【April 2018 No.397】Executive Council Considers Restructuring Proposals

 The 4th Executive Council meeting of the 40th General Assembly Period (2016-18) was held Feb. 5-6 at the Kyodan headquarters, with 26 members present. Executive Secretary and Acting General Secretary Dohke Norikazu gave the general secretary’s report, in which he reported that 80,720,000 yen was sent to five churches as part of the relief efforts following the Kumamoto-Oita earthquake.

 Commission on Ecumenical Ministries’ Executive Secretary Kato Makoto then reported that about two-thirds of the approximately 40 schools that are members of the Mission Schools Council have no resident missionary at present and thus are appealing for missionaries. He also reported that while the office of the Committee on Continuing Relief Strategy for the Great East Japan Disaster will close its office in March 2018, committee members will continue to commute from Sendai to continue their work.

 Next, during the report of the Committee on Evangelism Strategy, Chair Sasaki Michio explained the interim report of the subcommittee that was established to look into structure and finances.

 •Its recommendation is to revise the original proposal to have each division debate and decide its own plan. Instead, all items related to Kyodan restructuring and finances would be decided by one committee.

 •Likewise, in order to reduce costs, no special commission (task force) will be established, and the number of committee members will be reduced. The present committee will be restructured and a general affairs section and evangelism section established.

 •The General Assembly will become a body that deals mainly with legally required agenda items over a two-day period in a format of about 200 delegates so that church facilities will be adequate.

 •Other agenda items will be dealt with in a separate meeting of the Mission Policy Conference, which will then be passed through the Executive Council to the General Assembly for ratification.

 •A fund called the “Nationwide Evangelism Promotion Fund” will be established to strengthen local churches and help churches that have not reached a certain level.

 These changes are being made to reflect the average loss of yearly income of some 5 million yen, and thus the goal is to decrease the overall church apportionments from 250 million yen to 200 million per year and the annual personnel costs from 150 million to 100 million yen so that it is sustainable over the next ten years.

 The matter of shared expenses for the National Christian Council in Japan was also discussed, and Moderator Ishibashi proposed that the Kyodan increase its contribution by 900,000 yen to make it a total of 9 million yen. The Kyodan discusses its portion on a yearly basis, although the NCCJ’s General Assembly decides on a three-year budget that does not change over its three-year general assembly period. Thus, there is a mismatch, which is why this proposal was made. Commission on Finance Chair Aizawa Toyoshige then reported his committee’s opinion that no supplementary budget be made when an item is going over budget, for clarification purposes.
(Tr. TB)

—Kato Makoto, executive secretary



加藤 誠










【April 2018 No.397】A Visit with Kyodan Missionaries in Belgium and Germany

by Kato Makoto, executive secretary

 From Jan.12 through Jan. 19, I visited Brussels, Belgium and Cologne, Germany. Rev. Kawakami Masaki and her husband Rev. Kawakami Yasushi were assigned as missionaries to the Brussels Japanese Protestant Church in April 2017. I visited them and preached at the church on Sunday. Further, I participated in an evaluation held by the Belgian Evangelical Mission (BEM), the body that receives our missionaries. The word “evaluation” may sound somewhat pretentious, but it was a very thoughtful interview.

 BEM is a devoted missionary group mainly consisting of British Christians who share the Gospel with Belgians and establish new churches. Having had to learn French to share the Gospel, they have experienced difficulty and loneliness, but they have also experienced the joy of growth. I was invited to join the Kawakamis in this evaluation, where we shared our joys and struggles together. “What is the ultimate joy of mission? When you are at your lowest, what do you do? What do you think of  the church look like in five years?” These were some of the questions that we considered together. Because both Japanese missionaries are BEM colleagues as well as personnel for whom BEM has visa responsibilities, serious discussion continued for about two hours.

 The “Thalys” is a super express train that enables a convenient overland trip from Brussels to Cologne and Dusseldorf. However, three years ago, there was a robbery at Brussels South Station that affected many people. I was one of those people.

 While visiting Cologne, I attended a house meeting of the Cologne-Bonn Japanese Church with Rev. Sasaki Ryoko. At its congregational general meeting in January, this church voted to extend its ministry until 2022.

 In the past, the Rheinland Church took responsibility for the salary of the missionary assigned to Cologne-Bonn Japanese Church. However, since the assignment of Rev. Saito Atsushi (from April 2012 to March 2015), the responsibility has been taken over by Cologne-Bonn Japanese Church, together with a support group.

