【June 2019 No.403】2019 Missionary Conference Highlights Current Concerns

The 2019 Missionary Conference was held at Seisen-ryo in Yamanashi Prefecture March 25-28 and was attended by 25 missionaries serving in Kyodan churches or associated schools, 9 of their family members, and 8 Kyodan staff members.


The Missionary Conference is an annual event offering a chance for Kyodan missionaries to gather, establish mutual support, and experience physical and spiritual refreshment. This year missionaries, their family members, and Kyodan staff enjoyed wonderful fellowship and fruitful discussion in the beautiful environment of Seisen-ryo. During the discussion session, each participant joined a group focused on one of the following six topics.


1. Preaching to Young Adults at Schools

Missionaries serving at schools shared their experiences of preaching to students. Visual clues, such as PowerPoint slides, were suggested to enhance the understanding of students when the message is preached in English.


2. Bringing Young People to Church

The participants are aware that the younger generations are absent from most of the Kyodan churches. It was suggested that churches should collaborate together to organize public events like music festivals, game competitions, or intercultural parties to attract young people to church. Including contemporary music in worship services was also considered as an effective means of encouraging young people to participate in worship.


3. Serving as a Missionary at a Church

Missionaries serving at churches usually face a dilemma: whether to introduce new ideas to the congregation or to respect the tradition, culture, and authority of the church. Missionaries should be aware and learn from churches’ histories and should be in agreement with and committed to the mission of the local congregation. However, at the same time, missionaries want to share their ideas and gifts with the congregation. Participants hope to convey the message that missionaries are not trying to take over the church but instead want to enrich the community by sharing their gifts.


4. Best Topics to Talk about at Church

Participants stated that the Christian community should be vocal on social and ethical issues like abortion and the practice of homosexuality. In order to make a concrete stand, discussions among churches and communities are necessary.

5. Evangelism Events

In spite of the fact that outreach is one of the fundamental responsibilities of Christian individuals and Christian communities, outreach ministries in Kyodan churches are rather limited. Ideas on how to address this issue included organizing concerts as well as sports events following the Olympics boom.


6. The most Difficult Part of our Mission

Missionaries work with various people. Dealing with interpersonal relationships is the most difficult part of mission work. Besides cultural differences and barriers, missionaries and local pastors sometimes face offensive opinions or even attacks from the congregation. Prayer support and understanding from loved ones is essential during such critical times.


Seisen-ryo is located on spacious grounds surrounded by the bounteous natural beauty of Kiyosato in Yamanashi Prefecture, so groups take advantage of this location to hold a variety of programs. On the morning of the second day, the participants split into three groups. One group made butter on a dairy farm; another hiked through the forest under the guidance of a ranger; and a third group toured the Paul Rusch Memorial Museum. Paul Rusch was the founder of the Keep Association, which operates Seisen-ryo, and he is well known as the person who introduced American football to Japan. Rusch drilled three wells on the spacious property, and even today those three wells provide the drinking water for the main Seisen-ryo facility, the Seisen-ryo School of Nature, and the camping grounds. As the missionaries were really impressed by this place, the plans are to hold next year’s conference at Seisen-ryo again.

The conference ended with a memorial worship service, a reflection session, and a closing worship service, with communion. The memorial worship service honored missionaries who served in Japan and have gone to their heavenly reward. They were individually named, along with their years and places of service. This was a very special moment when current missionaries could learn about and remember former missionaries and embrace their spirit of dedication to God and to the people God gave them to serve. A new planning committee was elected at the end of the conference to carry out the next conference and nurture the spirit of fellowship among missionaries who serve in the Kyodan.


The missionary conference has been a 2-night, 3-day affair, but this year, it was a 3-night, 4-day event. Also, as a firsttime experiment, a continuing overnight conference for mission personnel sent from Korea was held as a second session. Of the approximately 60 mission personnel working within the Kyodan, only 2 of those serving as senior pastors in Kyodan churches are from countries other than Korea, while 9 Korean missionaries serve in that capacity. Missionaries from Korea are becoming increasingly important to the functioning of the Kyodan. The Kyodan moderator, vice moderator, secretary, general secretary, an executive secretary and a staff member joined together with three representatives from the PCK and KMC and eight Korean missionaries for this important event in which the missionaries could share their concerns and issues.

