【February 2019 No.401】Executive Council Raises Restructuring Issues

The second Executive Council meeting of the present two-year (41st) Kyodan General Assembly period was held Dec. 27-28, 2018 at the Kyodan headquarters, with 28 members in attendance. After a period of self-introductions, Moderator Ishibashi Hideo began by saying he will pursue structural reforms while at the same time continuing to emphasize unity around the Kyodan Confession of Faith, the church constitution, and its bylaws, besides striving to recover the life and strength of evangelism in the Body of Christ.


General Secretary Akiyama Toru then explained the reason why systematic theology was added to the examination for licensed preachers by the Commission on Ministerial Qualifications during the 40th general assembly period: “the members of the commission were in agreement that the doctrinal understanding of recent candidates was weak.” He reported on preparations for the establishment of the “Kyodan Youth Platform” within the General Secretary’s Office to create a place where youth activities of the various entities within the Kyodan can be integrated and engage with each other.


The first day’s deliberations centered on discussions concerning Kyodan structural reforms. The facilitator, Secretary Kumoshikari Toshimi, explained that the purpose of this discussion was simply “to have everyone give their honest opinion so that we can get an idea of how to move forward and not to reach any specific agreements at this time.” Each participant expressed a sense of urgency concerning the finances of the Kyodan, so the discussion began with a call to take this situation very seriously. One common sentiment was that since each local church is the nucleus of evangelism, a critical factor in restructuring is the relationship between issues of local church viability and that of the Kyodan as a whole. Another opinion was that besides efforts to eliminate wasteful duplication by streamlining the work of local churches, districts, and the Kyodan as a whole, the clarification of roles that only the Kyodan itself can fulfill would open the way to implementing reforms. Likewise, numerous comments stressed the need for focus on financial issues along with the fear that taking a defensive, protective position in this crisis could damage efforts to promote evangelism.


The main agenda of the meeting was the selection of the members of the various commissions and standing committees. It was evident at this Executive Council meeting, however, that the six members of the Commission on Ecumenical Ministries, with its subcommittees on evangelism, education, and social concerns, are all serving together on the three subcommittees although they were appointed to serve as two members on each subcommittee. The 16 members of the Task Force on Evangelism were also selected. (Tr. TB)

 —Kato Makoto, executive secretary






【February 2019 No.401】PCT-Kyodan Consultation Convened in Japan

The 16th Joint Church Consultation between the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan (PCT) and the Kyodan was held Nov. 13-15 at Howa Seminar Plaza and Minamiyama Church in Aichi Prefecture, with 13 participants from the PCT and 30 from the Kyodan. The theme of the gathering was “Suffer Together, Rejoice Together” (1 Cor. 12:26). In a workshop prior to the consultation, the Kyodan participants learned about the 1930 Wushe Incident, the Feb. 28, 1947 Massacre, the 1979 Kaohsiung Incident, and the current relations between Taiwan and China. Kyodan Moderator Ishibashi Hideo preached the sermon at the opening worship service, and Vice-moderator Kuze Sorachi hosted the evening reception and dinner where participants were able to get acquainted.

On the second day, PCT General Secretary Lyim Hong-Tiong explained the political situation in Taiwan and spoke about the church’s mission and challenge to walk hand-in-hand with the people to seek “justice and peace.” In addition, there were reports on the work of missionaries Divan Suqluman in Hokkai District and Yuki Takai-Heller at Tainan Theological College and Seminary, and PCT Secretary Lin Wei-Lien reported on volunteer activities in Okayama following the torrential rains and flooding in western Japan in June and July 2018. Osaka District Moderator Ogasawara Jun also expressed his gratitude to the PCT for its aid after the earthquake that hit northern Osaka on June 18, 2018. In the afternoon, the assembly moved to Minamiyama Church and separated into groups that toured Silver Home Makiba (a Kyodan-run home for the elderly), the Aichi Farm facility, the Asian Health Institute Hospital, the Asian Health Institute (AHI), and a special nursing-care facility for elderly persons called “Nozomi” (Hope). In the evening, members of Minamiyama Church prepared a delicious meal of nabe stew and sukiyaki, and everyone enjoyed meaningful fellowship.

