Once every four years, the Schweitzer Evangelischer Kirchenbund (SEK), an alliance of Protestant churches in Switzerland, “mission 21” (the branch of SEK in charge of missions), the Presbyterian Church of Korea (PCK), the Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea(PROK), and the Kyodan hold a joint conference referred to as the Trilateral Conference. This year, Switzerland was the host country, and the conference was held at the headquarters of Mission 21, which is in Basel.
Prior to the conference, on Sunday, July 3, I, executive council Kato Makoto visited Sasaki Ryoko, who in April 2016 was appointed as a missionary to the Cologne-Bonn Japanese Church. That day a joint worship service was held for the people of the whole region. As the worship service began after 11 o’clock in the morning, we were able to attend mass at the Cologne Cathedral, which was a worship service geared for families. I was impressed because the small chapel in the back was almost completely filled, and the priest actually seemed to be having fun as he gave the sermon.
That afternoon there was a “Straßenfest” (Streetfest), a festival that has become a traditional event celebrated before the summer break. There were about 20 booths, all of them managed by the churches, and they became a great place for fellowship. Without hesitation, Sasaki Ryoko used German words that she had recently learned and boldly attempted to make conversation with many people.
The Tri-national Conference was held in Basel, Switzerland from Wednesday, July 6 through Friday, July 8. The Committee on Swiss Church Relations, which is under the Kyodan’s Commission on Ecumenical Ministries, is responsible for the Kyodan’s participation in the Trilateral Conference. Chairperson Yokoyama Motoo and Secretary Hiroishi Nozomu participated together with Chung Naomi, a seminary student at Tokyo Union Theological Seminary who represented the youth, and Hironaka Yoshimi, a member of the executive office staff. The Kyodan has a mission agreement with the SEK but at present is not sending any missionaries. Because of that fact, a major issue for the Kyodan at this year’s conference was deciding what type of involvement the Kyodan should continue to have in the Trilateral Conference in the future. Following discussion about the situation of the churches in each country, there was a proposal to try something new: holding a youth gathering once every two years. The plan is to have a youth gathering in 2018 in Korea, the next host country, with six young people each to be sent from Switzerland and Japan. It was recognized that youth mission is a very important challenge for all three nations of the Trilateral Conference. During the two-country discussion that was held between the SEK and the Kyodan on the morning of July 8, the issue of the cost associated with sending missionaries to Switzerland was raised. When the Swiss delegation was asked about the cost, they replied that there would need to be a guarantee of eleven million yen per year. Upon hearing that answer, everyone was temporarily at a loss for words. (Tr. KT) —Kato Makoto, executive secretary
スイスのSEK( Schweizerischer Evangelischer Kirchenbund)（スイス・プロテスタント教会連盟）