Executive Council Makes Preparations for the 37th (2010) General Assembly

The 5th Executive Council meeting of the 36th General Assembly period was held at the Kyodan headquarters July 12-13. In opening the proceedings, Kyodan Moderator Yamakita Nobuhisa followed the lectionary, reading II Cor. 10:1-10, and led the council in prayer.
New System for Electing Executive Council Members
One noteworthy item on the agenda was discussion on the process for electing Executive Council members. The General Assembly Preparation Committee had proposed having delegates select up to ten names on their individual ballots, but council member Okada Nobuyoshi put forth the proposal that the entire slate of council seats be voted for on each ballot. His primary rationale was that council members are not to be mere spokespersons for an individual district but that they should be elected in a process that expresses the thinking of the entire General Assembly. Likewise, such a process would be based on the principle that it is the right of each assembly delegate to elect the entire membership of the Executive Council.
In opposition to this proposal, other council members favored respecting the decision of the 2008 General Assembly to allow only seven names to be written on each ballot, noting that it is not appropriate to introduce a proposal at a council meeting that differs from that of the General Assembly Preparation Committee. Despite these objections, Okada’s proposal was adopted with15 of 29 members expressing approval.
New Committee for Screening Agenda Items
The second item of note concerned discussion on the proposed formation of a committee to screen items submitted for inclusion on the General Assembly agenda. The proposal is an effort to avoid the kind of confusion that prevailed at the 34th (2004) General Assembly when there were numerous separate agenda items with essentially the same content. It seems necessary for a committee to review the various proposals to identify ones with essentially the same purpose or ones that basically are contrary to the Kyodan Constitution and Bylaws. Okamoto Tomoyuki, chair of the Commission on Faith and Order, explained what “agenda screening” specifically entails and suggested the format that rules on parliamentary proceedings should take.
With this as a background, the proposed Agenda Screening Committee was defined as a mechanism to help the moderator streamline parliamentary proceedings by performing the following roles: 1) combining proposals that express the same objective; 2) dividing complex proposals involving more than one issue into separate agenda items; and 3) weeding out those proposals that are basically contrary to the Kyodan Constitution and Bylaws. The proposal was adopted with 14 of 27 members in favor. The following council members were selected to serve on the committee: Fujikake Jun’ichi, Miura Osamu, and Takahashi Jun.
Revised Level-Two Church Requirements
One final agenda item involved issues surrounding the changes in the Kyodan Bylaws that concern “preaching places” (fledgling churches). Following the report by the Commission on Faith and Order in 2008 on the disparity between the provisions of the bylaws related to preaching places and the actual situation such small churches face, the Task Force to Study the Organizational Structure and Status of Preaching Places was established, with Sasaki Michio as chair.
Sasaki explained that since the Kyodan is presently unable to deal with the sensitive issue of ecclesiology per se, the one step it can take to alleviate problems caused by the present bylaws is to first adjust the prerequisites for allowing a preaching place to become a level- two church. Presently, at least 20 members are required for recognition as a level-two church. It was proposed to reduce that requirement to 10 members and, even if that number is not reached, to allow a preaching place to apply for level-two status by holding a church annual assembly or by forming a church administrative board. The proposal was adopted by majority vote and will be presented to the 2010 General Assembly for approval. (Tr. TB)
–Kato Makoto, executive secretary
 第三は「伝道所関連の教規変更に関する件」である。2008年、信仰職制委員会の「伝道所について教規と実態とに乖離がある」との答申を受けて、今36 総会期に「伝道所の内容と位置づけに関する検討小委員会(佐々木美智夫委員長)」を設立した。佐々木委員長は「教会論に踏み込めない教団の現状の中で、取り得る最低限の一歩として伝道所の教会的機能と教務の位置づけを明確にした」と述べ、議案説明を行なった。変更の要点は、第2種教会の条件を現行のおおむね20名から「おおむね10名」とし、伝道所がこの条件に達していない場合でも、「総会を行い、あるいは役員会を組織するに及んでいる場合は、第2種教会になることができる」とした。表決の結果、賛成多数で可決承認された。これらの議案は第37回教団総会に提案される。

