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Highlights from the 2023 Hokkai District Annual Meeting

A Letter from Thomas Goetz, long-term mission volunteer in Japan

Fall 2023

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“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” Matthew 5:9

Dear friends,

Each year in May, the Hokkai District of the United Church of Christ in Japan (UCCJ) gathers for its annual meeting. This district represents all UCCJ churches on Hokkaido, Japan. I would like to share significant events and resolutions that occurred during the recent assembly.

Japanese bridge in Autumn. Photo by Ryutaro Tsukata. (Pexels)

One notable development was the introduction of dedicated “Sharing” sessions on the first evening and the second morning. Amidst ongoing pandemic challenges, face-to-face interactions and heartfelt conversations have become scarce. These sharing moments reconnected us, allowing updates and empathetic exchanges about joys and struggles. It offered hope through meaningful encounters, crucial for shaping our diocese.

During the first day’s “Sharing” session, district committee chairs recounted regional progress and achievements. On the second day, attendees discussed “challenges,” “joys” and “innovations” within groups. Expressing thoughts and feelings nurtured understanding and support.

Several resolutions were passed, reflecting our theological commitment to peace, reconciliation and environmental stewardship.

1: Opposing the reckless expansion of enemy military capabilities and Okinawa’s militarization, while advocating for peace-oriented foreign policy aligning with Article 9 of the Constitution. This promotes a peaceful approach, safeguarding the region, reducing tensions, and preserving life’s sanctity. Aligning with Article 9 embodies compassion, understanding, cooperation, and hope, advocating diplomacy over aggression and fostering dialogue.

AinuSan – Ainus wearing their traditional clothes, Ainu Museum, City of Shiraoi, Hokkaido, Japan by Torbenbrinker, Wikipedia creative commons.

2: Opposing pro-nuclear policies, preventing nuclear waste introduction to Hokkaido. This safeguards health, the environment, and the region’s future. Challenging pro-nuclear agendas prioritizes community well-being and minimizes risks while supporting sustainable development, preserving resources and protecting ecosystems. Advocating cleaner energy ensures a resilient, secure environment, contributing to a cleaner, safer and sustainable Hokkaido.

3: Supporting Ainu people’s rights restoration in 2023 holds cultural, historical and social significance. Advocating for rights rectifies injustices, fostering inclusivity. Participation celebrates Ainu heritage and traditions, contributing to Japan’s diverse culture. Empowering marginalized voices, unity and understanding promotes equity. Embracing Ainu rights aligns with compassion, respect, justice, equality and an inclusive future.

These resolutions, passed by majority vote, reflect our commitment. While there’s support, some seek deeper exploration with Christian faith and biblical teachings. We must clarify why we engage while emphasizing acknowledging history, testifying to God’s peace, and demonstrating commitment to informed Christians. Acknowledging past imperfections, learning, embracing humility, accountability, and promoting harmony characterize our mission.

Testifying to God’s peace embodies Christ’s teachings of love, forgiveness and reconciliation. Efforts exemplify Christ’s transformative message and contribute to a world free from violence and division. The Hokkai District is a place for theological reflection and action, where God’s love shines.

Gracious God, we give thanks for thoughtful discussions, showcasing commitment within our community. As we move forward, help us draw strength from interactions, resolutions, working and praying for a brighter, just future.


Ubi caritas, et amor, Deus ibi est. Where there is caring and love, God is always there.

Please read this important message from Director of World Mission Rev. Mienda Uriarte

Then the King will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 35 for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Matthew 25: 34-36

Dear friends,

Great things are happening in World Mission! As you know from the letters you’ve been receiving, our mission co-workers are at the forefront of showing us what Matthew 25 looks like in the U.S. and in the wider world. They are addressing issues related to eradicating systemic poverty, building congregational vitality and dismantling structural racism. Together with our partners, mission co-workers are engaged in life-transforming ministries in 80 countries around the world. Here are just a few examples:

As an education consultant in the Democratic Republic of Congo, José Jones assists the Presbyterian Community of Kinshasa (CPK) education department in the development, implementation and evaluation of strategic plans to strengthen the church’s primary and secondary education programs for more than 350 schools.

Based in Manila, Rev. Cathy Chang works closely with the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) and other partners in ministry to engage programs and networks across Asia that advocate for people vulnerable to forced migration and human trafficking.

Nadia Ayoub works alongside our Greek partners as they faithfully hold to the biblical call to welcome the stranger. Nadia serves with Perichoresis, a ministry of the Evangelical Church of Greece that provides housing and support to refugees; most of whom have come to Greece from Arabic-speaking countries.

Joseph Russ strengthens and supports a network of partners working in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras to address migration issues in the Northern Triangle. Based on the needs people on the ground identify, Joseph empowers U.S. congregations to engage in advocacy related to Central America and immigration reform.

evs. Drs. Noah Park and Esther Shin serve as professors at the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cairo (ETSC). ETSC graduates work toward revitalizing congregational ministries in Egypt and work with refugee and peace ministries in various countries in the Middle East.

Please consider giving an extra gift this year to support our mission co-workers as they walk alongside our partners and help shape a more life-giving, equitable and hopeful world!


Rev. Mienda Uriarte, Director of World Mission
Presbyterian Mission Agency
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

To give online, visit

Honorary gifts can be made by checking the box and writing the mission co-worker’s name in the comment field online.

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