April 30, 2011:Emergency Response Headquarters News #9

April 23, 2011:Emergency Response Headquarters News #8

April 11, 2011:Principles to Guide Use of Funds Raised to Support Relief for the Disaster

April 16, 2011:Emergency Response Headquarters News #7

April 9, 2011:Emergency Response Headquarters News #6

April 1, 2011:To everyone in the Northeastern Presbytery

April 2, 2011:Emergency Response Headquarters News #5

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Reformed Church in Japan Diaconal Action Committee
Emergency Response Headquarters News #9

Financial Report
We have received a total of ¥25,066,588 from sources within Japan and abroad. New gifts were received from Bread From Heaven Church (Philippines) and from Christian Ethics Movement (South Korea). Disbursements have been made to those in the disaster area as follows: emergency housing assistance to two believers (¥250,000 to one and ¥500,000 to another), assistance funds to pastors (¥100,000 to 15 each to 15 pastors) and to Higashi Sendai Church to help support their social assistance outreach (¥1,200,000) activities.

We made an emergency offering appeal because we expected to make many emergency disbursements. However, these disbursements are tentative and conservative, as the situation in the damaged areas is constantly changing. As you will see below, we have finished the assessment process, and we are more and more able to grasp the overall situation among the Reformed churches. From hereon in we are preparing to take the next step of making disbursements tailored to the individual situations of the churches.

As to the “Disaster Support Trust Funds” (noted in the #7 news release), whose purpose is limited to enable the churches to offer assistance to the neighborhood around them, each church is examining how they will use these. These funds as well as assistance for the repairs to churches will be given in accordance with the assessment report.

Report of the damages assessment committee – East Kanto Presbytery
On Wednesday, April 17 Rev. Takayuki Ashida guided Rev. Torii and Elder Fukui to make assessments among the churches of the East Kanto Presbytery. They visited and interviewed those at 5 churches 1 believer’s home.

In the region of the East Kanto Presbytery, especially in the northern and central coastal area of Ibaraki Prefecture, damage occurred just like that in the Northeast. In the Oh-arai region near Hitachinaka (the coast was hit by a 4-meter tsunami), a bridge was made impassable, and it seemed like the whole town was characterized by an eerie lack of activity. As we neared Hitachinaka Church, we saw that soil liquefaction had left many utility poles leaning and there were some neighborhoods where many homes had been severely damaged. The roads also were damaged by the liquefaction and difficult to navigate, with some areas sunken and other parts protruding upwards.

The outer wall of the Hanamigawa Church was cracked in some places, and cracks in the foundation where part had risen and another sank could also be seen. The extent could be considered light, but at Chishirodai Church you could also see these same things. At Katsutadai, Hitachinaka and Shin Urayasu there was only minor damage evident. However, the roof of the Katsutadai parsonage, and the roofs and walls of the homes of many of the believers had some damage. Also, in the only damaged church in the Eastern Presbytery, Utsunomiya Church was in a neighborhood that experienced much damage, and some of the believers also had significant damage.

As of now, we have more or less finished the assessments in the Northeast and East Kanto Presbyteries. It will be fairly easy to make damage repair estimates for the churches, but we can’t say that we are finished with assessing the situation of the believers. Especially in the Northeast Presbytery, the pastors are overwhelmed with response and follow up activities, the believers are struggling to go about daily life, and it is difficult for them to attend worship services. It will take another month and a half for the extent of all the damages to become clear. Nevertheless, after five days of assessment activity, we have been able to go to work on a detailed financial plan.

From next week, a questionnaire will be filled out at each church for individuals to report their damages. We ask for the cooperation of all the believers for this activity.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Reformed Church in Japan Diaconal Action Committee
Emergency Response Headquarters News #8

At this time we recall words that dwell in our hearts, like the poem by Genzo Mizuno, “Like the lilies of the valley that bloom at the start of each summer, God’s faithfulness never changes,” or the saying of Jüngel, “People may forget about God, but God never forgets his people.” Though the earth should shake, though we may lose sight of God, our hearts find refuge in the unchanging faithfulness of God. We pray that especially at Easter we may all turn our hearts toward the Lord who frees us from the power of darkness and the power of death! (This except was taken from an email exchange within the committee.)

