Nihon Menonaito Kirisuto Kyokai Kyogikai, Japan
|Nihon Menonaito Kirisuto Kyokai Kyogikai (Japan Mennonite Christian Church Conference)|
Nobuyasu Kirai 
The Nihon Menonaito Kirisuto Kyokai Kyogikai (or Japan Mennonite Christian Church Conference) is a Mennonite church conference that was started by Carl and Esther Beck and Ralph and Genevieve Buckwalter in 1949 . The conference started in Kushiro and Obihiro, rural areas in east Hokkaido. There are currently 18 congregations, mostly in rural areas although there is a group in Sapporo which is the capital of Hokkaido.
In 1948, Dr. Takuo Matsumoto, the head of the Hiroshima Girl’s College gave a talk at Goshen College about experiencing the nuclear bomb that was dropped by the United States. This motivated several couples ( the Becks and the Buckwalters ) to go do missionary work in Japan (Hershberger 385). The couples arrived in Japan in 1949 and started studying the Japanese language. In 1951, churches were started in Kushiro and Obihiro which were rural areas. Later that year, eleven people were baptized at the Obihiro church . During this time, the missionaries mostly lived with in households with others and performed Sunday schools, church services and bible studies (Hershberger 400). In 1956, the Japan Mennonite Christian Church Conference (Nihon Menonaito Kirisuto Kyokai Kyogikai) was established. In 1965, the Eastern Hokkaido Bible School (Doto Seisho Gakuin) was created in Kusgiro to help fulfil the Anabaptist idea of lay piety. Other projects supported by the conference include winter and summer bible camps, a “Mennonite Hour” radio program .
1948 - Dr. Takuo Matsumoto, gave his talk at Goshen College about experiencing the nuclear bomb which inspired the Becks and the Buckwalters.
1949 - The couples arrive in Japan and start language study.
1951 - Churches are started in Kushiro and Obihiro.
1951 - Eleven people were baptized in the Obihiro church.
1956 - The Japan Mennonite Christian Church Conference (Nihon Menonaito Kirisuto Kyokai Kyogikai) is founded.
1965 - The Eastern Hokkaido Bible School (Doto Seisho Gakuin) is created to encourage lay piety.
Some predominant themes of the Japan Mennonite Christian Church Conference have been living by example, encouraging lay piety and building relationships between Christians. The early missionaries placed a good deal of emphasis on building relationships and being culturally sensitive. These values, along with the example of actually trying to live as Jesus, especially in such areas as pacifism, did a lot to help the early missionaries build a strong community and church. Lay piety was also valued, as it was in the early Mennonites and Anabaptists. To encourage this, the churches often offered several years of theological training and church members were often encouraged to try to attend seminaries overseas as well (Hershberger 411). The Buckwalters encouraged house churches.
The church in Kushiro did not grow very quickly. After 10 years, the church only had about 188 members. (Hershberger 410). Ralph defended himself in a reflection by writing,
“The point is not so much that we be effective, at all costs, but that we let the Gospel be effective in our own lives and the church" (411)
He then went on to say that the church was effective by demonstrating the meaning of the gospel through interpersonal relationships which was a prominent theme of the Kushiro church.
While the Japan Mennonite Christian Church Conference was not directly harmed by the 2011 tsunami and earthquake, much of Japan was devastated and significant infrastructure damage occurred. As a result, there are many people in need in Japan.
- "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).
- "Tanase, Takio. "Nihon Menonaito Kirisuto Kyokai Kyogikai (Japan Mennonite Christian Church Conference)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1987. Web. 17 April 2011. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/N53865.html.