The Journey of Mary Eddy Kidder, Pioneer in Women's Education in Modern Japan

by Tabei Yoshiro, principal
Ferris Jogakuin Junior and Senior High School
Ferris Jogakuin, Japan’s first school for women, was started by Mary
Eddy Kidder. Kidder was the first missionary woman to Japan, arriving
from the U.S. in September 1870.The school got its start when Kidder
began to teach in one of the infirmary rooms of the Presbyterian medical
missionary, Dr. James Hepburn. (The infirmary was located at Foreign
Settlement # 39 Yamashita-cho in Yokohama.) Kidder’s students were
pupils of Hepburn’s wife, some of whom were young women. Japan was in
the third year of the Meiji Era, and although modernization had begun,
Christianity was still prohibited. At a time when it was hardly
imaginable for a woman to be educated, Kidder offered women an education
based on Christian principles.

Kidder was born in Wardsboro, Vermont in 1834 and as a teenager dreamed
of going abroad as a missionary. She realized her dream at the age of
35. By the end of the Tokugawa Shogunate, Protestant missionaries were
coming to Japan in rapid succession, one of whom was the Reverend Dr.
S.R. Brown of the Dutch Reformed Church in America, later to become the
Reformed Church in America (RCA). In speeches in the U.S., Brown
emphasized the need to educate women in order to modernize Japan.
Recognizing her faith and strong call to foreign missions, Brown
encouraged his Foreign Board of Missions to accept Kidder, then teaching
in a private school, as an educational missionary to Japan.

Soon after Kidder began her classes, girls heard about them and began to
gather in the small room where she was teaching. Among those students,
girls eager to study had to struggle continually to persuade their
parents, who saw no need for them to study. As the number of students
increased, Kidder was able to find an ally in the vice-governor of
Kanagawa Prefecture, Ooe Taku. He gave her permission to move her
classes to the prefectural residence. Meanwhile, with financial aid
coming from the U.S. church, school buildings and a dormitory were built
on the present school location at 178 Yamanote (in Yokohama). On June 1,
1875, an impressive dedication of the new school building was held, and
the following year the formal name of the school became Isaac Ferris
Seminary.

The school name “Ferris” is in recognition of Isaac Ferris and his son
John. Both father and son served as head of the RCA’s foreign missions’
program, and under their leadership many Japanese exchange students and
delegations were received in the U.S., while at the same time many
missionaries, including Kidder, were sent abroad. Since that time,
Ferris Jogakuin has been supported by the women’s board of RCA’s Global
Missions.

The educational ideals of the school, based on the Christian faith, were
to develop responsible family members, train persons to be the educators
of the future, and insure the acquisition of the knowledge and culture
required to meet these ideals. Since then, many who became leaders in
the development of women’s education in Japan have been nurtured at
Ferris. In particular, many of the women presently involved in higher
education for women at the university level have a Ferris background. In
fulfillment of the educational ideals that Kidder pioneered, graduates
of Ferris Jogakuin have continued to be on the front line of women’s
education in Japan.

In 1873 Kidder married Presbyterian missionary Rothesay Miller. Fully
understanding the importance of his wife’s work, Miller became a
missionary of the RCA following the marriage. Soon the reputation of
Ferris Jogakuin spread, and young women from across Japan were coming to
the school. Some came from as far away as Nagasaki, wanting an education
to prepare them to be pastors’ wives. Others came at the encouragement
of progressive parents or guardians.

In 1881 Kidder, whose devoted efforts gave birth to Ferris Jogakuin and
built its early foundation, turned over the administration of the school
to its second principal, Eugene S. Booth. Leaving her role as educator,
she then served in the field of evangelism with her husband. Their
service from 1888 to 1902 in the cold of Morioka in Iwate Prefecture is
well-known. While she and her husband were involved in evangelism across
Japan, Kidder was also publishing articles for children and families in
a small monthly magazine called Yorokobi no Otozure (visit of joy). In
particular, she worked to enhance the position of women and children in
Japanese society.

