Kyodan Signs Mission Covenants with 2 North American Churches

Following the adoption of Proposals #37 and #38 on Oct. 22, 2008, the
second day of the 36th Kyodan General Assembly, an Agreement Ceremony
was conducted to establish a Cooperative Mission Covenant between the
Kyodan and the Presbyterian Church (USA) and a Cooperative Mission
Covenant between the Kyodan and the Reformed Church in America.
Representatives from both overseas partner churches signed the covenant,
as stated in the related proposals, and a new era following the
dissolution of the Japan-North American Council on Cooperative Mission
(JNAC) began. Among the signators, Moderator Yamakita Nobuhisa and
General Secretary Naito Tomeyuki represented the Kyodan; Moderator Bruce
Reyes-Chow and World Mission Ministries Director Hunter Farrell
represented the Presbyterian Church (USA); and General Synod President
Carol Bechtel and General Secretary Wesley Gandberg-Michaelson
represented the Reformed Church in America.

After the signing, the various documents were exchanged, and Moderator
Yamakita responded with enthusiastic applause. As commemorative gifts,
the Kyodan presented each church representative with a framed
cloisonne’* picture of Mt. Fuji reddened by the sun’s rays and the pens
they had used to sign the documents. In return, the Presbyterian Church
(USA) presented the Kyodan with commemorative books, as pictured in
several of the photographs taken that day. (RT)
─Katsuyama Ken’ichiro, executive secretary Shinpo (The Kyodan Times)

*Aka-fuji done in shippo-yaki (enameled metal)

The Cooperative Mission Covenant with the Presbyterian Church (USA)

Our reciprocal ministry and mission will be carried out in accordance
with the basic principles guided by the mission policies of our
respective churches, especially the following:

1. We will promote mission-partner relationships and the sharing of
people so as to provide opportunities for participation in the lives of
ministries of our respective churches, as our two churches will mutually
acknowledge each other’s Confession of faith and Church Order.
2. Our partnership in mission will be holistic. That is, as we seek the
spiritual, psychological, physical, and social liberation and salvation
of all people in our specific contexts, we will endeavor to embody the
whole Gospel in our mutual words and actions, with focus on evangelism,
church development, education, and social welfare ministries.
3. We will further seek to realize our vision for mission through the
visits of church representatives or volunteers, various exchanges, and
the sending of mission personnel. As a way of strengthening our
fellowship, the United Church of Christ in Japan will invite leaders of
the PC (USA) to its General Assemblies, District Assemblies, and other
church meetings involving pastors, youth, women, and men, and the
PC(USA) will invite representatives of the Kyodan to its General
Assembly and other national and local church events.
4. All communication in carrying out the partner relationship shall take
place between the office of the General Assembly of the United Church of
Christ in Japan and World Mission of the General Assembly Council of the
5. We agree to review and evaluate this partner relationship
periodically, trusting God will lead us into a deeper mutual
understanding and relationship in mission.
The Cooperative Mission Covenant with the Reformed Church in America

We agree first and foremost that our ministry together will be guided by
the principles which provide the foundation for both of our mission
programs, especially these:

1. That our mission together will be HOLISTIC, that is, that we will
seek to bring the whole gospel, in word and deed, through our mutual
endeavor, ministering to the spiritual, physical, intellectual,
emotional, and relational needs of those with whom we interact.
2. That our PARTNERSHIP in mission will be reciprocal, both in our
relationship with one another, and with the Christians with whom we
share ministry, and further, that as the church in Japan further
develops and our relationship deepens, we will seek to strengthen our
partnership through different expressions of ministry and fellowship.
3. That we will seek out opportunities by which the churches in Japan
can minister to and strengthen the RCA through visits, exchanges, or
actual placement of mission personnel in North America.
4. That our mutual goal is to strengthen the UCCJ in its mission and
vision. As the number of Christians in Japan is extremely low,
evangelism and church formation are the most important issues.
5. In order to accomplish the above objectives, both the RCA and the
UCCJ must mutually acknowledge each other’s confession, ordination,
ministry, and polity.

Executive Council Begins Work of the 36th General Assembly Biennium

The 36th Kyodan General Assembly was held at Tokyo Metropolitan Hotel,
Oct. 21-23, 2008.* Soon afterwards, on Dec. 9 and 10, the three newly
elected executive officers and Executive Council members convened the
first council meeting of the 2009-10 biennial period.

As the Executive Council convened on Dec. 8, the three executive
officers and the Executive Council members who had been elected by the
36thGeneral Assembly gave self-introductions; participants shared their
thoughts about the Executive Council; and the Executive Council started
anew. The members of the various committees established by the General
Assembly were named by the Selection Committee for approval by the
Executive Council on Dec. 9. These committees, which are responsible for
church activities during the present Executive Council period until the
37th General Assembly in 2010, will begin their work in January 2009. No
other outstanding resolutions were passed.

Several committees established by the Executive Council during the
previous biennium will continue and begin their work in early 2009,
including the committee that will plan activities for the celebration of
the 150th Year of Protestant Evangelism in Japan. Even before the
formation of the Kyodan, that is, during the former denominational
church period prior to 1941, interaction with many overseas churches was
maintained through their mission work. The Kyodan is particularly
grateful for the long relationship with churches in North America as it
looks forward to celebrating the 150th Year of Protestant Evangelism in
Japan in 2009. In addition to expressing thanks again to these overseas
churches and in anticipation of further deepening those relationships in
the future, the 36th Kyodan General Assembly conducted an Agreement
Ceremony to establish Cooperative Mission Covenants between the Kyodan
and two North American churches, the Presbyterian Church (USA) and the
Reformed Church in America. Hopefully, relationships with many other
churches in North America can be established by this kind of mission
agreement. (Tr. RT)

─Katsuyama Ken’ichiro, executive secretary

*For details, see article in the previous KNL issue.