LWF tribute to Japanese theologian Dr Yoshiro Ishida

Rev. Dr Yoshiro Ishida, 1928-2015. Photo: LWF/Marc von Appelghem
Rev. Dr Yoshiro Ishida, 1928-2015. Photo: LWF/Marc von Appelghem

A leader who left his mark on Lutheran mission

(LWI) - The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) has paid tribute to Rev. Dr Yoshiro Ishida, former director of the LWF Department for Studies, who died on 4 November at the age of 87.

“Twice, Dr Ishida served our worldwide communion with great dedication and distinction, the second time at a critical moment in our history,” said LWF General Secretary Rev. Dr Martin Junge. “He has left an indelible mark on the church in Asia and on Lutheran theology.”

Born into a strict Buddhist family on the island of Miyako off Okinawa, Ishida became a Christian and was ordained by the Japan Evangelical Lutheran Church in 1955. After serving several congregations in Japan, he began his first stint at LWF as Asia secretary in 1964, serving four years.

He served the then Department of Studies at an important time for the LWF (1978-1986). It was in 1977 that the LWF declared a status confessionis (position on the church’s stand on the integrity of the gospel) that the South African apartheid system must be rejected as a matter of faith.

“His leadership was instrumental in this important process for our communion,” Junge said. Other major areas of LWF study under Ishida’s leadership included Christian-Marxist relationships, Lutherans and people of other faiths, Christianity and human rights, and the cultural context of worship.

Before joining the LWF, Dr Ishida served several congregations in Japan. After his first Geneva service, he pursued doctoral studies at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago (LSTC), then taught at the Japan Lutheran Theological College/Seminary.

When he left Geneva for the second time, Ishida returned to Chicago, where he established LSTC’s Center for Global Mission. In 2000 he received the school’s Distinguished Alumni Award. In granting the distinction, LSTC stated: “If there is one word that can describe Dr Yoshiro Ishida’s life, it is ‘Mission’.”

After returning home in 1994, he became president of Kyushu Lutheran College in Japan.

Dr Ishida is survived by his wife of 58 years, Gloria Bauer Ishida, five children and nine grandchildren.


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