Executive Council Votes to Revitalize Kyodan’s Evangelistic Efforts

The 5th Executive Council meeting of the 37th General Assembly biennium (2011-12) met Feb. 13-14 at the Kyodan headquarters. The opening worship service was led by Executive Council member Okamura Hisashi, who expounded on Romans 8:26-30. He talked about his experiences prior to entering the ministry: how God spoke to him through the sharing of Holy Communion with a brother in the faith on the verge of death, who taught him that this was truly the table of God’s Kingdom. Likewise, he shared his experience of living with his mother, as she fought pancreatic cancer during the last few months of her life, and how that experience confirmed for him that God alone is the only firm basis we have for salvation. His concluding remarks were that it is not we who search out God and thereby find salvation, but it is God who searches us out and saves us through his grace.

In his report, General Secretary Naito Tomeyuki first announced the decision of the National Christian Council in Japan to elect both a new moderator and a new general secretary who are members of the Kyodan. Next, he reported the establishment of the Japan Ecumenical Disaster Response Office (JEDRO) as an emergency measure and the Kyodan’s full cooperation with the NCCJ in that endeavor. He then reported on the meeting of the National Christian Liaison Committee on the issue of the Basic Law for Foreign Residents in Japan, held Jan. 26-28 at the Korean YMCA. General Secretary Naito was in attendance, and he reported that the official name of the organization was changed to The National Christian Liaison Committee on the Establishment of the Basic Law for Foreign Residents in Japan.

The chairperson of the Subcommittee on the Clarification of Christian Center Issues, Takahashi Jun, reported on the proposed bylaws for Kyodan-related Christian Centers. His report included bylaws for the establishment of such centers, a model for center regulations, and bylaws for both financial standards and auditing.

At this Executive Council meeting, a significant amount of time was devoted to the report of the Committee on Strategies for Evangelism. Council members viewed detailed statistics of local churches, focusing particularly on the numbers of baptisms as a function of the numbers of resident communicant members and how that has changed through the years. In order to stay even over time, the number of baptisms in a year needs to average 3% of the number of resident communicant membership. The national average, however, is only 1.55%, and thus over the past ten years, the resident communicant membership has declined by 10%. Based on this data, the following nine items were proposed:
1. Establishing an Office of Evangelistic Support as a stepping-stone towards the establishment of a Board of Evangelism;
2. Strengthening of the process of calling local pastors: more Kyodan involvement designed to revitalize strategically central churches in local areas to strengthen growth regionally;
3. Developing a support structure for church-related kindergartens and child-care centers, especially as it relates to the government’s push to implement “Integration of Kindergartens and Daycare: A New System”—a development that bears watching as we develop a multifaceted response;
4. Revitalizing autonomous evangelism-oriented organizations within the Kyodan;
5. Strengthening ties with other organizations, including schools and social welfare organizations;
6. Promoting evangelism on the Internet;
7. Developing lay movements across the nation as a response to the prayers of the laity to fulfill the Great Commission;
8. Reinvigorating ministerial development: employing the means necessary to develop spiritually devout ministers who can preach clearly a message of the forgiveness of sin; and
9. A reconsideration and reinvigoration of the activities of the various subcommittees.

During the discussion of these proposals, a variety of opinions were expressed, including 1) that the reports on the data were too negative, 2) that there was insufficient data concerning those we are trying to reach through evangelistic efforts, and 3) that there was no mention of church school ministries and women’s activities, However, there was general approval of these proposals, and they were ratified.

Secretary Kumoshikari Toshimi gave a report on the Relief Task Force. In addition to publishing its task force newsletter and a report on the emergency symposium, the task force elected Nagasaki Tetsuo as its general secretary. He will participate on the subcommittee for the Overseas Donations Project to assist Kyodan Moderator Ishibashi Hideo. He will also interview and recommend candidates for on-site positions in the earthquake/tsunami relief effort, as well as prepare proposals on how best to disburse relief funds to churches damaged in the disaster.

Kato Makoto, the executive secretary in charge of the effort, reported that a special camp for children from Fukushima, called the Kohitsuji (Lamb) Camp, would be held March 9-11 at the Myoko Kogen YMCA campgrounds in an effort to help protect the children from radiation. The plan is for the camp to become a regular event. He also reported that representatives of affected kindergartens and daycare centers gathered in February to exchange information and to help insure fair and effective relief.

The Ou, Tohoku, Kanto and Tokyo districts each gave reports as to their situations and the Secretary reported that the total damages to churches and manses is now estimated to be 1,545,000,000 yen (about $19.3 million).