Kidder’s 41-year journey in Japan was not just as the founder of Ferris
Jogakuin. It was the rich journey of a woman missionary lived to its
fullest. This year the city of Yokohama celebrated the 150th anniversary
of the opening of its port. It is also the 150th anniversary of
Protestant evangelism in Japan. Next year, Ferris Jogakuin will
celebrate the 140th anniversary of its founding, which will also be the
140th anniversary of women’s education in Japan. We at Ferris Jogakuin
take pride in remembering that the foundation for women’s education in
Japan today is due to the strong faith of a young Christian missionary
woman and her strong commitment to women’s education. (Tr. JS)

EMS Mission Council Meeting Held in Ghana

EMS Mission Council Meeting Held in Ghana
Report on Missionary Council of the Association of Churches and Missions
in South Western Germany (EMS) “Department of Mission and Ecumenism, and
Developing Nations Church Assistance” of the Wu”rttemberg Church

The International Mission Council of the Association of Churches and
Missions based in Southwestern Germany (Evangelisches Missionswerk in
Su”dwestdeutschland: EMS) held its Annual Meeting in Abokobi near Accra
in Ghana, June 15-21. At the meeting, 36 EMS representatives from 23
churches and 5 mission societies in ten countries in Europe, Asia, and
Africa, along with the EMS administrative officers, debated and
determined future mission activities. This meeting is held annually, and
every sixth year it is held outside of Germany. Twelve years ago, it was
held in Indonesia and six years ago in India. This is the first time for
it to be held in Africa. The council was hosted by the Presbyterian
Church of Ghana, an EMS partner church that worked hard to put this
conference together. Among countries in Africa, Ghana is politically
stable with good peace and order.

This meeting focused on future mission policy for at least the next
three years (2009-2012), along with the financing to make that possible.
Regarding the content of missions, EMS administrative officials prepared
detailed materials with evaluations of past activities and
future-focused proposals. With respect to finances, EMS is dependent to
a large degree upon the German state church and is facing a major
problem because of the sharp decline in church tax income predicted for
the German churches. To be specific, by 2012 the Association must
decrease its budget by 150 million yen (one million Euros). EMS’s annual
budget is about one billion yen, and so this financial problem was an
important topic of this Annual Meeting.

Regarding the content of the mission activities, most are administered
by the EMS officers, but the basic framework for the “three-year plan”
was proposed by the Indonesian church. Activities have been diverse up
to now and spring from the rich fellowship of the churches and mission
societies that form EMS. Europe (primarily Germany) and fellowship
(partnership) with Asia and Africa is occurring at the local level. For
example, local exchanges between Germany and South Korea and between
Germany and Indonesia have been ongoing for about 20 years in some
places. Unfortunately, there is not even one Kyodan local church in
regular partnership with a German church. The Kyodan churches and laity
have learned from German theology, but it must be said that actual
exchange has been rare.

EMS has maintained 85 projects in the past. In the headquarters in
Stuttgart, there is an “Asia Desk” that maintains relationships with
churches in India, Korea, China, and Japan and jointly bears with them
responsibilities and shares issues. The liaison secretary for Japan is
Lutz Drescher, assisted by secretary Gisela Koellner. Mira Sonntag has been
sent from EMS to Japan and serves as the director of Tomisaka Christian
Center in Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo.

Previous activities, such as dealing with gender issues and measures for
prevention of HIV & AIDS, have been well regarded and will be continued
for the next three years. Also, volunteer activities that representative
youth from Japan also participated in were seen to produce good results
in starting new fellowships and networking among youth. Furthermore,
related to the financial problem and EMS’s particular relationship to
the Kyodan, EMS has changed the budget for support funds as follows:
450,000 yen to be given for the work of “prison chaplains” in 2010-11,
similarly 900,000 yen for the Buraku Liberation Center, and likewise,
900,000 yen for the Japanese-Filipino Family Support Center located at
the Japan Christian Center.

At this Annual Meeting of the Mission Council, there were lively
deliberations and decisions regarding the EMS Focus. “Giving Account of
our Hope” was chosen as the slogan for 2009-12, and eagerness can be
felt for witnessing to the hope in Christ in an age of hopelessness.

As for my own reflections on participating in this Mission Council, I
felt that since EMS has high expectations for and solidarity with the
Kyodan, the Kyodan has a responsibility to respond. Reductions in
personnel funds limit the Asia coordinator to visiting Japan only once
every other year, but through other exchanges, I hope that we can
further deepen our relationship. (Tr. PST)

–Minami Kichie, Kyodan Overseas Minister

Taiwanese Churches Promote the Gospel in Japan

Taiwanese Churches Promote the Gospel in Japan
Takadanobaba Taiwanese Church

The Taiwanese church in Takadanobaba, Tokyo, was established through the
pioneering work and hardships of God’s faithful servant, Pastor Sho
Shuji. On April 2, 2008, the church celebrated its 30th anniversary with
joy and thanksgiving, giving praise to God. I myself took over as Sho
Shuji’s successor on October 6, 1991, and looking back now, I rejoice at
the way the elders and the whole congregation have single-mindedly
devoted themselves to spreading the gospel. In 1994, our church was
accepted into the Kyodan, and so, as well as starting to establish links
with other Taiwanese churches, it is natural that we are also able to
make good connections with Japanese churches.

