Participate in the Japan Christmas Card Project
Dear Churches of the United Church of Christ and Disciples of Christ,
Greetings from Japan. My name is Rev. Jeffrey Mensendiek and I am a mission co-worker (missionary) serving with the Common Global Ministries Board for the past 32 years. In 2011, the area where I lived was hit by a large earthquake and tsunami. Then we witnessed the nuclear meltdown in Fukushima. The Christmas Card Project was started in 2012 to connect our US churches with partner churches in the affected areas of Japan. This year will mark the 10th year of our shared prayers for peace and justice in this world. I am writing to inquire whether your church would be interested in participating this year in this Project. Each year we have about 40 UCC and Disciples churches join in reaching out globally through prayer. The COVID-19 pandemic has posed many challenges to our congregations on both sides of the Pacific. Even as we might feel a bit overwhelmed by our own predicament, God calls us to reach out to care and connect in the name of Christ.
If you decide to participate this year, I will be asking you to do two things during Advent. 1) To send a Christmas card to one or two churches in early December, and 2) to lift these churches up in prayer sometime during the Advent season. Once I have a firm count of the participating churches, I will send you the names and updated information pertaining to the churches to which you will be assigned. If you have participated in this project before, I will try to match you with the same churches that you have had before. Our Japanese partners have asked that we continue this project, and I am encouraged to see how the Holy Spirit is leading us in new patterns of partnership.
This is an opportunity to reach out globally together through prayer. Please discuss this with your congregation and let Derek Duncan, Area Executive for East Asia and the Pacific, know by October 31st (MON) whether you will be participating or not by emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He will share the email with me and I will then send you the contacts and necessary information pertaining to the partner churches by November 11th (FRI). This should give you time to prepare the Christmas cards to send off by the beginning of December. Also let me know who will be the contact person at your congregation, and the contact address. If you need stories and information from Japan please go to my blog at (http://jeffreyfromjapan.blogspot.com/). The material is dated but it will give you a sense of the struggles the churches faced during the great disaster. The chair of the World Mission Committee of our partner churches has promised to write a letter in which he will bring you up to date on the situation in Fukushima, as well as the challenges the churches face in the area 11 years after the disaster.
This Project aims to connect partner churches across the ocean by reaching out globally through prayer at Advent. It is a way to hold on to the ties that bind us in Christ, and to say “We remember you. We care. Your lives matter.” In the spirit of the mutuality of mission, I pray that this small gesture of solidarity will be a sign of hope for churches both in the US and Japan. When writing, please do not hesitate to mention your prayer concerns for what is happening in and around your congregation. In this way we share in the mutuality God’s mission.
Yours in Christ,
PS: In most cases the Japanese churches will respond with a letter, but in some cases, they may not be able to respond in kind. The Mission Committee chair indicated that that does not mean they do not appreciate our gesture of solidarity and connection.