Executive Council Addresses being part of the “holy catholic church”, Nuclear Power Issues

The first Executive Council meeting of the 2013-14 biennium, which began with the General Assembly in October 2012, was held over a two-day period, Dec. 27-28, with all 30 members in attendance. Of special note is that Kondo Katsuhiko, president of Tokyo Union Theological Seminary, the only seminary established by the Kyodan, attended the meeting ex-officio. This was the first time in about 40 years that a president of the seminary has participated in an Executive Council meeting and is the result of the action taken at the 2012 General Assembly to “restore the Kyodan’s relationship with Tokyo Union Theological Seminary.”

 

As usual, prior to consideration of agenda items, there was a brief discussion concerning how proceedings would be handled during this General Assembly period. Moderator Ishibashi Hideo stressed that one reason for the weakening of the Kyodan is that the aspect of being a “united church” has been over-emphasized at the expense of being part of the “holy catholic (universal) church.” He said that the Kyodan would continue to appeal for progress in evangelism, in relation to being part of the “holy catholic church,” but a basic premise for that is having a consensus of faith, and thus giving Holy Communion to non-baptized persons is simply impermissible. The issue at hand, he added, is that cooperation in evangelism begins with unity in the faith.

 

The newly elected general secretary, Nagasaki Tetsuo, reported that the funds raised in Japan for relief work following the Great East Japan Disaster had reached 446,420,000 yen, with an additional 233,770,000 yen coming from abroad. He also reported that on Dec. 3, during the second round of litigation in the Kitamura trial regarding the issue of administering Holy Communion to non-baptized persons, the Kyodan argued that the matter addressed by the present lawsuit is not pursuable under Japanese law. The judge’s decision is to be announced on Feb. 25.

 

The seven members nominated by the General Assembly officers to form the Executive Committee were approved. They are: Okamoto Tomoyuki, Takahashi Jun, Nagayama Nobuo, Fujikake Junichi, Okada Yoshinobu, Suzuki Isao, and Mochizuki Katsuhito. Together with the officers (moderator, vice-moderator, and secretary), that makes a committee of ten members. The executive secretaries were likewise reconfirmed, with Kera Yuji continuing as an executive secretary and Doke Norikazu, Omishima Yoshitaka, and Kato Makato as part-time executive secretaries.

 

Debate on the afternoon of the first day focused on the issue of unity and order within the Kyodan, as exemplified in the sacraments of baptism and communion laid out in the Kyodan Confession of Faith and the Kyodan Constitution and Bylaws. Moderator Ishibashi sought the opinions of each of the district moderators attending the proceedings, and in addition to their opinions, many expressed the need for the guarantee of a place where issues can be openly and freely debated. In response to this, the Executive Council countered with the following argument: “During the 40 years of the ‘Kyodan Struggle,’ not only was there no such guarantee of free debate but also, in practice, each local church was just allowed to make its own decisions. Since those seeking a decision on the matter have succeeded in electing an Executive Council to carry it out, that decision should be made now.” Moderator Ishibashi called for a vote, which was passed unanimously. With respect to the matter of “publicly explaining the Kyodan’s stance,” the moderator suggested that this be discussed at the next Executive Council meeting.

 

Following that, the proposals regarding nuclear power were discussed. “The motion to seek the abandonment of plans to build the Kaminoseki Nuclear Power Plant and the immediate closure of presently existing nuclear power plants” and “the motion to reconfirm the Kyodan’s intent to participate in the anti-nuclear movement” were tabled for further discussion. Authority to act on the following two items was delegated to the Kyodan officers: “Recognition of those who have passed the Spring 2013 Clergy Qualification Exams” and “Recognition of those who have passed the 2012 Christian Education Director Qualification Exams.”

 

Reports and motions concerning the proposed International Conference on the Great East Japan Disaster, which were approved at the 7th Executive Council meeting of the previous General Assembly biennium, occupied the evening and continued into the following day. Okamoto Tomoyuki, chairperson of the organizing committee for the conference, suggested that the timing should be delayed from the original date of July 2013 until March 2014, with the location at Tohoku Gakuin University. A formal “action committee” would be organized with a budget of eight million yen. He added that there is already five million yen in hand from the trilateral consultation budget, so an additional three million yen would be needed. He also said that Tohoku Gakuin would be very cooperative, in light of its relationship with the Kyodan, and that with the university jointly sponsoring the event, the conference could utilize its facilities. Moderator Ishibashi indicated that the direction being taken by the Kyodan has been forming from discussion of his formal statement concerning the nuclear reactor accident. Chairperson Okamoto added, “This international conference is an opportunity for us to consider the theological and ethical implications and make recommendations concerning those. It is the Kyodan’s responsibility to do that.” This proposal passed with a majority vote, with the appointment of the action committee entrusted to the officers.

