【December 2018 No.400】Christmas: A Time to Celebrate the Birth of our Savior

 by Chibana Sugako, Kyodan missionary

                                                                                                        Sakai Keishi Memorial Church

                                                                                                        Pirapo Free Methodist Church, Paraguay


Every year Christmas is celebrated around the world. Here in Paraguay, the Christmas vacation begins in mid-December. People who are working far from home use this time to return to their hometowns to celebrate Christmas and enjoy being with family. Once Christmas Eve becomes Christmas Day, people light fireworks, and the greetings “Felicidades de navidad!” (Merry Christmas) can be heard.

Why is Christmas a time to celebrate? Is it because families are able to come together to see each other and celebrate their growth and safety? Of course, that is something to celebrate. However, the real reason for celebration is something else. The reason is that good news “which will bring great joy to all the people” (Luke 2:10b) was announced. That good news was the birth of our savior, the news that Jesus Christ has come from Heaven to dwell with us on earth. Therefore, at Christmas we remember this event and worship together. Christmas literally means “Christ’s Mass,” or “the worship of Christ.”

The events of that first Christmas are recorded in the Gospel of Luke. On a winter evening, angels appeared and, in an instant, a dark sky became as bright as noonday. The angels announced the joyful news of the birth of the savior. This news was first announced to poor shepherds. It seems that shepherds were looked down upon by the average Jew in those days, and generally avoided. They were poor, with no social standing. However, it was to these poor and powerless people that God first chose to share the good news of Christmas.

After the angels announced the birth of the savior to the shepherds, they told them, “You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” As the surprised shepherds looked upward, a great army of angels gathered, singing “Glory to God in the highest heaven” in loud voices of praise.

So what do you think the shepherds did after they heard the chorus of angels? Did they doubt the angels, saying “There is no way that our savior will be born in the manger of a stable.” No they didn’t. They believed the angels and quickly took action. They hurried to the stable where they found Joseph, Mary, and the baby Jesus. With their own eyes they were able to see Christ.

After that, “The shepherds went back, singing praises to God for all they had heard and seen; it had been just as the angel had told them.” (Luke 2:20) In this way, the first Christmas was presented to us by poor shepherds who dwelt at the lowest level of society. After praising the baby Jesus with great joy, they returned to their homes. But they did not keep their joy to themselves, they shared their story of Jesus’ birth with everyone they met. In other words, they were evangelists. It’s a great story, isn’t it!

These shepherds did not yet know how salvation through this baby would work, but I believe that their experience had given them the conviction that this child would remember them and save them. Those of us living today know how Jesus saved us. Yes, we know that our salvation came through the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. Christ, through giving his life in our place on the cross, has atoned for our sins. And through his resurrection on the third day, our sins have been forgiven, and we have been given eternal life.

We are certain that Christ came to earth. And Christ has told us, “I will be with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matt. 28:20) Because the Lord is always beside us, there is no reason to fear death, nor is there a need for us to fear what the future holds for us. Rather, let us depend upon the Lord, and like the shepherds, let us praise Him as we continue our Christian journey. (Tr. JS)


ピラポ自由メソジスト 酒井兄姉記念教会




 毎年、世界各地でクリスマスが祝われます。ここパラグアイでは12月半ばからクリスマス休暇となります。出身地から遠くはなれて生活している人々は、この期間に帰省し、家族と一緒にクリスマスを祝い楽しく過ごします。クリスマスイブから日付が変わるころ、方々で花火が打ち上げられ「Felicidades de navidad!(クリスマスおめでとう)」の声も高らかに聞こえてきます。















【December 2018 No.400】General Assembly Elects Officers, Signs New Mission Agreement

The 41st Kyodan General Assembly was held Oct. 23–25 at the Hotel Metropolitan in Ikebukuro, Tokyo, with the theme “Building Up an Evangelistic Kyodan—Recovering the Life and Vitality of Evangelism.” Of the allotted 400 delegates, 376 were in attendance.

Moderator Ishibashi Hideo began with an apology for the 17-month vacancy in the possition of general secretary and reported on the process of choosing a new candidate, which led to the election of General Secretary Akiyama Toru who officially assumed this role in April 2018. The moderator’s report contained the following statistic: The number of baptisms during 2016 was 939, the lowest number on record. Thus the need for the theme, “Recovering the Life and Vitality of Evangelism.” To address this need, it was proposed that a task force on evangelism in the Kyodan be established, consisting of the Kyodan moderator, vice-moderator, and secretary along with eight district moderators and eight Executive Council members. This task force would prepare a proposal on structural reform to the 42nd Kyodan General Assembly in 2020.

