Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Commemorating FIC

FIC is the common designation of Fukuoka International Church, which celebrated its thirtieth anniversary on this past Sunday. With the assistance of two other couples, in 1980 June and I started FIC as a bilingual church, the first worship service being held on Easter Sunday. It was a joy for us to be back in Japan and present for the special thirtieth anniversary worship service on Pentecost Sunday.

For the first three years, FIC met in the missionary residence where the Seat family lived, and then we rented the facilities of the Fukuoka YMCA and held our Sunday services there for a few years. The church moved to several other places until finally, and somewhat miraculously, we were given an old building which had previously been used as OB-Gyn Clinic.

For going on ten years now, FIC has been meeting in the completely remodeled building, which is near one of the main shopping areas of Fukuoka City. As you can see from the picture on the right (which I took yesterday), it is a narrow, four-storied building. (The picture is of the top three floors and the entrance is on the other side; most of the building can’t be seen.)

For many years, Okamura Naoko-sensei, one of my former students in the Department of Theology, Seinan Gakuin University, was first associate pastor and then my co-pastor of FIC. She resigned at the end of 2003, seven months before June and I returned to the States, and served for five years as a missionary to Singapore. (On Monday of last week we enjoyed so much being able to see her again and to talk at some length.)

It was partly because of my work as co-pastor with Rev. Okamura that June and I could not in good conscience sign that we would work “in accordance with and not contrary to” the Baptist Faith and Message 2000, a document that says women should not serve as pastors. Further, it was because of our refusal to sign that the International Mission Board unilaterally placed us on retirement status.

My last Sunday as pastor of FIC was the last Sunday of July 2004, and on August 1 Rev. Koichi Kimura became pastor of the church and continues to serve at FIC. The previous year he became widely known in Japan because of his going to Iraq as a “human shield” in protest of the preemptive war started by the U.S. When he returned he was much in demand as a speaker about his experiences, and he has continued to be an outspoken critic of not only the current war in Iraq/Afghanistan but also of Japanese war activities of the past.

From what I hear, Pastor Kimura often talks about anti-war/peace activities and political issues in his sermons, and it seems that some people don’t appreciate that emphasis. Maybe for that reason, there weren’t many Americans in the 30th anniversary service. But I was happy to see there were three African men with their Japanese wives and children there.

There have been various ups and downs since FIC started as a small house church thirty years ago, but I am happy it is still bearing witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Please join me in thanking God for the past thirty years of FIC and asking for God’s abundant blessings upon Pastor Kimura and the church as it continues it important ministry in Fukuoka.


  1. I was happy to receive an e-mail from a dear Thinking Friend who lives in Maryland. He wrote,

    "Many thanks for your posts from Japan! I was pleased to learn about the history of FIC! I know that it was very exciting for you and June to be back there for its 30th anniversary. Blessings on you two!"

  2. I also appreciate the following message received from an esteemed Thinking Friend in Kentucky:

    "Bravo for you and June re the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message, Leroy. And another for Rev. Kimura. You have all represented the Gospel faithfully."