1. Deepening of the collaboration among the presbyteries with the general assembly
Other than the Northeast Presbytery, all the presbyteries held their first regular assembly of the year and made new efforts to deal with supporting those victimized by the disaster (see #6 below). If time permits at the RCJ special general assembly meeting in June, the officials appointed by the presbyteries will gather with the General Assembly representatives to firm up their collaboration.

2. Volunteer recruitment
We continue to recruit volunteers who will work out of the Volunteer Center (VC) based in the Higashi Sendai Church. This recruitment will continue until the end of May. Please follow the application process and send the applications to the address below. We had limited volunteers to those over age 20, but we have changed it also to include college students.
2-13-11 Takashimadaira, Itabashi-ku, Tokyo 175-0082
Takashimadaira Kirisuto Kyoukai Rev. Shuji Toyokawa
email: s-toyokawa@mbn.nifty.com cell: 090-2411-7246
Those applying as volunteers with Japan International Food for the Hungry should apply directly to them.

3. Fund raising report, etc. (encouragement from overseas)
As of April 20, a total of ¥15,368,410 in donations has been received. This amount includes gifts received from the Japanese Church in Holland, The Japanese Reformed Church in London, students and faculty of the Kosin University and Theological College, The Suraban Hosanna Church of Indonesia, the Trinity Presbyterian Church (that worked in Sendai for two years from 1982) and from an individual donor from South Korea.

It is not included in the amount above, but the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee of the CRCNA has also forwarded the amount of US$50,000 with the request that efforts be made in the wider society. Fund raising is also taking place among the churches of the Reformed Presbyterian Church in North American Japan Presbytery by their Great East Japan Earthquake Support Committee.

We have also received letters of encouragement. Here is a letter we received from an orphanage in Kenya: “We residents of the orphanage are very busy with our preparations for Easter. Some of us have grown up to become carpenters and builders… We are anxious about the damage from the earthquake in Japan. That is because you and we in Kenya have been made one in the Lord. We send you the words of Romans 8:35-39. We pray that with the hope of Easter God will enable you to overcome the trial Japan is facing.”

4. Reports from the disaster area
A. From Japan International Food for the Hungry (JIFH)
We are trying to acquire refrigerators, washing machines, rice cookers, fluorescent bulbs for ceiling lights, gas ranges and other electrical appliances for those who have lost everything and are being moved into temporary housing. These don’t have to be new; used items in usable condition are also all right.

B. From the Sendai Christian Coalition [referred to as the “Sendai Christian Association in previous reports] (in regard to projects they are pursuing at this time)
• We are cooperating to lend mental care support through those offering “mourning” and grief care, etc. in collaboration with mental health care providers that work with the local Buddhist organizations in conjunction with the crematoriums.
• We are receiving volunteers to help with cleaning and refurbishing in the areas along the coast of Miyagi Prefecture hit by the tsunami.
• We are giving restoration support and providing hot meal services to people in coordination with JIFH and other locally organized groups.
• We are giving assistance to local contractors who have set up a “spa project” among those along the coast of Iwate Prefecture (a project that focuses on providing day trips to hot spring baths for the elderly living in the shelters).

5. Report of the damages assessment committee
Revs. Torii and Kando and Elder Fukui carried out visits and direct assessments from Monday April 18 through Thursday April 21, calling on 12 churches and evangelistic stations and visiting the sites of 3 damaged homes of believers.

On day one, they visited Shiroishi Evangelistic Station, the tsunami damaged home of a member of Higashi Sendai Church (in Nobiru, Higashi Matsushima City), and Ishinomaki Evangelistic Station. On day two, they visited Watari Evangelistic Station, the tsunami damaged home and also the “Rice Bread” bakery of a believer from Watari, Megumi Evangelistic Station, Kita Nakayama Evangelistic Station, and Higashi Sendai Church. On day three they visited Hachinohe Evangelistic Station, Rokunohe Evangelistic Station and Morioka Evangelistic Station. On day four they visited Sendai Canaan Church, Sendai Church and Fukushima Evangelistic Station.