                           —Kennis Lam, Kyodan missionary and

                              Kato Makoto, executive secretary





















【June 2019 No.403】Kyodan Representatives Attend 64th PCT General Assembly

The 64th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan was held April 23-26, 2019 at Mackay Memorial Hospital in Taipei, with the theme “Members bound together in love—Lives bear witness to Christ.” Kyodan General Secretary Akiyama Toru, Vice-moderator Hattori Osamu of Higashi Chugoku District, and Executive Secretary Kato Makoto of the Kyodan’s Commission on Ecumenical Ministries represented the Kyodan. Higashi Chugoku District’s Vice-moderator Hattori attended to express gratitude to the assembly for sending 5 teams totaling 20 carpenters from throughout Taiwan following the flooding of the Okayama Hirashima area of western Japan to do reconstruction work on damaged homes.


There were approximately 600 participants at the general assembly, including 40 overseas guests. Mobile receivers were passed out among the guests to enable simultaneous English or Japanese translations. This time PCT provided a team of translators, consisting of seven young adults. Taiwan is a country composed of many nationalities, with many languages and cultures. However, PCT has firmly persisted in using mainly Taiwanese at the general assembly from before the time of Japanese rule. Although the young adults received their compulsory education in Chinese, they managed to translate from Taiwanese, which they were unaccustomed to hearing, into Japanese.


The election of the PCT moderator was held during the proceedings on the first evening. The term of service is one year, and there is no re-election. Through this election process, the vice-moderator is usually elected as moderator for the next term. This year as well, Vice-moderator Rev. Chen Jiahn-yueh was elected as moderator. Rev. Abus Takisvilainan, a Taiwan native from Bunun Presbytery, was elected vice-moderator. On the second and third days, three special programs were prepared for overseas guests: visiting institutions for elderly persons, visiting the National 228 Memorial Museum, and attending the explanatory session of the Taiwan Ecumenical Forum. The 228 Memorial Exhibition commemorates what happened on Feb. 28, 1947. This is said to be Taiwan’s most sorrowful incident during which more than 28,000 persons were massacred throughout Taiwan. From then until 1987 the country was governed by martial law, and the PCT terms this period as the “White Terror Era.”*


During the morning of the third day, as an ecumenical sharing group, we were sent to the International Japanese Language Church. There Usuki Midori, a Kyodan missionary, spoke mainly about the relationship of the World Council of Churches, the PCT, and the Kyodan before and after 1991. (Tr. RT)


*The “White Terror Era” is the period of political repression in Taiwan begun in the 1940s by the Republic of China government.

                                 —Kato Makoto, executive secretary




 初日の夜のプログラムでは議長選挙が行われた。PCTでは議長の任期は1年であり再選はない。通例は選挙を経て副議長が議長に当選する。今年も陳見岳牧師 が副議長から議長へ当選した。副議長には原住民である布農中会から阿布絲・打給絲非來南牧師 が当選した。2日目と3日目には海外ゲストのために3つの特別プログラムが用意された。高齢者受入施設の訪問と228記念館訪問、そして台湾エキュメニカル・フォーラム説明会である。228記念館は1947年2月28日に起きた、台湾全土で2万8千人以上が犠牲になった台湾で最も悲しい事件と言われる。それから1987年まで戒厳令が布かれるが、この期間をPCTはWhite Terror Eraと表現する。


【June 2019 No.403】Kyoto District Church Holds Special Event on Earthquakes

“From Miyagi Prefecture to Kumamoto: How baked Sweet Potatoes Connect two Earthquakes” was the theme of an earthquake-preparedness gathering sponsored by Kyoto Aoi Church in Kyoto District.

It has been eight years since the Great East Japan Earthquake and three years since the Kumamoto Earthquake. In a country like Japan, where there are numerous earthquakes, this could happen again anywhere. Kyoto Aoi Church held a special event on Jan. 20, 2019 in an effort to learn more about the reality of earthquakes and what to do when an earthquake occurs. Suenaga Tsuyoshi and Horita Naotaka were invited to speak. Both men experienced earthquakes and have traveled all around Japan sharing those experiences. They told the 45 of us, including children, of their experiences and the current conditions in the areas affected. As a way of raising funds to support relief work in Kumamoto, baked sweet potatoes were prepared for the participants.


As a resident of Miyagi Prefecture, Suenaga experienced the Great East Japan Earthquake. However, as a volunteer at the Tohoku Disaster Relief Center, Emmaus, he also took part in relief efforts. From his experiences, he spoke about the response required following an earthquake.


When the Kumamoto Earthquake occurred, Horita was working at the Nishihara Town Office and took leadership in ensuring that 800 residents of the town were taking care of themselves at the local elementary school, which was the designated evacuation shelter. After three years, some normalcy has returned, but they are still in recovery, and rebuilding in some areas has yet to begin. At the home of Horita’s parents, who are sweet potato farmers, the storehouse where sweet potatoes are stored for their final ripening was destroyed. As a farming family that has continued over several generations, they are in the midst of efforts to rebuild and continue farming.


