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Poster : webmaster on 2012-10-24 15:51:25 (2456 reads)
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Walking into the NCCJ general secretary’s office, one might notice among the many books, crosses, posters, and other items that there are a few frogs here and there. Not live ones but pictures, some candy-shaped frogs on the wall, and a frog paper clip holder. Rev. Aminaka likes frogs.  Why? “They remind me to F.R.O.G., which means to “Fully Rely On God.” The cute green frog picture is on her screensaver as a prayer reminder to rely on God before her workday begins.

Rev. Shoko Aminaka was born as an only child in Meguro-ku, Tokyo. Her family was not a Christian family, but numerable experiences of the Holy Spirit have guided her life and faith journey to become a Christian and a minister. I will highlight a few of these “coincidences” or rather, “God-incidences” that have impacted her the most.

Her first encounter with Christianity came about as a five-year-old child when her grandfather passed away. Her grandfather had attended the Catholic church in Kamakura, and although he had never been baptized, his funeral was held at the church. Sitting in the pew next to Shoko was a Catholic Sister who comforted Shoko-chan (as she was called back then) and said to her, “Don’t worry. Your grandfather is in heaven with God.” This made Shoko feel better and at peace.

Her next encounter with Christianity was when her parents put her in a mission school, called Toyo Eiwa in Roppongi, Tokyo. Toyo Eiwa was founded by a Canadian missionary and considered a good school. Shoko attended chapel and was taught English by a Canadian missionary named, Ms. Rogers, in second grade. Shoko especially remembers how much she enjoyed the English spelling games! She spent 12 years at Toyo Eiwa – from elementary to high school. It was during elementary school that she first started to attend church Sunday School at Keisen Baptist Church. (When she became a general secretary of NCCJ, she met Mr. Zushi Minoru who was the chair of the NCCJ Yasukuni Shrine Committee. It turned out that he remembered her as little “Shoko-chan” at Keisen Baptist church where he was a member!! )

When Shoko Aminaka reached junior high, she was expected along with other youth to attend the adult worship. However, she found it wasn’t as interesting as Sunday School, so stopped going to church for awhile. It was in her third year of junior high that she felt called to go back to church. In her own words, she recalls discovering that “God had given life to me” and that "we are given a life from God and then go back to God when we die.” This time she attended Hijirigaoka Church which was part of the UCCJ (United Church of Christ in Japan or Kyodan). The pastor was Rev. Yamakita and he baptized her at the age of 15 on Christmas Day. She spent the following 25 years at that church.

Shoko went to university in Ikebukuro, Tokyo. The university, St. Paul, or Rikkyo University, is where she majored in Christianity, Kirisutokyo Gakubu. Rikkyo University is affiliated with the Anglican/Episcopal church. Shoko remembers hearing a lecture from Rev. Koshiishi who was a pastor and part-time lecturer at Rikkyo. (Later, Rev. Koshiishi was the moderator of NCCJ, from March 2009 to March 2012.) He could not recall having had Shoko in his lecture as there were a number of students, but was very surprised to hear that she remembered him! Many years later, they now meet again through her work as the general secretary of NCCJ. This was another God-given “coincidence.”  

After graduating from Rikkyo University, she worked as an assistant director at E.T.V. (educational television) which is the educational channel under NHK Broadcasting. She was in charge of the Sunday-aired program that featured museums in Japan. Shoko Aminaka recalls the first day she went to NHK and saw a Bible displayed there, the reason being that NHK also featured a religious program called “Kokoro no Jidai” ("The Age of the Heart”). The staff of the program on museums and the religious broadcasting program both shared the same office space. Shoko thought this was a providence and remarked, “Jesus is always with me anywhere I am!” 

