The Students Engraved on My Heart

by Nonomura Noboru, chancellor
Kwassui Gakuin, Nagasaki City
The road that leads up the Higashi (east) Yamate hill in the city of Nagasaki has become known as “Dutch Slope.” This is because at the beginning of the Meiji Era a foreign settlement was established in this area, so it was usual to come into contact with foreigners here. Part way up the slope is the main gate of Kwassui Women’s College; by going through it and climbing up the stone steps, the view at the top suddenly becomes visible. On the right are the lawns of the campus grounds and the red roofs of the college buildings, while across the valley on the left is Glover Garden and the sea beyond.
Three camphor trees tower above the way into Kwassui’s college campus,their thickly growing branches and leaves stretched out as if they are holding out their arms to welcome visitors to the campus. The founder herself is said to have planted these trees, and this is also mentioned in the school song. At the time of Kwassui’s 126th anniversary in December 2005, the school erected a plaque near the camphor trees to commemorate the missionaries who have been sent to Kwassui throughout its history. On it are engraved the names of 76 missionaries, all of them women.
The inscription reads as follows. “In 1879, two missionaries crossed the Pacific from distant America and came to Nagasaki. They immediately opened a girls’ school with a Christian basis. This was how Kwassui Gakuin was established. Since then, for 126 years, undaunted by a great

2007 Missional Planning Conference Held in Tokyo

The 2007 Missional Planning Conference was held on March 10-11 at Fujimicho Church. The main topic was “Kyodan’s Evangelism and Cooperative Efforts in that Endeavor” and the subtitle was “150 Years Since the Beginning of Protestant Evangelism in Japan.” The 72 participants were able to delve deeply into the topic at hand and significant insight and learning were achieved as they fellowshipped together.

Takahashi Jun, chairperson of the Commission on Ecumenical Ministries, stated that “although the question has been raised as to whether it is even possible to have a missional planning conference without a plan, we all agreed that without the delegates coming together to deliberate, there would be no progress.” In his greeting the host said, “It is important to have representatives from all the districts gather together to reach a mutual understanding of the present circumstances unique to the various Kyodan districts and churches and to learn lessons from history as we plan for the future.” Korean Christian Church in Japan General Secretary Park Sookil expressed his prayer that a fruitful harvest would come out of this conference as he shared greetings filled with humor.

Three lecturers made presentations. In his presentation entitled “Reflecting on the History of the Kyodan,” General Secretary Naito Tomeyuki stated that the 150-year history of the Protestant Church in Japan can be divided into three 50-year periods. The first period focused on ecumenism. There was a great emphasis on church unity as opposed to the sectarianism and denominationalism that was prevalent in Europe and America. The second period was a time of militarism and war. It must be acknowledged that the church was unable to escape this influence while attempting to protect its confessional beliefs. At the same time, although political and military pressure cannot be denied, it was this conviction of the ideal of ecumenism that played an important role in the formation of the Kyodan.

In his discussion of the third period, Naito shared vivid recollections from his own experience of the Kyodan General Assembly and other events and examined them through the paradigm of the ecumenism of the church. Given his historical perspective and ecclesiology, Naito was critical of some of the events that have occurred since the 16th (1969) General Assembly. However, he concluded by referring to the hope that lies ahead.

While all three presenters dealt with very deep subjects, Yamaguchi Takayasu particularly did so in his lecture. Just as he promised, he condensed the contents of his book into one hour. The lecture was entitled “Evangelism from the Viewpoint of the (Kyodan’s) Confession of Faith and Constitution.” Organizationally independent from the government, the Kyodan is founded on its own constitution and confession because ecclesiology is the characteristic of a church and not of an association. Yamaguchi’s boldness was persuasive as he went against what is often considered to be common-sense understanding of the meaning of the Kyodan’s Constitution and its Confession of Faith.

Tomisato Church Pastor Uchida Hiroshi presented the third lecture, which was entitled “Cooperating in Evangelism.” From his background in church planting and cooperative mission, Uchida gave a very practical and well thought-out presentation. His first example was of how Shikoku District is working together cooperatively to do church planting. He emphasized how Shikoku District’s cooperative system has created the fellowship that exists between pastors and supporting churches. The second example was “church planting with the cooperation of a parent congregation.” The parenting church congregation organized a loose union to found a church located on the Hokuso train line. There are three reasons that were offered for why Chiba Hokusou Church was able to be established: responsible people, trust relationships, and the vision borne out of home gatherings.