The detailed report of the assessment will be presented later on in conjunction with the second fund-raising campaign, but there are two items to report now that we ask to be remembered in prayer. There were landslides in the area near Kita Nakayama Evangelistic Station, and the neighborhood continues to be vulnerable. The property the church building sits on has also shifted, and cracks have opened in the retaining wall and the foundation. Emergency measures need to be implemented right away not only to avert the danger to the building but also to avoid the threat to life. Additionally, even though some rapid measures were taken to remove sections of plaster falling off the inside walls of Sendai Church, these damaged sections are continuing to spread, and it is very worrisome to think of what might happen should aftershocks occur while people are assembled there for worship. Please pray for these two situations.

We have more or less finished the assessments in the Northeastern Presbytery region, but we on the assessment committee received great hope and encouragement ourselves as we saw the patient endurance of the pastors and believers who refuse to be defeated by the damages and who are surviving and encouraging each other. Even though we are embarrassed to think of how poor and lacking in concrete content our prayers have been up until now for the Northeastern Presbytery, we were renewed in our conviction concerning the importance of true prayer. We will be very grateful if we learn through these activities and receive direction as to how we can come together and get down to work more effectively as the church that lives together.

6. How the presbyteries are responding and organizing
[Northeastern Presbytery]
The Northeastern Presbytery has postponed its first regular meeting until July.

[East Kanto Presbytery]
The East Kanto Presbytery established an 11-member “special committee to give emergency support to churches in response to the Great East Japan earthquake” with the following membership:
Moderator Rev. Eiji Mikawa, chairperson, Evangelism Committee Chairman Rev. Yasushi Sekiguchi, secretary, Deacon Chiyoko Fujita, treasurer, Stated Clerk and Operations Committee member Rev. Hirotsugu Mochida, Education Committee member Rev. Akira Komine, GA Expanded Emergency Response Committee member Rev. Takayuki Ashida, Elder Nobuyuki Asai, Elder Akira Nakayama, Finance Committee member Elder Ken Arata, Ms. Yuko Yamaura, and CRJM missionary Rev. Ken Lee
Mandate: Give financial, material and personnel support to assist the recovery of the churches mainly in the Northeastern and East Kanto Presbytery regions that suffered damage from the Great East Japan Earthquake
Term: One year (with the possibility of extension as needed) Budget: ¥250,000

[Eastern Presbytery]
March 18 (Friday) The presbytery’s Diaconal Action Committee set up an 8-person “Emergency response office” with the following membership:
Moderator Rev. Makio Suzuki, chairperson, Evangelism Committee Chairman Rev. Yasuyoshi Kawasugi, secretary, Finance Committee Chairman Rev. Takayoshi Shiota, treasurer, Stated Clerk Rev. Noboru Kobori, Evangelism Committee member Rev. Yasushi Oba, Diaconal Action Committee Chairman Rev. Masao Kataoka, Diaconal Action Committee member Rev. Hajime Nagaishi, as yet un-named member of finance committee
Mandate: Discuss, make recommendations and carry out concrete support activities for the churches and believers and further strengthen the intimately relationship with the Northeastern Presbytery, which has been hit with the unprecedented Great East Japan Earthquake
Term: 2 years (with possibility of extension) Budget: approved in a separate action

[Central Presbytery]
The Central Presbytery set up a 5-member “emergency response office” within the Diaconal Action Committee with the following organization:
Overseer Rev. Kazuo Torii, Rev. Hajime Ninomiya, secretary, Deacon Akemi Izukura, project treasurer, Elder Akira Suzuki, Elder Shoichiro Aoyama
Mandate: Organize the issues and respond giving priority to the matters requested by the general assembly Emergency Response Headquarters
Term: not specified Budget: ¥600,000 for the office’s various expenses

[Western Presbytery]
The Western Presbytery’s standing Diaconal Action Committee already was already in place, with the following 6 members:
Rev. Saburo Nishida, chairman, Elder Yoshitaka Ohta, secretary, Deacon Yumi Takahara, committee treasurer, Elder Kazuo Kondo, project treasurer, Deacon Kensuke Ueyama, Rev. Shoichi Nezu
Mandate: Along with diaconal activities, give support grants and send groups to extend comfort to the Northeastern Presbytery
Term: one year Budget (from presbytery ministry shares): about ¥600,000

