3. Look out the trail how to found the Hyakunincho
Incident 1: The Hyakunincho was born from big flux of time
Era of flocks --- How could only people (floch) found a church without pastor?
There was a pastor. The scene, that he got off plane with “Geta”, (a Japanese
traditional wooden sandal), has been passed down. He had just back from
studying abroad. Pastor Junichi Asano (1899~1981) is his name. He lectured
Theology in the Aoyama University, and founded a Church at Shibuya in Tokyo
(called the Mitake Church). Many people gathered there. Many young people,
university students attended also. Pastor Asano encouraged everybody by
his preach. Many were heartened and touched. There included main members
who would found the Hyakunincho church later. The Mitake church was fulfilled
with a plenty of people. It was happened not only a Sunday service but
also a prayer meeting, a Bible study class (Note 5) and a society problem
study meeting (Note 10). Many young people attended and passionate feelings
had been growing up. Around same time, there were several home bible classes
also. Those homes handled heartily Sunday schools and gathered children
around there. In response to member’s expectation, Pastor Asano founded
new churches and local missionaries at various regions.
Such time of many activities going on,
suddenly, Pastor Asano resigned principal pastor of the Mitake church and moved
to another church called Kinuta he founded. He put on a successor to the Mitake
and kept preaching just once a month. This situation made various changes. Many
members moved to the Kinuta as following Pastor Asano. Some of rest members
were accumulating frustrations against the successor’s preaching.
Time has been passing. University students at that time became to have
own jobs. Because of following Pastor Asano ‘s word, such as “Work double
than others”, they were becoming a key personnel in each world. (Those
people played key role forming new church afterwards.)
The young boys and girls in Sunday schools became university students
and being in charge of a youth association in the church. The youth made
own groups and acted lively. There were few theological students. At the
time before they would graduate, a campus dispute had come into from many
of universities. The Tokyo Theological Collage was not exception. Theological
students came into strike and boycott class work also. The students attending
to the Mitake church were not out side of those affaires. By the irony
of fate, the successor of Pastor Asano was a professor of the Tokyo Theological
Collage. Because of this successor who was the professor of protested collage,
they rejected to attend a Sunday service and also worked an act of protest
at the entrance. Those affaires threw confusion into the Mitake. Some supported.
Some got angry. The campus dispute turned into extremism. Then, most university
autholities accepted to receive the riot police for security reason. The
same story came into the Tokyo theological collage. As interpreting the
situation was unsecured since the theological students would obstruct the
church service, the pastor of successor tried to ask and call help from
the police in the case.
The Mitake church members came to know it and split in two opinions, at
the point of good or not whether a church could accept the power of the
state. One said the church should stand independently from the Nation.
Another said any violence should be managed by the police. A half year
deep discussion was continued on those two opinions, but remained just
as far apart. Under those circumstance, a certain people of 20s through
40s decided to leave from the Mitake, as basis of thought that the church
should keep independency from the Nation. They started own meeting without
any religious leader or pastor. Since no church building, they came around
each home, and kept a Sunday service by Bible study in center. This was
a previous incarnation of the Hyakunincho. From November 1st, 1970, they made it public as
the Mitake praying group. And on next year April, all members attended the
Mitake church’s general meeting, and declared taking leave from there
officially. They gave name on the group as “Ookubo- Meeting”. Since then, they
never stop their steps for 40 years.
It was a start of the later Hyakuninncho just as a community by ordinal
flocks only. They kept a Sunday service in member’s home in turn. In a
start, it was better to say praying time rather Sunday service. They prayed
to God and asked for their way to go.
They rent a room in a dormitory of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union
(Note 9) located near Okubo station. There were quite few pastors to collaborate
with them, who knew the situation why they left from the Mitake. Such outside
pastors offered preach for a Sunday service once or twice in a month. Rest
of time, the member became in charged. He or she talked own belief instead
Weekly report (Note 12) of a Sunday service indicated “preaching” in a
center in accordance with traditional way, but there were no pastor made
it. Members were discussing on this from many aspect. Member’s talk was
not worthwhile to call “preaching”, since not a pastor. So, after discussion,
they called “encouragement” sometimes or “Bible study” depending upon content
It was not a bad start out on a journey, but all were just try and error.
