The Kasumigaoka RPC in Kobe, Japan rejoiced in the Lord’s goodness and grace on the evening of November 8, 2020 with the ordination and installation of their new pastor, Dr. Yusuke Hirata. The congregation had been earnestly praying for a new pastor since the departure of their former pastor, Rev. Charles Leach in October 2018. After two years without a pastor, the congregation is very grateful and happy to welcome Pastor Hirata, together with his wife Honami and their 8-month old son Yoshikazu!
Preparation and Training
Pastor Hirata will bring an unusual depth of experience and preparation to his new ministry. While studying for a degree in medicine at Osaka University, Yusuke concurrently completed four years of study at Kobe Theological Hall. After graduating from medical school, Yusuke was employed as a medical doctor, while also working to disciple college students as a staff worker with KGK, the Japanese equivalent of Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship.
After their wedding in 2017, Yusuke and Honami spent a year at the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary (RPTS) in Pittsburgh, where Yusuke received the MDiv degree in 2018. That preparation was followed by a year of Old Testament study at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, where he was awarded the ThM degree in May 2020. God also blessed Yusuke and his beloved wife Honami with the birth of their son, Yoshikazu, in March of this year.
Ordination and Installation
On the eighth of November, the Japan Presbytery met to examine Yusuke’s readiness for ordination to the office of teaching elder. After preaching a sermon on a specified text, Yusuke was examined in personal godliness and soundness in the faith/commitment to the Testimony of the RPCNA. He was unanimously sustained in all three exams.
The service of ordination and installation was held at 7:30 pm on November 8, in the worship hall of the Kasumigaoka RPC. Pastor Shigeru Takiura preached the ordination sermon from John 21:15-17, titled “Feed my Lambs.” Dr. Hirata was ordained to the gospel ministry through the laying on of hands by all the elders present from the presbytery, with the ordination prayer offered by Pastor Katsunori Endo. Elder Kozo Kato, ruling elder of Kasumigaoka RPC, gave the charge to the pastor, and Elder Enomoto (Keiyaku RPC) gave the charge to the congregation. The meeting was adjourned with the benediction pronounced by Pastor Hirata.
While the Hiratas are eager to begin serving the Kasumigaoka congregation as a family, they expect to spend most of the next three years in Belfast, North Ireland, where Yusuke is enrolled in a PhD program. He hopes he will be able to finish his PhD degree in Old Testament at Union Theological College in Belfast during that time.
The Kasumigaoka congregation would welcome your prayers for Pastor Hirata’s PhD studies and for the performance of pastoral duties to be carried on in Yusuke’s absence. While Pastor Hirata still wants to bear some of the pastoral responsibilities from overseas using online tools, Pastor Shigeru Takiura (who will continue to serve as an interim moderator of the session) and Pastor Sumito Sakai (who will provide pastoral support for the congregation while Yusuke and his family are abroad) will be assisting his pastorate. Please pray for the Hirata family in their relocation to Belfast later this month (November), and for the Lord’s grace to sustain the Kasumigaoka congregation during the next few years.
We thank Pastors Yusuke Hirata and Charles Leach for their combined efforts in writing this report for our readers.