Association of Kyodan-related Prison Chaplains Founded

This year, the Fellowship of Kyodan-related Prison Chaplains came to an end after 40 years. It was replaced by the Association of Kyodan-related Prison Chaplains. From 1950 to 1968, the activities of prison chaplains were the responsibility of the Prison Evangelism Committee, under the auspices of the Kyodan’s Committee on Evangelism. After 1969, such activities were conducted by volunteer chaplains who organized themselves as the Fellowship of Kyodan-related Prison Chaplains.
At the first General Meeting of the Association of Kyodan-related Prison Chaplains, held May 31- June 1, 2010 at the National Olympics Memorial Youth Center in Tokyo, members approved items that are necessary for starting an association, such as regulations, principles, and a budget. They elected the new committee members. I am grateful to the Lord who led us thus far. In the regulations, the founding purpose of the Association states “to support the work of prison chaplains and to fulfill God’s mission.” Activities are (i) training seminars for prison chaplains, (ii) publishing a newsletter, (iii) encouraging networking and cooperation among prison chaplains, (iv) fundraising for its activities, (v) encouraging fellowship with prison chaplains of other religions and from overseas, and (vi) conducting networking and cooperation with the Committee on Evangelism.
Under the new regulations, all 97 prison chaplains have become its members. Associate members, organizations as well as individuals, support the ministry of the association and make donations to it. Activities supported specifically by fundraising include publishing the newsletter Jails’ Friends and subsidizing the transportation expenses of all members when they attend the general meeting, district representatives’ meetings, and seminars.
In spite of the current shortfall of funding, we were able to hold the overnight general meeting in Tokyo, attended by 30 members from all over Japan. We were able to accomplish this because God faithfully raised supporters from Japan as well as from overseas. Namely, 3,000 Euro were donated in 2010 and will also be provided in 2011 by the Mission Board of Evangelical Churches of South West Germany. Due to this generous support, we were able to make up for the shortage of funds, thus able to provide the transportation costs of the participants. I am pleased to report this to you, with gratitude.
At the lecture marking the founding of the association, Hugh Brown, a prison chaplain at Kobe Prison, gave a talk entitled “You can start your new life,” which was appreciated by all. He is from Northern Ireland, a former terrorist who later became a pastor. All the chaplains gave reports on his/her district and were able to share prayer concerns, although there was no representation from Hokkai District or Okinawa District because no prison chaplains are serving there.
We would like to have more networking with prison chaplain fellowships from overseas as the Association of Kyodan-related Prison Chaplains moves forward and develops in the coming days. Comments and suggestions from readers of the Kyodan Newsletter would be much appreciated. (Tr. YY)
–Miyama Tasuku, pastor
Kokubunji-Minami Church
Nishi Tokyo District
 会則に規定されている「日本基督教団教誨師会」の設立目的は、「日本基督教団における教誨師の働きを支え合い、宣教の使命を果たすこと」であり、その業務活動は、(ⅰ)教誨師の研修、(ⅱ)会報発行、(ⅲ)教誨師の連携・協力、(ⅳ)教誨活動のための募金、(ⅴ)他宗教・海外教誨師会との交流、および (ⅵ)教団伝道委員会との連携・協力を行うことなどである。
 最後に、本教団教誨師会の一層の発展充実のため、今後、海外教誨師会との交流を積極的に行なってゆきたい。もし本『Kyodan Newsletter』号を手にされた方々から有益な情報をお寄せいただけますなら幸いです。
深山 祐