In our international circumstances of living in Japan, and with a
responsibility for the spiritual well-being of our fellow Taiwanese, we
at Takadanobaba Taiwanese Church conduct all our gatherings in
Taiwanese. This is because for those of us residing or studying here, as
well as for visiting relatives and tourists who also come, it is
especially moving to praise, pray, hear God’s word, and have fellowship
through our Lord in our mother tongue, more so than when everything is
conducted in Japanese. We take this privilege very seriously, and see it
as a significant part of the existence of Taiwanese churches in Japan.

Here are some ways we are currently promoting the Gospel.
* Before the weekly Sunday service, in order to improve our hymm
singing, we spend ten minutes practicing hymns. Then after the worship
service, everyone reads a scriptural text aloud together.
* Twice a month, everyone who has attended worship stays for a Bible
study meeting and prayer meeting, in which we learn about sound faith
and seek power from our Lord in order to live strong Christian lives.
* The women’s circle has its regular meeting once a month, including
Bible study and prayer as well as times of testimony and activities,
such as lectures about health. These provide a varied program to which
non-Christians can also be invited.
* At Christmas and Easter, the whole congregation, led by the choir,
joins in services of praise.
* Four Taiwanese churches have joined together to form the “Sing-ni-hoe”
(fellowship) for elderly believers. This group holds regular meetings
four times a year, and also has lectures about health, classes on the
arts and culture, and other activities, such as cooking, trips, and
walks. These all contribute to the promotion of balance in faith and in
daily life, and help to attract non-Christians to church.

Our congregation is small, but we ask for the encouragement and prayers
of all our brothers and sisters in Christ in all the churches, and we
commit ourselves with you to untiring efforts for the spread of the gospel.

Chiba Taiwanese Church

The first service of worship of what has now become Chiba Taiwanese
Church was held in the home of a believer in Sakura in March 1992. In
those days, the group made repeated requests to various pastors of
Taiwanese churches in Tokyo to come and preach. Two years later, in
November 1994, after a private house in Nobuto in the Central District
of Chiba City was purchased and remodelled as a place of worship, the
group moved its meeting place from Sakura to Chiba. This was registered
as the Chiba Taiwanese Preaching Point (church) of the Kyodan, and the
dedication ceremony took place in March 1993. As no minister was
assigned to the preaching point at this stage, retired ministers from
Taiwan who were able to speak Japanese and who could come for short
terms of service were invited.

In January 2002, as the preaching point was celebrating the 10th
anniversary of its founding, Cho Sei Ko, a retired pastor of Ikebukuro
Taiwanese Church in Tokyo, was welcomed as minister. At that time, the
meeting place in Nobuto was hard to find and had no parking space, so
the members were constantly praying for a new place of worship. Very
soon after this, they learned of the present location in the Central
District of Chiba City, which is on a main road, with good access from
the station, and already has parking space for eight cars in the
building at street level. It seemed like the ideal place for a church.
The fact that, at the same time, a buyer appeared for the former meeting
place, spurred us to purchase the new church premises.

In order to provide the funds for the new church, in May 2002 many
people were contacted with requests for donations. In this way, with the
proceeds from the sale of the former premises and everyone’s donations,
it was possible to purchase the new church building. The name of the
building was changed from “City Building” to “Chiba Christian Center,”
and the following month the first worship service took place on the 7th
floor. With the cooperation of the Kyodan, Pastor Chang So En was
invited to come from Taiwan in July 2007, and his installation took
place in September that year.

