It has been over six months since I have started as a chaplain at Rikkyo Niiza Junior and Senior High School. There have been fewer opportunities to see you all from Chubu Diocese which makes me feel very sad, but let me take a moment to update you on my status.
“Our School and Christianity,” the Rikkyo Niiza Junior and Senior High School Handbook, explains about Article 1 (Purpose) of the Rikkyo Niiza Junior and Senior High School regulations advocating character building based on Christianity. It also states that the school’s purpose is to provide education based on the teachings of Christianity and is not a school to coerce Christian faith. It seems that the work of a chaplain at Rikkyo Niiza Junior and Senior High School is not simply “leading students, as many as possible, to baptism.” For example, in “The Value and Treasure of the Anglican Churches” written by Rev. Dr. Prof. Renta Nishihara, it says that Sei Ko Kai affiliated schools, through sharing the tradition of the Church of England, was established from the point of view of pastoral care towards all those residents living within the parish. Schools were established not as a missionary tool to increase the number of church members, and I believe it is the same with Rikkyo Niiza Junior and Senior High School. So, I actively convey the Rikkyo Niiza Junior and Senior High School “freedom of religious belief” to the students and their parental guardians by referring to the establishment of Rikkyo spirit, “with our purpose to provide education based on the teachings of Christianity, we are not a school to force the faith of Christianity.”
Speaking in this way might lead to saying that I am too permissive or not doing my work. However, that is not so. Frank T. Griswold, former Presiding Bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church USA, stated that Anglican-related educational facilities are places to taste the truth, and students and faculty members are people who seek the truth. These facilities must remain open at all times to search after truth. It must not be closed. One must not fear of being questioned or denied. Anglican-related facilities which are models of Christianity are dangerous places in such a way. Declaring “freedom of religion,” which is similar to saying that “even a believer of Buddhism, Shintoism, or a non-believer cherish that belief,” means Christianity itself is being tested and denied. It is “a place of great danger.” However, we must not be afraid. The road is a rough one, but I believe it is a natural thing for via media (the middle way) churches and Anglican/Episcopalian educational facilities which “do not assert that they know the truth.” On our way in searching for the truth with such students, I believe it is a natural figure in which students learn the importance of teaching of love by Jesus, and then be given by God those who will be baptized.
Revd Joseph Masatsugu Ishida
Chaplain of Rikkyo Niiza Junior & Senior High School, Rikkyo St. Paul’s Chapel