Later, she discovered in an unusual way that her boss at the T.V. station was also a Christian. In 1995, while working for educational T.V., the Aun Shinrikyo sarin gas attack on the subways happened. Shoko wondered, along with many others, how someone who claimed to be religious could do such a horrible thing. Asahi Newspaper had written an article about Aum Shinrikyo and then asked its readers to write a piece with their opinions about science and religion. Shoko Aminaka took this opportunity to write and submit an article. Asahi Newspaper chose her opinion piece to publish in their newspaper. The main point of her article was that science answers “how” but religion answers “why,” explaining that science cannot answer why the earth was created; only how. Her boss read the article and commented to her that he liked it. In the process, she discovered he was also Christian (although she had earlier suspected he was Christian due to his unusual first name). Again, another “God-incident.”

Shoko Aminaka stayed for five years at NHK Broadcasting creating T.V. programs. She got very good at being time-conscious since programs must end very punctually. She laughs and said, “this later helped me as a preacher, as when I asked at the church how long I should preach, I could always stay within the time limit!”

Shoko’s next job took her to UCCJ main office at the Japan Christian Center in Tokyo where she became the assistant to the general secretary, Rev. Yamakita, the man who had baptized her. He had been a mentor for her. Shoko  worked at UCCJ headquarters for seven years. It was while working there that she started what is known in UCCJ as the “C” course and began her studies to become a pastor. (Note: This is a rigorous course of study for people to become pastors who do not or cannot attend seminary full-time.) After studying for three years while working full-time, she took the exam to be licensed as a local pastor. She felt her education while working was very valuable, as she could ask many pastors who came by the UCCJ headquarters various theological questions. She became a licensed pastor of Hijirigaoka Church and continued working. Sundays became very busy as the church had both morning and evening services. She not only often preached, but also taught the junior high school youth.

Shoko Aminaka’s ordination was at Hijirigakoa Church in 2007. There were many pastors from many of the Kyodan districts in attendance whom she had gotten to know through her work at the UCCJ head office. One pastor even joked that he hoped nothing bad would happen since the UCCJ would be at a loss with so many pastors in one place at one time! Shoko said she felt truly blessed at her ordination by so many pastors and lay people who had supported her over the years.

In 2008, Rev. Aminaka became the pastor of Bethel Church which is UCCJ/Kyodan. She said, “I really spent happy days there. God was leading  the church and I was able to have the wonderful blessing of baptizing four new members there. However, I suddenly had to resign from Bethel in March, 2012 because I was asked to come to NCCJ, so they do not have a new pastor yet. Please pray for the church.”

 Rev. Aminaka preached again at Bethel Church on World Communion Sunday and enjoyed seeing the congregation again.

 When asked why she started her studies to become a pastor in the first place, she answered that it was because of the 9/11 attack. Everyone was praying for peace and the millennium year 2000 but then this horrible terrorist attack happened. As Shoko watched the news, she saw that the terrorists were using God for evil. Shoko thought she must preach that God is a God of peace and that the Bible teaches us not to kill but to love one another. It was just after 9/11 that she started her studies to become a pastor.

The name, "Shoko" means “to spread” or “to show.”  Therefore, her name can inspire her now as the means to spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ along with the message of God’s love and peace. “Aminaka” means “net” and “middle.” As Shoko reflected on the meaning of her last name, she pointed out that Jesus told the fishermen to follow him. Another "net" connection for her personally is that, although her parents were from Tokyo, her great grandfather was a fisherman in nearby Chiba prefecture.  

This scripture, “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” --- Mark 1:17 happens to be the scripture on the NCCJ brochure and the NCCJ General Assembly theme for NCCJ for the three-year term, 2012-2014. When Rev. Shoko Aminaka became the new general secretary in March of 2012, the NCCJ General Assembly was held in St. Andrew’s Anglican Church. This is just another example of the many signs of the Holy Spirit. This cannot be attributed to being "mere coincidences" but rather, “God incidences." It truly exemplifies God’s plan  that she is where she needs to be at this point in her life.