Ou District Moderator Ohara Muneo, Tokai District Executive Council Member Nishinosono Michiko and Higashi Chugoku District Vice-moderator Miyakawa Tsunenobu gave their reports. All three seemed to be eagerly working at the task of finding concrete solutions. (Tr. AK)

─Takezawa Chiyoshi, chief editor
Shinpo (The Kyodan Times)

Churches Damaged by Chuetsu Earthquake Celebrate Reconstruction

Reconstruction of two churches damaged by the Chuetsu earthquake in October 2004has been completed. Two related services were held on Jan. 14, 2008: at 11:00 a.m. a service of celebration and thanksgiving for the reconstruction of the Tokamachi Church parsonage and at 3:00 p.m. a dedication service for the parsonage and sanctuary of Mitsuke Church. With the prayers and support of churches throughout the country, these two points of evangelism have been reestablished.

Tokamachi Churchユs Service of Celebration and Thanksgiving. The snow that had been falling all night stopped as the service started. Tokamachi Church Pastor Arai Jun began his sermon by saying, “There was a moment I cannot forget,” then spoke about the annual assemblies of Niigata Subdistrict and Kanto District. “A motion that Kanto District raise 75 million yen, half of the total nationwide goal, was presented. When, after a tense moment of silence, it was overwhelmingly approved…” His voice broke; then, after a few minutes he continued: “the feelings I had been holding back just overflowed. When everyone offered their blessings and encouragement after the assembly, I could only prayerfully give thanks. I cannot tell you how much we were comforted and encouraged by the fact that members of churches far away were accepting our damage as their own pain. We were not alone. I felt clearly that we were not isolated. Many episodes since the earthquake have borne witness that the Lord is with us and living in our midst.”

In his congratulatory message, Kanto District Moderator Hikita Kunimaro commented, “Rebuilding a church is not just reconstructing a building; this building embodies power and courage from nationwide prayers and support. I hope Kanto District will be a district that continues to stand with all those who may suffer any kind of damage in the future.”

When structural evaluation of the former parsonage was officially changed from “partial destruction” to “virtually complete destruction,” it was decided to rebuild. Work that was begun on the light-steel frame, two-story parsonage in September 2007 has been completed. The cost of the 131 square meter building was 40 million yen, 30 million of which was aid raised by the Kyodan and 10 million raised locally. The building was used as a center for volunteer workers immediately after the earthquake.

Mitsuke Church’s Dedication Service: A sudden change of weather in the afternoon brought biting cold and heavy snow. In his greetings, Mitsuke Church Pastor Yanagida Takeyuki said,
“Rebuilding this church has been a heavy task for parishioners whose homes also suffered earthquake damage and flooding along with the church. But with the Lord’s guidance to change a pinch to a chance, and supported by the prayers of people throughout the country, we have been given a new vision.” Then he continued: “We have felt that God is alive and at work. Now I am struck with fear and trembling. I want to speak about two points. The first is the meaning of a service of dedication. We give back to God what is God’s. I think this is the meaning of a service of dedication. Today we give this church building back to God, and then we ask to borrow it again. The second is the purpose of a service of dedication. It begins with saving the soul of just one person of the 43,000 citizens of Mitsuke. Through repentance, a loser is resurrected. Today is the beginning of losers being resurrected through evangelism. In his words of congratulation after the service, Kyodan Vice-moderator Kobayashi Makoto stated:
“As I rejoice with you in the service of dedication, accomplished despite numerous difficulties, there is one more thing I want to say. As reflected in the words ‘holy catholic church’ in the Apostles’ Creed, the church is not just a building but the object of faith. There is confusion and lack of faith within the Kyodan, but the present offering of more than 170 million yen from peopoe throughout the country who believe in the church has great meaning.モ Kumae Hidekazu, moderator of Kanto District’s Niigata Subdistrict, remarked: “Standing here in this new church building 40 months after the earthquake is like a dream, but it is not a dream. Our vision of communicating the gospel to all people takes shape here. This new church building is a witness to the solidarity of our subdistrict, district, and the Kyodan as a whole. This day witnesses to the fact that the church truly is alive and working together.” Mitsuke Church suffered flood damage in 2004 and three months later the Chuetsu Earthquake caused a liquefaction phenomenon that caused the foundation to disintegrate, so rebuilding on that location was abandoned and a site was purchased in the Hanamizuki (Dogwood) housing development, about a five-minute walk from the former building.