[Shikoku Presbytery]
The Shikoku Presbytery established a new Diaconal Action Committee of 5 members as follows:
Rev. Yoshikazu Makita, chairman, Rev. Hirofumi Kubo, secretary and treasurer, Elder Akira Shiba, Rev. Eiki Osada, Rev. Motonori Matsuda
Mandate: 1) Intentionally carry out diaconal activities within the presbytery
2) Grapple continuously with diaconal activities of the presbytery along making a response to the Great East Japan Earthquake.
Term: one year Budget: ¥30,000 (with the project budgets to be set in accordance with further activity)

[Translator’s note: I am not completely confident inre the pronunciation and spelling of some of the names. Please pardon me if there are errors and send me corrections.]

Principles to Guide Use of Funds Raised to Support Relief for the Disaster (April 11, 2011)

Preamble: The Reformed Church in Japan (RCJ) has already begun a fund-raising campaign for emergency relief (first campaign period is March through May 2011*). The following principles will guide how the support is carried out. We will determine at a later date in consultation with the Northeastern Presbytery and the Diaconal Action Committee the period for the next campaign and the uses of the funds raised in accordance with these principles.
(* The first campaign dates were changed to coincide with the specially called General Assembly meeting in June.)

1. Support to the Northeastern Presbytery (NEP)
The NEP was established and has continued its activities since 1983. This was only by the grace of God. Now 28 years after the establishment, many issues have been clarified. The presbytery continues its organization and activities under great duress and presently has one less congregation than at the beginning. There is also a need to find successors for home missionaries who have been working as tentmakers.
The disaster has struck this presbytery that was already facing these difficult issues. So we consider that the assistance to be given to the NEP should not simply seek to restore them to the situation they were in before it hit, but must also include planning for a new future. Also, as the restoration in the NE area will take many years, the plan that should coordinate with planning for and progress in the restoration of the region’s society is not something that can be drawn up quickly. Therefore, we will begin with a response to emergency needs, and we will adjust activities as we continually watch developments over the middle and long term.

2. Ecumenical Support and Social Support
This disaster has rained down immense damage on the very widespread Northeast Japan region. The tsunami in particular wiped away the lives of many people and destroyed many homes, and it also swept away many churches in the area. Therefore, as we wrote in the first period fundraising prospectus before, “the aid will of course be extended to the Reformed believers, but also to many other victims in those areas and to those beyond the scope of our denomination.”
In regard to disbursements during the first response period, because of the emergency nature of the early response, it will be very difficult to get detailed accounting for how the funds are used, but we have established the approximate proportion of funds that will go for support to ecumenical and general social causes at 25% of the total. And we plan to use this same measure in regard to the “support to the NEP” described above in #1 beyond July in response to the situation at that time.

I. Emergency relief support (short-term)
1. Support within the RCJ.
A. Support to victims who are believers
At this time we have already given emergency assistance to believers whose homes were destroyed or who have had to abandon them. Subsequently, we will carry out careful investigations and provide additional assistance to victims who are believers in accordance with the needs. These investigations will be carried out by members of the Emergency Response Headquarters (ERH) on site giving due respect to the privacy of those involved.
B. Support to churches and workers in “tent-making” locations
We expect that this widespread disaster will create especially difficult situations for the workers and believers who support them in places where the workers have been supporting themselves through outside work. We will provide support for the evangelistic stations and their pastors in such circumstances for a short term.
C. Support to provide worship facilities and repair damaged buildings
When it is dangerous because of damage to gather in the church buildings, we will give support to arrange for outside facilities and to make repairs rapidly.

