【February 2020 No.406】TUTS President Osumi Yuichi: Now at Home with His Lord

On Sept. 5, 2019, President Osumi Yuichi of Tokyo Union Theological Seminary (TUTS) suddenly passed away due to complications from a subarachnoid hemorrhage. People related to the seminary and many churches that supported the seminary were stunned and saddened to learn of this tragic event, as Osumi was beginning his third year as president and was only 64 years old. A funeral was held on Sept. 9 in the seminary chapel, and although Typhoon 15 (Faxai) was directly hitting the whole area in Japan and delaying traffic, 550 people gathered to pay their last respects.


Osumi graduated with a law degree from the University of Tokyo, entered TUTS and TUTS graduate school where he earned his master’s degree, and proceeded to study at Protestant University Wuppertal/Bethel in Germany, where he was awarded his doctorate in theology. He had been teaching Old Testament studies at TUTS since 1990. He also served as a licensed pastor of Omiya Church in Kanto District for 2 years and as an ordained pastor at Yoga Church in Tokyo District for 15 years.


Osumi had a mild disposition and was known for his unique smile and sense of humor and for freely conversing with students. Students nicknamed him “Snoopy,” and he was pleased to accept that name for himself.

At the same time, Osumi was an Old Testament scholar with special interest in Old Testament law, and he clothed himself in obedience according to the words of the prophets and of Jesus. He also took a firm stance in regards to local church issues and ministries and offered practical advice. Serving as a minister myself, I often witnessed Osumi’s courageous words when referring to what ministers should be and remember being very moved by them.


In Osumi’s last year as president, TUTS experienced an academic harassment claim that caused him to worry greatly about the future of the institution for which he prayed earnestly. Those of us related to TUTS have inherited his prayer and together must be committed to eliminating human rights violations. We pray that the precious comfort of the Lord will be with Osumi’s wife Mari at this difficult time. (Tr.WJ)

                        —Ito Mizuo, chair, Board of Directors

                         Tokyo Union Theological Seminary



東京神学大学理事長 伊藤瑞男







【February 2020 No.406】From the General Secretary’s Desk: Pope Francis Visits Hiroshima and Tokyo

On Sunday, Nov. 24, Pope Francis of the Roman Catholic Church held a “Gathering for Peace” at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, and on Monday, Nov. 25, officiated at the “Papal Mass” at Tokyo Dome. Those of us from Protestant churches and representatives from other Japanese religions were invited to these gatherings and given the opportunity to hear the Pope’s message and to participate in the corporate prayer. At the meeting in Hiroshima, Kyodan Moderator Ishibashi Hideo also sat on the platform and received greetings from Pope Francis and shook hands with him. In Tokyo, in the mass that included the corporate prayers of believers from various Asian countries, liturgical scripture readings, and ceremonial greetings, there were many Kyodan-related persons who were invited and attended.


The message of Pope Francis at Hiroshima, on the one hand, was that “the victims who experienced the atomic bomb can appeal to all the world together against the threat and inhumanity of atomic weapons beyond all human difference and religion.” I heard that he also pointed out the irrationality and criminal nature of those who acquiesce in the preparation for the use of atomic weapons while mouthing peace, urging Japan to awaken from seeking a peaceful life under the nuclear umbrella of the United States. I was impressed by the stance of Pope Francis, who greeted the A-bomb victims at the beginning of the meeting, taking their hands while listening to the each one’s remarks.


The field and stands at Tokyo Dome were filled to capacity as Pope Francis appeared, riding in a car and circling the hall amidst the ovation of a crowd of 50,000 people. He had the car stop along the way when he saw children, took them up in his arms, and blessed them. Then he went up to the platform, where he presided over the worship service. In his sermon, he took scripture from the beginning of Genesis and the Lord Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, first of all pointing out the importance of climbing the mountain with the Lord Jesus and from there looking back upon oneself and the world; then with thankfulness and joy accepting the world and the life that God has made, as it is, and accepting not only one’s own life but also accepting all the life that fills others and the world; then realizing that we are called to live together, being led by the prayer: “Oh Lord, in order to protect all life, in order to open the way for the best possible future, take hold of us by your power and light.” Pope Francis well understands the disregarded, devalued person’s pain and loneliness, which is spreading particularly among the youth of Japan, and speaks to their hearts, “Don’t worry. Seek God’s kingdom and righteousness”—words that make us feel his desire to deliver the light of the words of the Lord Jesus. His final appeal to Christians that the work of the church in today’s society is to become a “field hospital” to receive wounded persons made a strong impact on me. I rejoice that through the visit of Pope Francis to Japan, the Word has been spoken, has been heard, and has become an opportunity to bring life to the closed-hearted insensitivity to grace from above that is evident within present-day Japanese society and among Roman Catholics as well as Protestants. (Tr. RT)