After left from the Mitake, they struggled and endeavored continuously
for forming a new church from their community. Too much stress poured on
them. Some voice said, “Breakout”, “it is impossible.” Another voice said,
“If so, what we did for!”, “We should keep our community for that all acts
are worth.” As discussing too much, getting into worries, or going move
right and left. At last, they got into serious arguments with loud voices,
then, got into quarrel almost. Some said, “We need a pastor” some said
“No. We could form by ourselves.” They, each person, were looking for a
They discussed and discussed, and never stopped, as if expressing sincere
worry for future. And still Meeting was maintained. They used to drop off
near Soba restaurant for lunch after a Sunday service. Still there, discussion
was continued. Their age gave them very busy time on own works, and time
goes fast. One member said, “We are better to have a lunch in a plan of
service instead of going out. We gained more time to talk”. They followed,
and lunch time was scheduled inside service program.
At present, schedule gets established as follows: After “Testimony”, have
detail report, then, lunch, “response” is followed. But at beginning, response
was started from lunch time. Several members, one after another, open their
mouth as if no moderator existed. Big voice took precedence over small
voice, so, they spoke loudly. It looked they quarreled as mentioned above.
When getting excited, they disregarded planed schedule and continued to
discuss. Points of discussion still remained the same. “What shall we do
from now?” “Can our way be accepted?” “Can true church forms only by our
members?” or “Is this what we should do?” Everybody’s state of life had
become crashed among each other. Because of such growing intensity of discussion,
a few members left quietly to search for his place.
When two and half years passed under such circumstance, Professor Shinichi
Kida, theologist, joined to the Meeting (Note 13). He just returned from
study in Germany (Note 13). He recognized and acknowledged the value of
Okubo-Meeting. Furthermore, he gave basis on the step of Okubo-Meeting
theologically. He could not accept becoming principal pastor, but support
them. Their sprits were enforced, since they encountered with Kida’s theology
which gave a back ground of their act.
Open atmosphere accelerated their discussion that was immediate response
to each talk. Therefore, someone suggested that “response” might be better
to work into the schedule. Then, they followed.
A certain people could not have a time to make lunch box always. Volunteer
went out to buy lunch box. Such situation last for a while. Some said,
“It is problem the volunteer can not join discussion.” Then, as a policy,
everybody tried their best effort to bring lunch box with them.
Hereby, the present style of a Sunday service was initialized.
People’s community (The Ookubo-Meeting) got established fairy well because
Professor Kida joined.
But still and more than before, there was hot discussion on the points;
“What for the Okubo-Meeting exist?” or “Don’t we need a Pastor?” (Note14)
In response to an earnest request, they invited Pastor Aso from far away,
Hirosaki-city and asked him to be a principal pastor, as Prof. Kida suggested.
Now we would like to see the sceneries before receiving Pastor Aso from
writings on the Roba (Note 15, the church’s seasonal organ).
Thinking of our beliefs and church, appeared on first “Roba”
At launching Kaname Iwai
1, A sense of serious crisis covers our World, which we never experienced,
such as worldwide depression, a sensation of fear against nuclear war,
and environmental destruction resulting extinct of living things. Those
are big and deep problem connecting with existence of human being.
Since going established modern science and starting technological revolution,
developments have promised to bring prosperity and happiness for the human
race. Ironically, our faced hard subjects now were caused from those developments
or improvements. At present, it is definitively just limping relation between
technological civilization and spiritual culture. It is not too much to
say that mankind makes a milestone on the road to collapse, just because
of technological civilization which they have made. That’s why, coming
period is asking for spiritual recovery by all means.
2, The role that Christian missionary had played in the history of
modern Japan is significant and recognized in several sense. It was, however,
they had history that Christianity made collusive relation with Japanese
power structure. Modern Japan after the Meiji era step into to the formation
of state power by the Emperor System as a core. Japan had mobilized every
matter to this purpose. Christian missionary was not exception and mobilized
over there also. Since the missionary works failed to encourage rural farm
villages or industrial laborer, and instead, encouraged to the intellectual
class. Those situations led Christian to have deep bible knowledge of relief,
and led to study theology from the West vigorously. But on the other hand,
it made separation between life reality and belief, and went into idealism.
This was why churches could not resist against the rapid stream towards
absolutism of the Emperor System. In result, churches fell into powerless.
Furthermore, Japanese churches never tried to restart after thorough examination
or investigation of its constitution at the chance of defeat of World War
II. 20 years long after, UCCJ just started to discuss about “Confession
of Responsibility during World War” or “Problem of international exposition”.
Therefore, we, ourselves, should come to realize those matters seriously.
