The Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) and the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) have created the UUA/UUSC Japan Relief Fund to support the work of our interfaith partners in the wake of the recent earthquake and tsunami. The Director of International Resources at the UUA, Rev. Eric Cherry, is currently visiting with partners in Japan.
After arriving in Tokyo I had the opportunity to spend the day with colleagues at Rissho Kosei-kai (RKK). RKK and the UUA have been in a close relationship since the late 1960s when former UUA President Dana Greeley and RKK Founder Nikkyo Niwano formed a close bond with each other related to their shared commitment to enhancing world peace. They found that RKK’s focus on “living out” one’s Buddhist faith matched very well with the UU commitment to “Deeds, not Creeds”. And, the same is true today.
Immediately upon entering RKK headquarters it was clear that they are deeply focused on recovery assistance in Northeast Japan. The lobby of the headquarters was filled with donations that are needed by displaced people. And, many of the lights in the hallways and stairwells were turned off (to save electricity). RKK staff were buzzing about recent visits to the Sendai region, and that the last of the missing RKK leaders in the area had recently been found! All in all, nearly 40 Dharma Centers and branches have been impacted by the tragedy, and RKK is focused on providing the assistance that they need. It was inspiring to speak with staff from multiple departments about how they are responding to the needs of RKK members.
But RKK is also committed to being involved in the general recovery effort. And, they are working closely with the Japan Committee of the World Conference of Religions for Peace in that work. (Note: WCRP [now Religions for Peace] is an organization that RKK, the UUA and many other religious leaders created together to pursue shared goals). WCRP staff shared a recently completed Assessment Team Report following visits to the Sendai region from March 25-30. Amazing work is already happening through WCRP: Japan.
On Saturday and Sunday I had the honor of spending time with our historic Universalist partners in Tokyo: members of the Dojin Christian Church (Universalist). The Dojin Church has its roots in the missionary work of the Universalist Church of America at the end of the 19th century. And today it stands as one of two Universalist congregations in Tokyo. While it is a small congregation, its facilities and outreach to the community are strong and growing. They provide a Nursery School and Kindergarten that are grounded in Universalist principles, and provide opportunities like piano and harp lessons to children in their neighborhood.
On Sunday morning I joined members of the Dojin Church for worship in which we remembered and prayed for the thousands of people who are grieving the deaths of loved ones following the Earthquake and Tsunami. We prayed for the people involved in the recovery work, and those in harms-way in Fukushima. Rev. Tsuchida, the minister of the church, offered a sermon on Luke 9:28-36 (The Transfiguration). And, I was honored to bring a message of condolence, spriritual support, and solidarity to this historic congregation.
Please enjoy a photo slideshow from the trip, as well as the previous blogpost about earlier visits with partners.