The Wheat Field (2021.04)

I am grateful for being able to visit each church within the diocese as a bishop.  During Advent, I was given an opportunity to visit Ichinomiya Holy Light Church for the first time in 30 years.  Currently, the new chapel under construction, but we were able to hold our last Holy Eucharist with the bishop’s ceremony at the old chapel with the congregation. 

Before the service, I had found a slightly rusty dinosaur object placed in the shrubbery in front of the church.  When I asked a parishioner about it, I was told it was a graduation work made by Mami Kataoka, the daughter of Reverend Ken Kikuta who had pastored for quite some years, and someone I had known since I had worked as a chief staff at Nagoya Youth Center.

Mami is now a world-class curator, and currently works as the Director of Mori Art Museum in Roppongi, Tokyo and President of International Committee for Museum and Collections of Modern Art (CIMAM).  Just the other day, I had visited the special exhibition at Mori Art Museum under the direct guidance of Director Kataoka.  A full-page interview article was published in the evening edition of Asahi Shimbun dated January 5, but what I was impressed about from the article was that “her name ‘Mami (meaning truth) is derived from a passage in the New Testament.” 

At the end of last year, it was announced that Mami has been appointed as the Artistic Director of “Aichi 2022” (formerly Aichi Triennale), an international festival to be held in 2022.  At a press conference, she emphasized the importance of confronting the current issues to shed light on the history of various mankind not only of the future but of the past, the novel coronavirus, and discrimination and inequality against racial, gender and ethnic differences, and further went on to say that “to live is to continue learning.  It is to meet the unknown world, diverse values, and the overwhelming beauty.”

I believe this is surely her “prayer.”  Here it is, a message that should be sent out from us the church.

The Rt Revd Francis of Assisi Renta Nishihara

The Wheat Field (2021.02)

Allow me to introduce the title of the new bishop’s column, “Mugi-batake (Wheat Field).”  The bimonthly newsletter I had been sending out to everyone of the diocese while I was a student at the Central Theological College was titled “Mugi-batake (Wheat Field).”  (The title had been teased by Bishop Hoyo as “doku-mugi (poisonous wheat).  I appreciate your kind support.

With that aside, at the bishop’s consecration and installation held on October 24 of last year, I gave a greeting in Japanese, English, and Korean.  Each content was different, but I received many questions about what I had said in Korean, so I will introduce an outline below.

“I myself have learned a great deal from the relationship with the Anglican Church of Korea and the ecumenical youths, whom I met about 40 years ago.  The Diocese of Chubu has also concluded a sister-diocese relationship with the Anglican Diocese of Seoul in 1995 and has since supported its deep mutual relationship.  In 1996, the Anglican Church in Japan adopted the ‘Declaration Regarding War Responsibility of the Anglican Church’ during the General Synod, in which it confessed to its crime by admitting the responsibility of supporting and consenting tacitly to the colonial rule and war of aggression.  Afterwards, the Anglican Church in Japan welcomed many priests from the Anglican Church of Korea, who have made significant contributions to missionary activities throughout Japan.  Even in the Diocese of Chubu, Revd. Yoonsic Jung and Revd. Sunhee Kim are putting their hearts into offering pastoral care.  I do hope that Diocese of Chubu Anglican Church in Japan, Anglican Church of Korea, and the ecumenical will be able to further deepen various exchanges.”

Currently, missionary activities and pastoral care are not possible within any of the dioceses of Anglican Church in Japan without the presence of priests from Korea.  However, we would like to, at all times, be aware of the meaning of its realization and history.

The Rt Revd Francis of Assisi Renta Nishihara

“Heading into Something Hesitant”

The words of the opening worship at last Ministers Council was given by Reverend “J.”  At first, Reverend “J” had wanted to be at a church where there was no connection with kindergartens or nursery schools.  Actually, the minister was not sure how to handle kids.  However, the circumstance of the diocese could not avoid granting this minister’s wish, and so it happened that the adjacent kindergarten management be under this minister from a certain point in time.  Naturally, the post of chaplain was also appointed.    

