The job searching system of the United Church of Christ in Japan

I appreciate my friend who corrected my writing after I posted this article on my facebook. In Christian context, job means "vocational placement" as clergy and hiring means "invitation from church."

Friends, give me constructive criticism and encouragement. I'm in the midst of looking for a job in Japan, but am stuck. This is to let you know the situation that I am in. I will post my opinion later. Compared to the sadness of the victim families or struggles of the children in conflict areas, this may be a small thing. But I can't help but wonder, why do I have to go through this?

- The following 15 points illustrate the hiring situation that I am in. There are multiple players here: informal groups/sects that have power and say over hiring decisions (usually alumni groups, theological sects, or simply cliques based on friendship), the applicants and the system of job placement at the United Church of Christ in Japan. The following information is based on the advice that I received from several Japanese pastors in my process of searching for a job placement since July 2013.

1. There is no public information about job placement for the applicants and local churches. The conference usually doesn't know anything about the applicants.

2. The groups which have the power and authority over personnel issues do not get along with one another for political and theological reasons.

3. The applicants are expected to contact one of the groups when looking for jobs, but for the above reason, they must not contact more than one group at a time.

4. However, the groups are not necessarily responsible for finding placement for the applicants.

5. Consequently, the applicant are not sure whether they will be able to land a job or not. In addition, no one knows how long the search process is going to take.

6. If a group fails to find a job placement for an applicant, the applicant may contact a different group. However, in such cases, the applicant is required to disclose which groups they had been in contact with.

7. The first contact to a group largely depends on the applicant's seminary or their original network.

8. This means that those who already have established connections with certain groups have an advantage over those who do not. These privileged applicants are usually the sons/daughters of pastors/professors or an alumni of one of the two big-name Japanese seminaries.

9. The reality of local churches is such that the average age of the members is around 70-80 (or 60-70?), and they didn't have a chance to learn about gender issues, sexism, racism and LGBT discrimination from a theological standpoint while they were younger. Therefore, they tend to look for people with similar backgrounds/status.

10. Traditionally, the ideal pastor is a married male, educated in the same seminary as the previous pastor, middle-class, able-bodied, heterosexual and Japanese.

11. It has long been believed that this hiring procedure is the only way to make personnel decisions for the applicants.

12. Disadvantaged applicants are:
those who have graduated from small or non-Japanese seminaries;
are not acquainted with the powerful pastors;
are not regarded as a "traditional" pastor - e.g., those who are: female, single, physically challenged, young, non-Japanese (except white European and American missionary), and LGBT.
One of the pastors actually was about to force me to conceal my lesbian identity for my benefit, but this is not healthy for me.

13. Finance is a major concern for the search committee of the local churches. Thus, elderly Japanese citizens who have started receiving monthly government pension are considered to be favorable for small local churches, which constitute the majority of the churches in the United Church of Christ in Japan.

14. Japanese seminary professors and alumni groups, of which the majority of the members are male, able-bodied, heterosexual and Japanese have the strongest power in this hiring system.

15. Since breaking "harmony" is considered to be a "sinful" or "betraying" attitude according to Japanese virtue, few people are willing to change this system.


Preaching in the Second Language

I will preach tomorrow morning!

I realized that I am the only one who regularly preach in the second language in my school. That's cool!!!

Living in midwest of the United States for three years changed my mind a lot. Now it's much comfortable to read theological book in English. I have never quote Jurgen Moltmann, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and H. Richard Niebuhr for my Japanese sermon because I thought these theological words in Japanese translation were just unfamiliar to many Japanese people including myself.

My sermon in English may have different impression compare to my Japanese sermon.

Since this modern world has been already global community, especially Christian church, I think it's necessary to be able to communicate with people in English.

I heard some Asian elders said that English is not the only language in the world so that Americans have to learn Asian language or something like that.

Mmm... I don't agree. No matter good or bad, English apparently became kind of communal language in the world. African and European people speak it, too. I know Asian languages are more difficult to learn for English speakers because of unfamiliarity and less opportunities to know it in compulsory education system.

How can Japanese language be communal language in the world?

I am so grateful for the opportunities of preaching in English!!! And I am so happy that I am able to write my sermon in the second language.

AJ Alfieri-Crispin (Creative Commons)


Great pains but all in vain.

Literally, I have been experiencing this proverb since last November.

It was a good opportunity to reflect my theological anthropology. I think my understanding of human being was too higher. I trusted almost every one I met. I believed human's sincerity in their saying. It means that I just believed if someone said I promise you. It should be "I promise you." I didn't imagine the person who promised everything by her/himself broke everything.

Human mind is changing. I agree. But I can't agree unreasonable offense.