2. Support to those outside the RCJ.
A. Ecumenical support
The damage wreaked by the tsunami was concentrated along the coastal area, and most of the groups in that area will find it very difficult to recover and rebuild on their own. At this time, the “Sendai Christian Association Emergency Support Network,” with its office in Sendai, is carrying out investigations of the whole NE region and feeling their way to give support to these churches and believers. Our General Assembly Moderator Rev. Takashi Yoshida is serving with this group. We will participate in giving ecumenical support through giving assistance from our funds raised to this group.
B. Social support
This disaster has shaken the lives of the citizenry at its foundation. If there are people related to the RCJ groups who are working to provide relief to the area society, we will give them our help, and we will send offerings to social welfare organizations that operate based on Christian principles. Among these, we will include assistance to International Food for the Hungry with whom the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee partners and also the Southern Presbyterian Mission in Japan’s Yodogawa Christian Hospital (the chairperson of evangelism there is RCJ minister Rev. Eisuke Tamura) which is providing medical assistance in Iwate Prefecture.

II. Support for evangelism and stimulation, etc. of the NEP (mid-term: limited to this period)
1. In order to get started with planning for the future, the pastors of the NEP will need healing from the serious wounds to their spirits caused by this disaster and will need to gather repeatedly to discuss how to move forward. For that reason we will give logistical support (travel, lodging and meals expenses) for NEP meetings. Additionally, when it is necessary to call pastors from other presbyteries for preaching in NEP churches and evangelistic stations, we will provide funding for their travel expenses. Fellowship not just with pastors but with others too from outside areas is also important, so we will also provide support when pastors or others are invited from other presbyteries for other kinds of meetings. Application for this assistance can be made to the GA Diaconal Action Committee through the stated clerk of each presbytery.

2. Evangelism in the NEP area will be outreach to those bearing the wounds of this disaster. Evangelistic activity is necessary everywhere in Japan, but the spreading of the Gospel is especially demanded as the mission of the churches in the disaster-hit Northeast region. So we will give support to the evangelistic activities of the churches and evangelistic stations of the NEP.

III. Support to the NEP for making and implementation of future plans (long-term)
It will take time for plans to be made for churches that must move or be rebuilt and for the future of the presbytery, so future fund-raising campaigns will be inaugurated as these plans take shape. For the time being, we will limit our fund-raising activities to phases one and two, awaiting the proposals and implementation of plans that will follow later on. As we want to make provisions for the possibilities of assistance to others and for emergencies that may yet arise, we will set some reserve funds aside also.

1. In regard to the emergency assistance described in 1.A. and 1.3. these may be provided to the NEP itself as circumstances may warrant. Additionally, there is fear that the disaster caused by the nuclear power station accident may spread to affect the churches of the Eastern and Central Presbyteries. If that should happen, we will consider additional response measures.

2. On the occasion of this disaster, various overseas churches are offering their cooperation not only for the generation of offerings, but for a variety of kinds of assistance. The (RCJ) Committee for International Ecumenism will be the place to contact to arrange implementation of the proposals of the overseas churches in accordance with the needs in Japan.

3. In order for us to carry out the fund-raising and disbursement activities in accordance with these principles, the most important thing necessary is the strengthening of the “legs and feet” of the churches all over the country. We will carry out these support activities giving due consideration to the healthy growth of the churches and evangelistic stations of the whole nation.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Reformed Church in Japan Diaconal Action Committee
Emergency Response Headquarters News #7

1. The “Support Philosophy” that was mentioned in the last news release has been finalized. It is being submitted to the Moderator and Clerks group of the Northeastern Presbytery for their review. This document will guide how we will use the funds that are received. And as the initial application of these principles, the funds received in response to the emergency appeal, the “(first phase) Appeal for Great East Japan Earthquake Emergency Offerings,” will be disbursed in the following two ways. As of April 12, the total received amounts to ¥11,183,469.