Evangelische Missionwerk Sudwestdeutschland (EMS) Conference Held in Germany

The EMS Mission Council 2010 was held July 9-12 at the academy of the regional State church in Bad Herrenalb in the State of Baden. Bad (“hot spring” in German) indicates that the area is a mountainous spar. But we had no chance to take a dip in the hot spring. In order to be in time for the 9: 30 a.m. meeting schedule, we stayed the previous night at a lodging facility for Catholic pilgrims, thanks to the arrangements by Pastor Lutz Drescher, EMS general secretary in charge of Asia and South India.
Pastor Vasantha Kumar, moderator of the Church of South India, also stayed with us, and we enjoyed a time of good fellowship. We learned that three percent of the Indian population is Christian and that the South India United Church has three million members. We ate our evening meal at an Italian restaurant and were overwhelmed at the large amount of pasta. The following morning all four of us managed to get into Executive Secretary Lutz’s mini-car, literally jam-packed together with our four extra-large suitcases, and headed for Bad Herrenalb.
We arrived safely at Evangelische Akademie, our destination. After the opening service followed by lunch and recess time, the main meeting began. The total attendance was approximately 50 persons, 16 of whom were from partner churches in Indonesia, India, South Africa, Ghana, Jordan, Korea, and Japan. The largest group was from Indonesia, nine in all including two interpreters. EMS’ overseas partner churches have faced financial difficulties. On the basis of their long-standing relationship, EMS lately has decided to invite all partner churches to the mission councils and general meetings and has given them decision-making rights. The meaning of “partner” was one of the agenda items for discussion this year.
The EMS’ finances depend on the contribution of the State churches. Due to the financial pinch of the regional State churches, EMS’ budget has been cut about 20 percent during the past two years. This has resulted in the reduction of the number of staff persons. EMS is facing the necessity of a drastic reform of its structure. Communication about the seriousness of this situation to its partner churches was one of the main purposes of this conference.
I first learned about EMS while I was a member of the Kyodan Committee on Education. Every year the Committee on Education makes a nation-wide appeal for Christmas contributions. The collected amount is divided, with one portion designated for domestic use and the other portion for overseas use. Both are targeted for children and youth. Several years ago, the EMS-assisted peace movement sponsored by the Ghana Presbyterian Church was selected as a potential candidate for our support. While reading various relevant website resources, I learned that EMS has been suggesting a vast range of social outreach projects. However, my participation in this recent Mission Council was indeed an eye-opening experience for me, as I learned about the structure of EMS and its relationship with its regional State churches.
In the afternoon of the second day of the conference, all the participants from partner churches were gathered to hear the explanation of EMS Executive Committee members who had been sent by the regional State churches. It took those of us from Asia and Africa some time to understand the explanation at a deep level, although we all were aware at least of the unique circumstances of the German church.
During the conference, the participants were all separated into four groups so as to organize respective committees. The committee I participated in discussed the revision of the EMS covenant as well as the possibility of sending coworkers to Korea, with which we were in agreement.
In the afternoon of July 11, we were just told that we would be moving to Bretten. The bus took us through Schwarzwald, the Black Forest, to bring us to the Melanchton Memorial Museum. The building is designed like the house Melanchton had lived in and preserves more than a thousand of his original writings. Thus, we were given a glimpse of that time of the Reformation long ago. (Tr. FK)
–Kato Makoto, executive secretary
 今年のEMS宣教会議はバーデン州のBad Herrenalbにある州教会所有のアカデミーを会場にして、6月9日(水)~12日(土)の間、開かれました。Badとはドイツ語で温泉を意味するとの事ですが、その名の通りの山間にある所謂温泉保養地でした。残念ながら温泉につかる機会はありませんでした。朝9時半の集合に間に合うように、前日は Stuttgartにあるカトリックの巡礼者宿泊施設に、EMSアジア担当幹事のLutz先生のご好意で泊めていただきました。南インド合同教会のKumar議長も同宿でしたので良き交わりの機会が与えられました。インドには3%のクリスチャンがいて、南インド合同教会の信徒は300万人です。夕食はイタリヤ料理を提供するレストランでしたが、パスタの量に恐怖を覚えたのは初めてでした。
 翌朝はLutz幹事の小型車に大人4人、特大スーツケース4個を押し込みBad Herrenalbに向けスタート。身動きの取れない車内も旅の楽しみの一つでした。
 無事にEvangelische Akademieに到着。開会礼拝、昼食休憩後、本会議が始まりました。出席は全部で50名ほどでした。そのうち16名がパートナー教会からの参加です。内訳はインドネシア、インド、南アフリカ、ガーナ、ヨルダン、韓国、日本です。最も多かったのはインドネシアからで、通訳2名を含めて総勢9名の参加でした。パートナー教会とは近年の財政難を受けて、EMSはこれまで関係深かった海外の教会に議決権を与えて宣教会議、総会に招くようになりました。それがパートナー教会であり、その実質的な意味も今回の会議では話し合われました。EMSの財政は州教会からの献金で成り立っています。その州教会の財政難を受けて、EMSもこの2年の内に財源が2割近く減少します。そのためにスタッフの削減、EMSの機構そのものの変革が必要とされています。そのことの理解と周知徹底が今回の宣教会議の目的と言えます。

