Nine-day PCT-Kyodan "Youth Mission 2008" Held in Japan

The event? “Under the Lord’s Blessing, Youth Mission 2008,” was successfully

held July 31-Aug. 8 by Kyodan’s Committee on Edudation. There was good

fellowship between the seven young people from the Presbyterian Church in

Taiwan and the Japanese youth who participated.

The program began with a reception on July 31, and the next day, on Aug. 1,

we had the opening service. Afterwards we strolled through Harajuku, the

youth district of Tokyo. It was fun making gyoza (Chinese dumplings) for

dinner with young people who are members of the Student Christian

Fellowship. An evening lecture was given on “Japan’s Christianity and

Yokohama” as preparation for the following day’s study trip to Yokohama.

After a meditation session, everyone enjoyed a dance party. SCF members

presented yukata (a kind of summer kimono) to the visitors. On Aug. 2, we

visited the Yokohama churches referred to in the lecture given the previous

night. That evening, the youth from Taiwan headed to the churches assigned

to be their hosts, where they observed Sunday morning worship on Aug. 3.

On Aug. 4, we traveled to Osaka via the Shinkansen (bullet train) in the

morning, and spent the day sightseeing in Osaka. We moved on to the Mt.

Rokko YMCA, where the conference was held, Aug. 5-7. Under the theme of

“Walking Together with Our Lord,” we talked about God and about ourselves.

At the end of the conference, we prepared a candlelight service using our

own forms of worship, including holding hands in a circle, sharing

testimonies, and engaging in a drama based on the Bible-all to the praise of

God. At the end of the conference on Aug. 7 we went to Nara, where we

enjoyed the sights of this traditional city. The closing worship of Youth

Mission 2008 was held at Nara Takabatake Church. We had a good time with the

youth from Osaka District. We all enjoyed Nara cuisine. Then, on Aug. 8, we

sent off the visitors to Taiwan from Kansai International Airport.

Although only five Japanese youth participated in the whole schedule of the

event, the group from Taiwan had many encounters with Japanese young people.

We also received a warm welcome from a great many others. The Japanese youth

were impressed by the faith of the youth from Taiwan, and the nine-day

program was a precious and memorable event for them. We experienced the fact

that we are brothers/sisters sharing a common faith in our Lord Jesus

Christ. I would like to report with much gratitude that our Lord was with

us, protecting our health and encouraging our fellowship throughout those

nine days.?

The next session of the Youth Mission of the Kyodan and the Presbyterian

Church in Taiwan is scheduled to taken place in Taiwan in 2010. May God

continue to bless our Youth Mission program in the future. (Tr. HL)

?? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? Sato Tomoko, member

?? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? Youth Mission 2008 Committee

Kyodan Women's Federation Hosts Japan-Germany "Youth Mission 2008" Event

Youth Mission 2008 with the Berlin-Brandenburg Evangelical Church-the 5th

Germany and Japan Youth Exchange-was held in Japan, Aug. 12-22. The Steering

Committee of the National Federation of Kyodan Women’s Societies (NFKWS)

planned and hosted the program. Pastor Ute Feuerstack headed the German

delegation. The three-day retreat convened at Ashino-ko Camping Village in

Hakone, Aug. 13-15., with14 German participants, including 9 youth, and 26

Japanese participants, including 12 young people. The theme of the retreat

was “Faithfully Administering God’s Grace (I Peter 4:10).” We discussed

environmental issues, something many people throughout the world have become

more concerned about today. Abe Rintaro and Hamda Makito, seminarians at

Tokyo Union Theological Seminary, led the event for the entire three days.

On the first day, Pastor Ute Feuerstack preached during the opening service

for the retreat. Following the service, we introduced ourselves to one

another and had tea together. Afterwards, Pastor Yatsuka Kiyoshi from Aki

Church led a Bible study, during which we read chapters 1 and 2 of Genesis

and meditated on this text. The members from Germany cooked German food for

dinner. After enjoying our meal, we had time for cultural exchange. Japanese

participants introduced Japanese culture, Japanese songs with sign language,

calligraphy, and origami (paper-folding), and explained the situation of the

church in Japan. The visitors from Germany actively participated in this

cultural exchange program and were especially interested in paper-folding.