The phrases “God is alive,” “One church,”and “Witness to solidarity” were weighty and filled with deep meaning. The face of every person there radiated with gratitude and joy, We would like to convey the blessings of that day to churches throughout the country. (Tr. WE)

─Shinpo (The Kyodan Times)

Churches Damaged by Chuetsu Earthquake Celebrate Reconstruction
The 2007 Missional Planning Conference was held on March 10-11 at Fujimicho Church. The main topic was “Kyodan’s Evangelism and Cooperative Efforts in that Endeavor” and the subtitle was “150 Years Since the Beginning of Protestant Evangelism in Japan.” The 72 participants were able to delve deeply into the topic at hand and significant insight and learning were achieved as they fellowshipped together.

Takahashi Jun, chairperson of the Commission on Ecumenical Ministries, stated that “although the question has been raised as to whether it is even possible to have a missional planning conference without a plan, we all agreed that without the delegates coming together to deliberate, there would be no progress.” In his greeting the host said, “It is important to have representatives from all the districts gather together to reach a mutual understanding of the present circumstances unique to the various Kyodan districts and churches and to learn lessons from history as we plan for the future.” Korean Christian Church in Japan General Secretary Park Sookil expressed his prayer that a fruitful harvest would come out of this conference as he shared greetings filled with humor.

Three lecturers made presentations. In his presentation entitled “Reflecting on the History of the Kyodan,” General Secretary Naito Tomeyuki stated that the 150-year history of the Protestant Church in Japan can be divided into three 50-year periods. The first period focused on ecumenism. There was a great emphasis on church unity as opposed to the sectarianism and denominationalism that was prevalent in Europe and America. The second period was a time of militarism and war. It must be acknowledged that the church was unable to escape this influence while attempting to protect its confessional beliefs. At the same time, although political and military pressure cannot be denied, it was this conviction of the ideal of ecumenism that played an important role in the formation of the Kyodan.

In his discussion of the third period, Naito shared vivid recollections from his own experience of the Kyodan General Assembly and other events and examined them through the paradigm of the ecumenism of the church. Given his historical perspective and ecclesiology, Naito was critical of some of the events that have occurred since the 16th (1969) General Assembly. However, he concluded by referring to the hope that lies ahead.

While all three presenters dealt with very deep subjects, Yamaguchi Takayasu particularly did so in his lecture. Just as he promised, he condensed the contents of his book into one hour. The lecture was entitled “Evangelism from the Viewpoint of the (Kyodan’s) Confession of Faith and Constitution.” Organizationally independent from the government, the Kyodan is founded on its own constitution and confession bec
ause ecclesiology is the cha
racteristic of a church and not of an association. Yamaguchi’s boldness was persuasive as he went against what is often considered to be common-sense understanding of the meaning of the Kyodan’s Constitution and its Confession of Faith.

Tomisato Church Pastor Uchida Hiroshi presented the third lecture, which was entitled “Cooperating in Evangelism.” From his background in church planting and cooperative mission, Uchida gave a very practical and well thought-out presentation. His first example was of how Shikoku District is working together cooperatively to do church planting. He emphasized how Shikoku District’s cooperative system has created the fellowship that exists between pastors and supporting churches. The second example was “church planting with the cooperation of a parent congregation.” The parenting church congregation organized a loose union to found a church located on the Hokuso train line. There are three reasons that were offered for why Chiba Hokusou Church was able to be established: responsible people, trust relationships, and the vision borne out of home gatherings.

Ou District Moderator Ohara Muneo, Tokai District Executive Council Member Nishinosono Michiko and Higashi Chugoku District Vice-moderator Miyakawa Tsunenobu gave their reports. All three seemed to be eagerly working at the task of finding concrete solutions. (Tr. AK)

─Takezawa Chiyoshi, chief editor
Shinpo (The Kyodan Times)

Reconstruction of two churches damaged by the Chuetsu earthquake in October 2004 has been completed. Two related services were held on Jan. 14, 2008: at 11:00 a.m. a service of celebration and thanksgiving for the reconstruction of the Tokamachi Church parsonage and at 3:00 p.m. a dedication service for the parsonage and sanctuary of Mitsuke Church. With the prayers and support of churches throughout the country, these two points of evangelism have been reestablished.