In his report, General Secretary Akiyama Toru reported on the continuing recovery programs related to the 2011 Great East Japan Disaster and the 2017 Kumamoto/Oita Earthquake, along with the response of the Natural Disaster Relief Task Force he set up to deal with the various disasters that occurred this year during the period of July through September. These included the earthquake in northern Osaka, the floods in western Japan, the earthquake in eastern Iburi in Hokkaido, and Typhoon #21 (called Jebi by Western media).

The election of Kyodan leaders resulted in the reelection of Ishibashi Hideo as moderator for a fifth term. In the election of vice-moderator, the top two nominees continued to the second round, with the result that Kuze Sorachi was chosen for his first term. The selection of secretary was based on the recommendation of the moderator and vice-moderator, with Kumoshikari Toshimi being confirmed for a fifth term. Of the 14 clergy elected to the Executive Council for the two-year term of the 41st General Assembly Period, 8 were first-timers, and 6 of the 13 lay members on the council will also be serving for the first time.

On the second day, the delegates discussed the mutual mission agreement with the Gereja Masehi Injili di Minahasa (GMIM) [Christian Evangelical Church in Minahasa]. The GMIM consists of about one million adherents in approximately 1,000 churches centered on the Minahasa Peninsula in the northern part of the island of Sulawesi.Relations with the Kyodan began in 1942, when the Japanese military began its occupation and the Education Ministry sent Japanese pastors there with a mandate to convince the Indonesians to cooperate with Japan’s war efforts. The Kyodan sent doctors and others to serve the people through “atonement activities” during the postwar years and then later under the Mission 21 Program. Other relationships were also formed, particularly with Kanto District. Following a question-and-answer session, the proposal was formally passed, and the signing ceremony for the mutual mission agreement was held in the afternoon. Following the signing, GMIM Moderator Hein Arina expressed his thanksgiving to God for divine guidance, and Moderator Ishibashi said, “I have signed this agreement in a spirit of repentance for our sins during Japan’s war of aggression while asking for forgiveness from our neighbors. I rejoice from the bottom of my heart at this signing ceremony.” (Tr. TB)

—Kato Makoto, executive secretary







【December 2018 No.400】The Spirit of the Founders of Tokyo Woman’s Christian University

by Sano Masako, professor of Christian Studies

Division of Humanities, School of Arts and Sciences

Tokyo Woman’s Christian University

Tokyo Woman’s Christian University (TWCU), one of the first Christian schools of higher education for women in Japan, was established in 1918, making the year 2018 the 100th anniversary of its founding. According to the Japanese education system at the time, the door to higher education was closed to women, so we began as a vocational school with a curriculum that was equivalent to a university standard. The English name used at the time of its establishment was, “Woman’s Christian College of Japan,” and after World War II, it was renamed “Tokyo Woman’s Christian College.” In 1976, it was renamed again Tokyo Woman’s Christian University. The challenge faced when establishing the college was to open a new era of education in Japan and provide higher education for women.The reason the singular “woman” was used  in the English name of the university was the desire to emphasize the importance of each individual.

The beginning of our university can be traced back to the World Missionary Conference in Edinburgh in June 1910. In the ecumenical spirit that was evident among the various denominations participating in the conference, a proposal was made to “establish Christian schools of higher education in the Orient.” The following year the head of the education committee in the U.S., Dr. John F. Goucher, came to Japan and met with teachers and missionaries of various denominations to discuss the possibility of establishing Christian institutions of higher education in Japan. As a result, in December 1912, a committee to promote education for women in Japan was formed in the U.S. with the cooperation of several Protestant denominations, and they worked to include the various special disciplines of women’s schools under one roof into one university.

The six missions that collaborated in the founding of this university were:

1. The American Baptist Church,

2. The Church of Christ (also known as The Disciples),

3. The Canadian Methodist Church,

4. The United Methodist Church,

5. The Presbyterian Church U.S.A., and

6. The Reformed Church in America.


At the time of our founding, the board of directors consisted of ten mission school representatives from the six missions and five Japanese Christians, and the establishment of TWCU was the result of the cooperation and prayers of those people from within and outside Japan.