In April 2009, all the members of the Chiba Taiwanese Preaching Point
gave thanks as its status changed to that of a small-sized church of the
Kyodan, and its name changed to Chiba Taiwanese Church. We currently
meet for worship at 11 a.m. every Sunday, with Bible study and Sunday
School from 1 p.m. Such groups as the choir and the Women’s Circle are
also active. It is cause for thanksgiving that more than 20 people
regularly attend worship.The members of the congregation are mostly
people from Taiwan who are residents in Japan for reasons of work or
study, who are naturalized Japanese citizens or permanent residents
here, or who have come to live in Japan because of international
marriages. As a Taiwanese church situated in Japan, every three months
the minister of the local Japanese church is invited to come and preach,
and worship takes place in Japanese. There is also a lecture on culture
once a year, events to introduce Taiwanese culture, and various
activities through which the church seeks to promote exchange with local
residents. (Tr. SN)

–Ishihara Chokai, pastor of Takadanobaba Taiwanese
Church, North Subdistrict, Tokyo District
KNL editorial committee member

Reflections on the Kyodan

Reflections on the Kyodan
by Sasaki Michio, vice-moderator
Kyodan General Assembly
I have been serving as the Kyodan vice-moderator since being elected to
the post at the 36th Kyodan General Assembly in the fall of 2008. There
is so much for me to learn as I participate in the various committee
meetings, such as the Kyodan Executive Council, and in ecumenical
relations with our partner churches overseas, and as I strive to
understand the structural workings of the Kyodan. As one of the top
executives of the Kyodan, I am aware of the heavy responsibilities that
are before me. Daily I pray for the more than 1,700 Kyodan churches and
house churches around the country, for their daily witness and ministries.

This year marks 150 years of Protestant mission in Japan, and there are
many commemorative ceremonies and evangelistic programs being held in
the various Protestant denominations as well as ecumenically. It is
important to remember with gratitude the commitment of missionaries in
the past, who worked tirelessly to spread the gospel of Christ and to
serve the people across Japan. The missionaries walked every corner of
Japan, carrying the message of Christ with them. Along the paths that
they tread grew churches, schools, and social welfare organizations that
still stand to this day. We, as the Kyodan, need to receive these
blessings of the past and to continue to serve with joy and
thanksgiving. At this time, Kyodan churches around the country are faced
with the issue of evangelism. As you may already know, many of our
congregations are aging, and the number of young people in our churches
is decreasing.

We might say that these trends are indicative of Japanese society as a
whole, but they are especially noticeable in the Kyodan. If the
generation that has supported the church in so many ways throughout the
years is aging, and the next generation is not able to follow in turn to
carry on the church, then we can assume that the witness of the
churches, the ministries of service to society, and the financial
feasibility of the church itself will be put in question in the years to
come. In particular, for the churches that witness in areas with a
declining population and that carry the gospel to a wide variety of
communities in the rural countryside, there is a real question of the
church’s survival. At the various district annual meetings this spring,
as delegates discussed district activities and budgets, people did
express their concerns on this matter.

The Kyodan’s Finance Committee produced a report last year entitled
“Data on the Kyodan over the Past 50 Years.” The report, with hard
figures that reveal the state of our churches, was circulated at
district annual meetings across the country. The committee also made
suggestions for the future of the church. There may be various opinions
regarding this report, but it is clear that our churches have been
experiencing the hard realities that this report confirms. The report
brings to the fore major issues that we must face. We must find the
strength and resolve to overcome these obstacles as we join in evangelism.

I have been pastoring a relatively small church for the past 30 years. I
have been very aware and grateful for the ways in which the missionaries
have, over the past 100 years, nurtured and given form to each of our
churches in the area. In certain instances, I have trembled anew at the
words of the risen Christ to “go therefore to the ends of the earth to
make disciples of all nations.” These are places that missionaries and
our predecessors in the faith came to over 100 years ago under
conditions much more difficult than our own. In these places they tried
to evangelize. These are the places in which God called them to build a
church. All over Japan there are such places where our churches now
stand. Many of our churches are still small, and yet it is in these
places that the gospel is preached, and the churches are able to make
their witness. These churches represent the hard work and the prayers of
so many people throughout the years who fought to protect and support
the church.

These, our churches, are now facing a major crisis. In order to hope for
a future in Christ, we need to pray and continue our efforts in
evangelism. We are called to pray together and to evangelize together as
one body. As members of the apostolic church who are called to hold firm
to “what we have heard from the beginning,” we must be resolved to stand
firmly in the faith. We can only proceed by finding common ground in our
understanding of ordained ministry. The Kyodan can only support each
individual church if we are able to find unity in faith and trust
between our churches.

As vice-moderator, I am humbled by the major issues that stand before
us. But I am also aware that the power to overcome these obstacles comes
from the Spirit, and from the Word, which is the foundation of our church.

