The General Secretary's Diary

he General Secretary’s Diary
The 43rd meeting of the Kyodan Commission on Cooperative Mission and the
Korean Christian Church in Japan was held June 8-9 at the Itoyanagi
Hotel in Isawa, Yamanashi Prefecture. Discussion centered on the fact
that this year is the KCCJ’s 100th anniversary of mission.. The theme
was “The Two Churches’ Mission Issues and Cooperation in Mission.” In
addition to the three administrative officers namely, the moderator,
vice-moderator, and secretary of both churches and the chair of the
Commission on Mission, the general administrative secretary and mission
administrative secretaries of both churches, presentations were made by
the chairs of the Committee on Social Concerns and the Committee on
Education of the Korean Christian Church in Japan and the chair of the
Kyodan’s Special Committee on Solidarity with Citizens of the Republic
of Korea and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea Living in Japan,
making a total of 14 persons in attendance.

The presentations of the two members of the Korean Christian Church
naturally dealt with the problems of Korean people in Japan; and those
concerns, particularly the protection of human rights, were the primary
focus of the conference. These are issues of mission and important
issues that must be dealt with cooperatively. Historically speaking,
most of the Korean people now living Japan are second- and
third-generation descendants of people who were forcibly brought to
Japan as a policy of the Japanese government after the “annezation,”
which was in fact an invasion of Korea. Also, a considerable number have
come of their own volition in recent years, primarily for the purpose of
mission. The situation of Korean people in Japan is severe, and the
church not only must work to stop their fingerprinting but also must
seek basic solutions to support their existence and human rights and
enable them to live freely.

Few of us Japanese know well the history of North Korea and South Korea,
which are our neighboring countries. The history of China is taught to
some extent in junior and senior high school, but the history of the two
Koreas has hardly been taught at all. The misunderstanding that results
from this ignorance causes ethnic and cross-national conflict and can be
seen as the cause of the friction in our relationships. In light of
this, we strongly feel that the churches of both countries, which share
the same Christian faith, specifically the Korean Christian Church in
Japan and the Kyodan, must deal with this problem as an important issue
for cooperative mission and seek breakthroughs.

Below are three points discussed and agreed upon at this meeting of the
Commission on Cooperative Mission.
1) A 2009 Peace Message will be issued in the names of the moderators of
both churches.
2) The Korean Christian Church in Japan will erect a five-story Mission
Centennial Hall near the Nishi Waseda Center, with an   estimated cost
of 270 million yen. The Kyodan will cooperate in raising funds.
3) A joint historical study committee will be established. The committee
will gather material concerning relationships of
contact between the two churches to study that history. Based on that, a
history will be compiled. The committee will consist
of six persons, three from each church. (Tr. WE)
–Naito Tomeyuki
Kyodan General Secretary

Growing Sweet Potatoes in the Neighboring Vacant Lot "God Gave the Growth"

Growing Sweet Potatoes in the Neighboring Vacant Lot
“God Gave the Growth”
There is a 15-square meter vacant lot on the south side of our church.
Completely covered with almost impenetrable weeds, it posed the danger
of sooner or later becoming a trash dump. To help the children become
better acquainted with the adults, our church school joins the adult
worship services on Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. On these
occasions there is usually a potluck lunch, except for the Thanksgiving
lunch, which we cook together at the church. So last year, for the
Thanksgiving lunch, we decided to plant some sweet potato seedlings in
the vacant lot.

On the last Sunday in May, we planted the seedlings. Of course, in
preparation, adult members had cut the weeds, tilled the land, and built
ridges in the field. Five months later, on Nov.16, a week before
Thanksgiving Sunday worship service, the sweet potatoes were ready to be
harvested. Unfortunately, it was raining that day, and there were fewer
children than usual. However, the result was as shown in the photo. The
children planted, the pastor watered. Otherwise, they were mostly left
unattended. It was truly an experience of “God gave the growth”. (Tr. RK)
– Tanaka Takahiro, pastor
Momoyama Church, Chubu District
From Shinto no Tomo(Believers’ Friend)

Former Worship Sanctuary becomes an Art Museum
Meditation Space with Famous Biblical Pictures

Using the opportunity when the worship sanctuary was moved down to the
first floor, the former second-floor worship sanctuary was converted
into a museum of art. The museum features biblical pictures by the late
Nishizaka Osamu and some contemporary prints by the late Watanabe Sadao.
As the above two artists are comparatively well known, the display
surprises some of the visitors.