 In her closing thoughts about being the new NCCJ general secretary, Rev. Aminaka said that although she had not done much ecumenical ministry prior to coming to NCCJ, she has been enjoying learning more about the ecumenical movement and NCCJ ecumenical partners. She has also found it very meaningful to meet and work with religious leaders of various denominations and faiths, of special importance since the triple disaster in Tohoku. 

Rev. Aminaka and NCCJ have been busy preparing for the Inter-religious Conference on Nuclear Issues in Fukushima, which will be held December 3-7. The main focus of the conference is to share the current situations of people in Fukushima and to discuss the issues on nuclear energy. The Conference also aims to highlight issues related to the 2013 World Council of Churches' general assembly in Pusan. Rev. Aminaka's hope is that many will come together to learn more about the dangers of radiation and what we, as people of faith worldwide, can do together to heal our world.

As we bring our interview to a close, Rev. Shoko Aminaka looks at her frog screensaver and says, “We can only bring healing, justice, and peace by ‘fully relying on God’ as we work together.”

Interviewed by  Rev. Claudia Genung –Yamamoto
UMC missionary, Jesus Band Church at the Toyohiko Kagawa Center in Kobe


Poster : webmaster on 2012-07-15 15:06:55 (1210 reads)
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 On June 11th, NCCJ had a visit from Mr. John Nduna, General Secretary of ACT Alliance, after joining the organization in May. 
Mr. Nduna participated in JEDRO’s steering committee meeting which was held in the afternoon of his arrival, and went to see the affected areas of the East Japan Great Earthquake with JEDRO staff for the next 2 days . On 14th, NCCJ and JEDRO had a presentation on ACT Alliance activities by Mr. Nduna who returned from the Tohoku region, and had a talk about the long-term cooperation with ACT Alliance.

Having had the informative talk, Mr. Nduna left Japan on 15th. He was the first official guest to NCCJ since Ms Aminaka succeeded the post of General Secretary. 
 
ACT Alliance is a Christian ecumenical aid organization. NCCJ is now receiving the support for the East Japan Great Earthquake through Church World Service (CWS).  NCC will continue cooperating with ACT Alliance basically in fund-raising appealed by ACT Alliance in terms of natural disaster support.
 

From left, Ms Noriko Lao (JEDRO staff member), Ms Shoko Aminaka (NCCJ General Secretary), Mr. John Nduna (ACT Alliance General Secretary)


Poster : webmaster on 2012-06-08 11:40:28 (1050 reads)
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NCCJ became a member of ACT (Action by Churches Together) Alliance in May this year.

Headquartered in Genève, Switzerland, ACT Alliance is a Christian international aid organization in cooperation with Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox  Churches.  Although activities had been divided between ACT International, focusing on humanitarian support, and ACT Development, focusing on developmental aid, in 2010 the two branches were brought together to form ACT Alliance.


At the same time as organizational changes were made, ACT Alliance reviewed its membership and sent NCCJ a request to formally apply.

Application was approved by the NCCJ Executive Council in September of the same year and preparations for membership moved forward.  However, work came to a halt with the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake.  Ultimately, the necessary paperwork was sent in April of this year and formal membership was approved at the ACT governing board meeting in early May.


In general, ACT’s support for natural disasters covers developing countries in which member organizations are located.  For this reason, Japan, a non-member developed country, was excluded from receiving support.  However, the Great East Japan Earthquake was viewed as an exceptional case.  ACT Alliance sent out a request for support through Church World Service (CWS) soon after the disaster hit and continues its assistance activities today.

In the past, NCCJ has received requests for support from ACT when disasters have struck in various parts of the world and has responded through sending funding via donation campaigns.  Now with membership in ACT Alliance, Japan is formally qualified to also receive support.