2. Initial disbursement of the “Great East Japan Earthquake Emergency Offerings”
A. We are accepting requests from believers for emergency support
We will disburse ¥500,000 to those who lost their homes as a result of the disaster. For those whose homes are in a dangerous condition and therefore can’t be used for residence at this time, we will offer ¥250,000. We will respond to requests received even after April 24, so please feel free to apply for this assistance.
B. “Emergency expenses funds” will be paid to pastors and others of the Northeastern Presbytery up to a total amount of ¥1,60,000.
We will be disbursing ¥100,000 each to the 9 pastors, 3 retired pastors and 4 missionaries. The pastors will not be asked to give accounting for how they use these funds, but they are free to use them as they encounter the needs.
C. Plan to disburse “Disaster Support Trust Funds” to the NE Presbytery churches and evangelistic stations.
Funds will be entrusted to be used freely to support those affected by the disaster. This may include funding to support the churches’ activities, to initiate activities in response to calls for help from those in the area, and support for efforts to give relief for regional damage (reports of how these funds are used will be received later). The team to evaluate the needs in the disaster area will affirm the needs, and we will send a report on the concrete activities at a later date.

3. Plan to investigate the support needs in the disaster zone
The committee to investigate the disaster zone will include Rev. Kazuo Torii, who has the experience of making a similar evaluation after the Great Hanshin Earthquake, Elder Shoichi Fukui, who is originally from the Northeast (Tohoku) Region of Japan, and Rev. Kenji Kando, himself a pastor in the NE Presbytery. They will begin their investigations on April 18, starting with the Tohoku area. They plan also to inquire in the East Kanto disaster area beginning in May. In order to make appropriate disbursement of funds, they will survey the actual situations of damage experienced by the believers and churches, and this will become the foundation of the stage two fund-raising appeal.

4. Change of terminal date for the “Great East Japan Emergency Offerings” appeal
Since there will be a special meeting of the Reformed Church in Japan General Assembly in conjunction with the mid-June Office Bearers’ Retreat, the phase one fund raising appeal termination date is being revised from the previously set June 30 to the new date of May 31. At the GA meeting, a report will be presented of the phase one offerings, and we will examine the proposal for the phase two fund-raising campaign.

5. How the presbyteries are responding
[Northeastern Presbytery]
April 11 (Monday) The Moderator and Clerks group met (the decision to postpone the presbytery annual meeting was made)
April 12 (Tuesday) The Moderator and Clerks group met with the Evangelism Committee members also present
[East Kanto Presbytery]
March 29-31 The Moderator and Clerks group traveled to southern Miyagi Prefecture and visited the Northeastern Presbytery churches. Note: also traveling with them were a representative of the Expanded Diaconal Action Committee and a representative of CRC Media Ministries (Japan’s branch of the CRCNA Back to God Ministries International)
April 12 (Tuesday) Representative from the Christian Reformed Japan Mission and the East Kanto Presbytery Evangelism Committee traveled to observe the area in Asahi City, Chiba Prefecture, which was damaged by tsunami waves.
At the first regular meeting of the presbytery (scheduled for April 16) the presbytery will examine motions from the Moderator And Clerks groups as follows:
A. Motion to establish a “special committee to give emergency support in response to the Great East Japan earthquake” (10 member committee with a one year mandate}
B. Send representatives to inquire after the welfare of the NE Presbytery
{Note: both motions were passed, but the committee was appointed of 11 members instead of 10.}

[Eastern Presbytery]
March 18 (Friday) The presbytery’s Diaconal Action Committee set up an “Emergency response office.” (Their function is to gather information about the disaster, to support efforts by Rev. Youngyeul Ma of Utsunomiya Church to deliver relief commodities to the NE, and to appeal for offerings.)
The first regular meeting of the presbytery (April 15-16) entertained the following motions from the Moderator and Clerks group:
A. Establish a “special committee to respond to the Great East Japan Earthquake” (8 members with a 2-year mandate)
B. Adopt a letter from the Eastern Presbytery to the Northeastern Presbytery churches (a pastoral letter indicating the EP’s resolve to help the NEP).
{Note: both motions passed.}

[Central Presbytery]
1. Implementation from the beginning of an offer of home stays to families who lost their housing.
2. March 21 (Monday) The presbytery Diaconal Action Committee established an “Emergency Response Office”
3. The presbytery made arrangements to offer the Suzume no Oyado facility as an emergency shelter.
4. March 21-25, the presbytery sent two pastors as ambassadors to make inquiries after the well being of the NE and to observe the situation there.
5. The churches and evangelistic stations gathered, consolidated and delivered needed commodities.
6. The Central Presbytery’s first regular meeting (April 5) passed the following motions:
A. Motion from the DAC and Moderator and Clerks group to set aside ¥600,000 from the special fund to assist with housing expenses for retired pastors to be used to cover the expenses of the Emergency Response Office
B. Motion from the Moderator and Clerks group to send a representative(s) to inquire after the welfare of the NE Presbytery (budget of ¥250,000)

