Traditional customs of respectful dialogue and graceful hospitality - and a clear spirit of mutual appreciation and renewed friendship - were central as Japan's Anglican leaders welcomed Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold in a five-day visit affirming peacemaking 60 years after the end of World War II.
"Our two churches, here in Japan and the United States, are on a journey of reconciliation," Griswold said in a sermon October 23 at Hiroshima's Resurrection Church, where he preached just after visiting the nearby Peace Park memorializing the more than 200,000 lives lost when the United States dropped the atomic bomb there August 6, 1945.
"Words are inadequate to express the depth of remorse and sadness, even desolation, I experience in seeing the devastation caused by this horrific event," Griswold told the congregation, sharing in services with Japan's Anglican Primate James Toru Uno. "Surely, the message must be that such a human disaster must never happen again."
Pausing briefly as emotion stilled his voice, the Presiding Bishop expressed his "own profound sorrow, regret and repentance for the suffering the citizens of this city bore... and those in Nagasaki on August 9th."
Full text of Griswold's sermon can be found here.
Visiting Asia at the invitation of Uno and other Anglican-Christian leaders, Griswold praised the Uno's August 15 "Message of Peace" in which the Nippon Sei Ko Kai (Anglican Church in Japan) reiterates its "determined desire for world peace" and notes the church "lacked the courage to stand up in opposition to the war."
Griswold said Bishop Uno's statement "pointed out that U.S. policy in the world today is pushing Japan towards a more militaristic posture, even to being encouraged by my government to move from being a country under a 'Peace Constitution' "into a nation once again capable of making war.
"I commend Bishop Uno for his prophetic warnings. And I join him by once again reminding my own government that the United States must exercise leadership that heals and reconciles, and avoid policies that foment violence and revenge."
Griswold also told the congregation that "Perhaps the single most disappointing moment for me as primate of the American Church is the decision by my government to wage war against Iraq."
Griswold further underscored the morning's Gospel reading, in which "Jesus makes clear that the core of our faith lived out in the world is our call to love both our creator and our neighbor. The bombing of Hiroshima does a terrible dishonor to both. The memorial invites us never to forget. And as we in the Christian community are reminded of Christ's commandment of love, we are called to proclaim to the world there is another way."
While at the Peace Park memorial, Griswold and Uno joined in prayers and the placing of flowers, remembering particularly more than 20,000 Koreans who died in the Hiroshima blast, many of whom were held as forced laborers during wartime. The two Primates affirmed continuing efforts to overcome the effects of that oppression and to achieve reconciliation.
At the close of Sunday's services, Uno thanked the Presiding Bishop for his visit and for their collaboration in peacemaking.
A visit with the Anglican Church in Korea was Griswold's next destination as he departed Hiroshima together with his wife, Phoebe, and four senior staff members of the Episcopal Church Center in New York.
While in Japan, the Presiding Bishop's delegation was accompanied throughout the itinerary by Rikkyo University Chancellor Joseph Nobuhisa Matsudaira and by the university's staff officer for international relations, Herbert Donovan (whose father is an Episcopal bishop of the same name).
Rikkyo leaders conferred an honorary doctorate upon the Presiding Bishop during his October 20 visit to the campus, which was founded in 1874 as St. Paul's School by Episcopal Bishop Channing Moore Williams. Beginning with five students, the all-boys' enrollment has grown to include - in its 131st year - some 17,000 with classes spanning from primary education through graduate programs. The affiliated St. Margaret's School serves an all-girls' enrollment. (Note: A future ENS report will outline the work of Rikkyo University.)
Rikkyo Chaplain Ajuko Ueda - who is one of five women priests among the Nippon Sei Ko Kai's 200 clergy nationwide - assisted in hosting the delegation and a women's roundtable discussion with Phoebe Griswold during which topics included the Anglican Consultative Council's recent resolution calling for gender-equity in ministry and leadership, and the work of the United Nations Committee on the Status of Women. (Note: Related ENS coverage of the roundtable will follow in a separate story.)
Shared commitments to environmental protection were underscored during the delegation's October 21-22 visit the Kiyosato Education Experiment Project (KEEP), where some 1 million visitors annually share in programs of nature conservancy, farming education, and spiritual renewal. KEEP's large mountainside campus, established in 1940s by the late U.S. Episcopalian Paul Rusch, includes St. Andrew's Anglican Church, built to meld traditional Japanese and New England architectural styles. KEEP Chairman Akiyoshi Kato and executive director Minoru Masaki joined in welcoming the Presiding Bishop's delegation to the KEEP lodge, where dinner featured the same menu of bento-box delicacies served earlier this year when Japan's Emperor and Empress visited the compound. (Note: A separate ENS story will follow on KEEP.)
The Brotherhood of St. Andrew hosted the Presiding Bishop for an October 22 forum at KEEP, where leader John Y. Teranchi proclaimed Griswold an honorary member. The Presiding Bishop praised the work of the Brotherhood, noting that it had been founded in the cathedral chapel in Chicago, where he served as bishop from 1985 to 1997.
The Brotherhood of St. Andrew is among the active institutions in the Nippon Sei Ko Kai, which - in addition to its several schools - also operates St. Luke's International Hospital, now marking its 85th year of service to the Tokyo community. The Presiding Bishop visited the hospital October 21 and placed flowers on the chapel altar in a prayer service remembering the more than 108,000 who were killed in fire-bombings of Tokyo on March 10, 1945.
Based in Tokyo, the Nippon Sei Ko Kai includes more than 20,000 members in 11 dioceses: Hokkaido, Tohoku, Kita-Kanto, Tokyo, Yokohama, Chubu, Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe, Kyushu, and Okinawa.
These dioceses' bishops, who comprise the Nippon Sei Ko Kai's House of Bishops, met with Griswold October 20 at Tokyo's St. Andrew's Church, which serves as a cathedral for the diocese. The bishops told Griswold of recent initiatives, including their study of the Anglican Communion's Windsor Report, and echoed their conclusion that the world's Anglicans can move forward productively amid differences and diversity.
In dialogue with the bishops - and with a group of seminarians October 21 at Tokyo's Central Theological Seminary - Griswold addressed issues currently confronted by Anglicans worldwide, including support for a two-state solution to conflict in Israel-Palestine, and continuing dialogue about the ministries of homosexual persons in the church.
"Though we in the Episcopal Church live with strains and tensions, as do other provinces of the Communion as well, they are not anywhere near as severe as news reports might suggest," Griswold told the seminary forum moderated by the school's dean, the Rev. Barnabas Seki.
"The overwhelming reality of the Episcopal Church is what I call the 'diverse center,' men and women of differing points of view, including bishops, who see the mission of the church, and its ministry of reconciliation, as their primary focus," Griswold said.
"True reconciliation has very little to do with whether we agree or disagree," he added. "It has everything to do with whether we truly wish to discern the presence of Christ in one another beyond our divisions and varying opinions."
Citing the example of Christ's dual humanity and divinity, Griswold said that Anglican orthodoxy has historically been "able to contain the paradox of two apparently contradictory things being true at once."
Griswold said the church's "willingness to live difficult and demanding questions in an open and mutually respectful way is a characteristic of Anglicanism at its best."
Canon Robert Williams is the Episcopal Church's director of communication. Also traveling with the Presiding Bishop and Mrs. Griswold are Barbara Braver, assistant to the Presiding Bishop for communication; the Rev. Canon Brian Grieves, the Episcopal Church's director of peace and justice ministries, and Margaret Larom, the Episcopal Church's director of Anglican and Global Relations.
Article from ENS By Bob Williams