                           —Akiyama Toru, general secretary



             秋 山  徹





【December 2019 No.405】The Light of Hope

by Ootsuka Shinobu, pastor Okayama Church, Higashi-Chugoku District

Merry Christmas!

In the Bible, two of the Gospels report the birth of Jesus. In the Gospel of Matthew, it is the wise men, and in the Gospel of Luke, the shepherds, who make an appearance. Those who appear in each of the Gospels are different, but central in both stories is the existence of ‘light.” The wise men are led by a star and meet the baby Jesus. The shepherds who care for sheep in the midst of darkness are surrounded by the light of God’s glory and are informed of the birth of Jesus by angels. So although both Matthew and Luke depict the story of Jesus’ birth in completely different ways, what they have in common is that “light” has shined on people living in this world, that an account is given of persons living in this world being led to hope. There are places on earth that have lost light. Wandering and walking about in the darkness due to the loss of light and, with darkened reason, people are in despair. However, these two Gospels bear witness that without fail, God will rip open the darkness and will give humans “light” to shine on them!


At the beginning of July 2018, floods damaged a large area of western Japan. In the part of Okayama Prefecture where I live, which suffered extensive damage, there were 14,000 flooded homes and a total of 61 deaths. (Of the 52 persons who died in Kurashiki City, 51 were in its Mabi district.) It was decided that Higashi-Chugoku District, the Kyodan, the Okayama Christian Disaster Support Headquarters, and the YMCA Setouchi would engage in the work of restoration together. At first, the work was shoveling mud and cleaning houses. Here and there, during the work intervals, people talked about their pain and about loosing something important.


In December, in Mabi-cho, a center called “Mabikura” was established as a space to aid restoration. This name is the shortened form of the phrase “Mabi ni kurashi no nukumori o,” a name that includes prayers and wishes and means “providing warmth and light to Mabi’s daily life.” It was a time for ongoing restoration, but Mabi’s December night enveloped the town with overwhelming darkness. However, while standing in that area, shining light into the darkness to bring back warmth to continue restoration and encourage the hearts of the people living in that area, we carried out our work in faith. In August of this year, with the cooperation of the Kyodan, the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan, and the YMCA Setouchi along with 16 children from the disaster area, a camp for their refreshment was held in Taiwan. I sensed that little by little, the children were beginning to have smiling faces again.


The prophet Isaiah said: “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in a land of deep darkness a light has dawned. You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy. They rejoice before you….” (Isaiah 9:2-3, NIV) And the Gospel of John tells us: “The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.” (John 1:9) The “light” that is mentioned here is Jesus Christ. The Bible says that a light of hope of saving the people who are in difficult situations came to reside on earth. This light of hope tears the darkness to pieces and shines forth. I believe that we want to tell many people about that light of hope that has come. (Tr. RT)



日本基督教団岡山教会牧師 大塚忍


 聖書は二つの福音書がイエスの降誕を報告しています。マタイによる福音書には占星術の学者、ルカによる福音書には羊飼いが登場します。二つの福音書で 登場人物は異なっているのですが、物語の中心にはいずれも「光」が存在します。占星術の学者たちは、星に導かれて赤子のイエスに出会います。暗闇の中で羊の世話をしていた羊飼いたちは、主の栄光に周りを照らし出され、天使によってイエスの降誕を告げられます。マタイとルカでは全く異なるイエスの降誕物語が描かれていながらも、共通して「光」がこの世に生きる人々の命を照らし出したこと、この世に生きる人々を希望へと導いたことが記されているのです。地上には光が失われている場所があります。人間は、光が失われた暗闇をさまよい歩くことによって途方にくれ絶望することがあります。しかし、二つの福音書は、暗闇を引き裂いて、神様は必ず人間を照らし出す「光」をお与えくださると証言しているのです。