[Western Presbytery]
1. April 11, (Monday) the presbytery’s Moderator and Clerks held a special “Meeting to pray for the churches and those affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake.” This was followed by a time of reporting and discussion about the situation in the NE (the meeting was held at Shinko Church and attended by 71 people.)
2. At their first regular meeting (April 11-Monday) the presbytery adopted the following two motions:
A. Motion presented jointly by the Moderator and Clerks group and the DAC to set aside a budget of ¥500,000 as assistance for the Great East Japan Earthquake.

B. Motion from the Moderator and Clerks group to send a group to extend comfort to the churches and evangelistic stations of the NE Presbytery.

[Shikoku Presbytery]
1. March 28-31, two missionaries from the Reformed Churches of South Africa and one pastor candidate of the presbytery visited the churches of the NE Presbytery in southern Miyagi Prefecture.
2. The presbytery passed the following two motions at their first regular meeting (April 12-13)
A. Reestablish a Diaconal Action Committee for the presbytery
B. Send a representative to inquire after the welfare of the NE Presbytery (dates to be decided).

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Emergency Response Headquarters News #6

Aftershocks are continuing in Northeast Japan. Here is what we know at this time:

[Reports of damage resulting from aftershocks]
• Sendai Church
Yoshida-sensei is all right. More damage occurred in the church, with cracks widening and sections of plaster coming loose and falling. A worker was engaged and repairs were made. We expect to hold normal morning and evening services on Sunday. An elderly member passed away from pulmonary deficiency after the last big aftershock (4/7), and the funeral will be on Monday (4/11).

• Kita Nakayama Evangelistic Station
Rev. & Mrs. Sakamoto are all right. Damage to the building worsened and they are considering whether to evacuate from the building.

• Ishinomaki Evangelistic Station
The Rev. Shiratsu family is all right. They’d been staying at the church building the past three days, but yesterday the went back to the shelter briefly, but they slept in their car. They are back at the church now.

• Watari Evangelistic Station
Rev. & Mrs. Hayashi are all right. Tiles fell from part of the parsonage roof.

[Additional reports from other areas]
• Morioka Evangelistic Station
Contact with an absentee member was established and that person is all right.

• Hanamigawa Church (Chiba Prefecture)
Cracks appeared in 7 places in the building, which is more than 30 years old.

•Utsunomiya Church (Tochigi Prefecture)
Homes of 2 members had damage to their roofs and other damage too.

[Where we go from here]
The expanded Diaconal Action Committee will gather at Shinko Church on Monday 4/11 to discuss how to provide further support. The main agenda are as follows:
1. Discuss the proposed “Support philosophy” document that the committee is drawing up
2. Discuss how to use the offerings that are coming in promptly and effectively
3. Discuss damage assessment visits to assist believers and churches
4. Other
Before this meeting, there will be a special prayer meeting convened by the Western Presbytery Moderator and Clerks to remember the believers and churches in the damaged area; all believers are invited to participate. At that time, there will be a report by those who visited the damaged area on 3/21~3/24 (Mon.~Thurs.) and a time of discussion. Also on 4/11 the Northeast Presbytery Moderator and Clerks will meet, and on the 12th they will gather with the Evangelism Committee for an expanded meeting.

[Volunteer insurance]
We have contracted for “Natural disaster volunteer insurance” offered by the Social Welfare Association for the volunteers serving at the Higashi Sendai Church from 4/8 and on. Information will be given to those who wish to participate.

