Missional Planning Conference Held on "Confirming the Kyodan's Eclesiology"

The Kyodan’s Missional Planning Conference was held March 1-2 at Fujimicho Church in Tokyo under the theme “Confirming the Kyodan’s Eclesiology Today.” There were 85 persons in attendance at the beginning of the conference. With the exception of Kyoto District, all 17 Kyodan districts were represented. However, the attendees from the Kyushu and Okinawa districts were not district representatives but members of the Kyodan Commission on Mssion.
Koide Nozomi, chairperson of the Kyodan Commission on Mission, mentioned in his opening remarks that in the midst of continuing deep lines of division in the local districts, this conference provided a time of serious study together for consideration of the ideal form for our local districts.
Kyodan General Secretary Naito Tomeyuki gave the key address: “The understanding of the Church reflected in the Kyodan Constitution.” During the question-and-answer session following his address, General Secretary Naito remarked that with the large number of laity in attendance, this was a time to avoid professional terminology and speak in plain words. It was a time to focus on the larger problems of the Kyodan rather than to deal with details.
In his address, he noted that when we look at the recent activities of the Kyodan, there seems to be no sense of a common understanding of what it means to be a “Kyodan”
church. What is our common faith? What is our common task? As part of the body of Christ, we are an institutionalized church, and it is important that we grasp and understand the essence of what this means. We say that the Kyodan is a united church. When we look at our history, it is true that over 30 denominations united to form the Kyodan. However, our Constitution states that (these churches) “joined in the fellowship of a holy universal (catholic) church.”
We were not born as a united church. Incidentally, the term “united church” is not used at all in the Constitution of the Kyodan. Being a “united church” does not mean that each local church is “free to do as it likes” or allowed to take ‘any stance without censure.’ Rather, our Constitution clearly indicates that we are a holy universal (catholic) church entrusted with a gospel to proclaim, sacraments to observe, and aspiring to carry out God’s will of salvation while waiting for the second coming of Christ.
Therefore, as a holy universal church based on scripture, we will continue to faithfully profess our faith; and as an organized church we will uphold the laws of the church (the Constitution, Bylaws, and other rules and regulations) as we endeavor in acts of gospel ministry. In the first place, our Kyodan Constitution is the constitution of our church. In English, the word “constitution” means the “form” of that which is constituted. It reveals the basic “form” of that particular organization. Our Kyodan Constitution reveals the basic form of a Kyodan church. In other words, it reveals what kind of organization or institution we have. The Kyodan is a church that has the order and discipline of the words of Christ.
The Constitution and Bylaws, which are the laws of the church, are important in maintaining the faith and order of the Kyodan. However, the main purpose is not to control or restrain church activities. Rather it is to provide a guide and reference so that the laity may lead a rich and righteous life of faith.
In the first lecture entitled “Worship and Holy Communion,” Haga Tsutomu, a professor at Tokyo Union Theological Seminary and pastor of Higashi Murayama Church in Nishi-Tokyo District, discussed what makes Holy Communion “holy” communion?
According to Haga, the purpose of the lecture was to point out the logic in the execution of Holy Communion while referring to the Kyodan Constitution and Discipline. He also expressed an understanding that adherence to the Kyodan Confession of Faith and Article 8 of the Kyodan Constitution was important.
In the second lecture entitled “Clerical Orders in the Kyodan: The Task and the Prospects,” Okamoto Tomoyuki, pastor of Nishinomiya Church addressed the subject of ministerial qualifications: a proposal for one track.
Okamoto remarked that the future of the Kyodan, with its decreasing numbers and the accompanying financial pressure, can be seen as desperate. He vividly portrayed the church’s situation as well as the fact of the decreasing population of Japan itself and the possibility of financial failure. In particular, Okamoto gave an explanation of the two-track clergy system from a “functional view” that was completely different from the 40 years of ideological criticism of the hierarchy inherent in the system, and proposed a solution to the problem. (Tr. JS)
–Omishima Yoshitaka, executive secretary
講演 内藤留幸氏、芳賀力氏、岡本知之氏
主題講演 教憲に示された教会観
講演Ⅰ 礼拝と聖餐 聖餐を聖餐たらしめるもの
講演Ⅱ 日本基督教団における教職制度の課題と展望 教職資格一本化を提案
日本基督教団における教職制度の課題と展望 教職資格一本化を提案