Tokamachi Church’s Service of Celebration and Thanksgiving. The snow that had been falling all night stopped as the service started. Tokamachi Church Pastor Arai Jun began his sermon by saying, “There was a moment I cannot forget,” then spoke about the annual assemblies of Niigata Subdistrict and Kanto District. “A motion that Kanto District raise 75 million yen, half of the total nationwide goal, was presented. When, after a tense moment of silence, it was overwhelmingly approved…” His voice broke; then, after a few minutes he continued: “…the feelings I had been holding back just overflowed. When everyone offered their blessings and encouragement after the assembly, I could only prayerfully give thanks. I cannot tell you how much we were comforted and encouraged by the fact that members of churches far away were accepting our damage as their own pain. We were not alone. I felt clearly that we were not isolated. Many episodes since the earthquake have borne witness that the Lord is with us and living in our midst.
In his congratulatory message, Kanto District Moderator Hikita Kunimaro commented, “Rebuilding a church is not just reconstructing a building; this building embodies power and courage from nationwide prayers and support. I hope Kanto District will be a district that continues to stand with all those who may suffer any kind of damage in the future.”

When structural evaluation of the former parsonage was officially changed from “partial destruction” to “virtually complete destruction,” it was decided to rebuild. Work that was begun on the light-steel frame, two-story parsonage in September 2007 has been completed. The cost of the 131 square meter building was 40 million yen, 30 million of which was aid raised by the Kyodan and 10 million raised locally. The building was used as a center for volunteer workers immediately after the earthquake.

Mitsuke Church’s Dedication Service: A sudden change of weather in the afternoon brought biting cold and heavy snow. In his greetings, Mitsuke Church Pastor Yanagida Takeyuki said, “Rebuilding this church has been a heavy task for parishioners whose homes also suffered earthquake damage and flooding along with the church. But with the Lord’s guidance to change a pinch to a chance, and supported by the prayers of people throughout the country, we have been given a new vision.” Then he continued: “We have felt that God is alive and at work. Now I am struck with fear and trembling. I want to speak about two points. The first is the meaning of a service of dedication. We give back to God what is God’s. I think this is the meaning of a service of dedication. Today we give this church building back to God, and then we ask to borrow it again. The second is the purpose of a service of dedication. It begins with saving the soul of just one person of the 43,000 citizens of Mitsuke. Through repentance, a loser is resurrected. Today is the beginning of losers being resurrected through evangelism. In his words of congratulation after the service, Kyodan Vice-moderator Kobayashi Makoto stated: “As I rejoice with you in the service of dedication, accomplished despite numerous difficulties, there is one more thing I want to say. As reflected in the words ‘holy catholic church’ in the Apostles’ Creed, the church is not just a building but the object of faith. There is confusion and lack of faith within the Kyodan, but the present offering of more than 170 million yen from peopoe throughout the country who believe in the church has great meaning.” Kumae Hidekazu, moderator of Kanto District’s Niigata Subdistrict, remarked: “Standing here in this new church building 40 months after the earthquake is like a dream, but it is not a dream. Our vision of communicating the gospel to all people takes shape here. This new church building is a witness to the solidarity of our subdistrict, district, and the Kyodan as a whole. This day witnesses to the fact that the church truly is alive and working together.” Mitsuke Church suffered flood damage in 2004 and three months later the Chuetsu Earthquake caused a liquefaction phenomenon that caused the foundation to disintegrate, so rebuilding on that location was abandoned and a site was purchased in the Hanamizuki (Dogwood) housing development, about a five-minute walk from the former building.

The phrases “God is alive,” “One church,” and “Witness to solidarity” were weighty and filled with deep meaning. The face of every person there radiated with gratitude and joy, We would like to convey the blessings of that day to churches throughout the country. (Tr. WE)

─Shinpo (The Kyodan Times)

First Christian Education Seminar Held in Kochi

The first Christian Education Seminar sponsored by the Kyodan Committee on Education was held March 3 at Nankoku Church in Kochi Prefecture. The purpose for which the committee planned this seminar was to learn and pray together with pastors and church school teachers who are engaged in Christian education. These days, the number of children attending church schools is decreasing. Therefore, the committee thought that this kind of seminar would be helpful. The theme of the seminar was “The Joy of Being Called to His Ministry.” Kishi Norihide, pastor of Chiba Honcho Church and chair of the Committee on Education, led the opening worship service, using Mark 3:13-19 as his text. A conference of leaders of Christian education in the districts was held both before and after the seminar.

