Commemorative Events for the 150th Year of Evangelism in Japan

Next year, 2009, will be the 150th year since evangelism began in 1859 in Yokohama. The Kyodan considers this to be an appropriate year to regard with special remembrance. Of course, celebrations are being planned not only by the Kyodan but also by the wider Japanese Christian community, such as a gathering under the theme “Commemorating 150 Years of Mission” being planned by the Japan Evangelical Association and the National Christian Council in Japan and the “150 Years of Protestant Evangelism” event to be held by Kyodan volunteers.

“The History of the Founding of the Kyodan,” which was released on Oct. 26, 1956, records that “evangelical Christianity in our country originated with the evangelistic activities of a foreign missionary who arrived in 1859 (the sixth year of the Ansei Era); and on Feb. 2 (according to the old calendar) in 1872 (the fifth year of the Meiji Era), the Nihon Kirisuto Kokai was founded in Yokohama as the first Christian church.” One opinion held is that the evangelism done in Okinawa by an Episcopalian missionary, Bethelhiem, should be regarded as the “beginning of evangelism in Japan,” but at that time Okinawa was the Ryukyu nation and not part of Japan, so this date was not adopted. Also, in the past, 100 years of evangelism was celebrated in 1959; and the fact that many churches celebrated the 50th year and the 100th year of evangelism, recognizing 1859 as the beginning date, requires a like appraisal of history.

The Kyodan Executive Council, at its third meeting of the 35th General Assembly period, approved the establishment of a “committee on preparation of events commemorating the 150th year of evangelism in Japan” and elected Kobayashi Tadao, a member of Kusakabe Church, as chairperson and Fujikake Junichi, pastor of Yokohama Shiro Church, as secretary. In subsequent Executive Council meetings, reports from that committee have been received and approved.

In naming related events in the past, the word senkyo (missionary preaching and teaching) has been used, but it would seem that this word indicates consciousness of “unfolding teachings” through the work of missionaries sent by overseas mission bodies. However, as we approach the 150th year of commemoration today, most of the foreign mission organizations have withdrawn; and it has become an age of independent dendo (communication of the way) by Japanese people. So deliberately and with an awareness of these developments, it has been decided to hold the events as a commemoration of “the 150th year of evangelism (not mission) in Japan.”

The main plans are for the following:

?? (1) The theme of the events:? “Christ Indeed My Savior”

? ? ? ? Scripture:? I Corinthians 1: 18~25

? ? ? ? The aim:? To affirm that our salvation is in the forgiveness of sin through the cross of?

?? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? our Lord ?

?? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? Jesus Christ, and to stand firmly in that salvation and develop a new evangelism

? (2) Commemorative events:?

?? ? ? ? ? ? 1. A 150th year of evangelism in Japan ceremony on ? Nov. 23, 2009?

?? ? ? ? ? ? 2. A 150th year of evangelism commemorative worship service on June 24, 2009,?

? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? celebrating the foundation of the Kyodan

? ? ? ? ? ? 3. The publication of a “150th year of evangelism in Japan” commemorative book?

?

?? (3) Commemorative fundraising.? Goal amount:? 5,000,000 yen? (Tr. RB)

Katsuyama Ken’ichiro, executive secretary