Report on the First Executive Council of the 37th General Assembly Period (2010-2012)

The first Executive Council meeting of the 37th General Assembly period was held Dec. 20-21 at the Kyodan headquarters. Moderator Ishibashi Hideo began by summarizing the 2010 General Assembly as “an assembly that was in agreement on the necessity for reform towards a Kyodan that focuses on evangelism.” He then expressed his sentiments saying, “We simply must be concerned about whether the Kyodan will even be around to celebrate its 200th anniversary. I want us to aim at becoming a Kyodan that is serious about evangelism.” With respect to the functioning of the Executive Council, he stated, “I want us to adhere strictly to the rules laid out in the Kyodan’s Constitution and Bylaws. As there is no provision in the bylaws for the category of an observer requesting permission to participate (without vote) in an Executive Council meeting, as has been the practice previously, we should limit such attendance to non-participating observers.”
The item that took up the most time in the meeting was agenda item 22: the “establishment of a study commission on evangelism policy.” This item was number 37 at the 2010 General Assembly, and it had been delegated to the Executive Council for further deliberation. The originator of the proposal, council member Suzuki Isao explained, “In the midst of this protracted decline in membership, we need to establish a study commission on evangelism policy to look into the issue of evangelism within the Kyodan and make specific proposals on implementation.” During the ensuing discussion, council member Kobayashi Sadao asked that all members give their input, and as this was agreed to by the council, a great deal of time was spent in the process. The discussion proceeded beyond a simple vote on the establishment of such a commission and was expanded to a wider perspective, calling for a “vision of evangelism.” Everybody chimed in on the topic, including all of the district moderators in attendance and the chairpersons of the various committees who were there at the request of the Executive Council. In contrast to usual procedures, no time limit was set so a wide variety of opinions was expressed from the unique standpoints of the various churches that were represented. Nevertheless, practically everyone was in agreement that urgent measures need to be taken to strengthen evangelism. The result was a unanimous vote to establish the “study commission on evangelism policy.”
The last agenda item to be addressed was one submitted by the moderator on the establishment of an emergency fund. Up until now, whenever there has been a major natural disaster, funds for relief response have been collected at that time. Thus, the rationale for setting up such an ongoing fund is that in this age when such disasters have been frequent, the Kyodan needs to be able to respond quickly when the need arises. The 60 million yen remaining from the funds raised for relief after the 1995 Hanshin-Awaji earthquake as well as what remains of the Kanto District fund for the 2007 Niigata-Chuetsu earthquake would become the foundation of the fund. After discussion, it was passed by a majority vote.
This first Executive Council meeting was noteworthy in several ways. First of all, there was no heckling at all from any of the observers–something that probably has not happened for several decades. Likewise, there were no participating observers there at their own request, and so the meeting was conducted entirely in accordance with the bylaws. But most of all, the majority of the two-day conference was dedicated to the discussions surrounding evangelism. No doubt, the true value of that will be a topic of discussion for some time. (Tr. TB)
–Kato Makoto, executive secretary
第37総会期第一回常議員会が、12月20,21日、教団会議室で開催された。会議の冒頭、石橋秀雄議長は第37回教団総会を「伝道する教団への変革を共有したのが 第37総会」と総括し、「教団に伝道200年はあるのかという危機感を持たざるを得ない。伝道 に熱くなる教団をめざしたい」との所信を表明した。常議員会の具体的運営については「教憲・教規に則った運営を貫きたい。これまで慣例で あった要求陪席は教規にはないので、今後は傍聴として扱う」との方針が示された。
  議事の中で最も多くの時間を割いたのは、議案第22号「伝道方策検討委員会を設置する件」であった。こ の議案は第37回教団総会議案37号であったが、常議員会への委託となった議案である。提案者は鈴木巧男常議員で、「教勢の長期低迷傾向にある中 で、日本基督教団として伝道について検討し、当面の具体的な方策を提言するために伝道方策検討委員会を設置する」との内容説明がなされた。審議に入ると、小林貞夫常議員が「全常議員の発言を求める」と提案、これが議場に承認され、ここから多くの時間を費やして、新委員会 設置の是非に留まらず、むしろもっと大きい視野での「伝道についてのビジョン」が語られた。発言は常議員のみならず、出席の全教区議長、 要請陪席の諸委員会委員長が、いつもとは違い時間的制約なくして伝道への思いを語った。当然のことながら、それぞれの教会が置かれた状 況・立場などの違いから多様な意見が述べられた。しかし、伝道への情熱、何らかの緊急な手当てが必要だということでは、陪席も含めてほぼ 全員の意見が一致していた。結果、「伝道方策検討委員会を設置する件」は全員の賛成で可決された。
こ れまでは大規模自然災害に対し、その都度支援金を募ってきたが、災害の頻発する中で教団として速やかに支援体制を作る必要が求められてい ることが主な提案理由である。ベースとなる基金は「阪神・淡路大震災救援資金」の内、その役割を終えたものの内からの6000万円と、関東教区からの「新潟中越沖地震救援募金」の残金を当てるとの説明がなされた。議論の後採決がなされ、賛 成多数により可決された。
  第一回常議員会は、何重もの意味で画期的であった。先ず、陪席・傍聴者の野次が全くなかった。数十年ぶりのことであろう。次に要求陪席を なくし、教規に則った会議を行なった。何よりも二日間の会議の大半を「伝道そのもの」の議論に充てた。今後、その真価が問われるであろう が。(加藤誠)