of this third event was “prayer,” so it was entitled “PrayStation3.” In addition to the 40 members of the steering committee, more than 70 young people attended the event, for a total of more than 100 participants. Furthermore, about one-third of the participants were first-timers, and two-thirds were early career people from the business world.

One of the steering committee members, Ms. Ikemoto Anna, a believer from Totsuka Catholic Church and a career woman, explains about the theme “PrayStation3” as follows.

1. First, the key to understanding this theme is that “play” and “pray” have nearly the same pronunciation in Japanese. Remember that our first meeting was about “doing something together” while our the second gathering was centered more on matters of “faith.” Now in this third session, we gathered to ask, “When young people of the same faith meet together, let’s ask each other what we pray for?” We had questions about “prayer.”

2. The second key word in this theme is “station.” A station is a place where people gather, but it is also a turning point from which those who have gathered head to their respective destinations. Here young people gather, meet, gain something, and are sent out to their respective destinations. “EcuPro” is a place that plays such a role.

3. Lastly, there is the allusion between our theme “PrayerStation3” and the common game machine “PlayStation 3,” which was popular when we were growing up. The desire of our staff is to value prayer. This is at the heart of the entire project. We are a prayer-centered gathering. We begin with an opening prayer and we pray together in the last joint service.

This event included a rock-style service led by Pastor Sekino Kazuhiro, who is famous as a “Rock ‘n’ Roller” within the Japanese Evangelical Lutheran Church. He taught about the Lord’s Prayer. There are four versions of the Japanese translation of the Lord’s Prayer used in different denominations, and all were included in the program.

Then after we worked up a sweat in an ice-breaker game, we went into small group sessions to reflect on our prayers and there shared our feelings about prayer. Then, we continued to consider how to make progress toward someday holding a joint Sacrament of Communion. We need to recognize our differences but also find our agreement in Christ. We made time to meditate on unity, hoping that the day will come when we will be able to share a joint sacrament of communion.

At the joint service, Father Sato Naoki of the Order of Salegio presided over the ceremony along with Pastor Masuda Shohei from Aoyama Church of the Kyodan. They were responsible for the sermon and for leading the prayers during the session.

Ms. Miura Kotono, who is a member of the Japanese Evangelical Lutheran Church in Ikebukuro, participated in “EcuPro” for the first time and shared her impressions of the meeting. “In the small group session, I learned for the first time that there are differences in the way we pray. For example, some pray using a Catholic rosary, whereas, others use meditation, such as in Protestant devotions.I was moved to see how Father Sato Naoki, Pastor Sekino of The Lutheran Church, and Rev. Masuda of the Kyodan talked to God, and later talked to each other, like friends. Through this experience it has become my honest prayer to become able to say anything to God without inhibitions.”

Although there is some unfortunate history of criticism between our various backgrounds and denominations, here we transcend this through prayer-centered fellowship. It was encouraging to have participants from so many backgrounds, including the Non-church Movement. Many of the participants enjoyed talking together even after the meeting and many want to meet again. Based on these experiences, we think that we are gradually achieving our objective. We could glimpse the hope of the Church in Japan as we learned from each other’s differences and worshiped as one. (Tr. NB)

—From Shinto no Tomo (Believer’s Friend), January 2020 issue

Summarized by Kofukada Yutaka, KNL Editorial Committee member


















教派はどちらかといえば否定的に捉えられところがあるが、ここではそうではない。無教会の青年も参加している。集会終了後も話し込む人、再会を約する人たちが多く、会の目的は達成されたようだ。互いの違いから学びつつ一つになって礼拝する姿に日本の教会の希望を見た。       (「信徒の友」編集部)2020年1月号。小深田裕KNL編集委員要約

【April 2020 No.407】Yokosuka Christian Center’s Developing Mission

While Japan was occupied by the Allied forces following its World War II defeat in 1945, an effort was made to change Yokosuka in Kanagawa Prefecture from a site of military prominence to a city of cultural prominence. This effort was led by Yokosuka Naval Base’s new commander, Captain Benton Weaver Decker. After being assigned to Yokosuka in 1946, Captain Decker, who was a Christian, called together the Christian leadership of Yokosuka and encouraged them to use the various buildings and property previously occupied by the former Imperial Japanese Navy within the city as places for schools, hospitals, and social services. This enterprise can be called an “unforeseen (yet welcomed) consequence” of the Allied Occupation Forces’ policies.