Geographically, Kyoto is quite far from the areas affected by the two earthquakes. However, listening to the personal accounts of Suenaga and Horita, the participants could keenly sense the reality of earthquakes. In particular, the following words of the speakers stayed with us. “At the time of an earthquake, of utmost importance are the personal relationships of those affected. In the midst of an emergency, communication with people leads to peace of mind, and peace of mind then leads to solidarity.”


The baked sweet potatoes that were sold at the event were grown on the farm of Horita’s parents. Suenaga, who came to Kumamoto as a volunteer from Miyagi, had become acquainted with Horita’s parents. Since that time, Suenaga has traveled across the country selling sweet potatoes that he bakes on hot stones in a small truck he has remodeled for that purpose.


Suenaga’s relationship with Kyoto Aoi Church began because the pastor of Kyoto Aoi Church, Rev. Uchiyama Tomoya, was also a volunteer at Emmaus in Sendai. While we learned about the considerable damage left in the wake of these earthquakes, we also learned how people have been connected through these experiences. (Tr. JS)

                  —From Shinto no Tomo (Believers’ Friend), April 2019


宮城県から熊本へ 焼き芋がつなぐ2つの震災







 末永さんと京都葵教会がつながったのも、当教会の内山友也牧師が仙台の「エマオ」でボランティアをしたことからだ。大きな傷を残した震災だが、人と人をつなげていることを知る機会ともなった。(まとめ 編集部)「信徒の友4月号」より

【June 2019 No.403】Work of Tohoku Disaster Relief Center, Emmaus, Ended

The Kyodan Tohoku Disaster Relief Center, Emmaus, which received much support, concluded its activities at the end of March 2019. On March 23, 2019, Tohoku District held a gathering to express its thanks to the relief center for all its activities during the past eight years.


The gathering commenced with a worship service that was followed by a time of fellowship. The 60 attendees included people from churches within the district, former staff workers, meal volunteers, staff who were involved in the initial establishment of the center, and the former chairperson of the Sasayashiki neighborhood association. There were reunions with old friends; and some who couldn’t make it to the gathering sent video letters, so we were able to listen to the words of many people concerning how they felt about Emmaus.


During a time when society was demanding efficiency, at Emmaus, the importance of “moving close to wounded people,” which places a high value on “slow work,” had become a common slogan of which we consistently reminded each other.


The following comments have been received from the disaster survivors: “Thanks to the help of Emmaus, I recaptured the courage to continue my farm.” “Though the tsunami was the cause of much that made life difficult for us, I am deeply grateful for the opportunity it gave us to meet all of you.” “Please don’t forget us.”

The connections we made at Emmaus will continue. While many experienced blessed encounters through the work of Emmaus, there were some among those helping through Emmaus that experienced a great deal of pain as well. We pray for God’s comfort and blessings for all experiencing both of these aspects. We remain deeply grateful to all those who prayed and provided support for Emmaus.

(Tr. DM)

—Ogawa Sachiko, pastor, Sendai Aisen Church,

Tohoku District Former Head, Kyodan Tohoku Disaster Relief Center, Emmaus


 8年間皆さまに支援していただいた東北教区被災者支援センター・エマオKyodan Tohoku Disaster Relief Center, Emmausは、この3月末ですべての活動を終えます。東北教区では、3月23日(土)に被災者支援センター委員会主催で「被災者支援センター・エマオの8年を感謝する会」を開催しました。第一部礼拝、第二部感謝会(茶話会)で、教区内諸教会をはじめ県外の各地から元スタッフ、ワーカー、食事ボランティア、初期の立ち上げにかかわった方々、笹屋敷の前町内会長など60名の参加がありました。懐かしい出会いがあり、都合で参加できない方はビデオレターを送って下さり、いろいろな方のエマオへの思いを聞くことが出来ました。




【June 2019 No.403】Learning from LGBT(*1) People and Seeing the Love of God in Sexual Diversity

Shinto no Tomo (Believers’ Friend) by the Kyodan Board of Publications’ periodical recently issued this article as the first in a series entitled as above.

by Taira Aika, pastor, Kawawa Church, Kanagawa District

                                                                                 Theological Seminary for Rural Mission teacher


Christianity often sees “sexuality” as a taboo subject. It is a private matter but something that everyone should take seriously. Some people are even hesitant to look at an article on such a subject. But many others find it hard to live when things related to it are hidden away. The attitude toward gender(*2) difference that says, “Males are like this, and females are like that” leads to, solidifies, and makes real the distorted view that men look after women and women are looked after by men. It also can mean that your natural sexuality(*3) is not understood by those around you, which can be very painful. When people suffer because their gender identity(*4) is different from their physical body, they may actually suffer even more if the people around them do not understand what they are and their pain.


