Catholics and Protestants in Japan have commemorated the 500th anniversary of the Reformation at Nagasaki’s Catholic Urakami Cathedral
. A joint service with the theme "Blessed are the peacemakers" was held on Nov. 23, hosted by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan and the Japan Evangelical Lutheran Church. About 1,300 Christians attended the ecumenical event. Archbishop Manyo Maeda of Osaka and Lutheran pastor Rev. Joji Oshiba led the service and more than 100 clerics from both churches took part. The cathedral is located in the Urakami district of Nagasaki, once a hidden Christian village where Japan’s last major persecution started 150 years ago in 1867. At that time all the villagers, about 3,400 Christians, were expelled to more than 20 locations throughout Japan until 1873. Six years later, villagers returned and built a small chapel, which was later replaced by the Immaculate Conception Church of Nagasaki, at the time, the largest church in Asia. On Aug. 9, 1945, the first church was completely destroyed by the atomic bomb. In the joint service, Rev. Tadahiro Tateyama, president of the Japan Evangelical Lutheran Church
, said, "It is an amazing grace that we can together commemorate this 500th anniversary of the Reformation here in Urakami." "Today, conflicts are continuing in the world," the Lutheran leader added, "but even though this worship service is small because both of us are small communities, we can show a strong hope for peace to the world."