Still feeling reluctant, he began to interact with the children.  Regardless of his thoughts, the children loved him for he was kind and strong.  This all changed him; he came to love children.  After a certain service, it seems that the children came to him and said, “Father, we loved your story today!”  He seemed a little happy when saying, “I don’t hear those words so often at church.”

We, too, sometimes feel reluctant about doing something.  There are times we run away from the cause of it.  However, if one plans to stay there even feeling reluctant, there is an unforeseeable realization and blessing just like Reverend “J.”

Just before the cross, the Lord Jesus prayed, “Abba, Father, …Take this cup from me.” (Mark 14:36) We are not saying that Jesus is hesitant of the cross, but it is still a bit of a relief to know that there was some hesitation in Jesus due to its size.  I believe it is because he is Jesus that when we are hesitant, he encourages us that it is safe to move forward.

Preparations are underway for the consecration and installation of The Reverend Dr Renta Nishihara.  He will hold posts concurrently as faculty of Rikkyo University and Central Theological College.  Your understanding and cooperation are needed in order to serve as bishop.  Please pray for Revd. Nishihara.

The Rt Revd Peter Ichiro Shibusawa

The 100-Year History of the Diocese

My sincere congratulations on the publication of “The History of the Diocese of Chubu II: 100th Establishment Anniversary.”  I greatly appreciate the time, effort, passion, and perseverance of all members of the Record Archive Department who took part in the editorial work.   

This publication started being discussed in 2007, as written in the editorial note.  In 1962, there was a publication of the 50th-year issue of “The History of the Diocese,” but taking the opportunity of the centennial of the Diocese in 2012, we felt a need to properly put together our history after our 50th year.  So, the preparation began for the next centennial issue.        

In October 2012, with many participants from within and outside the country, we were able to hold our 100th anniversary service for the establishment of the diocese as well as occasions related to those.  Even if the centennial issue may not be completed in time for the anniversary year, the goal was to keep an accurate record, and editing was proceeded taking time.        

In the editorial note of “The History of the Diocese” says, “In this History, it only tells about the members of the clergy, and nothing is mentioned about the lay people.  This can not be stated as the true history of the diocese.”  “The History of the Diocese of Chubu II” tells not only about the lay people, but also widely depicts the history of the Diocese, churches, and related facilities.  However, the writing was done mainly by the lay people of each church and facility employees.

Speaking from that point of view, if the first was a publication edited mainly by the members of the clergy, the second is a one which was written and edited by the collaboration of the lay people and members of the clergy.  This may be said to be the “true history of the diocese.” 

The book binding is firm, so it will sufficiently endure the many years to come in preserving its condition.  I do hope many people will take a moment to read this publication, and hopefully, it becomes of encouragement and power for missionary work. 

The Rt Revd Peter Ichiro Shibusawa

“Ryujo Women’s College Aiming Higher”

 Ryujo Gakuin (St. Mary’s) marking its 121st year of establishment this year has been approved for a four-year college, “Nagoya Ryujo Women’s College (Department of Child Studies).”  Currently, it consists of St. Mary’s College, Nagoya and three affiliated kindergartens, and this new four-year college will be joining anew.   

The plan for the four-year college started to be taken into consideration two years ago, and through board meetings and councilors meetings, made a formal approval request to the Ministry of Education, Sports, Science, and Technology (MEXT) last October.  The application had been accepted, and examination was underway.  It was approved through paper works, interviews, and on-site examinations on the aptitude of the college as an organization, detailed examination of the contents of the education, the faculty system, and maintenance of facilities.  I myself also went to MEXT several times for interviews by the college council, and there was also an examination by the committee member at the junior college as well.  I am relieved it was approved and finished smoothly.  

The present-day social needs for child nursing and education have become diversified and complex.  Childcare workers are required to have not only a high degree of specialization, but also a broad, social perspective and a sense of mission as someone who holds the lives of many.  Furthermore, nursing from the point of view of multicultural coexistence is seen as necessary in Aichi Prefecture. 

In order to meet such needs, the existing junior college, on top of nursery teacher trainings, organized a new curriculum and improved the campus environment to address the four-year nursery teacher trainings.  I hope this further heightens the childcare teacher training on top of the existing achievements and experiences at Ryujo.  