Dr. Nitobe Inazo (our first president), Miss Yasui Tetsu (dean), and Dr. A.K. Reischauer (managing director) were the three persons who laid the cornerstone of TWCU. President Nitobe was a professor at Sapporo Agricultural College, the principal of First Higher School, Japan, and a professor at Tokyo Imperial University. Later he became an under-secretary general of the League of Nations. In his speech at our first graduation ceremony, he said the following concerning the type of education that is the goal of TWCU. “The principles of this institution are that we wish to take seriously individuality rooted in the Christian spirit, see those who are known as the smallest in the world as God’s children, and accomplish this by choosing insight over knowledge, valuing character over academic ability, and cultivating persons rather than human resources.” Against the present trend of valuing usefulness, President Nitobe transcended the mindset of the time by encouraging “respecting one’s character” and “working to cultivate persons.”

Having worked with President Nitobe, the superintendent, Miss Yasui, became the second president in 1923 and worked diligently to keep the university on track by holding worship every day even during a period darkened by war with China and World War II. Meiji Gakuin High School Principal A.K. Reischauer supported us as a founding representative and senior director throughout the early years with our financial difficulties.

Along with the main building and lecture hall, the white chapel built by Antonin Raymond in 1938 escaped damage during World War II, in part due to it being painted black along with the other buildings so as not to be conspicuous. The white steeple of the chapel, seen at one’s right when entering the main gate, remains a symbol of our university. Worship takes place daily from Monday through Friday from 10:30 to 10:50 a.m., and is attended by about 100 students. The stained glass on the front center and on the left and right sides of the chapel enhances the beautiful morning rays of the sun while soothing music is played on the organ. Through hymns, Bible reading, and listening to the sermon, students meet God, reflect on themselves spiritually, and are able to experience transcendence. So I believe that the worship experience has nurtured the formation of personality.

For the last 100 years, we have valued education that enhances personality formation based on Christianity by fostering each student with care. This is our educational philosophy. We have inherited that spirit and philosophy from the founders of our university, and no matter how much the needs of society change, “all that is truth” (QUAECUNQUE SUNT VERA) will be remembered in our hearts. This phrase (taken from Phil. 4:8), is our motto, which is engraved in Latin on the front of our main building, and we are committed to continuing this course for the next 100 years. (Tr. WJ)



           東京女子大学現代教養学部教授 佐野 正子

 東京女子大学は、日本で最初のキリスト教主義の女子高等教育機関のひとつとして、1918年に創立され、本年2018年に創立100周年を迎えました。開学当時の日本の教育制度では、大学の門戸は女子に対して閉ざされていましたが、本学はあえて「大学」と名乗り大学に相当する課程を設け、キリスト教の精神に基づく最高のリベラル・アーツ教育を目指しました。女子にも高等教育をという新しい時代を切り拓くための挑戦であったと言えます。創立当初の英語名は“Woman’s Christian College of Japan” でしたが、第2次世界大戦後“Tokyo Woman’s Christian College” とし、1976年に現在の英語名となりました。本学の英語名は、一人ひとりを大切にするというところから、創立以来“woman”と単数で表しています。

 本大学の創立の起源は、1910年6月に英国のエディンバラで開かれた世界宣教大会にさかのぼります。教派を超えて一致協力して世界宣教に当たろうというエキュメニカルな高まりの中で開催されたこの大会において、「東洋にキリスト教主義に基づく高等教育機関を設置する」との提案が採択されました。その翌年大会の教育委員会アメリカ部代表者であったジョンF. ガウチャー博士が来日し、各教派の宣教師や日本の代表的なキリスト教教育者たちとキリスト教主義の大学の設立の可能性について協議を重ねました。その結果1912年12月、日本に女子の高等教育機関をつくるための促進委員会が米国で設けられ、促進委員会は日本で女学校を営むプロテスタント諸教派に協力を仰ぎ、女学校の上にあった専攻科あるいは高等科を一つところに合同させ、女子の高等教育を各学校が個々に目指すのではなく、女子大学へと一本化することになりました。