 At the smaller Brussels Japanese Protestant Church, its support group has an even larger financial responsibility. However, the missionaries, their churches, and their support groups remain committed to Jesus’ command, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations.” (Matt. 28:19a) (Tr. JS)


ベルギー・ドイツ出張報告    加藤誠

 2018年1月12日(金)から19日(金)にかけてベルギーのブリュッセルとドイツのケルン(Cologne)、デュッセルドルフ(Düsseldorf)に出張した。ブルュッセル日本語プロテスタント教会には、2017年4月から川上真咲、川上寧宣教師が赴任している。彼らを訪問し、礼拝の説教を担当した。さらに、受入れ団体であるBEM(Belgian Evangelical Mission)の「evaluation」に同席した。「evaluation」という言葉には重たい響きがあるかも知れないが、実際は丁寧なヒヤリングであった。




【April 2018 No.397】Two Kyodan Missionaries Commissioned for Service

 The Commissioning Service for missionary Takai-Heller Yuki took place on Feb. 11, 2018 at Ofuna Church under the auspices of the Commission on Ecumenical Ministries. Commission Secretary Nishinosono Michiko presided, and commission member Park Heon-Wook gave the sermon. Takai-Heller was sent to Taiwan in March, where she will do research in Tainan until September and then assume a position at the Tainan Theological College and Seminary as a lay missionary. Her field of study is the history of Christianity in Taiwan, specializing in Protestant Christian history during the period when Japan ruled Taiwan. Tainan Theological College and Seminary itself refused to acquiesce to the requirement imposed on it by the Japanese government in July 1940 that all schools must have Japanese leadership and closed its doors instead. As one manifestation of our repentance before God and the world for this grave error during Japanese occupation, the Kyodan has been sending missionaries to this school. As we deepen our mutual connections, we aim towards reconciliation through cooperation and see this as one step in realizing our mutual mission agreement.

—Hironaka Yoshimi, staff
Commission on Ecumenical Ministries


 The Commissioning Service for missionary Ueda Yoko took place on Feb. 25, 2018 at Union Japanese Church of Westchester in the northern suburbs of New York City. Kato Makoto, executive secretary of the Commission on Ecumenical Ministries, presided over the service, with Akiyama Toru, chair of the Commission on Ecumenical Ministries, giving the sermon. Normally, such a commissioning service takes place in Japan, but because Ueda was already living in New York, it was decided to do both his commissioning service as well as his installation service as pastor of Union Japanese Church in New York. Union Japanese Church was begun by the Special Ministry to Japanese with only two regular members and two associate members. It meets in space provided by Hitchcock Presbyterian Church and is also supported by the UMC and RCA denominations at the local district level. As a part of its outreach, Hitchcock Church provides English language classes for non-native speakers of English, and many Japanese are included among the 70 participants in the weekly classes. Ueda takes advantage of this opportunity by participating in the class and, through this and the website he set up, publicizes the new Japanese church among the Japanese people living in the area. If you are ever in the vicinity, please stop by. (Tr. TB)

—Kato Makoto, executive secretary






 2018年2月25日(日)午後2時半からニューヨーク北部にあるユニオン日本語教会において上田容功宣教師の派遣式及び牧師就任式が執り行われた。司式は加藤誠世界宣教幹事、説教は秋山徹世界宣教委員会委員長が担当した。通常派遣式は日本で行われるが、上田容功宣教師はニューヨーク在住であるため、今回は異例ではあるが派遣式とユニオン日本語教会牧師就任式を同時に執り行う事となった。ユニオン日本語教会はSMJ(Special Ministry to Japanese)の働きから生み出された教会です。現在は現住陪餐会員2名、準会員2名の小さな群です。しかし会場を提供していただいているヒッチコック長老派教会やUMC, RCAのそれぞれの教区から援助をいただいて活動が支えられています。ヒッチコック教会の伝道活動の中に英語を母国語としない人を対象にしたリビングインアメリカという英会話のクラスには毎週70名が参加し、日本人も多くいます。上田宣教師も参加の機会が与えられ、周囲の日本人にユニオン日本語教会の存在を知っていただくために、ホームページもリニューアルして励んでおります。ニューヨークにご旅行の折は是非お訪ねください。(加藤 誠)

【April 2018 No.397】My Second Post-disaster Visit to Sendai: A Call to Action

by Shimozono Hitomi, second-year student at Tokyo Metropolitan University,
Member, Tsurukawa Church, Nishi Tokyo District

 In 2017, I participated in the Student Christan Fellowship’s Sendai Camp with 15 fellow SCF members. It was my second visit to Sendai since the disaster. The first time was in May 2013, when I was in ninth grade. Seeking to know how Sendai (a city I had enjoyed visiting while on vacation as a five-year-old) had changed after the 2011 quake, I traveled with my father and visited Sendai and Ishinomaki. Throughout the city the atmosphere was sad and, indeed, very little reconstruction had been completed. A vast area of land, from which everything had been washed away, spread out in one direction, though when I looked in another direction, I saw a mountain of rubble so huge that I had to look up to see the top of it. The feeling of my heart being torn apart, after witnessing the aftermath of the quake with my own eyes, is something I remember vividly to this day.