On the third day, the participants heard a report by young people on the Taiwan Youth Mission, as well as reports on the mission agreements between Hyogo District and Takao Presbytery and between Tohoku District and Kagi Presbytery, all of which affirmed the deepening cooperation of both denominations in a variety of settings. In addition, participants conferred on the writing of a joint declaration. At the closing worship service, PCT Moderator Hsieh Pao-Tsan delivered the sermon, and the consultation ended with all the participants joining hands and singing “Malji malji ti Yisusama” (Thank and praise the Lord) in the Paiwan language (an indigenous language of Taiwan and one of its national languages). (Tr. DB)

—Sato Takafumi, secretary Commission on Taiwan Church Relations


第16回台湾基督長老教会Presbyterian Church in Taiwan(PCT)と日本基督教団との教会協議会

 第16回台湾基督長老教会Presbyterian Church in Taiwan(PCT)と日本基督教団との教会協議会が、11月13日から15日まで、愛知県の邦和セミナープラザと南山教会を会場にして開催された。主題は「共に悩み、共に喜ぶ」(第一コリント12:26)、参加者はPCTから13名、教団からは30名であった。教団参加者は協議会前に事前研修をおこない、1930 年の霧社事件や1947年の2.28事件、1979年の高雄事件)や中台関係などついて学んだ。開会礼拝では石橋秀雄総会議長が説教を担当し、久世そらち(Kuze Sorachi)総会副議長の司会で歓迎夕食会が開かれ、懇談の時を持った。

 2日目の協議では、PCTの林芳仲総幹事より、台湾が置かれている政治的状況についての解説があり、民衆と共に歩む「正義と平和」を求める教会の使命と挑戦についての発題があった。さらにディバン・スクルマン宣教師の北海教区での働きと、高井ヘラー由紀宣教師の台南神学院 での働きが報告され、PCTの林偉聯幹事が西日本豪雨災害における岡山でのボランティア活動報告をした。小笠原純大阪教区議長からは大阪北部地震の際のPCTからの支援に対する謝辞が述べられた。午後は南山教会へ移動し、グループにわかれてシルバーホームまきばと愛知牧場、愛知国際病院、AHI(アジア保健研修所)、特別養護老人ホームのぞみを見学した。夕食は南山教会の方々が準備して下さった鍋料理とすき焼きを堪能し、交流を深めた。3日目は青年たちによる台湾ユースミッション報告と、兵庫教区と高雄中会との宣教協約報告、東北教区と嘉義中会との宣教協約報告を聞き、両教団が様々な場で協力を深めていることを確認した。さらに共同声明文作成のための協議をおこなった。閉会礼拝ではPCTの薛伯讚(Hsieh, Pao-Tsan)議長が説教を担当し、最後は参加者全員で手をつないで「マリ・マリ・ティ・イエスさま」をパイワン語で賛美して協議会を終えた。佐藤飛文(台湾協約委員会書記)

【February 2019 No.401】Statement on Ceremonies related to Imperial Abdication and Enthronement

by Ishibashi Hideo, Kyodan Moderator

 During the period of April 30 and May 1, 2019, the present emperor is scheduled to abdicate his throne and the new emperor is to be enthroned. We wish to express our opposition to the various ceremonies related to these events, particularly the daijosai ceremony [in which the new emperor makes an offering of rice to the Shinto gods]. Following are the reasons for our position.


1. As the various religious ceremonies surrounding the abdication and ascension to the throne are supposed to be religious ceremonies of a private nature conducted by the Imperial Household, having the national government hold the daijosai as a public event gives the impression that the emperor has a separate existence from that of ordinary citizens so leads back to the former deification of the emperor.


2. Having the national government participate in the religious ceremony called the daijosai is in clear violation of Japan’s Constitution, which guarantees religious freedom and the separation of religion from government.


3. No matter how public funds used for the daijosai are labeled, such expenditures of government funding are a violation of the separation of religion from government, as expressly stated in the Constitution.


As followers of Christ who live according to the teaching of Scripture that no being is to be made into a god other than the true God, we express our unyielding opposition to the participation of the government in all religious ceremonies, and particularly the daijosai.(Tr. TB)


July 9, 2018



日本基督教団総会議長  石 橋  秀 雄







【February 2019 No.401】Living with Illness II

My Disease Makes Life Seem More Precious

by Hoshino Takuya, member Sugamo Tokiwa Church, Tokyo District

I am a 47-year-old man, and since May 2014, I have been commuting to a hospital three times a week for dialysis treatment due to chronic renal failure caused by an, as yet, undetermined condition. I realized that up to now, I have never really prayed to God to cure me, to heal my disease.