Poster : admin on 2012-04-25 14:41:24 (1507 reads)

We are pleased to announce that we have published the pamphlet "Nuclear Power is NOT the Solution to Global Warming !! It is the worst choice for Earth's life Environment" first published in Japanese by the Japanese Catholic Council for Justice and Peace in December, 2010. This publication was realized with its permission.
Since March 11th 2011, we learned many things. This pamphlet consists of  valuable data, photos, materials. We believe that there is  a great meaning in  the fact that compact messages and materials of this pamphlet was translated into English.
We would be happy if this pamphlet helps many people to deepen the understanding about nuclear power ploblems.

To help cover printing costs, and to allow for further printing if numbers warrant, we are asking for a donation of 20 yen per copy (or 25cents), plus shipping costs, from our ecumenical partners abroad. If interested in acquiring copies, please contact us through the fax number or E-mail address below.

FAX: +81-3-3204-9495 E-mail: general@ncc-j.org




To order the Japanese version, please contact Japanese Catholic Central Council.
phone: 03-5632-4444   URL: http://web.mac.com/jccjp/  
 

 


Poster : admin on 2012-04-13 11:43:29 (1029 reads)
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April 12, 2012 

Greetings in Our Risen Lord!

In this the beginning of the 38th General Assembly, NCCJ starts down a fresh path with the election of a new moderator, general secretary and officers.

We would like to express our deep appreciation once again to all of you for your thoughts and support in response to the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011.  Although recovery in the affected region is proceeding steadily, the road ahead is long and filled with tremendous obstacles.  We ask for Our Lord’s on-going help and guidance.  With renewed determination, NCCJ will be maintaining its close ties with and supporting the activities of not only our member denominations and organizations, but also other Christian denominations and organizations as well as local churches and support groups working in the area.

The most significant issue raised by this disaster is that of nuclear energy.  Although this topic is being discussed from the aspects of technology, health, economics and politics, it must be brought into the spotlight and considered at an even deeper level.

NCCJ is now working toward creating a preparatory committee for an international conference in which Christians and members of other faith communities come together in unity to confront the issue of nuclear power.  Your knowledge, experience and cooperation would be of great help in this effort.

The more critical the problem, the more critical unity is.  With a motto of “Rather than one person taking one-hundred steps, one-hundred people taking one step,” NCCJ will move forward in its work,

“holding onto the Hope of Christ with confidence and steadfast dedication.”

In Christ,
   Koichi Kobashi,
   NCCJ Moderator


Poster : admin on 2012-04-04 13:26:56 (1409 reads)
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NCC’s new general assembly has started with new executive members.

On March 26th, 27th, the general meeting was held at St. Andrews Tokyo Church (Episcopal Church of Japan, Minato-ku, Tokyo). In this meeting, all the executive members have been replaced.

The new members are as follows.

Moderator: Kouichi Kobashi (Member of Executive Council of the United Church of Christ in Japan, Pastor of Niijima Church),

Vice-Moderator: Kano Yoshitaka (Pastor of Kurigasawa Japan Baptist Church), Makoto Watabe (Japan Bible Society),

Secretary of General Assembly: Wataru Arizumi (National Councils of YMCAs of Japan), Hiroko Hiraoka ,

General Secretary: Shoko Aminaka (Pastor of the United Church of Christ in Japan)

The theme of the 38th General Assembly is “Keep on walking together, following Jesus Christ” (Mark1:17).

Our policy for this term is to keep on developing the current activity, based on the words of the scripture.

1)     We will strengthen the tie with World Church Council and Christian Council of Asia, through the World’s Ecumenical movement.

2)     Internally, we will promote the agreement and cooperation among churches and pursue the activitiies we have been doing.

As concrete examples, Peace and The Article 9 of the Constitution, Human Right, Freedom of Faith, the World without Nuclear, Disaster relief of the Great Earthquake.

 

Although NCC, now in the process of structural reorganization, is facing many issues in terms of activity contents, finance, personnel, we are going to give our best to spread the Lord’s words, practice the tasks he ordered, handling the issues with God’s guidance and cooperation of our supporters. 


