Synod Presbytery Report 99

Dear beloved fathers and brothers, who gather at the synod of 1999 as brothers
in the Lord Jesus, who is Christ, the second person of our Creator God, thr living
Word, the Redeemer from our sins, our Savior, the Lord of the whole world, and our King,

We praise the name of our Lord, for His profound plan to His people and for His
amazing works in His mission of His kingdom on this earth, through the secret
but actual work of the Holy Spirit.  We confess our faith in the sovereign God
who holds all authority on earth as it is in heaven.  We should contented 
ourselves with our service to God as a mere humble servant. 

1.Five plans in 1995
Few years ago, after that devastating Great Hanshin Earthquake, the newly formed 
Japan presbytry of your synod had been led to begin several prayers for the
plans which should lay the foundation for the future enlarged ministry of the
prsbytery.  The plans which were led by the Lord in 1995 were mainly five things. 
1)The Agreement with the Foreign Mission Board
At first the presbytery had recognized seriously the necessity to establish the
good partnership with the North American churches, especially with the Foreign 
Mission Board of the Synod.  In the earthquake relief activity  FMB helped us 
effectively, but we faced another serious problem: the crisis of loosing all 
missionaries.  Only two Japanese pastors were about to be left for four cngregations
and two mission stations. We appealed to the Synod of 1997, and the Synod responded
boldly. FMB faithfully pursued the decision of the Synod, and the agreement between
FMB and Japan Presbytery was completed this year.  The agreement is ready for the 
sign at any time. The Japan Presbytery appreciate your sincere concern and effort 
for this solid basis for your partnership.   

2)The New Missionary-Pastor 
Secondly the presbytery was facing the serious lack of pastors and had needed 
to have new missionaries or Japanese candidates. FMB took efforts of recruiting,
and since last synod Jim Pennington, Peter Smith, and Nick Beckwith visited our
congregations. In responce to the desire expressed by Kasumigaoka congregation 
FMB issued the call to Pastor Pennington, and he accepted.  Kasumigaoka 
congregational meeting issued the petition to the presbytery/FMB to make him as
 their pastor with promise of partial financial responsibility(mainly housing). 
The presbytery approved and passed it to Pastor Pennington through FMB. 
This will give Kitasuzurandai MS a benefit, too, from October, since 
Pastor. Pennington, Pastor Spear and Prof.Matsuda (a retired RCJ pastor and 
a guest preacher of Kasumigaoka) will start preaching there once a month each, 
so instaed of hearing the tape-recorded preaching or the exhortation of the elders 
almost every week Kitasuzurandai MS will have more staedy feeding of the preaching 
of the word. 
Mukonosoo congregation also had the meeting and had some progress in searching
of the future pastor. 
So the presbytery praise God for these progress made for the real need of the 
leadership of each vacant cngregations.  Please continue to pray for this matter.

3)Kobe Theological Hall
Thirdly the Kobe Theological Hall started in 1996 to train Japanese members for
the ministry of the word.. In the school year of 1998-1999(the third year of
 KTH) KTH moved its main activity to the newly built Covenanter Center Building.
And the supervision which had temporarily done by the Okamot Keiyaku session was
transfered to the Japan Presbytery, so KTH became the presbytery's seminary.  
The most decision of KTH is commissioned to the faculty(Takiura, chairman, 
Spear and Sakai). It is one of the blessed side effect of KTH that KTH has
created intimate and theologically deep unity among three RP pastors. Elders 
also mention this blessing often as a good thing from KTH. Other regular lecturers
are: Pastor Matsuda, the former profesor of Systematic Theology of Kobe Reformed 
Seminary, Pastor Hashimoto, the former president of Koobe Reformed Seminary and 
Pastor Osaki, a veteran preacher of a nearby independent presbyterian church. 
The treasury of the KTH is supported mainly by tuition and presbyterial support
(\600,000/year) plus some contribution.  KTH invited Dr.Jonathan Watt, Dr.David
Weir and Dr.Wayne Spear this year according to the exchange program with RPTS. 
Their work was very important for the training of the students. Student, Dempei 
Takiura, is the threogical student under care of the presbytery though presently
seeking to be the lay evangelist. On July 8th there was the graduation. Elder 
Hagiwara graduated the one year course, Mr.Takagi the two year course. Mr.Takiura
and Miss Takita promoted to the fourth year, and Mr.Yoshizumito the second year. 
Mr Endo from OPC mission church and Mr.Kitani, Kasumigaoka deacon, will enter 
KTH from 1999-2000 school year with at least three more students. Mr.Endo has 
a hope to be the missionary to China someday and plans to come to RPTS after 
finishing the two years at KTH.     

