Tohoku District Lenten Service Commemorates 2011 Disaster

On March 20, 2012, a national holiday, the Tohoku
District Evangelism Committee held a gathering at Sendai
Aobaso Church to commemorate the one-year anniversary
of the March 11, 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake. The
event was divided into two parts: a symposium and an
Ash Wednesday Worship Service in remembrance of the
disaster. There were 190 participants, including 20 from
other districts.
Those who made presentations at the symposium were
Kawabata Junshiro, member of Sendai Kita Church, Sato
Keiko, member of Koriyama Church, Maekita Mio from
the Kyodan Relief Headquarters, and Kataoka Etsuya,
pastor of Wakamatsu Sakaemachi Church in Fukushima
and the chair of the District Evangelism Committee.
Kawabata spoke of his visit to the morgue to check
whether any of his church members were there and said
that the indescribable scene, with all of the dead bodies,
brought thoughts of the Lord Jesus walking among
them. He said his faith was shaken to its foundation. As
a theologian, he asked himself how he could speak of
an all-powerful God to the families of the victims. But
seeing the young volunteers, who shared the suffering of
the survivors, forced him to change his opinion of young
people. He said that because Japan is not involved in war,
such service is possible. After a year, it is now clear what
volunteers can and cannot do. He concluded by saying
that the task of the church is to raise up people who have a
sense of involvement in politics and social issues.
Sato explained how much her family was helped by the
fellowship of the church and what led them to leave
Fukushima. The day after the disaster, her daughter left
for Kansai to enter school. In the midst of their anxiety,
Kawakami Jun, pastor of Kobe Higashi Church, met their
daughter and called to say that she had arrived safely. Both
their daughter and the rest of the family were moved by
his kindness. Sato’s husband, who was teaching at a public
school in Fukushima, was offered a job at Keiwa Gakuen
in Niigata, the school their second daughter was attending.
It was difficult to leave Fukushima, but his colleagues
encouraged him to leave by encouraging him to help
his new students understand the pain of other people’s
Next, Maekita told of her experiences as a volunteer,
describing herself as a “nameless old cleaning rag,” and

expressed how thankful she is. After the disaster, she
discussed the situation with her family, seeking their
support, and decided to work as a volunteer. That led to her
present assignment in the Kyodan. The churches around
the Emmaus Center offered overnight accommodation,
even though they had been damaged. Through this, a
number of young people had their first experience in the
church, which changed their hearts. She introduced the
daily life of the Emmaus Center and concluded by saying
how wonderful this evangelism is. As a representative of
the volunteers, she expressed her thanks to the Tohoku
District for its work.
Finally, Kataoka explained how the Emmaus Center
became a support center for the survivors on March 15,
immediately after the disaster. This was possible because
the Emmaus Center building was there. He expressed
his gratitude to Director Matsumoto Tadao and Manager
Jeffery Mensendiek for their decision, taken in faith,
and to the women of the neighboring churches, Tohoku
District, and student volunteers for their help.
After the discussion, the chair, Fuda Hideharu, pointed
out that the common theme of the four speakers was
how important human contact is. Tohoku District Vicemoderator
Konishi Nozomi, Support Center Director
Takada Keiji, Ou District Moderator Ohara Muneo,
Kyodan Secretary Kumoshikari Toshimi, and Kyodan
Relief Planning Headquarters’ Executive Secretary Kato
Makoto each gave short greetings.
After a short silent prayer at 2:46, the time the disaster
struck, the Ash Wednesday worship service was held,
based on Amos 9:11-15, along with John 2:19-22.
Tohoku District Moderator Takahashi Kazuto spoke on
the important biblical theme of “recovery.” What Israel
sought was not a recovery of the present but the recovery
of humanness, which is something that only God can do.
The “recovery” spoken of in the Bible is for us to become
God’s possession again. Those living in the disaster area
have experienced so much death and are living with many
unanswerable questions. What has supported us in our
recovery is our faith in the risen Christ. Our help comes
from faith and hope, and this keeps us working. (Tr. JT)
Kyodan Shinpo (Kyodan Times) No. 4747 & 4748
—Kato Makoto, Executive Secretary

2012年3月20日(火・祝)午前10時30分より、東北教区宣教部主催、「3.11東日本大震災1周年の集い」が仙台青葉荘教会で開 催された。二部構成になっており、第一部の中心はシンポジウム、第二部は「灰の礼拝~レントの中の3.11を覚えて」であった。シンポジ ウムでは、(仙台北教会員)、佐藤啓 子(郡山教会員)、(教団救援対策本部)、(教区宣教部委員長)の4名が発題を行った。

川端氏は、震災後教会員の 安否を求めて遺体安置所まで行った経験を通して、言語に絶する状態の遺体の中を、主イエスが歩まれている思いがした。自分の信仰が根底か ら揺さぶられ、神学者として神の全知全能を、家族を失った人にどのように語るべきか自らが問われていると語った。ボランティアについて は、苦しむ者と共に苦しむために駆け付けた若者たちを見直すと共に、平和であるからこそボランティア活動が出来ること、そして一年たって ボランティアに出来ることと出来ないことが明らかになった。教会は政治、社会に関わる人材を育てるべきと結んだ。

佐藤氏は3.11を通して家族が教会の交わりによって助けられた事と、福島を去るに至った経緯を話された。 震災翌日に長女は一人で進学先の関西に向かった。不安の中、東神戸教会の川上じゅん牧師が電話で長女に連絡を取り、家族にも無事会えた事 を連絡した。長女も家族も救われた思いがした。次女が敬和学園高校に在籍している関係で、福島の公立校の教師である夫に、敬和学園への転 職の話が来た。福島を去ることに後ろめたさを覚えたが、「痛みを感じる人を育ててほしい」と夫の同僚から励まされて引っ越しの決断をした と語った。

次に前北氏は「名もなきぼ ろ雑巾」として、一ボランティアとしての思いと経験、そして感謝を伝えた。震災後、家族で支援を祈り求め、十分に話し合ってボランティア を行うことを決め、その延長線上に現在の教団での働きがある。エマオ周辺の教会が、自らも被災していながら快く教会を宿泊所として開放し た。そのことによって初めて教会に触れた青年たちの心に小さな変化が起こった。エマオでの日常を紹介し、何と素敵な伝道と締めくくった。 東北教区の働きに、ボランティアを代表して感謝を述べた。

最後は片岡氏により震災直 後から3月15日に被災者支援センターエ マオが立ち上がるまでの経緯が語られた。エマオという建物があったればこそ支援活動が開始できた。松本ただお館長やジェフリー・メンセンデイーク主事の 信仰的判断、近隣教会の女性たちの援助、教区や学校のボランティア派遣について感謝を述べた。質疑応答を経て、司会の宣教部委員は、4人の発題に共通することは「いかに人に寄り添うか」であると結んだ。

続いて、東北教区副議長、支援センター長、奥羽教区議長、教団書記、加藤誠救援対策 本部幹事からそれぞれ短い挨拶が あった。

2時46分の黙祷の後に礼拝がささ げられた。聖書箇所はアモス書9章11~15節、ヨハネによる福音書2章19~22節であった。東北教区総会議長は聖書の 重要な主題の一つが「復興」であるとし、イスラエルが求められたのは「現状」の回復ではなく「人間」の復興である。これは神でなければ出 来ない復興で、私たちが神のものとされるのが聖書の語る復興である。被災地に住む者は余りにも多くの「死」と向き合い、答えの出ない時間 を過ごしている。しかし、私たちの復興の根底を支えているのは主の復活の出来事である。それ故に信仰、希望を頼みとして私たちはこの出来 事に関わると語った。