The Association of Christian Schools in Japan has elected an Anglican priest, the Rev. Renta Nishihara, as its new chairman. Nishihara is the first Anglican elected to lead the 108-year-old organization in 63 years.

He is pastor of St. Barnabas Church in Okaya and an ecumenist, serving on the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches and on a number of official Anglican Communion bodies. The association serves 105 colleges and universities throughout the country.

In addition to his parish work, Nishihara is a professor at Rikkyo University in Tokyo and vice chancellor and dean of its Graduate School of Christian Studies. He is a member of the International Reformed-Anglican Dialogue and served on the Anglican-Lutheran International Commission.

After studying metallurgical engineering at Kyoto University, he moved to Central Theological College and then Rikkyo University to study theology. He earned his doctorate at Kwansei Gakuin University. He was ordained in 1995 to serve the Mid-Japan Diocese of the Nippon Sei Ko Kai–Anglican-Episcopal Church in Japan.

“The mission of Christian schools is to pursue the truth, cultivate empathy for others, and develop in-depth connections with people of different cultures,” Nishihara said in a speech after his election. “Our aim is to raise students who can contribute to this world and society with utmost and diligent care in order to send them out into the world.

“However, we do not try to struggle with this endeavor as individual school units. Rather, the Christian schools shall learn from one another, support one another and pray for one another. I would like to exert myself so as to make this association such a venue and to pave the way for new possibilities.”

Adapted from ACNS