LGBT is an abbreviation  of the words lesbian(*5), gay(*6), bisexual(*7), and transgender(*8). More than a reference to the people themselves, the letters symbolize the difficulty some people have as they live in a society where it is taken for granted that people will love someone of the opposite sex or accept their own physical body. There are people who use other terms, such as “asexual”(*9) or “x-gender”(*10) to identify themselves as well.


In church, by using the words from Genesis to say “God made us man and woman; people will marry to become one; and they will be blessed with children,” we will often go on to say that LGBT people have disobeyed God, and therefore attack them and drive them out of the church. But modern theology is becoming much more diverse. Some people will say, “The Bible says ‘no,’ so the answer is ‘no’,” but others will raise the question, “Are you really obeying every place in the Bible where it says ‘no’?” There are rules about food, impurity and uncleanliness, but not many people say, “The Bible says ‘no,’ so we must say ‘no’ to them.” We read certain parts of the Bible as they are and go beyond some other parts in our interpretation.


In doing so, some people will insist we cannot allow this with regard to LGBT, saying that our sexuality is a gift from God that allow us to create progeny, and will take the position that any other form of sexuality is an abuse of the Bible and a misuse of our sexuality. Behind a such claim, there is the view that human beings are created as male and female, each has their own roles, and that sexuality should only be expressed in a marriage relationship. Some people think God did not create homosexuals and others think that God created homosexual people but test them to overcome it. Such people also do not accept transgender people whose gender identity is different from their assigned sex and gender.


However, others see that just as there are left-handed and right-handed people, with regard to sexual ori-entation(*11) there are homosexual and heterosexual people, bisexual people, and asexual people; and they will reinterpret the Bible to say that we are all called by God to build sincere and true relationships, who-ever we are. Procreation is not the only act to be blessed by God. We need to think about and raise a question about how men and women should be and the legitimacy of marriage itself. Whatever position we choose, it may be connected to our faith. But we must remember those who are struggling and suffering. I am one who suffered as a Christian.


I was born into a minister’s family in Okinawa. The name of Aika has two meanings.The Chinese characters used for my name “Aika”(愛香)mean “fragrance of love.” On the other hand, I was given this name because aika sounds like a cry for peace in Okinawa. The title of the Book of Lamentations in the Bible is also  pronounced Aika but is written with other Chinese characters (哀歌). My name is often mistaken for that of a female, but I am actually male and even have a beard. And I am homosexual. From an early age, I noticed that I was attracted to other males. But when I reached junior high school, I realized society as a whole thought this was strange, and I felt isolated. I went to a church-related senior high school and was taught that homosexuality is an unforgivable sin that rejects God’s order of creation. Being rejected by society, and feeling that I was disliked by God, every day I thought only of dying. What kept me from dying was what my parents had taught me from a young age. I learned from them that “even if the whole world is against you, Jesus is on your side.” I suffered because of Christianity, but it was also Christianity that supported me and kept me alive.


Little by little, I came to understand that there were differences among Christians. There were those who continued to say homosexuality is a sin, but there was also a pastor who said, “God has created you as a homosexual person and has blessed you.” I wanted to learn more about the Bible, and that’s what led me to the Theological Seminary for Rural Mission in Machida, Tokyo, where I was able to come out(*12) as a homosexual person. Then, I became one of the first persons to come out and become a pastor. A lesbian woman came out several months before I did and became the first openly LGBT pastor in Japan.


As an openly gay pastor,  I have heard many stories from LGBT Christians. Some told me that after they came out, their pastors continuously told them, with anger, that they were lacking in faith.  Some told me that they were suddenly and unexpectedly surrounded by church members who prayed for them—a very frightening experience. Others were told by Sunday school staff that they could no longer work with the children because they would have a bad influence on them. Still others spoke to their pastor about wanting to value their faith as a homosexual person and were told, “That is not the faith of our church,” and were expelled from membership. One woman was told, “Have a relationship with man to cure yourself”—a clear example of sexual harassment; and a man being forced to marry a woman was told, “If you get married you will be cured.”