 

Nishi Chugoku District proposed that a worldwide declaration be issued, stating that the Kyodan is seeking the dissolution of all military bases in Japan, but due to the lack of time, the motion was tabled. It was also moved that the regulations concerning the use of the emergency relief fund be revised to make it possible to send money to related churches overseas when they are faced with a natural disaster. This was passed by a majority vote. (Tr. TB)

—Kato Makoto, executive secretary

Based on an article in Shinpo

(The Kyodan Times), No.4765

 

第38総会期第1回 常議員会報告

加藤 誠

 

第38総会期第1回常議員会が12月27日から2日間、教団会議室で常議員30人全員の出席で開催された。陪席で特筆すべ きこ と は、唯一の教団立神学校である東京神学大学から近藤勝彦学長が陪席した。これは第38教団総会での「東京神学大学との関係回復」議案の議決を受けてのことであるが、東京神学大学学長の常議員会陪席は約40年ぶりとなる。

議事に入る前に、先例に従い今総会期の議事運営の懇談が行なわれたが、石橋秀雄議長は、従来合同が強調されて公同教会が忘れ去られ、教団の弱 体化が起きてきた。「聖なる公同の教会」としての伝道の推進を訴え続けて行くが、それには信仰の一致が大前提で、未受洗者配餐はあり得ない。信仰の一致からなる伝道協力こそ課題だと語った。

総幹事報告では、新任の長崎哲夫総幹事により東日本大震災国内募金は4億4,642万円、海外献金は2億3,377万円に達した事。未受洗者陪餐をめぐる北村裁判は、12月3日に第2回 口頭弁論が行なわれたが、教団は本訴提起は法律上の争訟に当たらないと主張しており、裁判所の判断が2月25日に言い渡されると報告した。

常任常議員の選任では3役推薦の岡本知之、高橋潤、長山信夫、藤掛順一、岡田義信、鈴木功男、望月克人の7議員を承認。3役と併せて10人で構成される。幹事任用の件では、計良裕時幹事を再任、道家紀一、大三島義孝、加藤誠以上3名 の嘱託幹事を再任した。

初日の後半部分では『「信仰告白」と「教憲・教規」における洗礼と聖餐の<一体性と秩序>とを確認する件』が上程された。石橋議長は陪席の教区議長一人一人に意見を求めたが、賛否と共に「自由な立場での協議の保障を求める」との発言が続いた。それに対して常議員からは「教団紛争の40年間、自由な議論の場も保障されないまま好きなように各個教会が実践することを許してきた経緯がある。今回、この決議を願う人々によって選ばれた人々が常議員会を構成している以上、ここで決議すべきだ」との意見が出された。石橋議長は採決を宣し、全会一致で可決された。なお決議を受けて「教団の立場を公に表明する」件につき、次回常議員会に提案する旨が議長より述べられ た。続いて「上関原原発建設計画の白紙撤回と既存原発の即時廃止を日本政府に求める件」と「日本基督教団として脱原発への働きに参与することを確認する件」が上程され、議論された結果継続審議となった。

三役一任事項としては「2013年春季教師検定試験合格者承認に関する 件」、「2012年度キリスト教教育主事認定試験合格者承認に関する件」。

夜から翌日にかけては、第37総会期第7回常議員会において承認された「東日本大震災国際会議開催」についての報告と提案がなされた。岡本知之東日本大震災国際会議準備委員会委員長は提案として「開催日程を当初の2013年7月から2014年3月に変更する。会場は東北学院大学とする。『東日本大震 災国際会議実行委員会』を組織する。予定費用は800万円」と述べた。費用、会場についての質問に対し、岡本委員長は「500万円は三国間協議会の予算があるので、さら に300万円が必要」「東北学院大学は教団との関係 を考慮し協力下さる。共催であれば、学校施設の使用が可能ということである」と答えた。石橋議長は「原発事故に対する議長声明を出したときから何をすべきか話し合い、今回の形になった」と方向性を示し、続いて岡本委員長は「この機会に国際会議を開催して、神学的倫理的提言を出してゆく。わずかなことでもなしてゆく責任が今日の教会にある」 と述べた。提案は賛成多数で可決され、実行委員会の選任は三役一任となった。「全国の軍事基地撤去を求める声明を内外に向かって表明する件」 が西中国教区から出されたが、時間の都合で継続審議となった。「救援対策基金に関する運用規定」を変更する議案が出された。 海外の関係教会における大規模な自然災害への見舞金にも適用出来るようにするためである。賛成多数で可決された。