I am very grateful both for the witness of our partners across the seas
as well as for all of you who continue to pray for the Kyodan. (Tr. JM)

Commemorating 150 Years of Protestant Evangelism in Japan

Commemorating 150 Years of Protestant Evangelism in Japan
The worship service commemorating the day of the Kyodan’s founding, held
on June 24 at Fujimicho Church in Tokyo, also celebrated 150 years of
Protestant evangelism in Japan. This was the Kyodan’s 68th commemorative
worship service, which 320 persons from 133 churches attended, giving
thanks for the planting of the seeds of Protestant evangelism and for
the mercy of God, the guiding force of history. The sermon, entitled
“Make Disciples of All Nations,” was delivered by Yamakita Nobuhisa,
moderator of the Kyodan’s General Assembly. Joining in the Confession of
Faith and taking part in the communion service was truly meaningful. A
ceremony for presentation of awards followed the worship. This was
carried out to express gratitude for the work of pastors who have
continued active ministry in church evangelism for over 50 years. There
are 61 such pastors. To these ministers Moderator Yamakita presented
handwritten letters of appreciation and Bibles, in commemoration. The
longest time of continued ministry was 66 years.

Those who entered Japan as Protestant missionaries in 1859, when the
ports of Yokohama, Hakodate, and Nagasaki were simultaneously opened,
were John Liggins, C.M.Williams, G. Verbeck, J. C. Hepburn, Samuel R.
Brown, and D. R. Simmons. This was during the final years of the Edo
(Tokyo) Shogunate government, a time of upheaval in Japan. The
missionaries came to Japan to bring the Gospel, but public notices
outlawing Christianity were posted throughout the nation. Consequently,
the missionaries applied their energy to Bible translation and to
editing and publishing Japanese-English dictionaries. The public notices
forbidding Christianity were removed in 1873. This enabled the
missionaries to begin full-scale evangelism. As Japan opened its ports,
the number of young people wanting to engage in Western studies steadily
increased. Reportedly, nine of the young people who gathered around J.
H. Ballagh in 1872 were baptized, thus laying the foundation for the
first Protestant church in Japan. The missionaries, while proclaiming
Christianity, also enthusiastically taught Western studies, social work,
education, and medical treatment. They advanced these retarded areas of
Japanese culture and built the foundation for a new Japan.

The theme of this year’s events is the Protestant evangelism that began
150 years ago in 1859; but on April 30, 1846, (13 years earlier),
Bernard John Bettelheim, sent from England as a missionary by the
Anglican Church, arrived in Okinawa. Bettelheim landed with his family
in the Ryukyus (now Okinawa) and for eight years, in spite of
persecution, diligently devoted himself to evangelism, medical care, and
translation of the Bible into the Ryukyu language. He is believed to
have left Okinawa, gaining passage on a ship in Perry’s fleet, which was
pressing Japan to open its ports. So it might be said that Bettelheim is
the one who first engaged in Protestant evangelism in Japan. Thus, when
we commemorate 150 years of evangelization in Japan, dating it from
1859, we must remember Bettelheim’s lasting pioneer labor. Also to be
noted, as we celebrate these 150 years, is their relationship to earlier
celebrations commemorating 50 years and 100 years of evangelism,
counting from the same year. However, the earliest introduction of
Christianity into Japan goes even farther back to 1549, when Francisco
Xavier came to Japan as a missionary of the Roman Catholic Church. Thus,
Christianity has been propagated in Japan for 460 years.

As the year 2009 approached, several of the Protestant churches in Japan
decided to sponsor jointly a mass meeting commemorating 150 years of
Protestant mission in Japan. One event planned early was the
commemoration dinner held on July 7, when 915 persons gathered and
rejoiced while eating together. Representatives from the U.S. Episcopal
Church, the Presbyterian Church USA, and the Reformed Church in America
presented greetings. The archbishop of the Roman Catholic Church in
Tokyo also brought greetings.

A commemorative assembly was held on the following days, July 8 and 9,
at the Pacifico Yokohama National Hall. Under the theme “One in Christ
(as the Lord’s witnesses),” the various Japanese Protestant
denominations came together as one to give thanks and celebrate the past
150 years. The attendance at the opening worship service on July 8 was
4,500; at the memorial ceremony on July 9: 3,700; and at the “sending
out for witness” worship service: 4,000.

This fall, the Kyodan will hold a lay persons’ mass meeting on Nov. 22
and on Nov. 23, a ceremony commemorating these 150 years of evangelism.
We offer heartfelt thanks to God who has guided our history leading to
these 150-year commemorative celebrations. (Tr. RB)

–Suzuki Nobuharu, secretary
Kyodan General Assembly

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