At that time, the Kyodan took responsibility for the development of what is now Yokosuka Gakuin, Kinugasa Hospital, and Yokosuka Christian Community Center under the leadership of the Kyodan moderator, Kyodan pastors, and church laity. Yokosuka Christian Community Center was built in the community of Taura in the northern area of Yokosuka. The Community Center’s ministry began under the leadership of Sugiura Yoshito, a minister assigned to that position by the Kyodan.  In response to requests from local youth, a Bible study was started that resulted in the birth of today’s Taura Church.

In February 1948, Rev. Everett William Thompson became the first director of Yokosuka Christian Community Center. Thompson had been sent by the Methodist Church to serve in Japan before World War II but had returned to the US due to the war. Foreseeing Japan’s loss in the war and the need it would have for social services, Rev. Thompson went to graduate school and studied social work in order to be equipped for service in Japan following the war.

As planned, Thompson returned to Japan shortly after the war ended. He began his work there, serving “the least of these” by responding to the challenges of poverty and by opening a nursery school and a dormitory for mothers and children. His emphasis was on enabling the community to identify its own needs. He encouraged local residents to set educational goals and opened a library. He also encouraged cultural development. Noteworthy is the fact that he organized the first “senior club” for Japanese older people.

In 1957, Abe Shiro became the second director of the Community Center. He worked hard to develop professional social welfare services as well as new creative projects. With the development of groups like “Taura Mutual Aid” and “Taura Bazaar,” Abe was able to establish community programs and projects in Taura that had been envisioned by Thompson. Through these various programs and experiences, a community that was once foreign to Christianity opened itself to the Gospel.

As a Christian and director, Abe now faced two problems. One was bridging the differences of perspective of the social welfare agency and the local church toward a theological understanding of evangelism. The other problem was gaining financial independence from the church.

At that time, the chaplain of the base chapel at the US Naval Base in Yokosuka encouraged the rebuilding of the Community Center and offered to pay the full cost. However, because of differences in missional priorities—and in spite of the financial difficulties that would result— the offer was respectfully declined. The Gospel is for the entire community, and Christian social welfare services in the community are not delivered according to the faith of those in need. This comes from the belief that the heart of Christian social welfare is shown in the faith that enables us to administer services to whomever is in need.

In 2007, Kishikawa Yoji became the third director of the Community Center. As the Center adjusts to the increase of older people and the decrease of young people, changes are being made in policy, organization, and in the facilities themselves in order to enable proper service for a changing clientele. Continued conversations among the staff, as well as new learning/training opportunities, are being used to accomplish this.

Furthermore, through social welfare service in the community, the heart and spirit of social welfare has deepened, and we are committed to further developing our mission. We hope to have theological dialogue, not only within our facilities, but also with the local church, in an effort to increase our missional cooperation together.

Christian social welfare services are taking place at the front lines of mission. As we look at the history of social welfare, we see stories of faith in the footprints of the various social welfare agencies and service. This is an inheritance we want to honor, and a story we want to continue to tell through our services. (Tr. JS)

—Sato Senro, Board of Trustees member

Yokosuka Christian Community Center

From Kyodan Shinpo (The Kyodan Times), No. 4916









会館建て替えを勧める米軍横須賀基地内教会のチャプレンから、費用の全額支援の申し出がありましたが、宣教に関する理解の相違から、以後の経済的打撃を承知で断りました。福音の主体は地域住民 にあり、相手の信仰の有無に関係なく、福祉を必要とする人々の困窮に信仰をもって仕えていくことに「福祉の心」があるとの考えからです。




佐藤千郎、横須賀基督教社会館 理事

【April 2020 No.407】From the General Secretary’s Desk:Covid-19: Reflections in the Midst of the Latest Pandemic

The new corona virus that first appeared in Wuhan, Hubei Province in China has rapidly spread around the world and is now considered to be approaching pandemic status. In Japan, beginning with the more than 3,000 passengers on the cruise ship Diamond Princess and the spread of the virus in Hokkaido, there are now increasing numbers of cases outside of these clusters where the source of the virus is unclear. Thus, the fight to stop the spread of this virus has entered a new phase. In response to Japan becoming a focus of world-wide attention, the Japanese government hastily made the decision to close all elementary, middle, and high schools nationwide for the month of March, leaving school staff to scramble to deal with all sorts of issues.