 When I visited Sendai in March 2017, six years after the disaster, I expected the city still to be overwhelmed with sadness. It was just one day prior to the March 11 anniversary. However, to my surprise, when I arrived at Sendai Station, the bustling atmosphere resembled that of Tokyo. Though, on the one hand, I was relieved that the people of Sendai seemed to be looking ahead, I also felt a bit distressed that the atmosphere now being created in Sendai seemed to convey the impression that “nothing had happened.”

 I met five Sendai Student Youth Center (SSC) members at this year’s camp. I heard that, previously, camp participants numbered in the dozens, but that following the disaster, the number of participants decreased dramatically. Furthermore, those participating this year did not talk much about the earthquake but rather about problems we were experiencing in looking for jobs, going to college— topics similar to those we usually talked about at SCF meetings. On March 11, during our walk from Arai Station to Arahama beach after taking the train from Sendai Station to Arai Station, we stopped to visit both the Sendai March 11 Memorial Community Center, (a place dedicated to educating people about the Great East Japan Disaster) and the Arahama Elementary School (which has been preserved as a historical monument).

 During these visits I realized there is no way that the people here could possibly be living as though nothing had happened. Though the rubble had been removed and the damage was becoming less and less obvious, it was still clearly evident just how high the water level had risen at the elementary school. When I saw the families mourning and staring offshore with their arms around each other, I realized once again that the survivors were indeed doing their best to carry on with their lives each day while, nevertheless at the same time, seeking to fill what must have felt like a large hole in the heart of each one of them. Furthermore, after seeing the way they were living, it became painfully clear to me how extraordinary a day March 11 had been for them. Six years after the earthquake, two things appeared to be especially evident, viz., on the one hand, the persistence of the survivors’ seemingly endless sense of sadness, but on the other, the survivors’ determination to live another year to the fullest.

 As I look back on that Sendai Camp, I came to realize that I had, in my mind, unwittingly been separating the stricken area (Sendai) from Tokyo. In our daily lives, even when we think about how survivors such as these are doing, if we take no action, it is human nature that we will gradually forget what has happened. At Arahama, we all prayed together, silently asking God, “Please give us the strength to work hard in everything we do, starting tomorrow.” Had I not visited Sendai, my prayer may merely have been, “Please heal the souls of the survivors.”

 Although the work of the SSC has been suspended and, for this reason also, the status of the Sendai Camp may also be changed, I hope to continue my visits to Tohoku each year on March 11. (Tr. DM)

—From Shinto no Tomo (Believers’ Friend),
February 2018 issue



下園一海  しもぞのひとみ首都大学東京2年、東京・鶴川教会員


















【April 2018 No.397】Feeling the Breath of God through Biotechnology

by Ueno Keiichiro, head of Research Planning

Kagoshima Prefectural Institute for Agricultural Development

Member, Kagoshima Kajiyacho Church, Kyushu District

 My parents met each other through the mukyokai (non-church) movement’s nationwide aino (meaning “love agriculture”) agricultural activities.  So I grew up watching my father engaged in farming, with him sometimes being in tears while at other times singing hymns. Also, my hometown of Fukuoka in Kyushu was rich in natural beauty, and I was fascinated by the beautiful world that God had made, so I chose to study science. My goal was to go to a university in Hokkaido, but the school I was able to get into was down south, in Kagoshima, where I studied agriculture for six years. During that time, I met my wife at an event that was attended by young people from several churches, and then we got married. I put down roots as an agricultural researcher of Kagoshima Prefecture, and I have been here in Kagoshima ever since.

 Because I am the eldest son in my family, even after I got married and got a job, I thought about returning to Fukuoka. However, I kept in mind the words of my parents. “What you can save by returning to your hometown is only our household, just one farming family. You must do work in Kagoshima, as that will bring joy to many farming families.”