Local Events Promote Deeper Japanese-Korean Relations

Nishi-Chugoku District
Nishi Chugoku District’s West Subdistrict held its 30th Joint Japanese-Korean Worship Service on March 14, 2010. The subdistrict has worked cooperatively with the Korean Christian Church in Japan (KCCJ) in Shimonoseki City since before the Kyodan and KCCJ established a mission covenant.
Two annual events are scheduled. The first is the joint worship service, held on the second Sunday of March. The second is a time of fellowship, including dinner, on the second Friday night of September.
This year, the 30th anniversary of our joint worship service was celebrated by inviting Pastor Choi Young Shin from Ube Church of the KCCJ, located in Ube, Yamaguchi Prefecture. He is also moderator of the KCCJ General Assembly. In total, 85 people from Kyodan churches in Shimonoseki and KCCJ Shimonoseki Church attended this event.
–Shinohara Mitsuru
Ozuki Church, Yamaguchi Prefecuture
Nishi Chugoku District
From Shinto no Tomo (Believers’ Friend)
Ou District
On Sundays at Hanamaki Church, both Korean and Japanese are spoken. Even if people do not understand each other’s language, connections are still made. What happened at Pentecost is still happening here at Hanamaki Church.
About four years ago, in the spring, a young man who spoke little Japanese came to our church. That was the beginning of something big. Of the 30 members who now attend the service, 7 to 10 of them are students from Korea who are studying as exchange students at a nearby private university.
One person will ask his or her classmate to come along, then that classmate will ask his or her friend to join them as well. In that way, many students are gathering every week. Sharing the gospel seems to be a real joy for them. Some of the students are Protestants; others are Roman Catholics and even Buddhists. The other day, I was walking around town and heard a voice addressing me as “pastor” in Korean(mokusa-nim). I looked back and saw a woman I did not recognize. Pretending that I recognized her, I said, “Oh, I haven’t seen you in a long time. How are you?” She said, “I’ve never met you. I just saw you in photographs.” I blushed. I learned then that the students who come to church show others the photographs they take there and talk about the church with friends who have never attended.
The source of the students’ energy definitely comes from prayer. Even when they cannot attend the worship service, I see them coming to the church in the afternoons and praying. They also gather together on Wednesday nights and have prayer meetings.
When the number of Korean students increased, we convened a board meeting at Hanamaki Church. We decided that foreign students also deserve pastoral care. Since then, our church members have started praying for the students and have really begun to accept and embrace them. Of course, there are both cultural and generational differences at our church. Despite this, we are becoming one church.
Since there are both Korean students and Japanese church members, many different events are possible, such as a bazaar, cleaning, and a choir. It is not simply a matter of Korean students attending a Japanese church; Korean students and Japanese members are working together to make this church their home.
Last year in February, many of the foreign students went back home for spring break. Very few of them stayed in Japan. I said to one of them. “You must be missing your family.” They answered, “I have family
here as well.” It made me happy, knowing that the people at Hanamaki Church had accepted them as family.
In the Book of Ephesians, Paul wrote, “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household.” (2:19, NIV) He talks here about what a real church is. We are experiencing the joy of our church being a place where people who are transcending nationality on this earth, yet sharing the same nationality in Him, join together.
This February, one of the foreign students went back to Korea to fulfill military service obligations. We sang the hymn “God be with you till we meet again” in both Korean and Japanese. I felt the Holy Spirit was uniting us as one when I heard one church member say, “Please remember, when you pray, that I am praying for you here in Japan.”
Nobody imagined that this could happen in only four years. We have experienced many great and wonderful things. Looking back, it was not just because someone did anything specific. Prayers have promoted evangelism and resulted in the formation of a church. Throughout these four years, I have had a sense of Pentecost, as though it was happening constantly. Is this because Hanamaki Church is special? No, it came to us through the Korean students. The great thing is that every church can experience what we have experienced. (Tr. DV)
–Yamamoto Katsuyuki
Hanamaki Church
Ou District
From Shinto no Tomo (Believers’ Friend)
教団が韓国教会と宣教協約(covenant)を結ぶ以前から当分区では、下関市にある在日大韓基督教会 KCCJ(Korean Christian Church in Japan)と交流をしてきました。その大きなイベントが二つあり、一つは毎年三月第2主日の礼拝を共にすること、もう一つは、九月第二金曜日夜にそれぞれが用意した食事を囲んで持つ楽しい交流会です。
今年はすぐ隣の山口県宇部市にある在日大韓宇部教会牧師・在日大韓教会総会議長(Moderator of General Assembly) Choi Young Shin牧師を招いて合同礼拝30回の記念すべきときを祝いました。下関市にある教団の教会および在日大韓下関基督教会の教職信徒85名が出席しました。
山口・小月(Ozuki church)教会牧師 篠原満(Shinohara Mitsuru)
やまもと かつゆき/岩手・花巻教会牧師
 彼らの中にはプロテスタント教会出身の学生もいますし、カトリック教会の学生もいます。熱心な仏教徒という学生も来ています。先日、町を歩いていたら、ハングルで「モクサニム(牧師)」と言う声が聞こえました。振り返ってみると会った記憶のない女性がそこにいました。お調子者の私は、「おー! 久しぶり、元気だった?」と声をかけましたら、「会ったことはありません。写真でお見かけしました」と言われて赤面しました。同時に、教会に来ている学生がまだ教会に来たことのない友だちに、教会で撮った写真を見せて教会のことを話しているということを知りました。