On the second day, Abe Rintaro preached the sermon at the morning worship

service. We separated into three groups?\prayer, worship, and skit?\and each

group made preparations for the closing service on the third day. This time,

Japanese members made somen, a traditional kind of noodle in Japan, for

lunch. The group from Germany liked somen more than we expected. We had

outdoor activities in the afternoon. After dinner, the German participants

introduced German culture to us. They performed a skit of Snow White and the

Seven Dwarfs and also presented a special “circus” for us. The Japanese

participants were impressed by the German performers’ entertainment skills.

We also enjoyed games together.

On the final day, Nishinosono Michiko, pastor of Kambara Church, preached at

the closing worship service. Each of the three groups formed on the second

day played a special role in this service. The prayer group offered the

invocation after the first hymn and led a special prayer after the sermon;

the skit group performed a play based on Genesis and explained the

significance of the creation story; and the worship group sang Taize hymns.

Pastor Feuerstack closed the service with a blessing and expressed her

gratitude to those who had worked on the exchange program this year and to

those who had prayed for us. She also thanked the host families, the staff

members, and all the participants. After the retreat, each of the German

members stayed with a host family and had fellowship at the church, then

participated in a study tour of Hiroshima and Kyoto together. Hopefully,

they had an opportunity to think about the peace of God, especially while

they were visiting Hiroshima.

Although the participants might have had various impressions, we have

expanded the horizon of our own views through this exchange program. With

the increasing globalization of our world recently, we share common

problems, such as environmental issues, on a global scale. By participating

in this program, we have come to realize that we have great possibilities

for our common future, despite the problems mentioned above. It is our wish

that hope and koinonia will be fostered by this program. We sincerely

express our gratitude to God, who made this program possible; to those who

worked on our behalf, to those who helped us through earnest prayers and

generous offerings; and to Jesus Christ, who makes us respect our

differences and unites us all into one Church.

? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? Abe Rintaro and Hamada Makito, seminarians

? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? Tokyo Union Theological Seminary

Details of the Visit to Retired Missionaries

Kyodan Moderator Yamakita and Group A’s seven other members visited Holland,

Michigan, April 18-22. (Holland is the home place of the Dutch Reformed

Church, the present Reformed Church in America, which sent the first

missionaries to Japan 150 years ago.) The Hesselinks and the Magees guided

them to churches, schools, and social institutions. After a dinner on April

19, the visitors from Japan presented a wall hanging with the words kansha

(gratitude) to each of 20 retired missionaries. Then, Gordon Laman gave a

speech entitled “A sketch of the History of Mission in Japan.” On April 21

the group visited the office of the Reformed Church in America in nearby

Grand Rapids, where they were warmly welcomed by General Secretary Michelson

and other executives who discussed the Kyodan-RCA Partnership-in-Mission

Agreement that will be formalized at the Kyodan General Assembly in October.

Group B’s eight other members and I visited Pleasant Hill, Tennessee, April

17-19. Richard and Martha Lammers arranged for us to stay with host families

for two nights at Uplands Retirement Village, which is surrounded by a

beautiful forest and has a United Church of Christ local church in the

center. On April 18 we hosted a luncheon and time of acknowledgement for

about ten retired missionaries and exchanged information and opinions about

Japan, ourselves, and missionaries. In the evening we were invited to

World-wide Welcome Event where retired missionaries to various parts of the

world gathered in various ethnic costumes to enjoy buffet of ethnic foods,

conversations, speeches and performances. It was impressive that Janet (Jan)

Landis, “our” Japan missionary performed ventriloquism in mompe, a kind of

old Japanese kimono. Fukaya Matsuo, a president of Miyagi Gakuin, delivered

a speech about the Christian schools in Japan, and I gave greetings on

behalf of the Kyodan.

