Wednesday, November 1, 2017

All done ...

... including removing random threads and dog hair.

Today the sun popped out long enough to get a snapshot. Good timing!  Now I have finished a hanging sleeve at the top and bottom.

Tokyo Union Church was first formed in the foreign community of Tsukiji, a former mud flat where, in the 1860s, all foreigners other than diplomats and those working for the Japanese government, were allowed to live. Around 1870, Protestant missionary families began holding informal worship services in their homes and in 1872, fund-raising was begun to put up a building.

As the foreign community grew (and out-grew the Tsukiji area), around the early 1900s, the church began to meet in Japanese churches ... on Sunday afternoons when their missionary duties were over for the day. Most members were missionary families, but as the foreign community increased, there became a need for a place of their own and a piece of property in Toronomon, not too far from the US and other foreign embassies, was purchased.

With the great earthquake in 1923, the area was decimated by fire storms, less than a month after groundbreaking. The church continued to meet in assorted other locations. By 1928, though, it was decided to sell the plot and build a house of worship at the current location on Omotesando, not far from the Meiji Shrine. By 1930, the church was built and dedicated.

Then, in December 1941, war began and enemy foreigners were rounded up. The church opened up to the greater community to ward off government takeover. The church went on through the war until a fire bomb in May of '45 came through the roof and burned about anything that would burn, leaving two rooms to the side and a basement full of burned junk.

At the end of the war in August, foreigners began to return and by Dec. 1951, services resumed in the restored building. That is the building Paul and I first came to in August 1963. In those days, most members were not only missionaries but rich ex-pats of assorted embassies and businesses. We were told, "Japanese have their own churches, so go there". I think it was expected that Japanese wanted only to practice their English at that place. We did sneak in for some special occasions like Easter or Christmas, but were seated in the basement to only listen to the service over a speaker.

It was in 1973, when Paul was hired by Banker's Trust, that we were allowed to come to services but there were few Japanese at that time and not really welcomed.

In 1979, plans for a new building were put into gear. I have old photos of the ground-breaking ceremony with my young son giving the shovel a big push into the soil.  In all the years since, there has been talk of selling that piece of expensive property and moving to some other location. The area now is full of high-end shops ... every big name in fashion seems to have a glittering store there and walking down the street, one can often hear more Chinese spoken than Japanese. The congregation has evolved as well to maybe 40 different countries represented and many different denominations building on that which we all have in common and giving opportunities for service.

This year, starting in the summer, the basement "Fellowship Hall" has been renovated ... now almost finished and ready to be dedicated. This will be it's second renovation as well as a number of other up-dates to the kitchen and 4th floor which once held a pre-school.That seems to be where the word "Renew" came from when it looking to the coming Stewardship campaign.

I really had no idea for the banner and one quick sketch a committee member made was a computer icon of the round arrow and a finger pushing the button. Certainly that would have made a simpler idea to put on a quilted piece but somehow, something as simple as pushing a button didn't speak to me as a way of really getting involved. A meeting with the very artistic pastor's wife came up with other images ... the sun coming up ... a rainbow in celebration ... a bible verse contributed by the associate pastor ... and some gold  thread suggested by another friend at the choir retreat.

The glittering beads on the window could maybe be more but are inspired by this window we in the choir stand before each Sunday to song the introit and anthem.

I can't say this is my all-time favourite as banners go, but I am glad to have it all done ... and hope it might inspire some passing member to renew their pledge of time and talent or finances to this house of God.

In 1980 there was a small book written, "A Church For All Seasons".
I believe as another anniversary approaches, that book too will be updated.

All the quilting except the gold thread was completed during the choir retreat.... another weekend of heavy rain, no Mt. Fuji in view. Sunday evening was spent with family and friends at a nearby Indian restaurant with heavy rain beating on the windows and seeping in on the floor. Luckily that typhoon held off the heavy crowds in Shibuya so that I was able to park and make the rice delivery.
It could have been very bad because the bus home last night was held up by Halloween revellers swarming the Shibuya area. It is extremely rare for a train or bus in Tokyo to be more than a minute behind schedule but last night's was 58 minutes behind and the driver said it was due to the mess in Shibuya around the station ... people all over the place ... the parade on Sunday had been cancelled so it seems they were taking the opportunity to show off their costumes there.
Interestingly, the Christmas lights had begun going up along Omotesando when I went to pick up the onigiri on Monday morning.  A dozen or so trees were lit all the way to the top and a few dozen more had the lights installed on the lower trunks. I guess Halloween is about costumes and Christmas about lights. (And Valentines day is about chocolate). What will be the next foreign holiday to be embraced by shops, I wonder?


  1. Your banner is wonderful and thank you for a look at the history of your church. It is amazing to me that Japanese would be excluded from services in those early years but I guess prejudice works both ways. Aren't you glad Halloween is over! The next holiday might be the Easter bunny as it seems that whatever Disney promotes turns into a holiday for Japan,

  2. Congratulations on yet another beautiful banner. You have put a lot of thought into it, as well as quilting time.
    I think too, that Easter is next on the list.

  3. Congratulations on finishing yet another of your trademark banners. Such interesting history of your church!

  4. Very beautiful banner, and so meaningful. I enjoyed reading the history of the church. I did not know they celebrated Halloween in Japan, I just thought it was a USA holiday (of sorts).

  5. The banner is absolutely wonderful! So creative. I am guessing this is all applique and no piecing which makes it more impressive. You are very talented!

  6. I think the banner is beautiful because you put your heart into it and after reading the story behind the churches history, it is made even more wonderful and an inspiration for all who pass by.


  7. Great work with your banner. It looks wonderful. And the history of the church and your own story is fascinating.

  8. Good job on the banner. All the holidays now, it seems, are for selling things, not for the 'reason' for the holiday. Sad.

  9. Love the new banner! You are such a gifted quilter - I am in awe of your many talents! As far as US holidays becoming popular in Japan - I agree that Easter might be next. One thing is for sure, I think - it won't be the Fourth of July - LOL - ;))

  10. it is made even more wonderful and an inspiration for all who pass by.


  11. Love the banner, and the interesting history of your church. You were certainly persistent. Hope you week is wonderful. We are hoping our snow melts and it gets a little warmer.

  12. I always enjoy your creative banners.I could recognize the outline of TUC immediately. When visiting we have always wondered how the congregation came to be in such an exclusive area. Fascinating history, thanks!