37th Kyodan General Assembly Elects New Slate of Officers

The 37th Kyodan General Assembly was held at the Metropolitan Hotel in Tokyo, Oct. 26-28, 2010 under the theme “Where is the Unity of the Kyodan? Thirsting After the Leading of the Holy Spirit.” At the opening worship service, Hikita Kunimaro, pastor of Omiya Church, preached a sermon entitled, “I will build my church on this rock,” using Isaiah 53:4-6 and Matthew 16:13-20 as Scripture readings. The main points of the message were that the confession of faith that Peter gave, “You are the Christ, the son of the living God,” has been the confession of the church for 2000 years, and it is that which is asked of every person. It was on the “rock” of that confession that the Lord Jesus gave his commission to build his church, and it is from that confession that the church began. Christ conquered the power of death and sin, and built his church. We may lament the present situation of the church, but it’s not really ours to begin with. The Lord declared that the power of sin and death would not prevail against his church. Thus, as long as it’s the Lord Jesus who builds his church, the church will last forever, because it is his promise that he will prevail against even death.
The elections for moderator, vice-moderator and secretary brought three new faces to the positions. Ishibashi Hideo, pastor of Koshigaya Church, was elected to replace four-term moderator Yamakita Nobuhisa. In his acceptance speech, he stated that the visible church is based in the actualization of three pillars: the confession of faith, the sacraments, and church standards, and that it is through the maintenance of these three pillars that the church exists. He further stated that if one of these pillars becomes deformed, it weakens the other two as well. He pledged to work for the strengthening of these pillars and for the encouragement of preaching and study of the scripture so that its power might increase within the congregations. He appealed for support in guiding the Kyodan into a future that is focused on evangelism.
Okamoto Tomoyuki, pasor of Nishinomiya Church, was elected as vice-moderator, and in his greetings stressed that God alone can view things impartially. Thus, since we humans are limited by our partiality, in order to discuss issues fairly, we must follow parliamentary rules when debating the issues before us. Maintaining parliamentary procedure, he said, is the calling of the officers as they take on their new roles as executive roles.
Traditionally, the selection of the secretary has been left to the discretion of the moderator and vice-moderator, and accordingly, they chose Kumoshikari Toshimi, pastor of Akita Sakura Church. In his greetings, the new secretary stated that he had been involved in pioneer evangelism for 22 of the 27 years he was in Ou District. He described the efforts of churches in outlying districts as they have labored in difficult situations. While increasing the evangelistic efforts of local churches is important, he stressed the need for mutual support in mission.
The topic that generated the most interest at this assembly involved the various proposals put forth to deal with the issue of clergy admonition. With respect to these proposals, Moderator Yamakita explained that according to rule 6 of the admonition enforcement procedures, “The judicial committee’s decision is the final decision,” and so each of these proposals was either defeated or withdrawn.
On the afternoon of the second day, there was debate on the method of electing members of the new Executive Council. The recommendation of the outgoing Executive Council had been to have spaces on the ballot for the entire number of members to be elected, but a motion was presented to allow only seven names to be written on each ballot, which was, incidentally, how the election had been handled at the previous general assembly. After a heated debate, the final decision was to allow delegates to enter names for the entire slate of 27 members to be elected. The new council consists of 14 clergy, 13 lay persons, and the 4 Kyodan executives, including the General Secretary. About 10 of these are new members.
A memorial service is held during each General Assembly for those who have passed away during the two years since the previous assembly. Ohara Muneo, moderator of Ou District, presided over this year’s service, during which 86 clergy and 9 missionaries were honored for their service. The title of the message was “God now lives with people, and they will be his people,” based on Revelations 21:1-4.
Of the 44 items on the agenda, 2 were not deliberated due to time constraints and were scrapped, which was a disappointment to the new executive officers. (Tr. TB)
–Kato Makoto, executive secretary
 第1回日本基督教団教育委員と宣教師との懇第37回 日本基督教団総会報告
                             報告者 加藤 誠