Serving as a Kyodan Missionary in the U.S.A.

  by Nishinosono Michiko, associate pastor
Wesley United Methodist Church
San Jose, California, U.S.A.
I have served as a Kyodan missionary at Wesley United Methodist Church (UMC) in San Jose, California, U.S.A. since May 2009. The UMC organization is different from that of the Kyodan.* Here, I sometimes feel the need for intercultural communication between the nichigo-bu (Japanese speaking section) members and myself. It is more difficult for me to understand the nichigo-bu than to understand the English-speaking section. I recognize that the Japanese people in the U.S. have had to struggle and be strong in order to live in a foreign country. They are direct and are strongly opinionated. And they have endurance. I need more time to understand them, and I try not to be hasty.
Wesley UMC is in Japantown, one of three remaining Japantowns in the United States. There is a monument on the main street that is written in both English and Japanese listing words that the issei (first generation of Japanese-Americans) used to say: kansha (gratitude); gaman (perseverance); mottainai koto shinaino (Don’t do things that are wasteful); enryo (reserve, modesty); shikata ga nai (It can’t be helped); kodomo no tame ni (for the children’s sake). Many issei and nisei (second generation) worked hard as farmers without vacations. Some of them were incarcerated in concentration camps during World War II. The issei’s life of hardship is evident in the words on the monument.
Wesley UMC was built by these issei in 1895. The nichigo-bu was for them and their children, the nisei. Now, the English-speaking section has become bigger than the nichigo-bu. Of the 740 members at Wesley UMC, only about 40 are nichigo members. The English-speaking members formerly supported the nichigo-bu because it was for their parents and their grandparents (the nisei or issei), who had worked hard for them as their children, and they still support it. But many Japanese American churches have no nichigo-bu now. Almost all the issei have passed away, and the nisei are in their late eighties, nineties, or even older.
Among the nichigo-bu are the kibei-nisei, who were born in the U.S., grew up in Japan, then came back to the U.S. There are also the “new” issei who moved to the U.S. after World War II, and some of them have come to live in the U.S. during the past ten years. Most nichigo members have American citizenship. Now, 80 percent of Wesley UMC members (English-speaking and Japanese-speaking) are Japanese-Americans, but there are also Chinese and other Asian people, Caucasians, African-Americans, and bi- or multi-cultural people, too. The relationship between the English section and the nichigo-bu is changing. Supporting the nichigo-bu is becoming harder for the English-speaking members year by year. If the nichigo-bu exists only for the issei or nisei whose first language is Japanese, the role of the nichigo-bu will perhaps come to an end in the future.
The nichigo ministry has some difficult problems now, but it has potential. There are many Japanese-speaking people outside the church in San Jose. What is the mission of the nichigo ministry in regards to them? How can we find a new direction? We are asking these questions and need to find answers.
My duties at Wesley UMC are:
1) To serve as the nichigo pastor (Japanese worship, Bible study, visitation etc.);
2) To serve and help other Japanese-speaking church members in the San Francisco Bay Area who have no Japanese pastor at their church; and
3) To serve at Wesley UMC as an associate pastor (participate in English and Japanese bilingual worship services and support English-speaking committees, attending their meetings and participating in their activities).
Working here is very hard for me, and the nichigo ministry situation is very difficult, but I trust in God’s help. Prayers for myself and Wesley UMC, both from Japan and here, are my support, my power, and my comfort. I appreciate all the support of God and the people of Christ.
*Note:In the UMC, a church with 70 attendees at worship is called a small church. A church with less than about 45 attendees at worship might have to be discontinued.