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Anglicans in Japan name next 10 years 'Decade of Mission and Pastoral Care'

Posted on: November 20, 2012 2:31 PM
Related Categories: evangelism, Japan, pastoral care

Statement on the Coming Decade of Mission and Pastoral Care, 2012-2022
Produced by the 2012 NSKK Mission Conference

The Dignity of Life: Toward a Mission-Oriented Community

From September 14 to 17, more than 140 Anglicans met at the Hamanako Curreac Institute on Lake Hamana in Shizuoka, Japan for the NSKK 2012 Mission Conference (NSKK is the Nippon Sei Ko Kai, the Anglican/Episcopal Communion in Japan). The participants included all NSKK bishops, many diocesan lay representatives and members of provincial committees, as well as delegates from the Anglican Church of Korea.

The Conference was convened according to a resolution of the 57th Regular NSKK 2008 Synod, with the following three intentions:

(1) To create concrete missionary visions of propagating the gospel of joy, by sharing our own wisdom and experiences, taking a straight look at such problems as shrinking and aging membership of Japan’s Anglican Churches, the shortage of clergy, aged church buildings, and difficult financial conditions.

(2) To acquire a clear understanding and create concrete measures about the church’s mission in a society where it is becoming more and more difficult for socially belittled people who live constantly faced with poverty, unemployment, and family collapse. The focus is particularly on disadvantaged aged and disabled people.

(3) To be used as a permanent instrument of peace, on the basis of the resolution adopted by the 49th General Synod, 1996, of the NSKK, in which it officially apologized to other Asian peoples for Japan’s war of aggression against other nations, particularly Asian nations. We recognize our responsibility for the past at a time when continued conflicts are raging in many parts of the world over political, religious, national and racial issues.

Japan's Great Northeastern Earthquake and Tsunami, as well as the concurrent nuclear disaster at Fukushima's Nuclear Power Plant, which occurred on March 11, 2011, did overtly serious damage to all living creatures. Various problems raised by the disastrous incidents caused us to face radical questions about the way we have lived and how our churches have existed so far. We can no more consider concrete matters about the mission and church without reference to the real situation brought about by this disaster. It is in this context that the 2012 Mission Conference took place. We shared plenty of time learning and talking about the mission of the church and the problems of supporting our ecclesiastical bodies.

The lecture entitled “Walking on Jesus’ Road – An Unprecedented Challenge to Stop Nuclear Power Generation in Favor of Future Generations,” delivered by Sister Yasuko Shimizu, a Catholic nun from the Mercedarias Missioneras de Berrize, challenged us to consider the way we should live under serious conditions of radioactive contamination caused by the nuclear disaster at Fukushima. The Rev. Kiyozumi Hasegawa from NSKK's “Let Us Walk Together! Project“ (instituted to support those people suffering from the results of the earthquake, tsunami and the nuclear disaster in Northeastern Japan) dwelled on the mission of the church, referring to his own experience of encountering the Lord Jesus who stood by suffering people. ?The Rev. Kenzo Koshiyama, also from the “Let Us Walk Together! Project,” talked about the reality and agony of life in the area contaminated by radiation, as well as the distress and dilemma in which ministers and churches are placed.

The Rev. Renta Nishihara delivered a keynote lecture titled “A Vision of Our Own Mission – the Tasks and Possibilities of NSKK’s Mission,” in which he presented a variety of missionary visions based on plenty of resources and materials. In the Bible sharing session, “Who Are We, and What Are We Requested To Do? – The Response To the Question in Relation to God,” led by the Rev. Tazu Sasamori, the participants were challenged to think of the mission of human beings as one living creature.

Learning from the above lectures and presentations, we were divided into 15 groups to discuss the future vision of ecclesiastical missions. On the basis of the topics and subjects discussed by those groups, we advance the following statement in the hope that the NSKK will be able to renew itself as a community determined to defend all God-created life.

As this is a suggestion, or a starting point, from the discussion made within a limited time and number of people, we hope each diocese and church will take up the topic and further discuss it more deeply. We also hope that on a diocesan or church level, people will be able to put into practice the issues presented below:

Toward a New Decade of NSKK Mission and Pastoral Care

In the mission conference, we realized anew that the origin of NSKK’s mission is careful and sincere pastoral work for the whole area in which any church is placed, not just pastoral care within the church. It is also to sincerely deal with the problems in the area and the world.
The lessons we learned from the “Let Us Walk Together! Project” include the importance of listening to the feeble voices of those people in despair in this world and society filled with tragedies, to become the voice of voiceless people, and, in spite of distress and hopelessness, to continuously proclaim the joy of life blessed by God to the people deprived of all hopes, even if the voice is feeble and prayer is small.

We humbly reflect on our own past in order for NSKK to take steps toward a newborn community of faith, in the hope and blessings of God. We pray together with a deeper appreciation of the Word and Worship to express the salvation and joy brought about by Christ and to invite many people to the grace of God given through the sacrament. Our church gives its heart particularly to those people who want to be cured and liberated, who desire the treasures the life for everybody, and who hope to participate in the Lord’s salvation together with its parishes and all of God's creation.

