Thursday, February 26, 2009

Project Contacting Younger Churches, Hokkaido, 1967

Yorifumi Yaguchi, the pastor of the two small congregations in Sapporo, has a strong conviction that he should be self-supporting and has been quite vocal in promoting this as the pattern for other ministers. This has created some tensions in the conference. Yaguchi teaches American literature and poetry and one Bible course at Hokusei University in Sapporo. He works with the students there as an unofficial counselor and invites them to come to his church for Bible studies. Many of them do attend the Yuai congregation. Yaguchi is somewhat critical of the missionaries for “with only a few exceptions,” he says, “they do not have a thorough understanding of Japanese culture; they do not use the Japanese language correctly; they read very few Japanese books and journals.”

He also feels that the church is too pastor-centered. He himself prefers a lay ministry and has not as yet accepted ordination. He feels that the church in Japan is unduly influenced by prevalent images of its proper forms, structures, programs, etc. which are current in other demoninations. He also feels that the church has been too strongly influenced by Japan Christian College. He said that the Japanese Mennonite Church is not authentically an Anabaptist-Mennonite church. Pastors do not know what this is and the missionaries, in his judgment, have not taught them.

Yaguchi and Takio Tanase are the two major leading influences who are leading the Japanese Mennonite Church into the Anabaptist stream of life and thought. Neither one is pushing a Mennonite line but only what he thinks is the Biblical perspective. Yaguchi feels that vital issues in the church cannot be thoroughly discussed because they are too emotional. We can only discuss up to a point, he says. He was the only one who had brought lay leaders from each of his congregations with him to the pastors’ conference at Furano although the other pastors had tried to do so as well.

Yaguchi pastors the Yuai congregation, a small congregation in Sapporo which ministers largely to students from the university. Yaguchi takes turns in preaching with Marvin Yoder. They have developed a variety of patterns for the worship service with a strong emphasis upon round table discussions. The members are permitted to ask questions or to express themselves freely in the meeting. The group meets in a classroom of a school building, which creates a problem since they need to leave the building immediately after the morning service. They usually go to a restaurant where they share the noon meal and continue their discussions. (One problem is that most of these persons are students and can ill afford to buy their meals at the restaurant.)

Their discussions are very significant and include both theology and practical problems. Recently topics have been the question of war and peace with a view to determining what Christians, especially Mennonites, should be doing in this area. They have been looking at Menno Simons’ teachings on peace. Two members attended the 1967 Korean Work Camp sponsored by Mennonite Central Committee as a reconciliation project. It was reported that the Korean Christians are very militant in their anti-communism.

--Ross T. Bender, Project Contacting Younger Churches, 1968, pp. 3-7.
Report on a visit to Hokkaido, Japan in September of 1967. Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminaries. Copy in the Mennonite Historical Library, Goshen College

Sunday, February 15, 2009

God of War


Sapporo Jan. 2005

Yaguchi Yorifumi reads "Senso no Kami" (mp3)

--Yaguchi Yorifumi, Tenkoku no Enkai, Eihousha (Nihon Menonaito Bunshou Kyoukai), 2004

Yaguchi Yorifumi reads "God of War"

from The Poetry of Yorifumi Yaguchi: a Japanese Voice in English, ed. Wilbur J. Birky, Good Books 2006

Jesus, by Yaguchi Yorifumi

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Furano 1967 -- Sky Carp

photo by Charles Shenk

Furano 1967 -- Pastors' Retreat

photo by Charles Shenk