4)Covenanter Center Building
The fourth was the rebuilding of the demolished building of the Covenanter Book
Store(CBR), which is located at the center of downtown Kobe city. This plan tured
out to the New Covenanter Center(CCB) of the Japan Presbytey(JPres). The board of
CBR took main role in this construction plan, but JPres had worked together, 
especially in the fund raising. The $500,000 fund had eventually achieved 
miracurously from practically nothing in hand. About half of the fund came from 
six Japanese RP congregations plus customers of CBR all over Japan.  And latter 
half came mainly from the contribution of North American RP congregations and 
from the treasury of RP Japan mission. Even the RPC of Ireland sent us the 
sacrificial contribution as the earthquake relief. The construction started in 
March 1998 and completed in July.  Japan Presbytery had the special service for 
the completion of the building at the fall conference held at new CCB on 23rd of 
Sept. 1998. God has provided every financial need for this new building, and the 
building treasury completed all payment except the tax for the new building with 
which we are negotiating with the prefectural office right now. 
New CCB has been used for various ways.  Main activities are daily CBR ministry 
at the 1st floor book store space, serving not only for the churches of Kobe area, 
but for all over Japan as the place to supply Engish theological Books.
Kobe Theological Hall uses the 2nd floor chapel and class room. The north half 
of the third floor is the library of KTH to which Mrs.Masunaga donated the Library
of Pastor Masunaga as the core of the library.  The south half of the third floor 
is the guest house.  We already had used this house 8 times effectively to receive
guest preacher/lecturer from USA, Korea, Tokyo and other parts of Japan. There was
the joint conference to study Westminsyter Confession at CCB and pastors and 
scholars representing RCJ, PCJ, RPC, United CC,NKK, and others gathered for three 
days. RP Youth uses CCB time to time for fellowship, Bible study and Psalm chorus.
practice which they have loved very much. The Japan Presbytery, the Ad-Interim, 
and other committee or Board meeting of the presbytery has been held at CCB. We 
have used CCB for the presbyterial major gathering several times last year, too. 
CCB has changed our presbytery's scene a lot, and enlarged the ministry.  And CCB 
still has possibility, for example, the opportunity of urban evangelism and more 
of the presbterial joint psalm singing. So We want to express deep thanks for the 
prayerful support of our brothers and sisters in the United States and Canada, 
especially for this new building. This was completed as the first building project 
which Japanese took leadership of plan, finance and construction. It is an important
step of our church in Japan as the self-support and self-govern church. Now we have
the strategically located our center for whole denominational activity at the 
downtown Kobe city.

5)New Japanese Psalter edition: 
Fifthly the pubication of the new psalter, 1999 edition.
Our 1984 edition was almost exhorsted, and the work of the psalter making committee
completed. The problem is delay of the compilement of various kinds of index. Please 
pray for the publication of the new psalter soon in this summer. 
The New Psalter includes 222 psalters, 88 psalters added, and covers a little 
more than half of the whole verses of the Psalm.  We still have 14 Psalms not 
being touched yet, which are left for our next generation.  We are sure that this
psalter will be a powerful tool of the work of the Holy Spirit at the spiritual 
battle in Japan.  By the providence, many other church began to know about this new 
Psalter and the Covenanter Book Store has already received the orders.  Please pray 
that this edition will be used to propagate the blessing of the Psalm-singing among 
other Japanese denominations.

All of these five prayers has been almost heard beautifully during the recent 
four years.  The atmosphere of the Japan mission has been greatly improved. Many
leaders of the North American church had visited Japan for help and fellowship, 
which includes Tom Reid, Ed Robson, Tom Gray, Bob Henning, Bob Hemphill, Ren Wright,
Duncan Lowe, John Tweed, Jim Pennington, David Weir, Peter Smith, Jonathan Watt, 
Wayne Spear, Matt Filbert and the youth mission team.  Jerry O'Neill is scheduled to
teach at KTH. About the half of these help were financed by the Kobe Theological Hall,
and other half were the FMB's project during 1996-1999. The presbytery rejoyce and 
appreciate such rapid development of the relationship with North American brothers.   

On the other hand, there are many who visited North Americafrom our Presbytery.
Pastor Sumito Sakai started his further study at the Reformed Presbyterian 
Theological Seminary. He is to visit again and continue his work next spring. 
There was a big delegation of about twenty people from our presbytery to the 
1996 Calvin Conference. We hope to send another group to 2000 conference. One 
of our youth joined the RP Short Term Summer Mission to Scotland. Our three youth 
attended the Youth Conference in 1998, and presently there are three of our youth 
members studying at Geneva College and attending the RP congregations in Beaver 
Falls. The Japan Presbytery began sending a regular delegate to the synod in 1997
and this year. It is hoped to be contiued. There are some more fellowships between
North American RP members and our members.  Our presbytery has been connected with
the Covie-net and other e-mail exchange, and at least three leaders of the 
presbytery has e-mail access. So Japan side also has not been passive in the 
fellowship and exchange with Noth American churches..