As can be seen in the photos, there is a restful ambience between the
former sanctuary and these works by Christian artists. One visitor said,
“Here one can spend a nice quiet time with a cup of coffee.” The museum
is not advertised, so it is not widely known, but it serves as a
meditation space for this small village church. There is no admission
fee. (Tr. RK)

– Hoshino Masaoki, pastor
Matsuzaki Church, Tokai District
From Shinto no Tomo(Believers’ Friend)

The Journey of Mary Eddy Kidder, Pioneer in Women's Education in Modern Japan

by Tabei Yoshiro, principal
Ferris Jogakuin Junior and Senior High School
Ferris Jogakuin, Japan’s first school for women, was started by Mary
Eddy Kidder. Kidder was the first missionary woman to Japan, arriving
from the U.S. in September 1870.The school got its start when Kidder
began to teach in one of the infirmary rooms of the Presbyterian medical
missionary, Dr. James Hepburn. (The infirmary was located at Foreign
Settlement # 39 Yamashita-cho in Yokohama.) Kidder’s students were
pupils of Hepburn’s wife, some of whom were young women. Japan was in
the third year of the Meiji Era, and although modernization had begun,
Christianity was still prohibited. At a time when it was hardly
imaginable for a woman to be educated, Kidder offered women an education
based on Christian principles.

Kidder was born in Wardsboro, Vermont in 1834 and as a teenager dreamed
of going abroad as a missionary. She realized her dream at the age of
35. By the end of the Tokugawa Shogunate, Protestant missionaries were
coming to Japan in rapid succession, one of whom was the Reverend Dr.
S.R. Brown of the Dutch Reformed Church in America, later to become the
Reformed Church in America (RCA). In speeches in the U.S., Brown
emphasized the need to educate women in order to modernize Japan.
Recognizing her faith and strong call to foreign missions, Brown
encouraged his Foreign Board of Missions to accept Kidder, then teaching
in a private school, as an educational missionary to Japan.

Soon after Kidder began her classes, girls heard about them and began to
gather in the small room where she was teaching. Among those students,
girls eager to study had to struggle continually to persuade their
parents, who saw no need for them to study. As the number of students
increased, Kidder was able to find an ally in the vice-governor of
Kanagawa Prefecture, Ooe Taku. He gave her permission to move her
classes to the prefectural residence. Meanwhile, with financial aid
coming from the U.S. church, school buildings and a dormitory were built
on the present school location at 178 Yamanote (in Yokohama). On June 1,
1875, an impressive dedication of the new school building was held, and
the following year the formal name of the school became Isaac Ferris
Seminary.

The school name “Ferris” is in recognition of Isaac Ferris and his son
John. Both father and son served as head of the RCA’s foreign missions’
program, and under their leadership many Japanese exchange students and
delegations were received in the U.S., while at the same time many
missionaries, including Kidder, were sent abroad. Since that time,
Ferris Jogakuin has been supported by the women’s board of RCA’s Global
Missions.

The educational ideals of the school, based on the Christian faith, were
to develop responsible family members, train persons to be the educators
of the future, and insure the acquisition of the knowledge and culture
required to meet these ideals. Since then, many who became leaders in
the development of women’s education in Japan have been nurtured at
Ferris. In particular, many of the women presently involved in higher
education for women at the university level have a Ferris background. In
fulfillment of the educational ideals that Kidder pioneered, graduates
of Ferris Jogakuin have continued to be on the front line of women’s
education in Japan.

In 1873 Kidder married Presbyterian missionary Rothesay Miller. Fully
understanding the importance of his wife’s work, Miller became a
missionary of the RCA following the marriage. Soon the reputation of
Ferris Jogakuin spread, and young women from across Japan were coming to
the school. Some came from as far away as Nagasaki, wanting an education
to prepare them to be pastors’ wives. Others came at the encouragement
of progressive parents or guardians.

In 1881 Kidder, whose devoted efforts gave birth to Ferris Jogakuin and
built its early foundation, turned over the administration of the school
to its second principal, Eugene S. Booth. Leaving her role as educator,
she then served in the field of evangelism with her husband. Their
service from 1888 to 1902 in the cold of Morioka in Iwate Prefecture is
well-known. While she and her husband were involved in evangelism across
Japan, Kidder was also publishing articles for children and families in
a small monthly magazine called Yorokobi no Otozure (visit of joy). In
particular, she worked to enhance the position of women and children in
Japanese society.

