WORK IN JAPAN
A Calling For Foreigners
In June this column looked at the booming demand for foreign celebrants and preachers at Christian weddings. But a new law will crack down on foreigners playing preachers, thanks in part to Rev. Kenny Joseph, President of the Japan Association of Preachers and Ministers (JAPAM). The new law is clear: "Anyone engaging in any activity involving the management of business or involving remuneration other than that permitted by his status of residence without obtaining permission may be subject to punishment." That punishment could be a \300,000 fine and/or three years in prison and expulsion from Japan. Up to now, those expelled could return to Japan in one year. The new law makes it five. This shouldn' be a problem, Rev. Joseph told Hilary Hinds Kitasei, as he's happy to help you get the credentials you need.
If there's no legal requirement in Japan that weddings must be officiated by ordained ministers, why does anyone need special credentials to conduct them?
The problem comes when a foreigner engages in any work for pay that is not included in his visa provisions. It means that if the word shukyo (religious mission) is not printed on your alien registration card you cannot conduct a religious, sacred activity such as officiating at Christian weddings. They are 100% religious sacraments - not cultural - with two hymns, a sermon, two prayers, 15 Bible verses, a solemn proclamation and a benediction.
How can someone get the right credentials?
The JAPAM nationwide network of veteran missionaries in Sapporo, Sendai, Nojiri, Tokyo, Osaka, Fukuoka and Naha interviews prospective preachers. We give them a qualifying certificate if they pass a rigid, 10-point oral exam. Although they can show this certificate to the wedding chapel or company, this in itself does not change their visa status. What they must do is leave Japan, go on to an approved Bible school or Christian college, and come back as a bona fide missionary. Another possible solution is to begin a correspondence course by email or regular mail from an accredited seminary like Trinity Seminary in Newburg, Indiana. This does not include phony diploma mills, usually in California, Arizona or Las Vegas. One major offender will sell a bogus minister's ordination certificate for $19, a fake PhD in Theology for $175, a tarot advisor diploma for $195, and a medical doctor's diploma for $300. Try taking that to Tokyo University Hospital and do brain surgery!
What is the difference between a minister, a preacher and a missionary?
A minister is an ordained, bona fide professional person of the Christian church, qualified to administrate a church and officiate at weddings, funerals, baptisms and communion. A preacher is a non-ordained layman, elder, deacon or "tent maker" who has some basic qualifications to substitute for a minister on occasion as needed. There are over 2000 Protestant ministers in Japan called missionaries. They're sent by their home churches or denominations to spread the Christian faith and assist the national church. But because their main duties fall on Sunday mornings, they can't answer calls to officiate at weddings, which are usually held on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays, the best times for the invited guests to attend.
So what is the solution?
Missionaries who pastor a church in Japan need to train Japanese assistants to substitute for them on some Sunday mornings, freeing them to answer the invitations to do chapel weddings. Our office got six calls from six bridal companies for a minister on one Sunday. We now have a Registry of Emergency Preachers (REAP). We hope many retired missionaries and their "made in Japan" children can return to do this ministry.
Rev. Joseph is happy to respond to inquiries by fax (03-3922-7655)
O N L Y I N F O !
Regards, Georg - Japan, Gifu
The Universal Life Church is a comprehensive online seminary where we have classes in Christianity, Wicca, Paganism, two courses in Metaphysics and much more.
Ordination with the Universal Life Church, is free, and lasts for life, so use the Free Online Ordination, button.We also offer many free wedding ceremonies for your use.
The ULC, run by Rev. Long, has created a chaplaincy program to help train our ministers. We also have a huge catalog of Universal Life Church materials. I've been ordained with the Universal Life Church for many years and it's Seminary since the beginning and have loved watching the continual growth of the seminary.
Try our new free toolbar at: ULC Toolbar