Japan presbytery express our satisfaction and appreciation for the effort of 
the synod and the Foreign Mission Board.  Now we are at the point of seeking 
productive progress in the mission of our churches..

2.Witness against the Revival of Japanese Nationalism
One another important matter the presbytery wants to ask your prayer is the 
recent change of the Japanese political climate.  The nation of Japan has been 
quite vague concerning to the national identity of Japan after the World War Two.

The belif in the emperor has been still in the society, but the people was also
trained to believe that the freedom of conscience of the present constitution 
is well established in Japan as the national identity. Then the recent crisis 
came through econmy etc., the nationalism revival emerged.
The Hinomaru-Kimigayo legislation is to establish the national shitoistic rite
again, especially in the Japanese schools.  It is the challenge of the priority
of the emperor over the freedom.  We, christian, needed to speak out to claim 
that the freedom( which is to obey our Christ, the King,)should be prior to the
emperor. Please pray for our witness.
Pray for the wisdom of the government.  The government is presently stubborn, 
and the legislation is in the lower house of the Diet.  

3.Our next vision
Then what will come next after the five plans ? The presbytery prays following
three things:
1)Constitution  
  a.Completion of the present RPCNA constitution's translation, especially the T
    estimony and the Directory for the Church Government.
  b.More Use in Training of the present Covenant.
  c.The start to form the Japanese Testimony.
  d.Redefinition of the fraternal relationship with RCJ, PCJ, OPCJM etc.
2)Congregation  
  a.Continue to Seek pastor for the vacant congregation.
  b.Re-building plan of some congregation, like Kasumigaoka.
  c.Congregational peacemaking growth and Aged people's Care.
  d.Praying for the RP congregation in Korea and in Asia,too.
3)Conversion 
  a.The habit of Praying for the evangelism concretely.
  b.Establishment of the authority and fellowship of the word of God in each con
    gregation.
  c.Church planting or branch making plan.
  d.Support to the world mission, especially to the mission to China.

These are the things our presbytery now began to engage in.
It will not be completed soon like initial five points.  Some will take 
naturally generations to see the firm result. Our Vision is to form the lasting 
fortress of Christ the King in the Far East, namely Japan.  Please pray for 
the glory of God be manifested through our ministry in the farmost land of 
the world.

4.The Status and Decisions of the Presbytery
The Japan Presbytery held seven regular meetings(that is every two months) since
the last synod meeting. Also the Ad-Interim Commission, composed by three 
teaching elders, has been active under specific commissions of the presbytery. 
 
The Japan Presbytery consists of four organized congregations. Higashi-Suma is
pastored by Sumito Sakai and has enjoyed his pastorate and Jim Pennington's. 
Okamoto Keiyaku is pastored by Shigeru Takiura.  It experienced a growth and 
several people baptized and others joined in there this year. Mukonosoo is past
ored by Gene W.Spear.  The congregation experieenced hardships, but under the 
leadership of Gene Spear and John Tweed, several new families has joined the 
worship now.  Kasumigaoka, which is still without a pastor that Shigeru Takiura
moderates the session, rejoyced and excepts new pastorate of Jim Pennington. 
There are two mission stations: Kitasuzurandai which is also without a pastor,
that the presbytery appointed the provisional session for them. Several faith
ful people keep the activity of the church, and Mr.Kudo's baptism was a joy.  
Hontamon is pastored by Sumito Sakai under the Higashi-Suma session. There also
several families observe the faithful christian life.

Pastor Toshio Masunaga was to be with the Lord 30th of August, 1998. His life 
was as in the memorial presented to this Synod.. 

Pastor Nobuo Miwa has continued to do independent evangelistic work in Seoul, 
Korea. He is still a member of the Japan Presbytery, but his work is interdeno
minational among the Japanese in Seoul, and not much relation with us now.
The presbytery hopes more of the relationship with him revived.

Pastor Gene W. Spear has continued his work, in spite of reaching the age of his
retirement, in view of the extreme shortage of the pastors in Japan.  During his
vacation Pastor John Tweed helped Mukonosoo for three months.