3, As standing upon reconsideration and reflection above, we have
to confirm again our beliefs with new resolution. And therefore, I believe
in depth, we shall be responsible to form a new church human being looking
Firstly, what we are looking for churches is to confirm the Christian gospel
based upon the Bible. That is initialized from piety attitude to listen
to the Word first of all. Faith to the Load must be kept in center. Secondary,
the church should be formed so as to bring the gospel and to confess those
in honest heart. And the church should not hide behind the state power
or national administration. On the contrary, churches should resist and
fight against. Through such confess and struggle, we could bring the church
alive to neighbors. Thirdly, we have to ask for total spiritual recovery
passing through the Word of Testament. Certainly on this point, I believe
the church should work for neighbors. Jesus shall encourage and preach
us repeatedly to be alive as independent and responsible person. Just in
the church, it might be possible that person could recover his or her own
sense of humanity. Fourthly, we have to reform the church aiming to develop
human resources, as standing on preaching of the gospel. In Japan, always
Christian has been a small number, therefore, every member should have
a role to become “the conscience of the Japan” by one’s free will. For
that purpose, every member should work seriously in their own places. At
the same time, we are responsible to receive any person in the church,
then, dispatching them to the society again. The church should be open
for all, should not be closed for a certain people.
Steps forwarded us is long and severe. We would like to walk ahead with praying God, who has been promised to make sure of our hope. (Written in the first issued Roba, December 12th, 1971)
from a certain member at midpoint of Journey (who became a pastor a few years
after, and left to new place of appointment, Takasaki)
What purpose the Ookubo-Meeting is existed for?
-Explore for future step - Shohei Sasabuchi
Today, I planed originally to talk about future step of the Ookubo-Meeting.
I encountered recently, however, a fundamental deep question before I get
into a discussion of future. I could not talk anything except this question
raised in my heart this time. I would like to talk those, as tracing our
intension back to the root.
(1) This critical moment;
Recently, I feel the Ookubo-Meeting has been going into a crisis day by
day. Firstly, the Meeting is stepping into its own end. It is interesting
to hear about testimony such as “Life and Bible” or bible study of Corinthians.
I can get a good knowledge of Old Testament by Prof. Kida’s talk. But,
it is no more than just hearing good story. There are no movements arisen
in the Meeting at all. It is just same as a salon. We do not have any act,
and rather become sluggish. We do not engage in missionary work. It is
an evil omen going into decay.
Secondary, members’ training or practice is not well done in mind. It
might be sure they work hard on their Job by own. The important point is,
however, the connection between church and work. Church must be pushing
us out to work, as encouraging or mending their way. Does our Meeting carry
out a role on those? Does inquire into or correct our contradiction between
own work and teaching, or problem of life and family? It is No almost!
Testimony in a Sunday service comes into brain and refreshed. However,
there is very little relation between own life or our step. This will be
an evil omen and get into dualism that church and our life is somehow differentiated.
Thirdly, we, ourselves, might waste our time to gather here. Individual
person of member have real ability, which other churches feel envy of.
I think, however, such outstanding people’s vitality could not be enforced
here even if ten’s person gathered. Instead, minus forces would work since
everybody lean on others. In other words, group activities of the Meeting
could not work well, although gathered in the church we call.
way to go
What shall we do from next as considering above questions? Simply speaking,
“We have to go forming a church based upon the Gospel, and serve to neighbors
honestly.” In that church, members, one by one, should be revived, and
their stances should be corrected every week. In a whole, everybody unite
together as an organic body gathering their every ability. To put it concrete
words, followings are my opinion; First of all, our Meeting should have
a driving force of person who can have strong personality enabling to move
ahead, as overcoming a certain resistances arisen among the members. If
such driving force of person exist, he or she might be possible to manage
this group. It is, however, very difficult to find out among the members.
Retracing our steps, it is better to consider about inviting a new pastor
here. Second, our church to be formed should be a church joining to the
United Church of Christ in Japan (UCCJ). It is because that a true church
should carry on a heavy burden what other Christ churches have been carrying
on. So, our church also carries those on our shoulder together with them.
Otherwise, our steps might become nothing. Third, I have not much opinion
about place of church. We have to make steady efforts for mission at given
All above matter must be considered thoroughly, and we should take an action
Or, we will give up for all sooner or later. If it is the case, it will be better to break up our group, then, all members will scatter everywhere around to help the church nearby. We could show our talent there well, and we could contribute to Missionary work in Japan more than now.
(From an extra “Roba” ,
Testimony spoken July 21st, 1974) (Note 14)