SAPPORO, Japan — A quiz on global Christianity and Anabaptism prepared Japanese Mennonites to talk about beliefs Anabaptists around the world share.
The discussion was part of the annual Peace Missions Center seminar July 15-16 at Fukuzumi Mennonite Center.
A group from Nihon Menonaito Kirisuto Kyokai Kyogikai (Japan Mennonite Christian Church Conference) used Mennonite World Conference’s Shared Convictions statement to reflect on the faith and practice of global Anabaptists.
This Mennonite national church on the island of Hokkaido has its own Confession of Faith, which states that “we join our Mennonite brothers and sisters in confessing the Shared Convictions statement.”
Atsuhiro Katano, MWC General Council member for Japan, said: “It was a profound encouragement to find out that the Shared Convictions were a powerful tool for reflection, exploration and learning.”
Participants explored the Shared Convictions by visiting seven tables with one article at the center. They reflected on and raised questions about each statement, then wrote their impressions on a big sheet of paper.
The workshop was made up of seven 15-minute rounds, so that each participant could visit each table. Then they shared their reflections in small groups.
Most of the 23 participants agreed that the Shared Convictions expressed the characteristics of Anabaptism that are dear to them, such as Christ-centered discipleship and an emphasis on communal acts of the church.
Some expressed bewilderment when they were exposed to the description of human fallenness or sinfulness and nonconformity to the powers of evil without explicit mention of God’s love.
Other questions were raised about the terms used for translation, lack of articulated dogmas and readability for non-Christians. The questions demonstrated diverse expectations of a statement of faith.
Some said the workshop showed it is possible to create a safe space that is respectful of various opinions.