Some people just had no place to go. People thought they were being kind by saying things like, “I’ll introduce you to a person of the opposite sex with whom you can build a relationship,” but that made it difficult for some people to continue going to the same church. The words from the Bible, “Be fruitful and multiply,” were spoken as a blessing but also made it difficult for some people—and not only LGBT people—to continue going to the same church. Many left the church after experiencing pressure by being told, “We will pray that you will be cured.” One pastor said, “We will openly welcome LGBT people to our church,” while not being aware that at least two LGBT people were already there. Saying “we will welcome you if you come” reveals an unawareness of the fact that LGBT people may already be there. From a bisexual person, I heard with pain that the leader of the church spoke ill of such a person for being totally immoral. From now on, let us think together and let us know and experience that God loves us all just as we are.(Tr. RW)


1. “LGBT” is an abbreviation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender. It is also used as an umbrella term that refers to people who have diverse sexuality and gender identities. Sometimes Q is added and it stands for “questioning,” representing people who are still exploring their sexual orientations or gender identities.


2. “Gender” refers not only to biological sex but also to socially constructed differences (gestures, hairstyle, clothing, language, and gender roles) that separate male and female. The term is also used more broadly to denote a range of identities that do not correspond to established ideas of male and female.


3. “Sexuality” is a broad term that may include biological sex, sexual orientation, sexual activity, gender expression, and gender identity.  It is also used to express a way of being true to oneself in terms of sexuality.


4. “Gender Identity” is a personal sense of one’s own gender. It can correlate with assigned sex at birth or can differ from it. Some people understand “gender identity” as  “mental sexual identification” (in contrast to physical sex) but it is not accurate expression because there is no “gender” in our spirit itself.


5. “Lesbian” refers to women whose primary sexual orientation is toward people of the same gender. Today, some people use this term not only to indicate their sexual orientation but also to verbalize the fact that they are oppressed as a woman and a homosexual person.


6. “Gay” refers to men whose primary sexual orientation is toward people of the same gender. This term was originally used to mean “bright and showy.” It is sometimes used as a synonym of “homosexual people” including lesbian.


7. “Bisexual” refers to a person whose primary sexual and affectional orientation is toward people of the same and other genders, or towards people regardless of their gender (pansexual).


8. “Transgender” refers to someone whose gender identity or expression does not fit assigned sex and gender. The term “gender identity disorder” is often used to describe this condition as an illness. The opposite of transgender is “cisgender.”


9. “Asexual” refers to a person who feels no sexual attraction to a person of any gender.


10. “X-gender” refers to a person who recognizes oneself as neither male nor female. X-gender people will express their feelings in a variety of ways, saying: “I am neither male nor female”; “Either is OK”;  “I am between female and male”; and “I experience changes.” This term is thought to be coined in Japan. In English, the terms “non-binary” and “third gender” may be used to express “X-gender.”


11. “Sexual Orientation” refers to a person’s physical, romantic and/or emotional attraction towards other people. It could be homosexual, heterosexual, bisexual or asexual. It is not something one can choose freely.


12. “Coming out” or “coming out of the closet” refers to the act of voluntarily making public one’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity. For many LGBT people, the purpose of their “coming out” is  not to expose their secret but to share it with others in order to build a new relationship. The opposite of coming out is “staying in the closet.” (Tr. KM)


From Shinto no Tomo (Believers’ Friend), April 2019


教団出版局の「信徒の友」誌上で「LGBT(*1)から学ぶ シリーズ  性 その多様性にみる神の愛」という連載が始まった。その第一回を紹介する。(KNL編集部)













 居場所を失った人たちもいます。「いい人(異性の交際相手)を紹介しますよ」という「親切心」によって、その教会に行きづらくなったという人もいます。産めよ増やせよという聖書の言葉が無批判に祝福として語られたために、教会に行けなくなった人もいます(これはLGBTだけでなく多くの人を傷つけています)。 「治るように祈る」という圧力をかけられて教会に行けなくなった人を何人も知っています。ある牧師は「LGBTの人がうちの教会に来たら丁寧に受け入れたいです」と言ってくれましたが、すでにその教会には当事者が少なくとも2人いることを私は知っていました。「来たら受け入れる」という姿勢は、「すでにいるかもしれない」という意識を薄れさせます。バイセクシュアルの人からは「教会のリーダーに、ふしだらだとののしられた」という嘆きを聞いたことがあります。これから共に考え、「ありのままの私」を愛してくださる神の愛を体感していきましょう。



2  ジェンダー


3  セクシュアリティ


4  性自認


5  レズビアン


6   ゲイ


7   バイセクシュアル


8   トランスジェンター


9   アセクシュアル


10  Xジェンダー


11  性的指向


12  カミングアウト