 That is how I became engaged in my job as a researcher. For many years, I have been working on using biotechnology to produce improved varieties of chrysanthemums, sweet potatoes, and other types of produce. I think there are many people who, when they hear the word “biotechnology,” feel that it is against the laws of nature, or that it infringes on God’s domain. However, biotechnology is something that draws out the power that living things originally possess. Whenever we encounter some new knowledge or discovery, we can become more skillful in realizing the depth and splendor of God’s creation. And we can feel the breath of God.

 To give a concrete example, from autumn until spring, one can see white ring chrysanthemums at flower shops and funeral homes all over Japan. Those chrysanthemums are mostly a variety called jinme, (literally “sacred horse.”) They are pure white and beautiful, but it is necessary to remove the side sprouts one by one by hand, which is a very time-consuming task. So I began my research by producing thousands of chrysanthemums from the leaves of jinme chrysanthemums and then choosing only the best of those. Among the types I chose, two varieties had few side sprouts, making the task of removing them much easier. Then I started to have a little fun with the words. I said, “Now we have a new jinme.” I took the word “now,” which is ima in Japanese, and the jin of jinme, and put them together to make imajin (which is how the English word “imagine” is transliterated into Japanese). Then I took the word “new,” which is ara in Japanese, and the jin of jinme, and put them together to make arajin (which is how “Aladdin” is transliterated). I called the two new varieties “Imagine” and “Aladdin.” The flower of Aladdin is big, and this new type of jinme is now being produced all over the country, as if it really did come out of a magic lamp!

 Ten years ago, I relocated to Tanegashima Island. At that time, though it was the beginning of the sweet potato boom, the quality and yield size were unstable. Through repeated research, we developed a way to stabilize the yield and provide a steady flow of healthy, excellent seedlings to farming families. Now, moist Anno sweet potatoes are lined up in stores all over Japan. I am so happy that people appreciate the delicious flavor of the authentic Anno sweet potatoes produced in Tanegashima.

 This kind of achievement is greatly influenced by the presence of the members who worked together with us. It is not just about research and technology. When many people—including municipalities, agricultural cooperatives, and producers—combine their efforts, they can create something new. In the same way, my life was greatly influenced by getting to know my research companions. Thirty years ago I made some friends from all over the country when I went to Tsukuba for training to learn biotechnology, and this experience resulted in me going to America 20 years ago to study for one year. It was my first time to live overseas in an unfamiliar place, and I was so anxious. However, when I found out that it was the same city as Amherst College, where William Smith Clark had served as president, and where Uchimura Kanzo and Niijima Jo (also known as Joseph Hardy Neeshima) had studied as international students, it impacted me greatly. I felt that God was telling me this about my life: “You did not choose me, but I chose you.” (John 15:16) I realized that God’s plan, though it may start out as just a point, the point becomes a line, the line becomes a plane, the plane becomes a solid, and God’s plan transcends the dimensions and comes close to us. God said to Abraham, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.” As for me, I left my household in Fukuoka, and now I can finally accept that these words are also about myself.

 The church I belong to, Kagoshima Kajiyacho Church, operates a kindergarten called Keiai Yochien on the same property. My wife was a teacher there, so I also got involved in the events at both the church and the kindergarten. Again this year (2017), I am on the committee in charge of the Christmas events. The candlelight service, complete with the sound of the pipe organ playing hymns, has been held on Dec. 24 in the evening, every year. This event has a 40-year history. Including visitors, more than 250 people attend this event, which is more than three times as many as attend our normal worship service. The sanctuary is overflowing with God’s blessings! Christmas is a time to wait expectantly for the Lord of reconciliation, blessing, and peace. This year’s theme is “Joyful News From Heaven.” We want to prepare to spread the joyful news to as many people as possible! (Tr. KT)

—From Shinto no Tomo (Believers’ Friend), December 2017 issue












 私が所属する鹿児島加治屋町教会は、併設する敬愛幼稚園と共に歩んでいます。敬愛幼稚園の先生をしていた妻とともに、私も教会や幼稚園の行事に関わってきました。今年も、委員として担当するクリスマスが近づいています。12月24日夜のパイプオルガンと賛美歌が響くキャンドルサービスは、40年ほどの歴史があります。一般の方も含め、当日は普段の礼拝の3倍以上、250名を超える人々が集い、礼拝堂が恵みに満ちあふれます。和解と祝福、平和の主を待ち望むクリスマス、今年のテーマ「天のかなたから、うれしい知らせ」を、ひとりでも多くの方々に伝えられるよう、準備を進めていきたいと思います。 (信徒の友2017年12月号より)