EMS Mission Council Meeting Held in Ghana

EMS Mission Council Meeting Held in Ghana
Report on Missionary Council of the Association of Churches and Missions
in South Western Germany (EMS) “Department of Mission and Ecumenism, and
Developing Nations Church Assistance” of the Wu”rttemberg Church

The International Mission Council of the Association of Churches and
Missions based in Southwestern Germany (Evangelisches Missionswerk in
Su”dwestdeutschland: EMS) held its Annual Meeting in Abokobi near Accra
in Ghana, June 15-21. At the meeting, 36 EMS representatives from 23
churches and 5 mission societies in ten countries in Europe, Asia, and
Africa, along with the EMS administrative officers, debated and
determined future mission activities. This meeting is held annually, and
every sixth year it is held outside of Germany. Twelve years ago, it was
held in Indonesia and six years ago in India. This is the first time for
it to be held in Africa. The council was hosted by the Presbyterian
Church of Ghana, an EMS partner church that worked hard to put this
conference together. Among countries in Africa, Ghana is politically
stable with good peace and order.

This meeting focused on future mission policy for at least the next
three years (2009-2012), along with the financing to make that possible.
Regarding the content of missions, EMS administrative officials prepared
detailed materials with evaluations of past activities and
future-focused proposals. With respect to finances, EMS is dependent to
a large degree upon the German state church and is facing a major
problem because of the sharp decline in church tax income predicted for
the German churches. To be specific, by 2012 the Association must
decrease its budget by 150 million yen (one million Euros). EMS’s annual
budget is about one billion yen, and so this financial problem was an
important topic of this Annual Meeting.

Regarding the content of the mission activities, most are administered
by the EMS officers, but the basic framework for the “three-year plan”
was proposed by the Indonesian church. Activities have been diverse up
to now and spring from the rich fellowship of the churches and mission
societies that form EMS. Europe (primarily Germany) and fellowship
(partnership) with Asia and Africa is occurring at the local level. For
example, local exchanges between Germany and South Korea and between
Germany and Indonesia have been ongoing for about 20 years in some
places. Unfortunately, there is not even one Kyodan local church in
regular partnership with a German church. The Kyodan churches and laity
have learned from German theology, but it must be said that actual
exchange has been rare.

EMS has maintained 85 projects in the past. In the headquarters in
Stuttgart, there is an “Asia Desk” that maintains relationships with
churches in India, Korea, China, and Japan and jointly bears with them
responsibilities and shares issues. The liaison secretary for Japan is
Lutz Drescher, assisted by secretary Gisela Koellner. Mira Sonntag has been
sent from EMS to Japan and serves as the director of Tomisaka Christian
Center in Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo.

Previous activities, such as dealing with gender issues and measures for
prevention of HIV & AIDS, have been well regarded and will be continued
for the next three years. Also, volunteer activities that representative
youth from Japan also participated in were seen to produce good results
in starting new fellowships and networking among youth. Furthermore,
related to the financial problem and EMS’s particular relationship to
the Kyodan, EMS has changed the budget for support funds as follows:
450,000 yen to be given for the work of “prison chaplains” in 2010-11,
similarly 900,000 yen for the Buraku Liberation Center, and likewise,
900,000 yen for the Japanese-Filipino Family Support Center located at
the Japan Christian Center.

At this Annual Meeting of the Mission Council, there were lively
deliberations and decisions regarding the EMS Focus. “Giving Account of
our Hope” was chosen as the slogan for 2009-12, and eagerness can be
felt for witnessing to the hope in Christ in an age of hopelessness.

As for my own reflections on participating in this Mission Council, I
felt that since EMS has high expectations for and solidarity with the
Kyodan, the Kyodan has a responsibility to respond. Reductions in
personnel funds limit the Asia coordinator to visiting Japan only once
every other year, but through other exchanges, I hope that we can
further deepen our relationship. (Tr. PST)

–Minami Kichie, Kyodan Overseas Minister