About 70 persons, including participants from 14 districts, gathered for the seminar from 7 p.m. Some participants came to the seminar by car after more than a four-hour drive from neighboring Ehime Prefecture. Hirata Kazuko, director of Christian Education at Handago Church and a member of the Commission on Education, was the lecturer. The lecture began with her self-introduction. She studied Christian education at Seiwa College in Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture. Then, she was called as a director of Christian education, a status authorized by the Kyodan as a special ministry of Christian Education. Under the Lord’s guidance, she was sent to several churches as a director of Christian education. Handago Church is located close to Mt. Kongo near Yoshino, which is famous for its cherry trees. She said that the Handago area was once called Handago Village, and the scenery of Handago is still like an agricultural village. Nevertheless, about 35 children are coming to the church every Sunday morning. Hirata stressed two points. First, God desires children to be invited to our church schools. Second, church school education contributes to the building up of the church. She said that without giving up and without getting impatient, we should expect God’s blessing on the church school each Sunday. She finished her lecture with a reading of Mark 4:30-32. Her lecture was based on the situation of not only Handago Church but also the other churches that had sent representatives, so it gave great encouragement to the participants. She passionately related how happy she was to be called to Christian education by Jesus.

The second day, after the closing worship service, we were given an optional tour of Seiwa Junior and Senior Girls’ High School and Geisei Church. Seiwa is located at the eastern edge of Kochi City. Seiwa is the smallest private junior and senior high school in Kochi, as it has only 120 students. The 20 teachers, including of course the principal, are all Christians. We learned that they had been called to Christian education at the school. Their honest attitude about education gave us hope and encouragement.

Kato Makoto, secretary
Committee on Education

Church’s Monthly Birthday Party Celebrates God’s Gift of Life

Every third Sunday, our pastor introduces persons who have birthdays that month.He presents birthday cards he has made, then offers prayers of blessings. Afterwards, a birthday party is held under the theme “Let us celebrate together!”

“When we were very young, we used to have very happy birthdays, but people close to us do not celebrate our birthdays anymore, and we have forgotten the joy of these days.” “I wish I could celebrate my birthday with joy and gratitude because it is ‘the anniversary day’ of the life God has given me.” These sentiments expressed by members of the congregation prompted the organization of the monthly birthday party project. Each person shares how it feels to have a birthday, and we all sing each one’s favorite hymn together. Our worship service every Sunday is observed by people of all ages together, including kindergarten children, teachers, and mothers. We come to worship “as children who are like adults and as adults who are like children.” Since our motto is to do every activity together, we celebrate our birthdays together, and everyone is invited to come to the party table, too. “We are all God’s family!” (Tr. HL)

Iizuka Takuya, pastor
Ryugasaki Chruch, Kanto District
Shinto no Tomo (Believer s’ Friend)

Church's Monthly Birthday Party Celebrates God's Gift of Life

Every third Sunday, our pastor introduces persons who have birthdays that month.He presents birthday cards he has made, then offers prayers of blessings. Afterwards, a birthday party is held under the theme “Let us celebrate together!”

“When we were very young, we used to have very happy birthdays, but people close to us do not celebrate our birthdays anymore, and we have forgotten the joy of these days.” “I wish I could celebrate my birthday with joy and gratitude because it is ‘the anniversary day’ of the life God has given me.” These sentiments expressed by members of the congregation prompted the organization of the monthly birthday party project. Each person shares how it feels to have a birthday, and we all sing each one’s favorite hymn together. Our worship service every Sunday is observed by people of all ages together, including kindergarten children, teachers, and mothers. We come to worship “as children who are like adults and as adults who are like children.” Since our motto is to do every activity together, we celebrate our birthdays together, and everyone is invited to come to the party table, too. “We are all God’s family!” (Tr. HL)

Iizuka Takuya, pastor
Ryugasaki Chruch, Kanto District
Shinto no Tomo (Believer s’ Friend)