昨年の7月の初めに西日本の広範囲に渡って豪雨被害がもたらされました。わたしが住む岡山県でも甚大な被害がありました。浸水家屋は14000棟。61人の方がお亡くなりになりました(52人が倉敷市の方、真備地区の方は51人)。日本基督教団東中国教区は、日本基督教団、岡山キリスト災害支援室、YMCAせとうちと共に、復興支援活動を担うことを決議しました。当初のワークは、泥かき、家屋の清掃でした。ワークの合間に、ポツリポツリと、大切なものを失った苦しみを語ってくださる方もおられました。12月には真備町に「まびくら」という施設を設置しました。そこは、復興支援のベースです。「まびに くらしの ぬくもりを」という祈りと願いが込めています。少しずつ復興がなされていく時でしたが、12月の夜の真備は、圧倒的な暗闇によって町が包まれていました。しかし、その地に立ちながら、暗闇を照らす光、そこにぬくもりが取り戻される時に、あの地の復興がなされていく、またあの地に住む方々の心の復興もなされていく、とわたしたちは信じながら活動を行なってきました。今年の8月には、日本基督教団、台湾基督長老教会、YMCAせとうちの協力のもと被災地の子どもたち16人と共に台湾においてリフレッシュキャンプを開催することができました。少しずつ子どもたちに笑顔が戻りつつあることを感じました。

「闇の中を歩む民は、大いなる光を見、死の陰の地に住む者の上に、光が輝いた。 あなたは深い喜びと大きな楽しみをお与えになり人々は御前に喜び祝った」(イザヤ9章1節~2節)と預言者は語ります。「その光は、まことの光で、世に来てすべての人を照らすのである」(ヨハネ1・9)と福音書記者は語ります。ここに記されているのは「光」とはイエス・キリストです。厳しい現実に置かれていた民衆を救い出す希望の光が宿ったと聖書は言うのです。この希望の光は、圧倒的な暗闇を引き裂いて輝きます。わたしたちその希望の光が来られていることを多くの方々に伝えていきましょう。

【December 2019 No.405】Mabikura: A Place of Comfort for Disaster Survivors

by Nobuto Yoshihide, Wake Church and Mitsuishi Church, Higashi Chugoku District

Following the disastrous flooding of the Mabi-cho of Kurashiki, a city in Okayama, due to the extremely heavy rains that occurred in western Japan in July 2018, we set up a relief center in a rented store building, first repairing the damage to the structure. As we desired it to be a place that brought warmth and comfort to the lives of the people there, we named it “Mabikura” (an abbreviation of the Japanese phrase meaning that). Operated by the Okayama Christian Disaster Support Headquarters, it is a joint effort of the Mission Gathering of Okayama Prefecture, the YMCA Setouchi , and Higashi Chugoku District. Relief activities began in December 2018, and we plan to continue the effort until March 2021. A dedicated staff operates the center on a daily basis from 10 am to 5 pm. Mabikura focuses its efforts in three areas: providing a place to relax, supporting children, and supporting temporary housing.


Singing Coffee Shop

From this past May, a group of us from Wake and Mitsuishi churches have held a “Singing Coffee Shop” on the third Wednesday of the month from 1:30 pm, as part of our effort to give people a place to relax. Accompanied by guitar, bass, piano, and “djembe” (hand drums), we sing songs for about an hour. We make a point of including one hymn as a means of trying to connect people to Jesus, the “true place to relax.” Then we offer snacks and drinks around the tables as we provide a listening ear for people to tell us about the trials they faced during the flood, all the problems they have had to deal with in the aftermath, and their ongoing struggles. This program is sponsored by Higashi Chugoku District, which provides the necessary funding, including transportation costs.


