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


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


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

Sign of Growing Relationship Between Japanese and Korean Churches

Under the above headline, the Korean Christian News published the following

report on the visit of Kyodan representatives to the Korean Methodist Church

in Seoul, Korea.?

‘Bishop Shin Kyoung Ha, president of the Bishop’s Council of the Korean

Methodist Church, held an interview with representatives of the Kyodan in

Japan on June 8 at the Korean Hotel, thus promoting exchange between

Japanese and Korean Christian Churches. The various churches in Taiwan,

Japan, and Korea gather periodically, and various representatives of the

Kyodan who had participated in the Northeast Asia Church Mission Conference,

where the churches share their vision about mission, came especially to

visit the Korean Methodist Church to broaden their interaction with them.

‘In 1967, three Christian churches in Korea established an agreement with

the Kyodan and have promoted continual, reciprocal exchange. This agreement

was revised in 1992, and the Kyodan continued to engage in ongoing exchanges

with the Presbyterian churches in Korea but has not been able to actualize

exchanges with the Korean Methodist Church.

‘During his meeting with Kyodan representatives on June 8, KMC’s President

of the Council of Bishops Shin Kyoung Ha took steps to improve that

relationship and to develop reciprocal interchange. He is planning to attend

the Kyodan General Assembly this fall and then to invite representatives

from the Kyodan to the Korean Methodist Church’s Assembly in October,

intendng for this reciprocal exchange to be the starting point for expanded

interaction. ?

‘The representatives of the Kyodan who visited this time were Kyodan General

Secretary Naito Tomeyuki; Katsuyama Ken’ichiro, pastor of Takeoka Church in

the Chiba Subdistrict of Tokyo District; Kishi Norihide, pastor of Chiba

Honcho Church in Chiba Subdistrict of Tokyo District; and Takada Kazuhiko,

pastor of Tachikawa Church in West Tokyo District.” (Tr. RT)

Recalling the visit, General Secretary Naito made the following entry in his


“On June 8, I made an official visit as Kyodan General Secretary to the

Korean Methodist Church in Seoul, Korea. In 1967, the Kyodan joined in a

mission covenant to promote exchange with three Korean churches: the

Presbyterian Church of Korea, the Korean Methodist Church, and the

Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea. In 1992 the covenant was

revised, with the aim of adapting to a new era and striving to improve

cooperation further. However, as compared to interaction with the

Presbyterian Church of Korea and the Presbyterian Church in the Republic of

Korea, fellowship with the Korean Methodist Church had come to a standstill

in recent years. Therefore, the Kyodan needed to work toward improved

relations and broader opportunities for fellowship.

‘On that very evening, in the plaza in front of Seoul’s city hall, there was

a large-scale candlelight demonstration mostly attended by Korean youth. On

their placards were slogans protesting the importation of American beef and

sharp criticism of the current government’s anti-American policies. The

shouting of the thousands of protesters echoed among the buildings in a

noisy uproar. I think that the juxtaposition of this candlelight

demonstration and the meeting with the Korean Methodist Church’s President

of Bishops will always remain firmly etched in my memory.” (Tr. TVB)