New executive members of the 38th general assembly


Poster : admin on 2012-03-19 11:22:45 (1105 reads)
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We received a report from Rev. Kiyokuni Fujii on the Nagasaki Ecumenical Prayer Service 
 
At 4 o’clock on March 11th, one year after the Great East Japan Earthquake, Nagasaki Christian Ecumenical Prayer Meeting was held. More than 1200 people gathered and gave prayers together. 
The main presiding was done by Mitsuaki Takami, bishop of Catholic Archdiocese of Nagasaki, and the message was given by Rev. Yasufumi Tomono of National Christian Council. Co-presiding was joined by almost 40 bishops and reverends. 
In the meeting, Mayor Tomihisa Tagami gave a massage “Word for Mourning and Renaissance,” and hymns were sung by Ms. Rutsuko Honda and the ecumenical choir that was assembled for the meeting. 
Also, prayers and pictures for this service were dedicated by more than 1600 children, -from kindergarten kids to high school students- of mission schools and Sunday schools. These prayers were edited as “Prayer of Nagasaki’s Children”, and presented by six children with all the prayers and pictures of all the children.
 
“Prayer of Nagasaki’s Children” 
Our Father, 
Give us the light and courage.
Children our age have lost their homes and friends. 
Our friends who were looking forward to their future have passed away.
And many people are in sufferings still now.
Please give smile and hope to all the children and people,
We pray that all could live cheerfully and lively,
That the lands and seas of their hometowns damaged by the earthquake and tsunami and
 contaminated by the radiation might recover, and they could be back home again.
Please make us not forget that we and the nature were created by you. 
Let us remember the damaged region and the people in troubles and those who work for them, 
 and have hearts to help with one other. 
Let us act with love you taught us.
 
In the precious name of the Lord,
Amen.
 
 
 


Poster : admin on 2012-03-13 18:11:32 (859 reads)

On Sunday March 11, one year after the East Japan Great Earthquake, the National Christian Council in Japan and the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan held a “Joint Memorial Prayer Service of Remembrance and Hope for Revival upon the 1 Year Anniversary of the East Japan Great Earthquake and Disasters.” The Service took place in Kojimachi St. Ignatius Catholic Church, Tokyo.

Shortly before the service, at 2:46 PM, the exact time of the earthquake was marked by one minute of silence, followed by a tolling of the Church’s bell. The service, presided jointly by Archbishop Takeo Okada of the Catholic Church and Reverend Isamu Koshiishi, NCCJ Moderator and priest of the Anglican Episcopal Church, began at 3 PM. Catholic and Protestant clergy read in turn Scriptures and a responsive Psalm, and this was followed by a pastoral message from Archbishop Okada.

After offerings were collected, four laypeople led the congregation in communal prayer and, finally, reports of respective support activities in the disaster region were offered by representatives of Protestant and Catholic churches. 

Approximately 1,000 people gathered for the service, and offerings totaled 584,796. These gifts will be shared equally between the NCCJ and the Catholic Church, and will be sent as assistance funds to Tohoku HELP (NCCJ) and Caritas Japan (Catholic). 
 


   
Archbishop Takeo Okada of the Catholic Church giving a message


Poster : admin on 2012-03-07 16:38:53 (1071 reads)


The coming Sunday, March 11th, the very day one year after the Great East-Japan Earthquake, Ms Shino Watanabe who lives in Germany will hold a charity concert in Dusseldorf the 2nd time following last year to support the people of the disaster areas. The donations at the concert will be sent to NCCJ.

Here is the poster of the concert.

We really appreciate their support.
(Click image to enlarge.)

 

チャリティーコンサート


Poster : admin on 2012-02-23 12:09:35 (1010 reads)
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You can see Oikumene #47 that was published last December, by downloading from below. Japanese version only. 

 

Oikumene #47

 

 


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