In dialysis treatment, blood is filtrated by machine through two tubes inserted into blood vessels in the arm, and each session takes about four hours. During that time, I lie down in bed and watch movies on DVDs, or I sleep. In four years, the number of movies I have watched has grown to be at least 800. There are even times when I am scolded by medical personnel for snoring loudly! I commute to a hospital that is a five-minute walk from my home, so in my everyday life, I haven’t been particularly inconvenienced by having to undergo dialysis. Dialysis treatment involves withdrawing and reinserting blood. Before beginning dialysis I thought it would be scary and painful, but actually, it is relaxing.

Perhaps the reason I haven’t been praying for healing is that in my case, the disease and dialysis treatment itself is not so difficult physically. But I was afraid of living as a dialysis patient and as a person with a handicap in a society of healthy people. I thought, “I do not want to live for so long, just for the purpose of having a long life, if I have to live connected to a bunch of tubes.” I cannot deny that this thought was a reflection of the way I looked at the existence of sick people and people with handicaps who are living now. In order to avoid being seen that way myself, I denied the fact that I was a patient with an incurable disease. I pretended to be a healthy person even though I was a person with a handicap. As much as my physical strength allowed, I began going to a gym, swimming in the pool, and running at night. With a saxophone in hand, I also began going to a bar to participate in jazz sessions. Basically, I wanted to be considered a member of the society of healthy people and thought I could achieve that by distancing myself from the typical lifestyle of a sick person.

I thought, “I do not want to live, if I have to live connected to a bunch of tubes.” And I did not even doubt my assumption that such thinking protects my own dignity. At present there are still just two tubes, but it seems that “life connected to a bunch of tubes” is becoming more of a reality than before. However, I certainly do not think that I want to quit living. Rather, I think that I want to live even more. It is ironic, because I thought that getting close to death meant that as the possibilities in one’s life decrease, one’s obsession with living would also decrease.

Even though I cannot even see what kind of work I should do, and though the reality is that I have this disease, I still think that I want to live. I think the reason I want to live is just because I do not understand well the task of a living person. Perhaps I want to live because the kind of work I thought I should do and the kind of work God is entrusting to me are different. I have discovered that though we only see reality as being “closed,” God announces that it is “open.” Let’s just say the reason is that God uses us as the world’s debris in a way that we cannot even imagine.

Though we know that life and death belong to God, we human beings have a dark desire to control one’s life and death, and other people, and to behave as the ruler of life and death. I think that is the reason for the following phenomenon: when our health is in a serious condition, we request to be notified of the fact, yet it is common for us to hesitate to inform our own close relatives when they are in such a situation.

Living is a process of discarding and giving up on various things but, of course, for a person with a disease, the rate of that process will be faster than that of other people. The number of tubes connected to me will not become fewer than at present; rather the number will increase more and more. Just as I thought four years ago when two tubes were connected to me, the more tubes there are, the more life becomes a precious thing to me. In spite of the way reality appears, we have the strength, the ability, and the will to go on living. I think this understanding itself is from the “Word which was in the beginning,” and it is this that supports me even when I have a twisted view of myself. (Tr. KT)

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




 私は、47歳の男性で、原疾患を不明とされる慢性腎不全(chronic renal failure)により2014年5月より透析dialysis治療のため、週に3度通院をしていますが、今日まで「病気を治してください、癒やしてください」と祈ったことがなかったことに気付きました。







【February 2019 No.401】60th Ou District Retreat Highlights History and Hope

by Hirasawa Noboru, pastor Morioka Matsuzono Church

It is with a grateful heart that I make this report on our annual Ou District Retreat from July 30 to Aug. 1. It was held at the Yumori Hotel Kaikan in Tsunagi hot spa area. The main speaker was Fujimoto Mitsuru, pastor of Immanuel General Mission Takatsu Church. The theme of the retreat was “A Church Living In Hope; Learning From History.” The lecture titles were “The Gospel Shared in the Course of Our Calling” and “Hope in God, Hope in Us.” The retreat began with a message by Muraoka Hiroshi, pastor of Hirosaki Church and chair of the Commission on Ou District’s Commission on Mission.