The news is full of reports of families with both parents working and even just families with small children being in a state of confusion as to what to do. Likewise, the issues of how to provide relief for those forced to stay home from work and other political and economic effects have also contributed to a heightening sense of urgency. At any rate, we are faced with a situation of inadequate testing and preparation for treatment as the number of people infected surges. With those dying from pneumonia as a result of this virus continuing to increase, the level of confusion and anxiety likewise rises.

Although a few of our Kyodan members had family members who were aboard the Diamond Princess or who are medical staff dealing with victims of the virus, there is presently no sign of the virus spreading within our churches, so we have simply been urging all congregations to follow recommended prevention procedures, including of course, frequent washing of hands and gargling. Many of our churches have associated kindergartens and daycare centers. Elderly people, who make up a large percentage of our membership, are particularly vulnerable, with most deaths occurring in that age group, as we all know. The risk of spreading infection is high when people are in close contact, as they are in worship services, so this is definitely a concern. We have heard of Roman Catholic churches canceling mass, but at present we are leaving it up to individual congregations to decide for themselves whether or not to cancel services. As a precaution, however, unless there is some emergency situation, we will suspend all Kyodan-level committee meetings and other such gatherings, including canceling the hosting of overseas guests, the missionary conference that was scheduled at Kiyosato, and the Joint Japanese-Korean Prayer for Reconciliation and Peace event that was to be held in Seoul.

We well remember the anxiety felt during other epidemics, such as the fairly recent SARS and MERS outbreaks and all the way back to the cholera epidemic (1858-1902) that killed a great many people during the Meiji Era. This time, however, chaos and anxiety seem particularly heightened as the new corona virus is occurring in an age of globalization in which news travels very quickly via the Internet and a Social Networking Service (SNS). This virus might just be a warning from heaven against our overconfidence in thinking we humans can do anything through the development of genetic engineering and artificial intelligence.

In this situation of a potential pandemic, I am reminded of the comparison made in Acts 24:5 of the existence of Christians as being like a plague. When Paul stood before Roman Governor Felix, the spokesman for the Jewish ruling elders, Tertullus, said, “For we have found this man a plague, one who stirs up riots among all the Jews throughout the world and is a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes.” So there you have it; both a plague and the gospel have the power to rapidly spread from one person to the next, and through that to have a great effect that changes the world. In both cases, the presence of an invisible “wind—pneuma” is the key to its spread.

The big difference, however, is that a plague drives people apart, while the gospel brings people together into one body.  A plague brings death while the gospel brings life. Thus, this new corona virus should cause us to reflect on whether we as Christians today are having that kind of effect in the world.(Tr. TB) (March 3, 2020)        —Akiyama Toru, general secretary

総幹事室より   新型コロナウイルス                             秋山徹 March, 3, 2020

中国の湖北省武漢市(in Wuhan, Hubei Province)から広がった新型コロナ・ウイルス感染症が世界中に広がって、今やパンデミックの様相を呈してきました。日本もクルーズ船ダイヤモンド・プリンセス号の3,000人を超える乗客乗員や北海道での感染者が広がりはじめ、それらのクラスターだけでなく、不特定多数の者から不特定多数の者への感染が疑われるようになっており、感染予防の新しいステージを迎えています。日本政府は、日本の高い罹患率に対する世界中の注目にあせって、ここにきて大慌てで、全国の小・中学校、高等学校に3月終わりまで一斉に休校にするようにと指示をしましたので、それぞれの学校現場ではその対応に追われています。夫婦共働きの家庭、とりわけ小さい子供がいる家庭ではどうしたらいいか、親の休業補償、政治・経済への影響はどうかなど、毎日のニュースをにぎわして、異異常事態の空気が全体に高まっています。何しろ、感染が疑われても検査体制や治療体制が整わないままで、感染者はどんどん広がり、肺炎で死亡する人の数も増えて、混乱や不安だけが増幅されるような状態が続いています。






【February 2020 No.406】Kyodan Churches in Eastern Japan Damaged by Typhoons

Fall 2019 typhoon damage to Kyodan churches in Tohoku and Kanagawa districts as well as in Tokyo District’s Chiba and Higashi subdistricts was summarized in the Kyodan Shinpo, Issue 4919.


