It is with a heavy heart that I bring you the news about the untimely passing of my friend and co-Pope Brother Koutoku.  I wish very much that we had beings like the Ohmu in Nausicaš to help bring him back to grace all of our lives again...but we don't, and so we have to face the loss.

The First Church of Hayao Miyazaki was conceived before an anime showing, when I was ranting to him about the obnoxious street preachers who ply their trade at the bus shelters on Rideau Street in Ottawa.  At one point, I came out with, "How would they like it if we got up in their faces and preached to them about anime?"  He took it, ran with it, wrote about it, created this website and wrote many screeds which have enlightened and amused many of the faithful.  In turn, this spurred me on to run with the irreverent spirit, cleaning up and maintaining the site, writing and editing/adding to his own writing (with his blessings).  While we still kept close, circumstances in our lives meant that we weren't able to maintain this website as well as we could have, which I now regret.

Highlights of the First Church's existence include not only the creation of this page and its writing, but having representatives wear sandwich (bristol)boards and hand out pamphlets at Anime North 2002, and our first (and only) First Church Mass, held at All-Night Anime earlier that year.  It was a heady mix of parody, performance art, frightening crossplaying and audience participation (you have not lived until you've experienced a large room full of people "singing" the ending theme of Excel Saga as a hymn), and a memorable experience for all involved--mostly for those of us who conducted it.  And none of us would have experienced anything like it if it wasn't for Brother Koutoku's drive.

It's hard for me to say whether I will continue to update the website with newly-discovered screeds when the spirit strikes (which I sadly have to admit isn't very often; everyday life can take energy away from one's faith), or just leave it as it is as a tribute to him.  Whichever choice I make, there are no plans to take it down; my Brother would be disgusted with me if I were to allow that to happen.  However, the FAQ has been given a long-overdue update, and, after far too long, a winner has been declared in the fanart contest (nobody submitted any banners).  Should the website possibly end up having to be moved, forwarding pages will put up in the current site location.  Because of the importance of his role in the creation of the First Church, Brother Koutoku will retain the title of Co-Pope even in the next world; I don't wish to disrespect the impact he made by taking on full Papalcy myself.  However, I will not discount the possibility of one of our High Priests becoming a Co-Pope themself--if they wish to.

For now, if you have gotten to know Brother Koutoku and/or the First Church of Hayao Miyazaki, please take some time to send some good thoughts and energy his way.  After that, take some more time with yourself and your loved ones and make the rest of your life worth living as much as you can, for one never knows when they'll no longer have the opportunities to do so.  And I believe that I speak on Brother Koutoku's behalf when I repeat that one should, among other, love, laugh, loaf and watch more anime.

Sister Kourin
Co-Pope, The First Church of Hayao Miyazaki
April 12, 2005