Aikido, Japanese martial arts is self-defense technic. I've started leaning it. It is not only practice but also kind of physical philosophy. I really like the idea of protecting self without hurting an opponent.

Today I practiced "Ukenagashi," means "parrying an attack." Maintaining my original body structure is important.

It can be applied to mental attack. Mental attack may be more increasing in this modern society.

Inappropriate and irresponsible behavior.
Defiant attitude.
No self-reflection.
Vain splender.

I still hold a bit higher anthropology, human being is created as God's image so that we can participate God's work and we can change our social structure, but from now on, I have to consider individual sinfulness in addition to structural sinfulness.

Human's weakness is not sin. However, tendency of being destructive might be considered as sin...

And if I do not want to hurt anyone, I should...
Be faithful,
Be brave not to lie = Be honest,
Be responsible,
Explain or try to do something before the betrayal,
Pay attention to self-tendency,
Be critical myself,
Speak up,

Self-awareness of my body relates to my spiritual and mental awareness so I like Aikido.

Ben Cane (Creative Commons) https://flic.kr/p/9s1nCD


My Fortune Cookie Words This Week

You have a potential urge and the ability for accomplishment.
- Webster Garden, March 5 Wednesday

Tomorrow your creative side will shine forth with exceptional ideas.
- PHO LONG, March 7 Friday

Fortune Cookie とは!!!こんな感じ。

FHKE (creative commons)


Nomadic Lass (creative commons)



Go forward! Shine forth!

Real Resident Evil

Sudden rejection without any explanation.
Rescheduling several appointments right before the time.
No words of apology.
Cheating and Tweeting while I was waiting.
Dishonoring engagement.

Violating commitment.

Finally she just sent back my package for our daughter's Christmas present.
Again, no explanation.

That's too enough.
It's tough.

I can't believe such a horrible treacherous act.
God loves us. So I know God loves her, too.
But the betrayal is not good. Obviously.

It is no longer like human but sounds like evil.
For the first time in my life, I may become to believe evil force.

I have never thought there is real evil or enemy in our world before.
I still do not think we have real enemy in our life.
In my opinion, we create our enemy each other. That is human sin.
However, this experience... this person... sounds like just real resident evil.


Regret, Apology, and Excuse are neither Love nor Justice.

My conference in Japan had big challenges to deal with the discriminative speaks against LGBT clergy. I was in the midst of that when the incident happened. I couldn't be openly-gay until I came to the United States.

I watched the process of solving problem by the conference committee and felt that there was no safe space for me.

One of the solutions was to have several lectures about LGBT people by some professors and a famous Japanese gay pastor. They gave lectures. The local church members gathered. It seemed that no one thought there was actually gay Christian in the conversation except my colleagues who knew my sexuality.

At one of the lecture, I presided the discussion pretending heterosexual young single woman. It was one of the most hurtful experiences in my life.

The more hurtful experience was to be yelled by young male pastor when we had an unofficial discussion about the LGBT issue at a retreat. He was a bit older than me. There were the other older clergy and lay people in the conversation. I was the youngest.

I said my opinion honestly which was opposite to the elders, I mean, opposite to everyone there. Suddenly the pastor fiercely yelled at me.

"What do you know about it!!! Do you understand my pain? I was bullied as a pastor's son."

We were discussing issue concerning our conference member's discriminative speech against LGBT. And he started talking about his experience of bullying as a pastor's son. I was confused. I couldn't understand why he was yelling me.

He had remembered my opinion at the lecture, which had held a couple years ago. At the lecture, because he questioned about the difference between bullying to pastor's son and LGBT discrimination, I responded by using comparison of physical surgery. I said that LGBT discrimination is like serious operation that needed structural change and the bullying is also surgery but it is like little toe's one.

I apologized him that I shouldn't have used that comparison indeed. I was too young to have enough vocabulary to explain it. But I didn't change my opinion. He stopped yelling and kept giving me a fierce look. I was horrified. Then the other older people started blaming to me.

"I agree with the pastor. What do you know about it at your age? You are disrespectful."

I was about to crying. No one assumed I was one of the LGBT people. Everyone expressed sympathy to the male pastor's bullying experience.

No one said anything about LGBT discrimination at all. I didn't hear any thoughtful opinion in order to solve the LGBT issue.

After they left, I cried alone and called my friend.
I cried alone at the corner of the hallway until midnight.

At the same time, they had a casual meeting with the chair pastor of a conference committee at someone's room. In Japan, casual meeting means drinking alcohol and often smoking a lot because they can talk frankly without paying attention age difference if they are drunk. They were together. I was completely alone.

I don't like being drunk and don't smoke anyway...

Next morning, I met the chair pastor by chance and said that it was really scary when the young male pastor yelled at me. I expected that he understood it was like power harassment because he was the chair of the social justice and sexual harassment issue committee.