In preparations for the 38th General Assembly, a committee for organizing agenda items was selected. With respect to the Commission on Finance, a revised budget for fiscal year 2011 was approved. Also, the budget contribution to the NCCJ for 2012 was increased from 3.5 to 9 million yen. (Tr. TB)
—Kato Makoto, executive secretary

第37総会期第5回常議員会が、2月13,14日 の両日、教団会議室で開催された。開会礼拝は岡村恒常議員が担当し、ローマの信徒への手紙8章26~30節より御言葉を取り次いだ。献身前に、死に瀕した兄弟への 聖餐に共に与った体験から、それが神の国の食卓であると実感したこと、また、膵臓がんで余命半年を宣告された実母と過ごした体験から、救いの確か さの根拠が神にあることを教えられたと語り、私たちが神を探し出し救いを見出すのではなく、神が私たちを探し出し救うことを実感したと結論した。

 総幹事報告ではまずNCCについて「教団から新議長と総幹事を選出することが 決まった」こと、「震災対策室(JEDRO)を整 えていくという緊急課題と取り組むためにも積極的にNCCに 協力していくことになった」ことが報告された。続いて、外登法問題と取り組む全国キリスト教連絡協議会が、1月26~28日、 在日韓国YMCAを会場にして開かれ、内藤総幹事 が出席したこと、名称が当日より「外国人住民基本法の制定を巡る全国キリスト教連絡協議会」になったことが報告された。

 高橋潤センター明確化推進小委員会委員長からは、セ ンター設置規則(案)、センター細則(モデル)案、センター会計基準案、教団センター監査規定(案)が示された。

 今常議員会において比較的議論に時間が割かれたのは 「伝道方策検討委員会報告」であった。議場に各教会ごとの詳細なデータが資料として配られ、主に現住陪餐会員数から見た受洗率と現住陪餐会員 数の推移が報告された。現住陪餐会員に対する受洗率が3パーセントならば、現住陪餐会員数は現状を維持できるが、現状は1.55パーセントで あることが報告された。また、この10年で現住陪 餐会員数が一割減であることも報告された。このデータをベースにして9項目の提言がされた。①「伝道推進室」設置 伝道局の設置に向けて伝道推進室を作る。 ②教師の人事の強 化 教団として教勢全体が奮うよう地域の中核教会の活性化を念頭に置いた積極的な人事を行う。 ③教会関係幼稚園・保育園の支援体制構築 政 府が進める「幼保一体化・子ども子育て新システム」の内容を見極めると共に、これへの対応を多角的に検討する。 ④教団内の伝道推進自主団体 の活性化。⑤関係諸団体との連携強化 学校関係、社会福祉関係など、関係諸団体との連携を強化する。⑥インターネットによる伝道の推進 ⑦信 徒運動の全国展開 信徒の祈りの結集が大伝道命令への応答となるよう、全国的に信徒運動の展開を提案する。 ⑧教師養成と再生 罪と赦しを明 確に語る説教力を養い、霊的で敬虔な牧師の養成を行うために必要な手立てをなす。 ⑨現在の小委員会の活動内容の洗い直しと活性化  質疑応 答では、データに関し、余りにもネガティブな報告すぎるのではないか、伝道対象者についてのデータが足りないのでは等の意見があり、提言につ いても教会学校や女性の活動に対する言及がない等の意見が出たが、提言そのものは一定の評価がされ、委員会報告が承認された。

 雲然俊美書記により救援対策本部の報告が行われた。 主な活動としては、対策本部ニュースと緊急シンポジウム記録集の発行。救援対策本部事務局(通称11号室)室長として長崎哲夫教師を選任。海外献金プロジェクト小委員会委員として石橋秀雄 議長を補充。現地専従者の人選・面接・会議における提案。「被災教会支援金配分要綱(案)」の作成。加藤誠担当幹事は、特に放射能汚染から福 島県下の子どもたちの命を守るための「こひつじキャンプ」第2回 が、3月9~11日、妙高高原YMCAにおいて開催される旨を報告し、このキャンプの定期的な開催を推進する方向であると述べた。幼稚園 や保育園との担当者会を2月中に設け情報交換を し、偏りのない手厚い支援を実施していきたいと述べた。

 奥羽教区、東北教区、関東教区、東京教区からそれぞ れの状況について報告され、会堂・牧師館の全体的な被害額は、現在のところ15億4千500万円と見積もられているとの報告が書記からされた。

 第38回教団総会については、議案整理委員会を設 置することが可決された。予算決算委員会関連では、11年 度第2次補正予算を可決した。12年度予算ではNCC負担金が350万円から900万 円に増額されることが報告された。