The Association of Christian Schools in Japan (ACSJ) have elected an Anglican priest, Dr Renta Nishihara, as its new chairperson. Dr Nishihara is the first Anglican elected to chair the 108-year-old organisation in 63 years. He is pastor of St Barnabas Church in Okaya and a noted ecumenist, serving on the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches and on a number of official Anglican Communion bodies. The ACSJ brings together 105 colleges and universities throughout the country.
In addition to his parochial work, Dr Nishihara is a Professor at the Rikkyo University in Tokyo and Vice Chancellor and Dean of College of the Graduate School of Christian Studies. He is a member of the International Reformed-Anglican Dialogue and served as a member of the Anglican-Lutheran International Commission.
He is a board member of the Colleges and Universities of the Anglican Communion (CUAC) network and Executive Director of the Japan Society of Christian Studies (JSCS).
Having studied metallurgical engineering at Kyoto University, he moved to the Central Theological College and then Rikkyo University to study theology. He earned his Doctorate at Kwansei Gakuin University. He was ordained in 1995 to serve the Mid Japan Diocese of the Nippon Sei Ko Kai – the Anglican Church in Japan.
“The mission of Christian schools is to pursue the truth, cultivate empathy for others and develop in-depth connections with people of different cultures,” Dr Nishihara said in a speech at the 106th ordinary general assembly of the ACSJ in Kanto Gakuin University, Yokohama, after his election. “Our aim is to raise students who can contribute to this world and society with utmost and diligent care in order to send them out into the world.
“However, we do not try to struggle with this endeavour as individual school units. Rather, the Christian schools shall learn from one another, support one another and pray for one another. I would like to exert myself so as to make this Association such a ‘venue’ and to pave the way for new possibilities.”