We left Pleasant Hill on April 19 in a chartered van driven by a cousin of

Sarah Oba, currently a missionary in Japan, who kindly arranged for this bus

tour. Without this driver, our visits to two other retirement communities

would have been very difficult. Later that day we arrived at Brooks-Howell

Home in Ashville, North Carolina, a retirement community for retirees of the

Women’s Division and the General Board of Global Ministries of the United

Methodist Church. To our delight, the eight retired missionaries waiting for

us all spoke fluent Japanese, so we interacted with them in Japanese for

over two hours, worshipping and enjoying the reunion as well as thanking

them for their life-long service in Japan. Fusako Krummel was the key

retired missionary who made this visit possible.

Our last visit was to Montreat, North Carolina, April 19-21, about a half

hour ride from Ashville. At a nearby restaurant, we ate dinner with 12

retired Presbyterian Church (USA) missionaries during where I acknowledged

the great work of these missionaries in Japan. That very day, April 19,

Clare Baldwin reached his 88th birthday, and we celebrated by singing ‘Happy

Birthday’. On April 20 we attended worship services at Montreat Presbyterian

Church and Black Mountain Presbyterian Church, during which I expressed

gratitude to these congregations on behalf of the Kyodan. After having a

buffet dinner, courtesy of the missionaries, we were guided by Annie Brady

to Highland Farms Retirement Community where she lives. Afterwards, we were

invited for tea at the home of Lardner and Molly Moore where we were blessed

by their warm Christian fellowship.

We were greatly blessed by this tour, rejoicing at personal reunions with

the missionaries we love and sensing their unexpected welcome, concern, and

joy as well. In addition, we were strengthened in our dedication to

evangelism by these experiences. We thank God and all of them for these

blessings. ?

? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? Ito Mizuo, member

? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? Commission on Ecumenical Ministries

Note: Letters have been received from some of the retired missionaries,

expressing appreciation? for the visit of the Kyodan representatives.

Japan Representatives Visit Retired Missionaries in the USA

Since the fall of 2007, the Kyodan’s Commission on Ecumenical Ministries has

been planning a “Thank-you Tour” to visit retired U.S. missionaries who had

served in Japan, as a prelude to the 2009 celebration of the 150th

anniversary of the beginning of (Protestant) evangelism in Japan. It was

thought that this milestone should not be approached without expressing

gratitude to the missionaries who labored to bring salvation to the Japanese

people as well as to the churches that sent and supported them. Also, with

JNAC (Japan-North American Commission on Cooperative Mission) having been

dissolved a few years ago and the Council of Cooperative Mission having been

dissolved last year, the Kyodan is searching for new ways to continue its

relationships with the churches in North America.

At first commission members groped in the dark for some sense of direction,

knowing both the time limit for organizing a tour and the numbers and

geographical distribution of the missionaries to be visited. It seemed like

a nearly impossible task. However, with the patient and persistent

negotiations Commission on Ecumenical Ministries staff members and the

loving and passionate support of the retired missionaries in each location,

each obstacle was overcome. When the April 14-23 schedule was set the plan

became a reality, and everyone was deeply grateful.

In spite of the rather sudden invitation and the inconvenient timing at the

start of the new church year, 17 people agreed to join the tour. This was

the first such tour ever organized by the Kyodan, but participation was not

limited to representatives of the Kyodan. Representatives of the Japan

Christian Social Work League and of the Christian School Council on

Cooperative Mission also participated because the work of missionaries

extended to these areas as well.

After leaving Japan the group went first to Claremont, California to visit

Pilgrim Place, a resident community for retired church workers, and held a

reunion with 40 retired missionaries to Japan. This was a truly rich time of

fellowship. During the discussion, many penetrating questions about the

Japanese church and the world of the church were raised. Those of us from

Japan were encouraged and stimulated by the continuing deep concern and

prayers of the missionaries.

We also expressed our gratitude and deep appreciation that during the over

60 years since the end of World War II, the churches of North America sent

1,700 missionaries and several hundred million dollars to support Christian

work in Japan. Especially we remember that 700 missionaries came to Japan

soon after the war to bear the burden of helping us in our hour of need.

