“Moving Toward a New Diocese”

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

“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

Deacons and “Taikobo”

On the 16th of last month, an ordination of the two candidates for the Holy Orders, Reiko Yamato and Takaaki Yamato, was held.  According to the Acts of Apostles, deacon is a duty which arose from food distribution problems.  Greek-speaking Jewish Christians complained to Hebrew-speaking Jewish Christians about the less amount of food being distributed to the widows of their companions.  The post of the deacon was placed to deal with this problem.  How to equally distribute food.  That was the immediate task of a deacon.  It was an extremely realistic duty.

That reminds me of the story of “Taikobo” posted on a certain information magazine in Ueda City.  According to the Chinese story, back when Zhou, the King of China, was talking to one old fisherman of extreme erudition, the King realized that this man indeed was who his father, King Taiko, had looked forward to meeting someday.  Therefore, he called him “Taikobo” (Taiko=the name of the King’s father; bo=look forward to), his teacher, and respected the man.  Since then, a person who fishes is called “Taikobo.”

However, it is said there is another story to the history of Taikobo that he was a butcher.  Watching him carve and serve meat to about ten people, Taiko was very pleased and employed him.  In those days, a cook who can properly distribute meat was much respected.

Considering that the origin of deacons come from how fairly food was shared, it is quite interesting that the story overlaps with the that of Taikobo as a cook.  Regardless of food, it is quite difficult to maintain fairness, especially among people, if anything.  I hope the two newly ordained deacons be filled with “spirit and wisdom” as were the first deacons and be able to sufficiently fulfill their important duties.

The Rt Revd Peter Ichiro Shibusawa