I participated as a panelist in an online streaming event, “Theology + Education 2.0 in the Corona Era,” hosted by Kirisuto Shimbun, Co. Ltd., on March 20th, along with my valued friends Professor Katsuhiro Kohara of Doshisha University and Professor Motoo Nakamichi of Kwansei Gakuin University. Each panelist discussed about the current state of the university they serve on, and going beyond discussing the alternative of online or on-campus learning, we talked about the way of life in “post-COVID” Christianity, schools, and churches. Prof. Kohara and Prof. Nakamichi made me aware of various discoveries.
Prof. Nakamichi pointed out that “Online learning has made us question the meaning of gathering at church and the essentials of church services, and at the same time, priests who had been busy until now, were able to set aside more time for learning with the congregants. Perhaps it might have led to ministry opportunity for those who have difficulty in going to church on Sundays due to work.” Prof. Kohara states, “Worships are not just about listening to sermons, but a place to reconfirm that the church is the body of Christ and that everyone is connected to the body of Christ. When thinking about this, we need to wonder if the online system is enough. We purposely give up our freedom and gather at church every week. We must continually show that in inconvenient churches are things not available out in the world.”
From an Anglican point of view, I had the privilege of introducing the pastoral practice of Bishop Makoto Uematsu of the Diocese of Hokkaido. I stressed the importance of having that specific connection through a respectful, one-on-one, face-to-face communion.
For all of us having experienced the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, we came in accordance with the fact that it is the missionary and social responsibility of the church as to how we are going to relate new theology in socially applicable terms.
The Rt Revd Francis of Assisi Renta Nishihara