Odawara Christian Center – Great Memories!

Post a Comment » Written on March 24th, 2008     
Filed under: News
ODAWARA, JAPAN (March 24, 2008) – One of the Odawara Christian Center’s first English students 32 years ago – Masayuki Tokuda – was among a large number of present and former students attending a special “Thanks for the Memories” celebration Saturday evening.

The festivities also provided an opportunity to bid farewell to Ashley Koenig as she completes her service as a short-term missionary at the center. Koenig is a member of First Covenant Church in Omaha, Nebraska.

AshleyThe event marks the conclusion of 32 years of Evangelical Covenant Church ministry at Odawara Christian Center (OCC), says Gary Carlson, who with his wife, Pauline, serve as Covenant missionaries to Japan.

OCC’s full program of English language classes, English Bible studies, and International Worship services will end as there will be no short-term or career missionaries in residence, Carlson explains. There will be once-a-month weekday English Bible study classes, taught by Asia regional coordinators Dave and Ronna Husby and the Carlsons, as well as seasonal evening and weekend events to bring students to the OCC facility. To read an earlier story, please see Odawara Christian Center.

The evening’s activities were held on the first floor of the three-story center, a space used during weekdays for the operation of Cafe Elim, a work place for adults with various emotional illnesses that is used on weekends and during evening hours for other programs. The evening’s event was presented in two segments. The lower photo shows some of those in attendance. To see additional photos, visit Thanks for the Memories.

The first was a celebration of Koenig’s service at OCC and an opportunity for several individuals to share highlights of her work at the center. This included a quiz for those in attendance to see how well they had gotten to know Ashley, an interview that gave her an opportunity to share her thoughts about her time at OCC, comments about her by OCC office workers, and a prayer offered on her behalf by Ronna Husby and Yasushi Shimizu.  She also received a gift from OCC. The accompanying photo shows Carlson, the first short-term missionary to OCC, and Koenig, the last to serve in that role.

CrowdThe second portion of the evening was a reflection on the past 32 years, which included former short-term missionaries Ben Lee and John and Etsuko Martin – all three still live in Japan – as well as the Carlsons, the Husbys, and three Japan Covenant pastors: Yasushi Shimizu, pastor of Matsuda Covenant Church who also serves as OCC director chair of the Japan Covenant Church; Yoshinobu Katsumata, pastor of Sakawa Christ Church and chair of the OCC Board of Directors; and Masaaki Kitazawa, pastor of Hiratsuka Covenant Church and a member of the OCC board.

The trip down memory lane included a PowerPoint photo presentation spanning the 32-year history of OCC, focusing on short-term and career missionaries who have served there. Photographs were found depicting 40 of OCC’s 46 short-term missionaries and all 11 career missionaries. Of the career staff, nine served as OCC directors – five had first served as short-term missionaries. Japanese guests in attendance, including former and current students and pastors, were individually recognized and honored as they appeared in photographs during the presentation.

Bertil Svensson, director of World Mission for the Swedish Covenant Church, also attended as he had previously been scheduled to visit churches begun by the Swedish Covenant and to meet with the Husbys.

The festivities concluded with comments from Dave Husby and Yoshinobu Katsumata, noting the many ways in which God has blessed and used OCC. They shared the hope that as many ministries continue at the center, that also there may be another opportunity to re-start the English language programming at OCC.

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