Student recruitment will be starting soon.  In order to secure the number of students, the student supporting system is being organized including scholarship enhancements.  I hope the new Ryujo can provide more students the opportunity to learn, and I sincerely ask all people within the diocese for your understanding and support for the further development of Ryujo.

The Rt Revd Peter Ichiro Shibusawa

“Workers are Few”

The other day, I visited the Central Theological College and had an opportunity to meet with the seminarians.  The principal of the College had long hoped to have the bishops from each diocese to interact with the seminarians, and several bishops have been visiting the school until now.  This time they have asked me from the Chubu Diocese.  It had been a while since I last had stepped inside the dorms.  They had changed quite a bit, but I felt very nostalgic.     

Arriving in the late afternoon on the first day, we offered our evening prayers together, ate dinner in the cafeteria with the seminarians, offered our morning prayers on the following day, had breakfast, and then was given about an hour and a half during the morning to talk bout the Diocese of Chubu as well as about myself.   

Currently, there are 5 seminarians enrolled at the Central Theological College.  All are Candidates for the Holy Orders, and four out of the five are women.  Recent seminarians who enter theological schools have gone through various social experiences, and when they are actually sent to a church, I believe those experiences will be extremely useful in the fields of missionary and pastoral care.  What is most important is that they are getting along with each other.   In my days, there were times when seminarians would get into fistfights.   

However, the current 4 seminarians will be graduating or completing their courses next March, and if there is no other enrollment, there will only be one seminarian.  The same goes for The Bishop Williams’ Theological Seminary. 

In the Diocese of Chubu, since Mr. Taro Aihara, a Candidate for the Holy Order, finished Theological College in March, there has been no seminarian (a Candidate for the Holy Order.)  In the next two years, there will be three clergies retiring including myself.  Jesus said, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.  Ask the Lord of the Harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”  (Matthew 9:37-38) Let us pray so there will be workers who will be sent to us.

The Rt Revd Peter Ichiro Shibusawa

The Order of Transfer

I have once mentioned about this two years ago.  The “Exhibition to Tell about Peace to Children” was held again this year at Gifu Media Cosmos.  The exhibition theme was “Even shrines and temples engulfed in fire:  Shrines, temples, and churches during the Gifu Air Raids” and references regarding the pre-war Gifu Sei Ko Kai building evacuation were also exhibited.   

Actually, John Taro Aihara, a candidate for Holy Orders, found an order for forced evacuation at the time, the Order of Transfer, and the copy of it was displayed at this exhibition.  It is said to be very rare that such and order remains, and it seems that Gifu Shimbun and even persons concerned of Kyoto University are interested.          

Which reminds me, during those days when I was a rector in Gifu, I had heard from Bishop Ogasawara about the forced church evacuation.  Back then, the church in Kanda-machi was forced to leave in preparation for an air raid and evacuated to Mino-ota.  I recall him saying not a penny was paid for the eviction since it was an order from the prefecture.    

The Order of Transfer was in the name of the Governor of Gifu and said, “The building (related to Sei Ko Kai in Gifu) is needed in order to execute the air raid evacuation.  Ought to transfer to Gifu Prefecture.  This is an order under the provisions of the Law of Air Defense.”  It was dated April 25 and said the church was to be transferred by May 5.  It was an order on such a short notice.  Soon after on July 9 the central part of Gifu City was burnt to ashes due to an air raid, and the lives of approximately 900 people were lost.      

When it comes to war, not a single personal situation is taken into account, and everything is sacrificed for “the country.”  The situation probably will not change even with the times.  It has become an era where over 80 percent of the population has not experienced war.  We need to think about the consequences of war to its greatest, and do our best in preventing that from happening.

The Rt Revd Peter Ichiro Shibusawa

Diocese of Hokkaido and Diocese of Chubu

This past May 16th -18th, I attended the diocese service of the 145th anniversary of the establishment of the Diocese of Hokkaido along with their Minister’s Association.  I gave a lecture during the Minister’s Association and a sermon at the diocese service, and was able to understand from experience the atmosphere of the Diocese of Hokkaido.  I reported a bit about the Diocese of Chubu as well.  There are often difficulties in understanding other dioceses, but I felt that we might be able to better understand each other through these exchanges no matter how small it is. 