Management Committee

The management committee consists not only of a representation from each of the sponsoring organizations but also Kyodan Executive Secretary for Ecumenical Ministries Kato Makoto, who participates as a representative of the Kyodan, which funded the repairs to the building in which Mabikura operates. Mabikura has also become a place where churches of various denominations join forces to serve the needs of the people affected by the disaster. It is our prayer that it will continue to do so. (Tr. TB)

From Higashi Chugoku District News, No. 175



  和気教会・三石教会 延藤好英



 昨年七月の西日本豪雨のあと、倉敷市真備町に、被災した店舗をお借りし、改装して生まれたのが「まびくら」という支援センターです。「まびに くらしの ぬくもりを」という願いを込めて「まびくら」と名付けられました。岡山キリスト災害支援室(構成員は、岡山県宣教集い、YMCAせとうち、東中国教区)で運営しています。二○一八年一二月から二○二一年三月までの活動予定です。毎日午前一〇時から午後五時まで、専属のスタッフがいて開館しています。









【December 2019 No.405】Executive Council Considers Structural & Budget Proposals

The fifth Executive Council meeting of the present 41st General Assembly period was held Oct. 7-8 at the Kyodan headquarters with 29 members in attendance. General Secretary Akiyama Toru gave a report on the damages caused by Typhoon 15 (called Faxai in international media), and Tokyo District Moderator Kishi Toshihiko detailed the damage to Habu Church on one of the Izu Islands, thanking council members for their expressions of support.


During the discussion, questions concerning Kyodan activities related to the succession of the emperor were addressed, and General Secretary Akiyama explained that the policy decided at the last General Assembly was that individual churches should conduct activities on the local level. He also stated that the Kyodan offices would not observe the special holiday that the government has designated for the ceremonies and would remain open.


Next followed a report on the fall licensing examinations for ministers in full standing and licensed preachers: 42 persons took the exam for ministers in full standing, with 32 passing; and 13 took the exam for licensed preachers, with 7 passing. Those passing were recognized.


The report of the Task Force on Evangelism in the Kyodan was shared by the chairpersons of its two subcommittees.

1. Kishi Toshihiko, chair of the Subcommittee on the Implementation of the Basic Policies on the Promotion of Evangelism in the Kyodan, reported that the church magazine Shinto no Tomo (Believer’s Friend) is featuring a series of articles entitled “Churches to Remember in Prayer,” naming ones in each district.

2. Kuze Sorachi, chair of the Subcommittee on Structural Reform in the Kyodan, reported its recommendation that the number of General Assembly delegates be cut in half to 100 clergy and 100 laity, with 16 or fewer appointed voting delegates.


The Commission on Faith and Order’s report included a discussion from various points of view on the validity of ordination by the Evangelical Church Alliance. The report was accepted, but a question submitted by Kanto District was referred back to the Commission on Faith and Order for further deliberation.


During the financial report, a debate arose regarding the following two specific proposals in the budget for the 2020 fiscal year:

1. to increase the subsidy of the Solidarity Fund for Mission in Okinawa from 400,000 yen to 1,200,000 yen, and

2. to allocate 7.2 million yen as funding for the National Christian Council in Japan.

As the apportionments for National Christian Council in Japan (NCCJ) members are determined every three years, it was decided to discuss with the NCCJ the reduction of the Kyodan’s apportionment for the next period. The vote on the budget proposal ended in a tie, so the moderator cast the deciding vote. (Tr. TB)

—Kato Makoto, executive secretary



 第41総会期第5回常議員会が10月7,8日、教団会議室で常議員29名の参加をもって開催された。総幹事報告において秋山徹総幹事は台風15号被害を報告。岸俊彦(Kishi Toshihiko)東京教区議長がお見舞いに対する感謝を述べ、伊豆諸島の波浮(Habu)教会の被害と現状について報告した。





 次に教団機構改訂検討小委員会の久世そらち(Kuze Sorachi)委員長が総会議員数を従来の半分とする教職100名、信徒100名推薦議員16名以内の案を提案した。



 次にNCCの分担金が720万円と高額なことも議論になった。分担金は3年に1度の更新の為、次の更新時に減額できるようNCCと協議する方向性が示された。予算案は賛否同数のため議長採決で可決した。 (加藤誠)

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