Now, however, only 60 missionaries are scattered and isolated throughout the

country, and we face the urgent task of adapting to this changed situation.

From Claremont we divided into two subgroups. Group A went to Holland,

Michigan. Group B traveled to Pleasantville, Tennessee and to Asheville and

Black Mountain in North Carolina. As deep fellowship with the retired

missionaries continued, their heart felt gratitude and detailed concern was

more and more evident.

Through this journey I became not only more grateful for the 30 or 40 years

of service and the evangelistic spirit with which these missionaries faced

many difficulties and overcame many obstacles but also came to see that the

true way to show gratitude to the missionaries is to commit ourselves again

to evangelizing our nation. Through witnessing how the missionaries, even

now, are continuing in service I was taught that there really is no

retirement from mission. I will never forget the image of these

missionaries, with tears in their eyes, saying their parting words:

“Greetings to the people of the church in Japan!”? (Tr. GM)

?? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? Yamakita Nobuhisa, moderator

?? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? Kyodan General Assembly

?? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? Shinto no Tomo (Believers’ Friend)

Executive Council Votes to Admonish Pastor, Abolish Mission Commission

The Executive Council of the 35th Kyodan General Assembly period met for the

5th time, July 14-15, in the Kyodan conference room. The main issues

addressed at the previous meeting, namely the “recommendation for a minister

to resign” and his “admonition,” were carried forward to this meeting, and

the debate was vigorous indeed. Before the vote was taken, four council

members walked out in protest, deepening the division further. Likewise,

there was strong debate concerning the proposal now being drafted for

presentation to the upcoming Kyodan General Assembly this fall to change the

Kyodan structure radically through a revision of its bylaws. With only three

months to go until the assembly, it is uncertain what will happen.

The following two articles taken from Shinpo (The Kyodan Times) summarize

these two points.?

I. Resolution to “Pursue the Admonition” Passes: Debate is Hot Concerning

the Legal Basis and Appropriateness of the Procedures

As the second day of deliberations came to an end, the “Petition to Carry

Out Admonitions Against Kitamura Jiro”was passed. This means that the matter

will be taken up by the Commission on the Ministry, which will determine

what actions will be taken against him.

Based on the decisions of the third meeting of the Executive Council in

October 2007, Kyodan Moderator Yamakita Nobuhisa sent a formal letter to

Pastor Kitamura stating that if he did not immediately cease from offering

communion to unbaptized persons, he would be asked to resign as a minister

of the Kyodan. Since Kitamura did not respond to this letter of admonition,

a new resolution was passed at the next meeting in February, to the effect

that if he continued this practice without the consensus of the Kyodan as a

whole, the Executive Council would be forced to follow through with its

admonition. He was asked to respond by June 20, 2008.

As Kitamura did not abide by this request, a formal admonition was passed on

the basis that his continued offering of communion to unbaptized persons was

in violation of the first and second articles of the Kyodan Constitution and

brought disorder to the church. During the debate swirling around this

issue, council member Umezaki Koji expressed his dissent, stating that the

Executive Council could not itself be the plaintive in this dispute, and

following Moderator Yamakita’s response, Umezaki walked out, stating, “I

cannot be a part of this illegitimate discussion, as you have not spelled

out the legal basis for this in the bylaws.” Council member Matsubara Shigeo

likewise walked out after expressing his opposition to the proceedings.

Council member Mukai Mareo expressed his opposition by posing this question:

“You say that offering communion to unbaptized persons is not permissible,

but where is this stated in the Kyodan Constitution and Bylaws? The Kyodan

is based on local church autonomy, and there are also examples of churches

in other countries where this is practiced.” Ushiroku Toshiya claimed that

the procedure under consideration was outside the stipulations of the Kyodan

Constitution and Bylaws, and expressed doubts that the motion should have

even been introduced. Likewise, since such an indictment and admonition

require a two-thirds majority of council members to pass, he urged caution.