Tokyo District: Chiba Subdistrict

Chiba Prefecture suffered severe damage from three typhoons. The first to hit was Typhoon 15 (Faxai) on Sept. 9, followed by Typhoon 19 (Hagibis) on Oct. 12, and then Typhoon 21 (Neoguri) on Oct. 25, which broke records for the most intense rainfall ever recorded there. Typhoon 15 was a giant typhoon,with wind that gusted over 57 meters per second (127 mph), which had never been experienced before. This resulted in unprecedented power outages besides direct wind and rain damage, leaving the South Boso area in chaos. Railroads could not operate, and their recovery was slow, with trains from Tokyo being stopped for any destination beyond the Makuhari area.


Of course, houses and churches in Tokyo District’s Chiba Subdistrict sustained damage, and Chiba Subdistrict churches especially have been trying to support Kanita Church and “Kanita Women’s Village.” Chiba Subdistrict has been partnering with the organization “CRASH Japan” (Christian Relief Assistance Support Hope) to send volunteers to the area, centering on Chiba Uchibo Area. During Typhoon 19, the outer walls of Choshi Church were torn off.


Tokyo District: Higashi Subdistrict

The churches most affected by the typhoon in Higashi Subdistrict, were Habu Church as well as Oshima Motomura Church and its associated childcare facilities, which are located in Oshima, Izu Islands. At Habu Church, the roof over the altar portion of the sanctuary was destroyed, and the inner walls collapsed, exposing the new copy machine, the office computer, and the printer to rainwater. The outer walls were damaged in numerous places, and the church signboard was destroyed, with the heavy acrylic cover being blown away. At Oshima Motomura Church, the roof tiles and rain gutters were broken, with the damage to the kitchen area being especially severe.


Tohoku District

In Tohoku District, Typhoon 19 resulted in flooding beneath the sanctuary of Kakuda Church and rainwater leaks, along with the adjacent kindergarten grounds being covered with mud and the kindergarten bus being submerged under water. At Kawamata Church, part of the sanctuary was under water and mud flowed into the grounds. Iwaki Church had standing water beneath the sanctuary floor and 15 cm of water in the parsonage. At Motomiya Church the water was almost 2 meters deep in both the sanctuary and the kindergarten. Other churches and their associated facilities were also damaged, totalling 13 churches in all. Likewise, many homes of members and staff experienced flooding and landslide damage.


Tohoku District sent volunteers to help with mud removal and cleanup at both Motomiya and Iwaki churches. Over a five-day period, a total of 25 volunteers from both inside and outside the district participated. At the parsonage of Iwaki Church, volunteers removed the flooring of one room so they could dig out the accumulated mud and from there go beneath the adjacent rooms to scrape out the mud from under the rest of the house.  Work to repair both Motomiya and Iwaki churches will be done by professionals. The district has set up a “Typhoon 19 Relief Budget for Affected Churches” to fund these repairs.


Kanagawa District

Churches in Kanagawa District experienced flooding, particularly in the Kawasaki and Tsurumi area. Shukugawara Church, Mukaigawara Church, Kawasakitode Church, and Kawasaki Church all were flooded above floor level. Each of eight churches had damage exceeding a million yen.

(Tr. TB)

—Summarized by Kato Makoto, Kyodan executive secretary










・信徒の被害  電柱が5本ほど倒れて停電し断水も続いた。屋根や瓦が飛ばされるなどの他、木が家に倒れ、物置やブロック塀が壊れ、板塀が飛ばされた。被災によるストレスのため耳が聞こえなくなる症状も出た。


◎北ノ山保育園  台風後に浄化槽ブロワ―が壊れた。











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