Completion of Yearlong Celebration of 150th Anniversary of Protestant Christianity in Japan

With gratitude we come to the end of our celebration of the 150th anniversary of Protestant mission in Japan, which has included over a hundred events of various types and has resulted in two commemorative publications: Christ, Our Only Salvation: 150 Years of Mission in Japan and Commemorative Report: For a New Expansive Vision.
The first publication, Christ, Our Only Salvation: 150 Years of Mission in Japan, focuses on the 150-year history of the Protestant church in Japan, especially reflecting on the past 50 years. Also included is the history of the Christian schools and social welfare facilities, which reflect the core of the present situation of evangelism in Japan. This publication provides a valuable record of the history of Christianity in Japan.
The second publication is in the form of a business report. Commemorative Report: For a New Expansive Vision includes a list of all the events and a digest of the content of the sermons and lectures at those events that were determined to be the most valuable as a permanent record. We hope this will provide guidelines for the Kyodan and for each of the local churches. We published these guidelines with the intention of being in touch with the slogan of the National Laity Convention, “Thank you for 150 years, looking toward 200 years with our Lord.”
The Commemorative Convention was held on Nov. 23, 2009 at the Aoyama Gakuin Auditorium, with 1600 participants. Three addresses served as the “pillars” of the Convention: “The Foolish Methodist of Mission,” a sermon by Former Kyodan Moderator Ojima Seishi; “The Role of the Believer in Evangelism,” a lecture by Hashimoto Toru, chair of the Board of Directors of International Christian University; and “Lift High Your Hearts,” a lecture by theologian Kato Tsuneaki.
Music was provided by the Yebon Choir from Saemoonan Presbyterian Church in Korea, the Aoyama Gakuin Choir, and the Toyo Eiwa Girls’ High School’s Handbell Choir, while participants viewed historic slides to give the event an additional nostalgic flavor. The Korean Semnan Church is the oldest church in Korea, and the participation of this church had significant meaning in light of the history between the churches of Japan and Korea. It is not an overstatement to say that a new page in our history has been turned.
The conclusion of the convention was the Convention Declaration. The starting point of mission for the missionaries who came to Japan in 1859 was rooted in the policy of the Evangelical Alliance established in 1846: “Read the Bible, Pray, and Evangelize,” which is based on faith and prayer. This fervent expression of faith bore fruit. The Kyodan is a universal church born out of God’s working through history. It has a simple creed and inherits the tradition of early Japanese ecumenism, which led to the vow of keeping the five beliefs listed below:
*I believe that Jesus is the Christ.
*I believe that the Bible is the Word of God.
*I believe in the Church, which is the Body of Christ.
*As one having received the blessing of the Gospel, I
will worship, read the Bible, and will live a prayerful,
spiritual life of faith
*As one who has been saved by God, I will work to
evangelize Japan.
The final event was the Worship Service of Thanksgiving for 50 Years of Faithful Living held at Tokyo Yamate Church on March 22, 2010. Such a Service of Thanksgiving was not part of the initial preparation for this assembly, but as plans progressed the need for an opportunity to give thanks during a worship service became apparent. Inspired by Ecclesiastes 12:1, “Remember your creator in the days of your youth,” 450 believers who have lived lives of faith for 50 years or more gathered together and partook of holy communion together. These people had prayed, worked for, and participated in the 100th anniversary of Protestant mission in Japan and now experienced the double joy of being present to celebrate the 150th anniversary as well. The desire to honor lay people marking 50 years as Christian believers resulted from the special commemoration of 50 years of ministry held for 61 ministers at the Foundation Day Commemoration Service. We believe this was the Lord’s leading.
Kyodan Moderator Yamakita Nobuhisa made the following statement to the assembly. “While seeking forgiveness for the sin of not adequately enough obeying the call of the Great Commission and giving thanks for the endeavors of our predecessors, let us work together as an evangelizing Kyodan to produce the fruit of unity in the Lord.” Although the Kyodan is not currently in the best condition for celebrating the 150th anniversary of Protestant Christianity, we can be thankful that the past 150 years of history have given us blessings to reflect on and a new determination to move forward.
–Kobayashi Sadao, chair
Committee on Preparations for the 150th
Anniversary of Protestant Evangelism in Japan
Member, Kyodan Executive Council
「キリストこそ我が救い 日本伝道150年の歩み」
「記念事業報告 新たな展開のために」
 説教 小島誠志牧師(前教団総会議長)「宣教という愚かな手段」
 講演 橋本徹(ICU理事長)「伝道における信徒の役割」
 講演 加藤常昭(神学者)「こころを高くあげよう」
一、 イエスをキリストと信ず
一、 聖書を神の言葉と信ず
一、 キリストの体なる教会を信ず
一、 福音の恵みに与った者として、礼拝を守り、聖書を読み、祈る霊的な信仰生活に励む
一、 神の救いに与った者として、日本伝道に励む