Arrangement for Pastor Sumito Sakai's further study at RPTS aiming to finish 
his M.Div.was the blessing and success for himself and for the Jaqpanese church
as a whole. Pastor Jim Pennington supplied Higashisuma well, and it became the
opportunity for him to think coming back to the work in Japan. Sumio Sakai plans
to study in RPTS again in the spring semester of 2000.  

The presbytery Approved the petition of Kasumigaoka to ask Pastor Jim Penningtn
to be their pastor.

Lic. Shigeki Komuro began to work in a job, and asked the presbytery to terminate
his licensure.  The presbytery decided that he was not undercare of the prsbytery
anymore.

Mr.and Mrs. Nick Beckwith will be in our summer evangelism program as the seminary
student this summer.  We also expect the Shrot Term Mission Team sent by FMB in 
the summer of 2000.

The presbytery gave the final approval to the agreement with FMB.

Kitasuzurandai provisional session was reappointed by the presbytery. 
The presbytery asked the session to plan the establishment of the stronger
leadership in Kitasuzurandai.  

The Covenanter Center Building construction was completed and the completion 
ceremony was in September 1998, and the dedication service was in January 1999.
We greatly owe to the offerings received through FMB, and would like to express
sincere appreciation again to all.  We feel your loving prayer to us. The CCB 
building treasury was closed and the CCB caring Committee and Treasury was 
established instead by the presbytery.  It was decided that the running cost 
for CCB is cared 50% by CBR and 50% by JPres.  

We are thankful that Kobe Theological Hall finished the third year.  
KTH officially became under the supervision of the presbytery. We have presently 
twelve students.  Pray for our youth to come to KTH.

The presbytery kept a warm fellowship with the Central presbytery of PCJ 
(to which PCA sends missionaries) and OPC-Japan mission in Sendai and Yamagata.
Also the fraternal tie has been maintained with RCJ, but viewing the possibility 
of the change concerning to the ordination of the women elder, the presbytery 
plans to study about our future relation with RCJ.   

Monthly presbyterial youth prayer fellowship has been blessed and maintained 
strong Japanese psalm chorus.  

The presbytery decided the procedure of the elder's preaching license based up
on the Directory of Church Government.

The presbytery also decided the regulation of the conditions for the preaching
license adjusted with the present system of KTH, according to the Directory of
Church Government. We decided after the graduation of the two year course of
KTH, the student may apply to be undercare of the presbytery, and after the age
of 24, the theological student may apply to the presbytery's examination  for 
the preaching license.  He may remain as the licentiate and work as the lay-
evangelist under the specific session as an assistant.  But the condition for
the eligibility examination, the graduation of the college etc., is to be 
strictly maintained as stated in the Directory of Church Government.

The Japan Presbytery discussed on the revisionof te vow #8 and reached agreement
on the matter of the temperance of Alchol. Then the decision was made to add
the phrase:"to obey the teaching of the Bible concerning to the qualifications
of the Elders  --- or Deacons ---(1Tim.3)" to the prsent vow #8. It is the 
explanation within the Japan Presbytery to guard our congregations from the 
vagueness concerning to the ethical requirements of te Bible for the elders and 
deacons. The moderator was instructed to report this to the synod. 

The presbytery discussed also the start of forming the new testimony.  It was 
confirmed that we will stay in the covenantal unity of RPC, that the presbytery
decided to ask the sanction of the synod through FMB(according to the agreement)
that we will form our Jpanese Testimony gradually as the third column of the 
present Testimony of RPNA. 

The financial report for 1998 was adapted with the auditor's report. The Budget
of 1999 was partially approved and in the process of study.  The assessment for
the presbytery budget for 1999 is \12,000 per active resident communicant 
member per year.

It was decided to start the Masunaga Memorial Special Contribution within the 
presbytery.  It is mainly to help Mrs.Masunaga.  It was decided to aim \500,000.

The Reformation Translation Fellowship, Japan Board has also been active under
the leadership of Pastor Spear. 

The presbytery was also responsible for oversight of the following activities:
1. The annual Young people's Conference at Ayabe in August 1998. 50 people gat
   hered, and it was the largest gathering in its history.
2. The annual Fall Church Conference in September 23 1998. Pastor Jim Penningt
   on led the teaching of the psalmody.
3. The Life of Christ in the Psalms was sang by people from all RP congregations 
   in Japan, in December 1998.   
 
Moderator: Shigeru Takiura
Clerk:     Sumito Sakai
Treasurer: Shozo Hagiwara

The minutes of the congregations were examined and found to be in order, except
last year's Higashisuma minutes which has lost temporarily.
The statistical report was forwarded to the clerk of the synod.

Respectfully submitted,
Shigeru Takiura
Moderator
(Responsible in English translation)