Welcome to Furukawa Evangelical Free Church website. We sincerely welcome you!
Our church was founded in 1995 as a traditional Protestant Christian church. The mother church of our foundation was the Sendai Evangelical Free Church (https://sendaiefc.com) in Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture. This Sendai Evangelical Free Church was also founded in 1989 by the Evangelical Free Church of Japan (https://efcj.org), a Christian denomination with more than 70 churches throughout Japan. However, the name “Evangelical Free Church” may be unfamiliar to you. Therefore, I would like to briefly explain the characteristics of the Evangelical Free Church.
Feature 1. A Protestant Christian church
There are two main currents of Christianity in the world: the Catholic Church and the Protestant Church. The Catholic Church is a single worldwide denomination headed by the Pope and tends to emphasize traditions such as rituals and liturgies. It also takes the position that the Pope and the Church of Rome are the final authority in understanding the Bible.
On the other hand, Protestant churches, as their name “Protestant,” suggests, are a group separated from the Catholic Church by the Reformation in the Middle Ages, and they do not have a single organization. In general, Protestant churches tend to place more emphasis on the inner life of the individual’s faith than on external matters such as rituals and liturgies. They also believe that the guidance of the Holy Spirit working in each individual believer enables him or her to correctly understand and apply the Bible to his or her life. There is also a difference in the style of worship, with diversity in its musicality and other aspects. Furukawa Evangelical Free Church is a traditional Protestant Christian church.
Feature 2: A church that takes an evangelical standpoint
The word “gospel” refers to the teachings of Jesus Christ and his disciples. Furthermore, in the Greek language in which the New Testament was written, the word translated “gospel” is “euangelion,” which originally meant “good news”. Therefore, to “take an evangelical standpoint” means to believe in the Bible as a book containing God’s good news, in other words, as the “Word of God. Of course, the actual writing of the Bible was done by human hands, but we believe that they had God’s unerring guidance in their writing and were able to write God’s will without error. This is what makes the Bible different from other books, such as novels and non-fiction. The Evangelical Free Church is a church that values the authority of the Bible.
Feature 3. A church in the vein of the Free Church movement
The establishment of the Free Church has a great deal to do with the history of Europe during the Middle Ages. The Christian Church, founded by the disciples of Jesus Christ, became the “state religion” of the Roman Empire in the 4th century. Until then, Christians had experienced great persecution because they were considered to be disruptive to the stability of the empire, but with the establishment of Christianity as the state religion, it became the “official religion of the state”. In the Middle Ages, the state and the church became very strongly connected, with the entire country taking on a single ecclesiastical structure (for example, even today Queen Elizabeth of England serves as the head of the Church of England). However, the problem arose during the process of nationalization, as the faith gradually became superficial. It was obvious that it would be difficult to have a conscious “faith” under a system in which one was considered a member of the Church at birth.
It was against this backdrop that the “Reformation” was initiated by Martin Luther in Germany in 1549. Simply put, it was a movement for the restoration of faith that aimed to “emphasize conscious faith and restore the authority of the Bible”. However, the relationship between church and state was basically maintained during the Reformation. However, those who emphasized the reality of faith believed that the institution of the state church was the cause of the Reformation. From here, the “Free Church” emerged as a “church that is not a state church”. The Evangelical Free Church of Japan, to which Furukawa Evangelical Free Church belongs, is a denomination founded by the Free Church movement that originated in 19th century Northern Europe, spread to the United States in the late 19th century, and was founded in 1949, soon after the war, when the first missionaries came to Japan.
As described above, the Free Church adheres to the important principles of “freedom from intervention of authority in faith” and “autonomy in church administration”. It also values “voluntary faith based on the free will of the individual,” and therefore opposes any form of coercion of faith. This philosophy was born out of reflection on the various problems that arose in the past when the church and the state were linked. The “free” of the Evangelical Free Church has this meaning.
The above philosophy is clearly stated in the “Articles of Faith,” so please take a look if you would like to know more.