April 1, 2011

To everyone in the Northeastern Presbytery

Grace and peace be with all of you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Three weeks have passed since the Great East Japan Earthquake with its epicenter in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Northeast Japan. As you have already learned from the news bulletins distributed by the General Assembly Diaconal Action Committee, only by the grace of God, virtually all the church members have been confirmed to be all right, and for this we give thanks! On the other hand, for those who have lost family or relatives or who have family or relatives who cannot be accounted for after the quake and tsunami, we can only pray from our heart that the deep comfort and help of our Lord Jesus will be given abundantly.

I feel very badly that I was powerless because of the breakdowns in communications and transportation, because of the need to give leadership not only to my own church but also to the ecumenical association where I have responsibility as well, that even though I wanted to visit all of you right away to check on your well-being, I was unable to do this. Afterward, as it was confirmed that everyone was all right, and I gave thanks with great joy.

After the passage of three weeks that seem like a nightmare, while there are some areas where people are beginning to retcover a normal life again, close by are those neighborhoods where there are people for whom the tragic realities are unchanged. In my location of Wakabayashi-ku in Sendai City, these two very different worlds stand back to back in sharp contrast. Throughout the entire Northeast region, we are living with the difficult reality of on the one hand, putting our energies into rebuilding, but also at the same time, needing to reach out helping hands to those who will lose their lives without quick assistance. And needless to say, we can’t sigh with relief that the damage from the nuclear accident at Fukushima is over either. These things make our present response activities very complicated.

In spite of this, the church all over the world is praying for our weak little Northeast Japan churches, and the brothers and sisters both here and overseas are all sending us their support and lifting us up. Immediately after the quake, beginning with the OPC, many groups came one after the other delivering needed commodities. Even though communications were cut off and things couldn’t be delivered because of fuel shortages, by the efforts of an ecumenical cooperative and the work of volunteers, things began to arrive little by little where they were needed.

Supported in this way by the love and labor and prayers of so many, we want to begin to take the next steps. Undoubtedly, the road to recovery will be a long and dangerous one. But I believe that the Lord, who walks this road of suffering with us, will certainly lead us to the “resurrection.”

“Then they will know that I the Lord have rebuild what was destroyed and have replanted what was desolate. I the Lord have spoken, and I will do it.” (Ezekiel 36:36)

April 1 in the year of our Lord 2011
The moderator and clerks group of the Northeastern Presbytery
Takashi Yoshida, moderator

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Emergency Response Headquarters News #5

 On April 1, General Assembly Moderator Rev. Takashi Yoshida and four members of the expanded Emergency response committee met at the Shin Urayasu Church. Among other things, they discussed clarification of the basic ideology of the response and where we go from here. We want to continue this discussion, paying careful attention to the thoughts of the Northeastern Presbytery.

Financial Report (quick report for March)
We are thankful that many of you are responding to our appeal and sending offerings for the emergency relief fund. As of the last day of March, a total of ¥3,833,467 has come in from all sources (51 offerings by groups and individuals).

There were no distributions of these funds yet in March to believers who have applied for help. As we reported in bulleting #3, headquarters ERH members went to visit the Northeast Japan area’s churches and evangelistic stations, and they distributed a total of ¥2,800,000 from the emergency help fund that is under the care of the GA Diaconal Action Committee.

Thanks and request in regard to the relief commodities
We have received word from the disaster area that, thanks to everyone’s generous cooperation, other than food, they now have a good supply of needed items. Package delivery services have been restored, and it is now possible to send things directly there by that means. So in regard to this activity, we want to alter our process as follows:

1. For now we will limit assembling of relief good to foods only (cup noodles, prepared foods, canned goods, etc.). Please pay attention to the expiration dates! And please observe the rule of packing only similar materials in one box and writing on the outside what is inside the package. It causes an extra burden for the workers on the receiving end when mixed items are placed in the same package.

2. The place to send goods has changed to the following:

Japan International Food for the Hungry
c/o Sendai YMCA
1-10 Uesugi 2-chome, Aoba-ku, Sendai-shi
postal code 980-0011
tel. 022-222-9714
(for more details, see http://tohokuhelp.com)

*** Please do not send things directly to the various churches unless specifically asked.

3. At this point, we will no longer be assembling and delivering things directly to the disaster zone. Up until now, Rev. Ma and the members of Utsunomiya Church have from the start taken this great labor upon themselves!