But his answer was

"Oh, he regretted it when we were drinking last night."

That was the solution.

Again, seriously?

Because of these experiences (I have more), I decided not to come out at least to the people belonging to this conference.

After I came to the United States, I read newsletter of the conference and found the official statement about LGBT discrimination issue.

In the statement, they explained what and when the incident happened but the persons who did discriminative speech were hidden for their privacy. Basically it was an apologetic letter. They apologized, apologized, and apologized. They also explained how many lectures they had. The number of lectures was their excuse.

Does the apologizing change the situation?
Does the excuse heal the serious wound?
Does the statement dare to do justice for LGBT?

Regret, apology, and excuse change nothing.
Justice and love changes.
Regret, apology, and excuse are neither love nor justice.

If the one sincerely regrets, change should be happened.
Change requires intensive education and people's openness, willingness, and conscience.

In particular, knowing power structure by gender, age, class, and social states is primarily important in Japan. This country is still very male-dominated society and Christian church as well. Dealing with boundary issue and anger issue is needed. There is no reason the older person can yell at the younger. Studying relevant knowledge about harassment is required.

After that, it is possible to understand LGBT issue finally.

Regret + Apology + Excuse = Political Performance
Japanese prime minister often says, "It is regrettable..."

Education: Learning power structure, boundary and anger issue, and harassment will be able to change person's mind and then attitude.

Action will be followed and social structure and community will change.
That is justice and love. I think.

I am willing to offer this kind of Christian education to the church in Japan. It is possible as long as everyone is able to act like that the children take on a challenge to ride a bicycle.


Pedro Ribeiro Simoes (creative commons)

Where the Risk Come From

If I was not Christian in Japan,
If I was not taught exclusive Christian idea in my teenage,

If I was not woman,
If I was not openly-gay,

risk and difficulty I have now might be lower?

Being Christian in Japan costs something because majority of Japanese is non-religious or Buddhist and Shinto. If I was pastor's child, I could get advantage in Japanese Christian society but I'm not.

Being taught that Christians are the only people who God saves is traumatic experience as a child. My extended family and most of my friends are not Christian.

Being woman in Japan is obviously disadvantage. The gap of entire income between man and woman in Japan is huge.

"Even for younger workers the gender pay gap is 15%, and it increases to around 40% for those over 40. Japanese women have great difficulty to rise to the top and less than 5% of listed company board members in Japan are women, one of the lowest proportions among OECD countries."

- Closing the Gender Gap Act Now Japan OECD

"This year’s Global Gender Gap Report ranks Japan at 105th among 136 countries, its worst showing since the WEF started the survey in 2006. Japan ranked 101st last year.

The drop was mainly due to a decrease in the number of female lawmakers, the report says. Of the 722 lawmakers in both chambers of the Diet, only 77 are women.

The ranking is based on numerical analyses of women’s status in finances, education, politics and health. Japan scored especially poor in politics, ranked at 118th in the world."

- Japan's poor gender gap worsening, WEF survey finds by Mizuho Aoki, The Japan Times (Oct 25, 2013)

Recently it is said that the only way of surviving Japan as the poor class women is to work in kind of prostitution industry.

Is Japan really developed country?

Being lesbian + Christian clergy in Japan is almost miserable. There are very few seats as pastor. No one want to get involved in considering the hidden "LGBT issue." People don't say clear discriminative words against LGBT so that they would think they're not exclusive. However, in the same time, how can they be ally without supporting LGBT? They are just observers who don't support even though they don't argue against.

Doing nothing and being neutral is kind of Japanese virtue. The neutral attitude creates harmony in the community and it is peaceful.

In some sense, it is true.

But... that idea of harmony puts a heavy lid on the LGBT issue.

"If you do Not come out as gay, you will be able to live peacefully. You do not have to create conflict against congregation."

Really? Seriously?

Do you say the same suggestion to male heterosexual pastor?

Have you ever been suggested to live as a person who is not real self?

Is that Gospel?

I do not want to live a lying life.


If you were not Christian in Japan,
If you were not woman,
If you were not openly-gay,

If you were NOT young female openly-gay Christian Japanese pastor, risk and difficulty you have now is much lower than me.

I need support. I do not need oppression.

I'm a bit tired of this situation but trust God.
The Holy Spirit is working for me between the Christian communities.
I also believe people's conscience.

The only thing I can do is to go forward with patience.
Do not give up myself.

alejandro cañizares (creative commons)

The Small Talk PDF一覧

2019年1月から5のつく日に書き始めた個人通信のPDF版にアクセスできる一覧です。自分で撮影した写真、Unsplash  https://unsplash.com/  というサイトからお借りした美しい写真も掲載しています。 2019-0215 The Small Talk....