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Field Reports of Toronto 2015: the Pentecostal Church Group

[Photo 1]Members of the Congregation of the Pentecostal Church

To the West―beyond the ocean, we aimed westward leaving our homeland, with a belief that over there will be the land of God. We sought a place for prayer and life, without any doubt it would be a new trial but also a certain happiness, for we were following our brothers.
―What would we do, if someone in whom we totally trusted told us such a thing? What is it like to be an immigrant, to leave our homeland and emigrate to a new continent?

Inspired by the Pentecostal Church, created by immigrants in Toronto, from the Republic of Ghana, we posed this question to ourselves. Gospel hymns sung with empathy, electronic sounds of an electronic organ and a guitar, a tambourine and cheerful steps, the story in Genesis about Joseph who invited his brothers to Egypt. In the clear air of a Sunday’s morning, we felt part of a legend in the Old Testament, from the days of thousands of years ago, joining together the memory of the prophecy which told the Israelites to go west with the history of the Ghanaian diaspora over the Atlantic Ocean.
Some of the visitors were there to pray, while others were there just to be there. We saw a man of large build sobbing with his shoulders shaking, while there was a teenager using his phone in the seat at the rear. It seemed that people sharing their roots in Ghana visit the Church for diverse reasons. What is important is to come and be there.

One needs to find, create and manage the place one can call “home”, and invite someone who is similarly at a loss. But why? Why do we need home? Is the “home” we have in Japan “home” in its truest meaning? The place from which to say “I’m off ” and the place we have marked “I’m home” is so easily destroyed in this severe society. Perhaps, both notions of “multiculturalism” and “coexistence” serve to protect the concept of “home”.

At the workshop, we posed such a question. In the Pentecostal Church there was the “home” atmosphere created by the visitors. We also learned that in the redevelopment sites in a suburb of Toronto, that home-making was a critical goal. Then, what is “home”? We may be able to reach a deeper understanding of multiculturalism, if we can acquire the answer to this question.

[Photo2]Prayers at the Pentecostal Church

[Photo 3]Sermon at the Pentecostal Church

We focused on a Japanese word which shares the same atmosphere as “home”: “sumu(住む: to dwell)”. The problems of coexistence in Japan are closely related to “sumu”. Also in Canadian multiculturalism the concept of “home” is an important question: having a neighbor whose ideas are unacceptable, living with disease or disability, looking at only half of people’s lives and ignoring the other half which include the sensitive parts of their past. The word “sumu” can be translated as “to live” in English, however, on the other hand, when we translate the word “to live” into Japanese, we have two ways: “sumu(住む): to dwell” and “ikiru(生きる): to be alive”. However, “to dwell” is not a precise equivalent for “sumu”. It was a difficult task to explain such nuances in the limited time available to us.

“Home” and “sumu”, are two verbs which are very similar to each other but are also different in a subtle way. Investigating them may allow us to understand and learn the essence of both notions of “multiculturalism” and “coexistence”. Our study in Toronto gave rise to this suggestion.


(July 9, 2015, Koba, Takahara, Nakada, Miyoshi)

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