Kidder’s 41-year journey in Japan was not just as the founder of Ferris
Jogakuin. It was the rich journey of a woman missionary lived to its
fullest. This year the city of Yokohama celebrated the 150th anniversary
of the opening of its port. It is also the 150th anniversary of
Protestant evangelism in Japan. Next year, Ferris Jogakuin will
celebrate the 140th anniversary of its founding, which will also be the
140th anniversary of women’s education in Japan. We at Ferris Jogakuin
take pride in remembering that the foundation for women’s education in
Japan today is due to the strong faith of a young Christian missionary
woman and her strong commitment to women’s education. (Tr. JS)

EMS Mission Council Meeting Held in Ghana

EMS Mission Council Meeting Held in Ghana
Report on Missionary Council of the Association of Churches and Missions
in South Western Germany (EMS) “Department of Mission and Ecumenism, and
Developing Nations Church Assistance” of the Wu”rttemberg Church

The International Mission Council of the Association of Churches and
Missions based in Southwestern Germany (Evangelisches Missionswerk in
Su”dwestdeutschland: EMS) held its Annual Meeting in Abokobi near Accra
in Ghana, June 15-21. At the meeting, 36 EMS representatives from 23
churches and 5 mission societies in ten countries in Europe, Asia, and
Africa, along with the EMS administrative officers, debated and
determined future mission activities. This meeting is held annually, and
every sixth year it is held outside of Germany. Twelve years ago, it was
held in Indonesia and six years ago in India. This is the first time for
it to be held in Africa. The council was hosted by the Presbyterian
Church of Ghana, an EMS partner church that worked hard to put this
conference together. Among countries in Africa, Ghana is politically
stable with good peace and order.

This meeting focused on future mission policy for at least the next
three years (2009-2012), along with the financing to make that possible.
Regarding the content of missions, EMS administrative officials prepared
detailed materials with evaluations of past activities and
future-focused proposals. With respect to finances, EMS is dependent to
a large degree upon the German state church and is facing a major
problem because of the sharp decline in church tax income predicted for
the German churches. To be specific, by 2012 the Association must
decrease its budget by 150 million yen (one million Euros). EMS’s annual
budget is about one billion yen, and so this financial problem was an
important topic of this Annual Meeting.

Regarding the content of the mission activities, most are administered
by the EMS officers, but the basic framework for the “three-year plan”
was proposed by the Indonesian church. Activities have been diverse up
to now and spring from the rich fellowship of the churches and mission
societies that form EMS. Europe (primarily Germany) and fellowship
(partnership) with Asia and Africa is occurring at the local level. For
example, local exchanges between Germany and South Korea and between
Germany and Indonesia have been ongoing for about 20 years in some
places. Unfortunately, there is not even one Kyodan local church in
regular partnership with a German church. The Kyodan churches and laity
have learned from German theology, but it must be said that actual
exchange has been rare.

EMS has maintained 85 projects in the past. In the headquarters in
Stuttgart, there is an “Asia Desk” that maintains relationships with
churches in India, Korea, China, and Japan and jointly bears with them
responsibilities and shares issues. The liaison secretary for Japan is
Lutz Drescher, assisted by secretary Gisela Koellner. Mira Sonntag has been
sent from EMS to Japan and serves as the director of Tomisaka Christian
Center in Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo.

Previous activities, such as dealing with gender issues and measures for
prevention of HIV & AIDS, have been well regarded and will be continued
for the next three years. Also, volunteer activities that representative
youth from Japan also participated in were seen to produce good results
in starting new fellowships and networking among youth. Furthermore,
related to the financial problem and EMS’s particular relationship to
the Kyodan, EMS has changed the budget for support funds as follows:
450,000 yen to be given for the work of “prison chaplains” in 2010-11,
similarly 900,000 yen for the Buraku Liberation Center, and likewise,
900,000 yen for the Japanese-Filipino Family Support Center located at
the Japan Christian Center.

At this Annual Meeting of the Mission Council, there were lively
deliberations and decisions regarding the EMS Focus. “Giving Account of
our Hope” was chosen as the slogan for 2009-12, and eagerness can be
felt for witnessing to the hope in Christ in an age of hopelessness.

As for my own reflections on participating in this Mission Council, I
felt that since EMS has high expectations for and solidarity with the
Kyodan, the Kyodan has a responsibility to respond. Reductions in
personnel funds limit the Asia coordinator to visiting Japan only once
every other year, but through other exchanges, I hope that we can
further deepen our relationship. (Tr. PST)

–Minami Kichie, Kyodan Overseas Minister

Taiwanese Churches Promote the Gospel in Japan

Taiwanese Churches Promote the Gospel in Japan
Takadanobaba Taiwanese Church

The Taiwanese church in Takadanobaba, Tokyo, was established through the
pioneering work and hardships of God’s faithful servant, Pastor Sho
Shuji. On April 2, 2008, the church celebrated its 30th anniversary with
joy and thanksgiving, giving praise to God. I myself took over as Sho
Shuji’s successor on October 6, 1991, and looking back now, I rejoice at
the way the elders and the whole congregation have single-mindedly
devoted themselves to spreading the gospel. In 1994, our church was
accepted into the Kyodan, and so, as well as starting to establish links
with other Taiwanese churches, it is natural that we are also able to
make good connections with Japanese churches.