 初代学長の新渡戸稲造、学監の安井てつ、常務理事のA. K. ライシャワーは、東京女子大学の礎を築いた3人です。新渡戸稲造は札幌農学校教授、第一高等学校校長、東京帝国大学教授を歴任後、本学の初代学長に就任、その後国際連盟事務次長を務めた国際人です。第1回卒業式の祝辞の中で、学長として本学の教育の目指すべき事柄を次のように語っています。「本校においてはキリスト教の精神に基づいて、個性を重んじ、世のいわゆる最小者いとちいさきものをも神の子と見なして、知識よりも見識、学問よりも人格を尊び、人材よりも人物の養成を主としたものであります。」有用性ばかりを重視して人材養成に重きをおく現代の風潮に対して、「人格を尊び」、「人物の養成を目指す」という新渡戸学長の言葉は、時代を超えて私たちに訴えかけています。

 新渡戸学長のもと学監を務めた安井てつは、1923年に第2代学長となり、国家主義が高まり、日中戦争、第二次世界大戦に至る暗黒の時代に、キリスト教主義大学としての本学を守り抜きました。A. K. ライシャワーは、明治学院高等学部長を務めるかたわら本学の設立に参画し、設立代表者・常務理事として、創立期の困難な財政を支えました。


 少人数教育により学生一人ひとりを大切に育て、キリスト教に基づく人格教育を行うという教育理念を、本学は創立以来100年間大切にしてきました。創設者たちの志を私たちも受け継ぎ、どんなに社会のニーズが変わろうとも、変わらない「すべて真実なこと」(QUAECUNQUE SUNT VERA)を心に留めて(本学の標語・フィリピの信徒への手紙4章8節・本館正面壁にラテン語で刻まれています)、これからの100年に向けて歩みを進めてまいりたいと思います。

【December 2018 No.400】Youth Mission in Taiwan Report

by Ishida Shinichiro, executive secretary

The Youth Mission in Taiwan is an exchange of youth from the Kyodan and the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan (PCT) and was held Aug. 17-27. Four Japanese youth who responded to an appeal in the Shinpo (The Kyodan Times) and one pastor visited Taiwan. On the Taiwanese side, four young adults (Taiwanese, Chinese, Japanese, and English speakers) guided the delegation from Taipei to Kaoshiung. Many of the members from both sides had become friends at the Youth Mission events in Japan (at Karuizawa, etc.) and the Tohoku District Camp of two years ago. This time, the Japanese side appointed a leader as well. A devotional time was held almost every morning and evening, with participants taking turns in leading as they read the Bible together and discussing what they read.

On Sunday, Aug. 19, we separated into four groups and worshiped in four churches in Taipei, interacting with youth of Sanyi Church in Miaoli County in the evening. From Aug. 20 we spent three nights at the PCT camp in central Taiwan. Built for the purpose of youth evangelism through assets given by Rev. Xia Wei, it is well used for nurturing the faith of youth. We learned that the continuation of the youth evangelism program has brought a harvest. The youth reciprocally introduced their churches and denominations and enjoyed going mountain climbing.

On Aug. 21 we met with persons in Snuwing Church (a church of the Seediq people) near the site of the Wushe Incident.* Those of advanced age spoke Japanese and were skillful in the art of weaving. The latter half of the day we toured the cities of Taichung and Kaoshiung and learned that during World War II, Kaoshiung had been bombed. That evening we enjoyed a “night market” there. On Sunday, Aug. 26, we all attended worship at Hsin Chuang Church in Kaoshiung (in Mandarin) and were given an opportunity to sing hymns in Japanese. The four churches I visited had drum sets and guitars, offering up traditional and the latest hymns.

Many Taiwanese are favorable toward Japan, but we also met people with harsh feelings. This is because of Japan’s colonial rule between 1895 and 1945. We must not forget that fact. But the Youth Mission participants interacted cordially and experienced a wonderful stimulus to their faith. I really hope this program is continued. (Tr. RT)


*The Wushe Incident, also known as the Musha Rebellion and several other similar names, began in October 1930 and was the last major uprising in Taiwan against Japanese colonial rule. In response to long-term oppression by Japanese authorities, the Seediq indigenous group in Wushe (Musha) attacked the village, killing over 130 Japanese. In response, Japanese forces led a relentless counter-attack, killing over 600 Seediq in retaliation. The handling of the incident by Japanese authorities was strongly criticized, leading to many changes in policy toward indigenous people.