We name the coming decade “NSKK Decade of Mission and Pastoral Care” and propose that, during the decade, all members, lay and ordained, congregations and dioceses, should be spiritually united in totally dedicating themselves to the mission and pastoral care in the following fields and in their respective contexts and forms. We shall set up an organization intended for the promotion of ecclesiastical efforts to build a new community of cooperation with each other. The provincial standing committee and the appropriate diocesan bodies are committed to deciding what kind of organization will be necessary.

We propose that the next conference, “NSKK 2022 Mission Conference” should be convened in ten years to share the mission and pastoral care results reached during the coming decade. The conference will be a thanksgiving festival to harvest the fruit of our onward mission and pastoral care.

We propose the following subjects according to the five elements of the church, which our Worldwide Anglican Communion has long cherished – kerygma, deaconia, martyria, leiturgia, and koinonia.

1. Listening to, and Propagating the Word (Kerygma)
? We shall always listen to the Word of our Lord, who is the creator of all life, the restorer of the dignity of all life, and the leader of all life.
? We shall create a wider variety of ministry, including lay readers, catechists, and local ministers in order for church members, lay and ordained, to dedicate themselves to “careful and sincere mission and pastoral care.” For this purpose, we shall set up necessary educational programs at various levels.
? The province and dioceses should take a new look at theological education at the seminaries, to nurture ordained ministers and theological educators.
? We shall clarify the tasks to be dealt with by each parish by laying the story of “encountering the Lord Jesus who stands by the suffering people” through the testimonies given on the sites of the Great Earthquake and Tsunami in Northeastern Japan as they relate to the stories of the Bible.

2. Responding to, and Serving the Needs of the World and Society (Deaconia)
? We shall protect the life of the earth by living in harmony with nature.
? We should be brave enough to reveal social contradictions and conflicts by flatly saying “No” to the segments of society in which priority is given to things that are in direct conflict with dignified life. We need to be in step with those people who are in difficult situations.
? We realize the problems contained in having said “the prayer for the oblation of nuclear reactors” on the occasion of the opening of the Nuclear Energy Institute at Rikkyo (St. Paul’s) University in 1962. We shall pursue and put into practice the content of the statement, “For a World Without Nuclear Power Plants - The Anglican/Episcopal Church in Japan Opposed to Nuclear Power Generation,” which was adopted by the General Synod of NSKK in 2012.
? We shall continue to stand by, pray for, and walk together with the people suffering from the results of the disaster in Northeastern Japan. As the “Let Us Walk Together! Project” abides by its Mission Statement in an effort to pay respect to and assist suffering people, we further hope to cherish the bonds with the disaster-hit areas even after May 2013 when the Project is scheduled to come to an end.
? We shall collaborate with the institutions which were created as ministries of the church, with a fresh realization that they are part of the church's mission.

3. Giving Gospel Testimony in Concrete Terms in our Life (Martyria)
? We reconfirm that the variety of churches in many places are in themselves the Gospel and Mission.
? We should be courageous enough to radically change the way churches have existed (customs and polity) while paying respect to local traditions.
? We shall respond to the needs of local communities, considering the way the church should work on the basis of “Where, Whom With, and How.”
? We convey the joy of the faithful life in words and ways intelligible to all people.

4. Praying and Worshipping (Leiturgia)
? We will study a wide variety of liturgy and service formulae on the basis of the dignity of all life.
? We will study the time and day for liturgies, make a database of services, create a variety of service formulae with plenty of alternatives, and study various liturgical music, in an effort to meet the needs of people in different situations.
? While making our common services richer, we encourage ourselves to grow spiritually through our own individual prayers.

5. Becoming a Communion in our Lord (Koinonia)
? We shall build churches which will serve as comfortable places of rest and encounter for all people.
? We shall create a communion in which we walk together with each individual person, respecting the dignity of individual life and positively encountering people, without simply grouping them as “aged,” “youth,” “female,” “male,” “children,” “disabled,” “foreigners.”
? We shall build a community in which no harassment is allowed, while securing the equality between genders, in order for each of us to work together as Christian ministers under equal partnership.
? We shall listen to the voices of young people, and respect and support their independent activities.
? Fair representation in the decision-making bodies at parochial, diocesan and provincial levels is necessary in order to build churches serving the world. As a first step, we shall attempt to raise the presentation of women in positions of authority to at least 30 percent by 2022, as well as encourage the representation of younger generations.
? As a community of faith, we commit ourselves to the Christian ministry, aware that every one of us should work as a minister in and out of the church, rejecting any sacerdotal or layperson-first attitude.
? We shall go beyond the boundaries of individual church and diocese to share the gifts we possess with each other. We shall also create concrete opportunities to meet each other to work for the cooperation and reorganization of dioceses.
? We shall exchange information with, learn from, and cooperate with all congregations of the Worldwide Anglican Communion.
? We shall, in particular, promote cooperation with the Anglican Churches in Asia, including the Anglican Church of Korea and the Episcopal Church in the Philippines. For this purpose, we substantiate and rededicate ourselves to the Declaration on Our War Responsibility, adopted by the General Synod in 1996, in more specific terms.

September 17, 2012
All participants of 2012 NSKK Mission Conference