TOKYO, JAPAN (May 4, 2011) – The Japan Covenant Church celebrated its 60th anniversary at the Covenant Seminary on Tuesday. More than 120 people from the denomination’s 23 churches attended.
Prior to the devastating earthquake and tsunami on March 11, plans called for a three-day retreat. However, the facility the church had intended to use was unavailable because it was being used to host people who fled from the disaster areas.
Evangelical Covenant Church President Gary Walter spoke in the morning. Executive Minister of World Mission Curt Peterson addressed the gathering in the afternoon. Youth from two churches led in singing and a 10-minute DVD of the denomination’s history was shown.
The Covenant representatives brought gifts for the denomination. Walter presented a plaque, which was received by chairman Yasushi Shimizu. Peterson gave the Japan denomination two cut glass candleholders fashioned by Orrefors, a world-renown glassmaker from Sweden.
Peterson told the celebrants that the candles represent the two denominations and how each brings the light of Christ to the world. In his sermon, he said that to continue illuminating the world, the members of each denomination must “Remember, Forget, Dream.”
He elaborated, saying that we are to remember the good things God has done in our midst, forget the things of the past – our own sins, the sins of others against us, former successes – and dream about what God can do through us by the power of Christ.
Walter noted that the Japan Church was showing up with hope in areas ripped apart by the March disaster. Also at the meeting, Japan leaders announced their plans for the country’s Covenant churches to continue spreading that hope over the next several months.
The church itself also needed to be reminded of that hope. Missionary Gary Carlson said that following the gathering, participants’ comments centered on the theme that “in the midst of all that Japan is suffering after the quake and tsunami, the encouraging words of these two men were just what everyone needed to hear.”
The day before the celebration, the Carlsons took the American guests to see the elder care ministries at Hotto Space Nakahara, a program of the Japan Covenant’s Nakahara Christ Church in the city of Kawasaki. They also visited a sheltered workshop for those with mental illness, which is on the first floor of the denomination’s Odawara Christian Center, and surveyed some of the areas stricken in the March disaster.
To read more of events surrounding the celebration, visit Covenant missionary Jim Peterson’s blog.