 19日(日)は台北市の4教会に分かれて礼拝し、夕に苗栗縣の三義教会で青少年と交流した。20日(月)から中部のPCTのキャンプ場に三泊した。謝緯(Xie Wei)牧師という方が、青少年伝道のために献げた財で造られ、青少年の信仰のため有効に用いられている。青少年伝道のプログラムを継続することが実りをもたらすと学んだ。青年が互いの教団・教会を紹介し、山登りを楽しんだ。21日(火)は、霧社事件抗日運動の中で現場に近い史努櫻教会(セデック族の教会)で交流した。高齢者は日本語を話し、機織り(Weaving)の見事な技術をもつ。後半に台中市、高雄市を見学し、戦時中に高雄で空襲があったことを知った。夜市タイムも楽しんだ。26日(日)は高雄の新莊教会の礼拝(台湾語)に皆で出席し、日本語で讃美する機会を与えられた。私が訪ねた4教会にはドラムセットとギターがあり、伝統的な讃美と最新の讃美が献げられていた。親日的な方が多いが、日本に厳しい方にも会った。1895年~1945年に、日本が植民地支配をしたからである。そのことは、決して忘れてはいけない。しかし青年は親しく交流し、信仰的にすばらしい刺激を受けた。ぜひ継続してほしい。

【December 2018 No.400】The Response of the Kyodan and Its Districts to the 2018 Natural Disasters

In the early morning hours of September 6, a severe earthquake struck the eastern part of the Iburi district of Hokkaido. Measuring in spots up to a magnitude of 7.0 on the Japan Meteorological Agency’s Seismic Intensity Scale, the earthquake caused large-scale landslides, complete power failure across the entire island, and various disruptions of lifelines, resulting in 41 deaths. Reportedly, many families are still suffering with after-effects. Damage to churches and related buildings was not so severe, but with the help of other districts, Hokkai District has been transporting relief supplies to the heavily damaged areas of the eastern part of Iburi and is calling for funds from the entire church. Kyodan Secretary Kumoshikari Toshimi paid an official visit to the affected area, and the Kyodan is actively supporting Hokkai District in its efforts to provide mental and spiritual care.

There has been a spate of natural disasters in recent months. In July, the Kyodan set up the “West Japan Emergency Relief Fund” and called on all Kyodan churches to contribute. The donations received were added to the financial support received from the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan (PCT) and has been used to repair damage to churches and for general relief efforts related not only to the floods in western Japan but also to the earthquake in northern Osaka, Typhoon 21 (Jebi), and now the East Iburi Earthquake. So the request from Hokkai District is being dealt with carefully to avoid wasteful overlap.

Unlike the response to the Great East Japan Disaster of 2011 and the Kumamoto-Oita Earthquake, when the Kyodan set up a Response and Support Center under  the Executive Committee, this time a “Relief Planning Committee” has been formed under the general secretary, who will oversee these operations. In this time of climate change, there will no doubt continue to be large-scale natural disasters, so the Kyodan needs to take a further look at how best to respond.

Already the Kyodan is proactively working in mutual support with each district to send relief supplies and volunteers to disaster areas. Likewise, solidarity and exchanges are being furthered not only among Kyodan

churches but also interdenominationally—particularly among churches near affected areas —and internationally, as various church-related relief organizations send volunteers to assist. Thus, based on such experiences so far, the goal now is to further the development of this network of Kyodan churches and districts, together with other denominations both in Japan and overseas, to deal with these situations.

As mentioned above, the PCT as well as the United Church of Christ in the U.S. has sent funds to help with the relief efforts following the western Japan floods. Likewise, the Kyodan responded to the earthquake disaster in the Donggala district of the island of Sulawesi in Indonesia by sending funds through the Gereja Masehi Injili di Minahasa (GMIM) [Christian Evangelical Church in Minahasa]. Also, the Kyodan sent $10,000 through the Evangelisches Missionswerk in Solidaritat (EMS) to help with the relief efforts in the state of Kerala in India deal with the floods that occurred there in July, which took the lives of over 20,000 people. (Tr. TB)

—Akiyama Toru, general secretary

(Excerpt from a report given at the 41st Kyodan General Assembly)



秋山 徹総幹事