(Note: This letter is posted here at the request of the Kobe Mission Home.)
March 26, 2001
Dear Parents of Kobe Missionaries,
We want you to know how much we love your sons and daughters. They are a delight to work with and a pleasure to know. We feel so blessed to have the privilege of associating with them.
By now you have probably seen in the Church News or heard from some other source of the changes that will take place in missions in Japan this year. To me, this is an opportunity for additional growth that the First Presidency has given the members and missionaries in the Kansai area. On July 1, when President and Sister Evans of the Nagoya Mission and Sister Robertson and I return, the Kobe and Nagoya missions will be combined into a single mission. Some of the background on this change includes a decline in the number of missionaries available from the United States and increasing needs for missionaries in other places in the world. Overall, the Asia North Area will be reducing the number of missionaries in Japan. Other areas throughout the world will also have less missionaries.
In order for mission presidents in Japan to effectively work with the number of stakes and districts within their missions, some realignments will be necessary. The westernmost part of the Kobe mission (Kobe Stake and Fukuchiyama District) will move to the Hiroshima Mission. The northeastern section of the Nagoya Mission (Kanazawa Stake) will move to the Tokyo North Mission. The Northeastern section of the Tokyo North Mission (Niigata District) will move to the Sendai Mission. With these changes, the current Kobe Mission Home will no longer by within the boundaries of the combined mission. Therefore, the Mission Offices and President's residence will shift to the current Nagoya Mission Home. The mission name is always the name of the city where the mission home is located, so the combined mission will be called the Japan Nagoya Mission.
With this change, no missionaries will move immediately to new locations. The final transfers for the current Kobe and Nagoya Missions will occur the last week of June and will result in the normal moves within these missions. On July 1, those missionaries serving in the wards and branches of the Kobe Stake or the Fukuchiyama District will then report to the current Hiroshima Mission President, President Cherrington. The remainder of the missionaries in the current Kobe Mission will report to the new mission President in Nagoya, President Whitesides. During the course of the next months, transfers within the Hiroshima Mission will likely result in former Kobe missionaries serving in other locations within the Hiroshima Mission. Similarly, missionaries in the combined Nagoya Mission will be transferred to areas throughout that mission.
I am personally convinced that this is the next appropriate step in the growth of the Church in Japan. Elder Hallstrom, Second Counselor in the Asia North Area Presidency, recently advised stake and district leaders from the Kobe Mission area that a decline in missionaries from the United States would increase the need for members to become the primary finders of investigators for missionaries to teach. As I have discussed the coming changes with President Evans, we have realized that the members in our two missions are well on their way to understanding the need for members to be finders and are prepared for this next step. This will be a great blessing to the members and I believe it will speed the growth of the Church here as more people learn about the Church from friends and neighbors. It will also strengthen the retention of these new converts, as they will already have friends who are members.
I hope you will join with Sister Robertson and me in rejoicing in the vote of confidence the Lord has given our two missions. For those who have sons or daughters who will be here after July 1 to experience this new mission and the increased member finding, I know that you will realize that this is an exciting time to be in Japan.
Thank you for all you do to support your missionaries in the work of the Lord. May he continue to bless you and your families.
President David F. Robertson