In our international circumstances of living in Japan, and with a
responsibility for the spiritual well-being of our fellow Taiwanese, we
at Takadanobaba Taiwanese Church conduct all our gatherings in
Taiwanese. This is because for those of us residing or studying here, as
well as for visiting relatives and tourists who also come, it is
especially moving to praise, pray, hear God’s word, and have fellowship
through our Lord in our mother tongue, more so than when everything is
conducted in Japanese. We take this privilege very seriously, and see it
as a significant part of the existence of Taiwanese churches in Japan.

Here are some ways we are currently promoting the Gospel.
* Before the weekly Sunday service, in order to improve our hymm
singing, we spend ten minutes practicing hymns. Then after the worship
service, everyone reads a scriptural text aloud together.
* Twice a month, everyone who has attended worship stays for a Bible
study meeting and prayer meeting, in which we learn about sound faith
and seek power from our Lord in order to live strong Christian lives.
* The women’s circle has its regular meeting once a month, including
Bible study and prayer as well as times of testimony and activities,
such as lectures about health. These provide a varied program to which
non-Christians can also be invited.
* At Christmas and Easter, the whole congregation, led by the choir,
joins in services of praise.
* Four Taiwanese churches have joined together to form the “Sing-ni-hoe”
(fellowship) for elderly believers. This group holds regular meetings
four times a year, and also has lectures about health, classes on the
arts and culture, and other activities, such as cooking, trips, and
walks. These all contribute to the promotion of balance in faith and in
daily life, and help to attract non-Christians to church.

Our congregation is small, but we ask for the encouragement and prayers
of all our brothers and sisters in Christ in all the churches, and we
commit ourselves with you to untiring efforts for the spread of the gospel.

Chiba Taiwanese Church

The first service of worship of what has now become Chiba Taiwanese
Church was held in the home of a believer in Sakura in March 1992. In
those days, the group made repeated requests to various pastors of
Taiwanese churches in Tokyo to come and preach. Two years later, in
November 1994, after a private house in Nobuto in the Central District
of Chiba City was purchased and remodelled as a place of worship, the
group moved its meeting place from Sakura to Chiba. This was registered
as the Chiba Taiwanese Preaching Point (church) of the Kyodan, and the
dedication ceremony took place in March 1993. As no minister was
assigned to the preaching point at this stage, retired ministers from
Taiwan who were able to speak Japanese and who could come for short
terms of service were invited.

In January 2002, as the preaching point was celebrating the 10th
anniversary of its founding, Cho Sei Ko, a retired pastor of Ikebukuro
Taiwanese Church in Tokyo, was welcomed as minister. At that time, the
meeting place in Nobuto was hard to find and had no parking space, so
the members were constantly praying for a new place of worship. Very
soon after this, they learned of the present location in the Central
District of Chiba City, which is on a main road, with good access from
the station, and already has parking space for eight cars in the
building at street level. It seemed like the ideal place for a church.
The fact that, at the same time, a buyer appeared for the former meeting
place, spurred us to purchase the new church premises.

In order to provide the funds for the new church, in May 2002 many
people were contacted with requests for donations. In this way, with the
proceeds from the sale of the former premises and everyone’s donations,
it was possible to purchase the new church building. The name of the
building was changed from “City Building” to “Chiba Christian Center,”
and the following month the first worship service took place on the 7th
floor. With the cooperation of the Kyodan, Pastor Chang So En was
invited to come from Taiwan in July 2007, and his installation took
place in September that year.

In April 2009, all the members of the Chiba Taiwanese Preaching Point
gave thanks as its status changed to that of a small-sized church of the
Kyodan, and its name changed to Chiba Taiwanese Church. We currently
meet for worship at 11 a.m. every Sunday, with Bible study and Sunday
School from 1 p.m. Such groups as the choir and the Women’s Circle are
also active. It is cause for thanksgiving that more than 20 people
regularly attend worship.The members of the congregation are mostly
people from Taiwan who are residents in Japan for reasons of work or
study, who are naturalized Japanese citizens or permanent residents
here, or who have come to live in Japan because of international
marriages. As a Taiwanese church situated in Japan, every three months
the minister of the local Japanese church is invited to come and preach,
and worship takes place in Japanese. There is also a lecture on culture
once a year, events to introduce Taiwanese culture, and various
activities through which the church seeks to promote exchange with local
residents. (Tr. SN)

–Ishihara Chokai, pastor of Takadanobaba Taiwanese
Church, North Subdistrict, Tokyo District
KNL editorial committee member