While introducing himself and sharing with us his relationship with the Kyodan, in his first lecture Fujimoto spoke about missionaries who were called to evangelism in Japan. He pointed out that our journey in mission begins when we encounter Jesus Christ and that mission itself is the work of Jesus Christ. Then he spoke about Paul: how he was chosen and how, in the midst of hardships, he continued in hope to follow Jesus and pass on the baton of mission and evangelism.

In his second lecture, Fujimoto challenged us by asking if we were not much like the early disciples who, when told to go to the other side of the lake, lost sight of Jesus while looking at the stormy sea. The church in Japan, which seems to be struggling in its evangelistic mission, is faced with what is called the “2030 Dilemma”: decreasing number of pastors, aging congregations, and fewer children. However, our mission is Christ’s mission, and he walks with us and shares in the hardships we face. Fujimoto continually stressed to us that our hope is in Christ, and his impassioned words energized and encouraged all of us.

For our optional tour, we visited four churches in Morioka, using a microbus and a minivan. Over 40 participants joined us, and we visited Yotsuya Church (Roman Catholic), Uchimaru Church (Kyodan), Morioka Anglican Church, and Morioka Orthodox Church in Japan. During our visits, we were able to hear about the traditions of each church and the challenges they are facing. The decline in membership and pastors was mentioned. We felt the seriousness of the problems, but we were grateful for the warm welcome we received at each church. The participants said that the tour was a good experience.

There were also three workshops. One dealt with cults and possible countermeasures; another dealt with the problems connected to the nuclear fuel cycle; and the third workshop dealt with sexual discrimination. These workshops were followed by a full group discussion and closing worship. I give thanks for God’s guidance and blessings throughout the retreat.

* * *

Ou District Children’s Retreat, A Welcoming Event

by Kato Naoki, pastor Kitakami Church

As children gathered in the tatami (rice-mat) room on the first day of the Ou District Retreat, you could see the mixture of expectation and tension in their facial expressions. Among the three staff members, the feeling was the same. The “Retreat for Children” began with three youngsters, varying in age from the last year of kindergarten to junior high school, who sat awkwardly at a table. However, after listening to Pastor Matsuura Yusuke of Shimonohashi Church speak about “Shalom” (peace), then working together to make attractive door plates, there were comfortable smiles on the faces of everyone.

On the second day we went outside, in spite of some concern about the heat. In front of us was a public square with a water fountain. It wasn’t long before the children were playing together in the water—at first up to their ankles, then up to their knees, and finally, getting their clothes wet. One of our staff, Sato Midori, member of Kitakami Church got into the water with the children. During the break afterward, everyone tried different challenges on the adventure playground next to the square.

On the third day, the children and staff used a variety of rubber stamps in various sizes and shapes to make colorful images on a large piece of paper as we recalled our experiences during the retreat. In between the stamps we attached origami and pictures that reminded us of what we had seen and shared during our three days together. We were able to create a work that brought smiles and reflected the joys we had experienced. The junior high student who had gotten sick was able to rejoin us, bringing our three days together to a very happy conclusion. I should add that some of the children younger than five, were in the nursery that shared the same room with us.

I give thanks to Jesus, to the churches, and to the families for sending their children to participate in our retreat. (Tr. JS)

From Ou Kyoku Tsushin (Ou District News) , No. 325 Summarized by KNL Editor Kawakami Yoshiko



   盛岡松園教会 平澤 昇牧師


 宣教部長の村岡博史牧師(弘前教会)のメッセージで始まり、講演一では、藤本先生が自己紹介や日本基督教団との関係などにも触れ れ、日本伝道へと選ばれた宣教師について語られました。また、主イエスとの出会いからすべての歩みが始まることを通して、宣教は主イエスの働きであること。そして、パウロが選ばれ、パウロは試練の中にあっても希望をもって主イエスを見上げ、宣教に励み、宣教のバトンを繋いだことが語られました。







北上教会 加藤直樹



 三日目は、一緒に過ごした三日間を思い出しながら、全員で一つのものを作りました。 子どもたちやスタッフが、大きさや形も様々な、色とりどりの手のスタンプを(大きな紙に)押しました。スタンプの間には、この三日間で一緒に見たものの絵や折り紙がいっぱいに貼られ、笑顔になれる思い出が、ぎゅっとつまった作品を一緒に作ることができました。体調不良でダウンしていた中学生も合流でき、本当に嬉しい三日目となりました。