Others also expressed their opposition, including Saito Jin’ichi, who

likewise left the room, followed by others who walked out as the roll was

called.?

Those who supported the admonition were led by Moderator Yamakita, who

stressed that the regulations for church membership in the Kyodan

Constitution and Bylaws clearly included baptism as a prerequisite, and so

the very concept of unbaptized persons receiving communion was

inconsequential. Likewise, since unbaptized persons cannot participate in a

local church’s annual assembly, they would be left in limbo. Council member

Sasaki Michio chastised those who walked out, saying, “This debate requires

us to all be on the same playing field. I want these illegitimate actions to

stop.” He further stated that since it is the role of the Commission on

Ministry to carry out an admonition and it is the Kyodan General Assembly

that handles matters pertaining to the administration of communion, it is

only natural for the moderator to bring to attention any practices in this

regard that causes discord.

In response to one lay member’s remark that this “is not a matter of life

and death or one that involves human rights,” another lay member countered

that the matter is of? “supreme importance to the laity, since it relates

directly to our walk of faith.” The exit of the several council members

caused the session to be extended for 15 minutes. When the final vote was

tallied, 16 of the 19 remaining council members had voted in favor of the

measure.?

II. Elimination of the Commission on Mission Proposed

On the second day of the meeting, after revision of church regulations

related the Board of Publications was dealt with, the following issues were

also discussed:?

1.? Revision of the Regulations on the Research Institute on the Mission of

the Church,?

2.? Dissolution of the Commission on Mission and Revision of related Bylaws,

3.? Revision of the Regulations Concerning Ministerial Qualifications,

4.? Application Process for Recognition as a Minister Under Special

Appointment, etc., and

5.? Cooperative Mission Covenants with the Presbyterian Church USA and the

Reformed Church of America.

As the proposals on revision of the regulations of the Research Institute on

the Mission of the Church and the dissolution of the Commission on Mission

and revision of related bylaws overlapped, they were discussed

simultaneously. Moderator Yamakita presented both proposals on the basis of

the report of the Special Committee on Church Structure. The proposed

revision of church regulations on the Research Institute on the Mission of

the Church is intended to clarify both the original purpose for establishing

the institute and its present role. The moderator explained that part 1 of

Article 41 of the Bylaws and Articles 3 and 8 of the regulations on the

Research Institute on the Mission of the Church have not been adhered to

since the time of the Kyodan’s internal struggles. Thus, clarifying the role

of the Research Institute will result in the clarification of the

overlapping activities under the jurisdiction of the Commission on Mission,

which supports a proposal to eliminate the research institute.

Other reasons cited for the proposal include the fact that while the

research institute rethinks such things as basic mission strategies and

basic social action policies, it is the committees under the Commission on

Mission that actually do the work, so the committees under the Commission on

Mission could not do overall basic strategy planning. Therefore, the

proposal is to abolish the Commission on Mission and have its committees on

evangelism, education, and society become separate commissions. Various

bylaw changes will be necessary. There were 17 votes in favor of adopting

the changes in the regulations on the research institute. Likewise, the same

number approved presenting to the General Assembly this fall the proposed

changes in the bylaws that would abolish the Commission on Mission.

The regulations on the Research Institute on the Mission of the Church can

be revised by the Executive Council, but abolishment of the Commission on

Mission involves changes in the bylaws, which requires the consensus of the

Kyodan General Assembly. Council members opposed to the proposal stated that

bylaw changes should be dealt with first, before revision of regulations on

the research institute. On the other hand, the following quotes were

representative of those in support of the proposal: “The research institute

has not operated according to the purposes of its inception.”? “Because

evangelism was placed under the Commission on Mission, evangelism has

stagnated.”? “This is representative of the face of the Kyodan to come.”

Other proposals that were approved included sending aid to churches that

suffered typhoon damage, resolutions relating to the celebration of the

150th anniversary of Protestant Christianity in Japan, and revision of

Article 4 of the ministerial qualifications. (Tr. TB)

Katsuyama Ken’ichiro

?Executive Secretary