Greetings to RCJ Synod (October 2015)

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Mission Japan Head Office

PO Box 11412

Universitas, 9321

Bloemfontein (South Africa)

+27(0)51 4066729



19 September 2015

The Synod of the Reformed Church in Japan (October 2015)


It is indeed a privilege to convey our message of official greetings from Mission Japan Partnership to the Reformed Church in Japan (RCJ).

“To those who through the righteousness of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours: grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.” – 2 Peter 1:1-2

As a ministry, Mission Japan Partnership is coordinating the efforts of the Dutch Reformed Family of Churches in South Africa in liaising with the Reformed Church in Japan and in supporting missionaries to Japan. This relationship with the RCJ was establish more than 40 years ago, and it is continuously growing into an ever deepening mutual respect, love and a sense of joint calling.

We want to express our sincere appreciation for the existing partnership agreements between the participating churches, especially those between the Reformed Church in Africa (RCA) and the RCJ as well as the Dutch Reformed Church (DRC) and the RCJ. In these agreements the official ties and mutual recognition as sister churches are expressed, our shared reformed heritage celebrated, our joint calling to witness accepted and our desire to co-operate and mutually assist one another are acknowledged. We really treasure our partnership and we want to strengthen this relationship.

Towards the end of 2014, the RCA has had its Synod (which happen once every four years). The main theme discussed was how to be missional congregations within each congregation’s own context. The RCA’s identity and calling is to be a missional church within the reformed and evangelical theological traditions.

The DRC Synod (happening every two years) will also convene in October this year. The Synod will also grapple with the DRC’s identity and calling within a rapidly changing context. What does it mean in practical terms to be a missional church regarding poverty, corruption, racial divides and economic inequality? The church unification process between the four domestic sister churches remains a very important matter, but the synod will also focus on matters like how to deal with diversity (for example with regard to different sexual identities). Furthermore, issues like the discourse between faith and science, our prophetic witness, ecumenical relations, the role of ministers etc., will be discussed.

Once again, we want to express our gratitude and appreciation for the RCJ’s support to Dr Stephan van der Watt and his family. We appreciate the fact that he has been called as lecturer to the Kobe Theological Seminary. We are convinced of the important role he will be able to play in the training of ministers. We hope and pray that this will be a new chapter in fostering relationships, also in terms of theological exchange programs. Thank you also for supporting Gys and Linda Olivier, who serve as teachers in the Seiwa Christian School in Kochi City. We hope to be able to send a youth worker, Karen Strydom, to start with her Japanese language training in Kobe during April 2016. She is currently busy visiting congregations to raise support.

We are also grateful for the different exchange programs. Earlier this year we received a visiting group of seven ministers to South Africa. It has been a very fruitful visit, strengthening ties on many levels.

We especially want to thank the Synod’s Diaconal Committee for their generous contribution towards the work of Setchabelo Family and Child Services in Botshabelo in the Free State Province. Through this contribution, the local churches are empowered in rendering very important services to orphaned, vulnerable and even abandoned children.

We pray that God will bless your Synod meeting and the theological reflection on your identity and calling within the Japanese context.

We greet you all with the priestly blessing:

“The Lord bless you and keep you;

the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you;

the Lord turn his face towards you and give you peace” (Numbers 6:24-26)

Dr Gideon van der Watt


PS. I am writing this official greeting on a historical evening, the 19th of September 2015 – a red-letter day indeed! We just watched on TV how the Brave Blossoms humbled the mighty Springboks in the World Cup Rugby match. Congratulations! Before our eyes, we saw and relived the beautiful story of David and Goliath. Mission Japan is really proud of our relationship with your country and its brave people.