This will be the last column I will be writing for the monthly newsletter “Tomoshibi” in my current position. I will be retiring as of March 31. As I look back, it has been 44 years with the Diocese of Chubu since I started at Nagoya St. Matthew’s Church as a Candidate for Holy Orders in April 1976.
I have been at 8 churches during those years, and 20 in total when including managing churches. For the last 10 years, I worked as the Diocesan Bishop. I do not know if I was able to work to my fullest, but I cannot thank enough for being given the privilege in having me work for God. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for all your support.
I will be resigning from my current position, and Reverend Renta Nishihara will be the succeeding bishop of the diocese. Under the succeeding bishop, the role will be taken on not only by the bishop but of the lay and clergy of the diocese; I pray that worship services, missionary, and pastoral work will further be enriched. Of course, I would like to support as much as possible as a retired minister.
The diocesan bishop installation of Bishop Nishihara will bring a great change to the worship services, missionary, and pastoral work. It seems that work as a diocesan bishop from now on will be different from my time as a bishop. The specifics in changes are yet to come, but both lay and clergies must change their consciousness and respond to those changes.
In that sense, the installation of Bishop Nishihara is something that will give Diocese of Chubu a new direction, and there will be the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, why not take the plunge into the long-pending matter on the diocesan organization reform.
Also, a question has been raised at the Province on the ways of the current diocesan system. The House of Bishops has suggested an idea of “Deanery-Diocese System (name tentative),” and it is without doubt that this will be a great matter of discussion at this year’s General Synod of Nippon Sei Ko Kai. How do we face this issue of the Diocese System as Diocese of Chubu? This will be a matter which will deeply involve in the ways of the future of the Diocese.
However, even if there are various problems, the important thing is that our belief in God will not change no matter how the organization or system changes. Church is not an organization. A church exists where there is faith of each individual person, so let us keep hold of our own faith. It isn’t difficult. Personally, I believe people can move forward even if they do not practice anything special in worship services, missionary, or pastoral work. Rather, the basics of faith should be valued, and turn one’s mind to the individual’s spirit and the small things. These will become the base of missionary work and pastoral care, and by being faithful and respectful, we believe there will be a new outlook on missionary work and pastoral care ahead.
The ministry of Jesus in the region of Galilee was small. However, that small ministry was the very work of God Our Father. Appreciating the activities and relationships, though they might be small, at each church will lead to the further revitalization of churches and the diocese.
May God bless you.
The Rt Revd Peter Ichiro Shibusawa