In fact, there had been a relation between the Diocese of Hokkaido and Diocese of Chubu during the early missionary stage.  The missionary activities of the Diocese of Chubu were started in 1875 in Niigata through P.K. Fyson, a missionary from the Church of England who later became the first bishop to the Diocese of Hokkaido.  Therefore, it can be said that the two dioceses of Chubu and Hokkaido are connected through the works of Revd. Fyson. 

Revd. Fyson engaged in mission work for seven years in Niigata, and it is noted in “The History of the Diocese” that there were about ten baptismal candidates.   One of them was Revd. Tetsuya Makioka, who had later worked in Chubu, and the other was Mr. Seigoro Akutagawa, who later became a missionary to the Diocese of Hokkaido.  He also worked on Ainu missionary under Revd. Batchelor.  That is one relation we have between the Diocese of Hokkaido and Chubu.  (I also had the privilege of meeting the grandchildren of Mr. Akutagawa.)  I am grateful to such a precious experience.       

The Commemorative Holy Eucharist for the ministers of the Diocese who have passed away will be held on July 10.  That day marks the 1st memorial year since the passing away of Bishop Toshiaki Mori.  His wife, Atsuko, and younger sister and younger brother are also scheduled to attend.  Since the Bishop’s funeral had been held in Tokyo, this day will also be taken as a memorial service.  I hope you will all join us on this day.

Recommending Anointing

This past April 18, on Holy Thursday, the Holy Eucharist was held to consecrate holy oils.  The holy oil is used for anointing during the “Ceremony of the Visitation of the Sick” in the Book of Common Prayer.  The Book of Common Prayer says, “the Church has been anointing the sick with oil and has prayed for the recovery of the body and the spirit,” but it actually comes from the Book of James in the New Testament, “Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord.  And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven.”  The gospels also tell about the healing of the sick by the apostles through the anointing of the oil; this is one of the important works of Jesus Christ. 

The purpose of anointing is to give comfort, but in many cases, it is practiced when a person is in a state of a serious health condition.  Although used in some cases, it should by no means be used as an anointing of the dying.  Its purpose is to pray for the recovery of the body and soul, and may be used for any illnesses.  It may also be used when one has a fever from a cold.  Anointing is not magic.  The importance is to pray in the name of the Lord Jesus.  He will be with us through that prayer and give strength for the sick to become better physically and spiritually to be able to rise.  May the holy oil be widely used.

On April 6, the retired Revd. Akira Muraoka who was living in Osaka, passed away at the age of 91.  He transferred from the Diocese of Osaka to the Diocese of Chubu in 1986, and practiced his missionary and pastoral activities mainly in Ueda and Karuizawa.  He also built the foundation for the current Karuizawa Shaw Memorial Church.  May his soul rest in peace.

The Rt Revd Peter Ichiro Shibusawa

To be Present

At the end of February, a rector of another diocese who was two years my senior in theological school, passed away.  I was able to make arrangements to attend the wake.  We were together in school for only one year and moved on to different dioceses, so we did not have much opportunity to see each other.  We were not so close, yet he was a person who made me able to feel that closeness, where we would naturally confirm each other’s well-being when we occasionally met.  It was only one theological school year, but the experience of being within the same time and place may have created this sense of proximity.

The other day, when I went to service at the church whereI am in charge of, a certain elderly person consulted with me whether she should further attend church services.  It seems she has been suffering from a mild hearing loss, and it has become difficult for her to hear the sermons.  I understand that she feels a certain amount of inconvenience not being able to hear the sermons clearly, but I asked her to continue attending the services for it is a place where God and Jesus are together with us.  (She is also considering about using hearing aids.)  

Jesus promises, “I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  (Matthew 28:20), and in the Old Testament God says, “I AM WHO I AM.” (Exodus 3:14) God the Father and Jesus, and of course, the Holy Spirit is there, and with us.

The church, and the service that takes place within, is a space where God is present.   And for us to be present at that place is the best shortcut ever to be able to meet God and Jesus and to receive the power of the Holy Spirit.

The Rt Revd Peter Ichiro Shibusawa