Wow! Writing on the blog after another long gap in time – our last entry was in September of last year! Not exactly what we started out wanting to do. We’ll see what happens after this, but our intentions are to be more frequent in posting. A lot has happened since our last entry, so it will take a few posts to update our story.
We’d like to take space in this post to write about the dedication of our new building for Shonan Community Church. This happened at the end of November, but we had already moved in and started worshiping in our new space at the end of October. The dedication service was a chance for people in other Japan Covenant Churches as well as a few from other churches to join us in giving thanks to God for his blessings. And those blessings are not just the building – it’s also the new neighborhood God has led us to, to get to know people in this community and share in their lives.
So many people have been part of our move to a new community, and so it was important to have a chance for them to gather with us and see the building and our location. It was wonderful to have them all join with us in giving thanks to God in song and prayer. Our church music team led the singing, and as usual we had piano, violin, guitar, djembe and shamisen (Japanese traditional three-string instrument).
Pastor Sekino, head of the denomination’s Evangelism Committee, gave a summary of the events that led to our move. We also had greetings from other Japan Covenant pastors, and a greeting from Pastor Ito from the church that let us use their retreat facility as a place to worship while we waited for our new building to be completed.
We were flooded with so many offerings from our guests. Those offerings are helping us to pay for furnishings and supplies needed to get started in the new building. But beyond the gifts were the many words of encouragement, the many comments that people had been praying for us and will continue to do so. They are all excited with us for the possibilities in ministry and outreach that lie ahead!
Toward the end of the dedication we had a special moment in which we honored Mr. Ito of Ippei Fudosan, the real estate and construction company which helped us sell our previous property, buy our new property, and build our building. Mr. Ito spent so many hours with us, beginning at least three years ago, as we went through the process of moving to our new location. He is not a Christian, but has had some chances to hear the gospel through our connection with him.
At the end of the day, we all knew our work was just beginning, but we were filled with excitement and confidence that God has been and will continue to be at work in this community. We’re so thankful that we get to be part of that work!