Japan Mennonite Brethren Conference
The Nihon Menonaito Burezaren Kyodan (or Japan Mennonite Brethren Conference) is a Mennonite Brethren conference which is centered in Osaka, Japan and extends into Nagoya and Hiroshima area sand into Tokyo. They have established a seminary and a church camp as well as a church-planting ministry .
|Nihon Menonaito Burezaren Kyodan (Japan Mennonite Brethren Conference)|
Shinji Takeda 
In 1949, Mennonite Central Committee sent two missionaries, Henry and Linda Thielman, to Osaka to provide relief work in a location which had been bombed by United States planes during World War 2 (Fujino 129). Over the next 3 years, 12 more Mennonite Brethren missionaries arrived (Friesen). The first three baptisms took place in 1951, less than a year after the third missionary, Ruth Wiens arrived in Japan (Fujino 130). In 1956, a conference of representatives from local churches decided that a church conference organization should be created to work towards the goal of being self-sustaining. It was for this purpose that the Japanese Mennonite Brethren Conference was formed in 1958 (131). The Japan Mennonite Brethren Bible Institute was established in 1957 (and renamed the Evangelical Bible Seminary in 1971) and has produced all of the Japanese Mennonite Brethren Pastors (Friesen).
1949 - MCC sends Henry and Linda Thielman to provide relief work in Osaka
1950 - The Board of Foreign Missions sends Ruth Wiens to Japan and a house is purchased for the missionaries.
1951 - The first three baptisms of the group take place.
1955 - A conference of Mennonite Brethren Missionaries decided that Osaka was going to be their main mission field.
1957 - The Japan Mennonite Brethren Bible Institute is established (Friesen)
1958 - Japanese Mennonite Brethren Conference is formed to help the church become self-sustaining. 1971 - The Japanese Mennonite Brethren Conference assumes full responsibility for the Bible Institute and renames it the Evangelical Bible Seminary (Friesen).
2000 - The Japanese Mennonite Brethren Conference celebrates its 50th anniversary.
The three main themes of the theology of the Japan Mennonite Brethren Conference were highlighted in their 50th anniversary celebrations; biblicism, peace and evangelism. The term biblicism is used to emphasize several ideas such as dispensationalism and Christian education (Fujino 133). The Bible Seminary helps this cause by promoting doctoral unity (Friesen). Several Sunday school textbooks have also been printed by missionaries and these have been used throughout the conference (Fujino 133). The Japanese Mennonite Brethren have a different view of pacifism than anabaptists who came out of an European background. In the European view of pacifism, the military forces have been a force that is used for aggression against other countries. In the Constitution of Japan, there is a restriction from Japan having a standing military. There is a self-defence force but the government doesn’t consider these to be military forces. Due to this, most Japanese Mennonite Brethren do to associate rejection of military service with pacifism. There is a trend that Japanese Mennonite Brethren think about pacifism almost exclusively in terms of rejecting war and less in terms of being a peacemaker in society (Fujino 134). The Japanese Mennonite Brethren Conference and the Mennonite Brethren missionaries have been active in pursuing new converts and planting new churches. Since 1974, the Japanese Mennonite Brethren Conference has created 10-year evangelical plans to increase converts (Fujino 135). These plans were initially very successful, doubling the number of converts from 600 to 1200. However, these plans have become less successful as time has gone on.
While the Japanese Brethren in Christ was not directly harmed by the 2011 tsunami and earthquake (Japanese), much of Japan was devastated and significant infrastructure damage occurred. As a result, there are many people in need in Japan.
Lack of Growth
In recent years, the evangelical efforts of the Japan Mennonite Brethren Church have not been especially successful. Japan has recently become more critical of foreign religions due to several prominent terrorist attacks around the world as well as the United States’ actions in leading the war in Iraq (Fujino 135). For many Japanese people, work is the top priority while religion is not as important. Japanese church members have also become more wealthy which causes them to have less time to focus on the church. Within the Japanese Mennonite Brethren Church, several other factors have helped cause this lack of growth. Pastors have often been too busy with problems in their own community to try to do more evangelism and lay people are often very busy with their own jobs as well (Fujino 136).
The Future of the Church
The Japanese Mennonite Brethren church has tended to very very influenced by their traditions. As a result, the congregation is not always very flexible. In 2003, a renewal committee was formed to help with this inflexibility. The committee came to several conclusions including creating a new confession of faith, asking theological questions about what it means to be “biblical,” “evangalisic” and”peaceful,” and embracing diversity within congregations. The conference plans on implementing these suggestions as well as promoting further duologue and discussion about these topics (Fujino 155).
- "Fujino, Junichi. “The Mennonite Brethren Church in Japan.” The Mennonite Brethren Church around the world : celebrating 150 years. Ed. Abe K. Dueck. Kitchener, Ont: Pandora Press, 2010. 129-146. Print.
- "Mennonite and Brethren in Christ Churches Worldwide, 2009: Asia & Pacific." Mennonite World Conference. http://www.mwc-cmm.org/en15/files/Members%202009/Asia%20&%20Pacific%20Summary.doc (accessed 11 April 2011).
- ""Japanese Anabaptist churches safe, but communications cut to one house church ." Mennonite World Conference. Mennonite World Conference, 14/23/2011. Web. 15 Apr 2011.