Last weekend was the Diocesan "Study weekend." After church on Sunday (and of course after eating some delicious treats and having tea) we left for Nagano. Nagano happens to be the city where the 1998 Winter Olympics were held, so as you can imagine it is a beautiful place in the mountains. Once we arrived there we immediately entered the conference room. This Diocese has a "study weekend" every year. Each year they focus on a different thing. This year it was on the future of the church, what was being done about the Earthquake, and the hundredth anniversary of the Diocese in 2012.
Shortly after we arrived we watched a video on the "Let Us Walk Together" project. It is a program that was started by the Anglican church here in response to the earthquake and tsunami. It's goals are to rebuild the lives and communities of the victims of the disaster. Here are just a couple of it's projects:
A Japanese language class has started in Shizugawa in order to help the foreigners of that area. Many Filipino women were unable to understand the public warnings of the oncoming tsunami. Because of that many of them in the region are learning Japanese. They hope that they will soon be able to pass a test and become care takers.
Another project is to raise support for the Madoka Arahama. This is a workshop for people who have learning disabilities. Their goals are to assist the users in becoming socially and financially independent. They used to have a tea salon selling hand-made sweets and crafts. Unfortunately the tsunami wiped out the store and its supplies. The organization has a new place to create their crafts.However they need money to continue with the daily goings on in the workshop. The Let Us Walk Together project is bringing awareness of this organization by selling the crafts here in Japan and across the globe.
When we began discussing about the future of the church, they had a panel of 5 different churches. All of the churches are struggling with losing members. Most of what they shared were different ways that the church is reaching out to the communities and asking how the church can fulfill the communities needs. It was overwhelming the various ministries that were coming out of just asking that question. What is the churches role outside of the services on Sunday mornings?
We split up into groups to discuss individual churches on that panel. I went with St. John's Anglican church of Nagoya. this church spent several years going door to door literally asking the community what they need from St. John's. Some of the elderly wanted a place to go to so that they weren't alone all day. This turned into a weekly tea time which spurred another group that got together to reflect on their lives during the war. Many of the younger generations joined in on these story times so that they could understand the reality of it. There is another weekly gathering where people bring food or crafts that that enjoy making and sell these items. Mainly this gathering is there so that people can share their gifts and talents with another, as well as build fellowship. I could go about all the other things going on in that church but I don't want to overwhelm you.
That weekend I got to be in a room full of individuals from various backgrounds who had one come faith. We laughed, we ate, we shared stories, we talked of the wonderful community of the church and how we grateful we are to be apart of it. I was overwhelmed with joy and reminded why it is that I am here. I was also reminded of the beauty of God's people. I am still processing that weekend, so much has already come from it. Thank you for reading this and thank you for your continued support.