To listen to the highlights of the history of Kobe Union Church should cause each member and associate of the Church to yearn to project its ideas into the future. But although the facts are themselves illustrious, perhaps it might be useful to review the central ideas of the makers of this Church during these 90 years.
First, they were men and women of courage and pioneer spirit. They were willing to brave the dangers and risks of a strange land. But their pioneering courage would never have succeeded without one basic quality: They loved their neighbors better than they loved themselves.
Second, they were people with a great adaptability to change. At no time in the history of this Church have things remained fixed as they often do in the churches from which these people came. Social conditions, physical settings, outside pressures, even religious concepts were constantly shifting. These people were compelled to adjust to such changes and rise to the solid ground above them. Only people of high and deep and lasting ideals can accomplish that simple miracle.
Third, they were people who were not frightened by violence and turbulence. The kind of dedication they started with made allowance for such events. Turbulence thus brought out the true kindness and sweetness and charity of their souls. Turbulence is the best test of whether or not an individual possesses real charity.
Fourth, they exhibited all along a spirit of cooperation not only with the native population but among themselves. When it was necessary for Congregationalists and Presbyterians and Methodists to yield a bit to Anglicans, or vice versa, the yielding came. When religious conservative or moderate met religions radical, all were tempered. If they did not know in advance how skillful they were in cooperation, they knew it here: without such cooperation, their Church would have died a thousand times in these nine decades.
It is important to note that the future of Kobe and of the Union Church, and all of such churches, requires more of these basic qualities than ever before. It is unlikely that the next generation will demand less of pioneering courage, less of loving one’s neighbor at least as well as oneself, less of great adaptability to change, less of equilibrium in the face of turbulence, less of the spirit of generous cooperation for a cause that is greater than any individual cause.
The Kobe Union Church of tomorrow, therefore, calls for perpetual rededication. At no point can the membership relax or forget, even though they may be thousands of miles away. To be member of a church with such ideals and history as this is inspiration enough. To be true to this history and these ideals is a guarantee that one is truly following in the footsteps of the “Young and fearless prophet Of Ancient Galilee.”
Let us all this day, in this Ninetieth Anniversary celebration, so rededicate ourselves.
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