日本基督教団 The United Church of Christ in Japan

Founder of Fukuoka Jogakuin - Jennie Margaret Gheer (1846-1910)


by Matsuda Hiroyuki, archivist
Fukuoka Jogakuin
Fukuoka Jogakuin's history has its origins in the missionary work of the American Episcopal Methodist Church in Japan. The school was founded in 1885, seven years after the signs banning Christianity were removed in 1873.
In 1873 the American Episcopal Methodist Church sent John Davidson to Nagasaki, with other missionaries being sent to Yokohama, Tokyo, and Hakodate, where they built churches and founded schools based on Christianity. Especially because there was very little education for women in Japan, they founded schools for girls through which to conduct Christian evangelistic work and thus were at the forefront of women's education.
In 1884 the first church was established in Fukuoka. This was the Fukuoka Miimi Church. (The Chinese characters read "miimi" where those used in Chinese to mean the American Episcopal Methodist Church.) Gradually there were calls for the establishment of a girls' school and as these became stronger, the request was communicated to Nagasaki, which at that time was the base of the American Episcopal Church in Kyushu. As a result, on April 23, 1885, Jennie Margaret Gheer, who at that time was teaching at Kwassui Girls' School in Nagasaki, came to Fukuoka for a six-day visit, accompanied by Oshima Saki, a Kwassui seminary student. Gheer then came back to Fukuoka on May 28 with Davidson and Oshima and on June 15, Fukuoka Eiwa Girls' School, a Christian school for girls, was opened in borrowed space: the temporary hall of Fukuoka Miimi Church.
Jennie Margaret Gheer was born on Nov. 13, 1846 in Bellwood, in Blair County, Pennsylvania. She attended Pennsylvania State Teachers' College, and after graduating, taught in public schools in the Anties, Tyrone, and Altoona districts.
Around that time, she heard about the overseas evangelistic work of the American Episcopal Methodist Church's Women's Foreign Mission Society (WFMS), felt called, and offered herself to serve. The WFMS recognized her calling and accepted her to be sent out by its New York branch. She was appointed to work cooperatively with missionary Elizabeth Russell, who was being sent by the Cincinnati branch, and sailed for Japan, arriving in Nagasaki on Nov. 13, 1879. Gheer was 33 years old.
In Nagasaki, she assisted Russell in the founding of Kwassui Girls' School and was then involved in directing the Theology Department. As she was also an accomplished musician, she helped set up the Music Department as well, giving distinguished service in Kwassui's early days. She also widened her activities to the local area, setting up a Sunday School and striving diligently to direct women's work. She is also known for her pioneering efforts in music in the region.
On June 15, 1885, Gheer became Fukuoka Eiwa Girls' School's first principal. She also was heavily involved in activities outside her own school, earnestly guiding students who came from Fukuoka Teachers' College to study the Bible and English and going out to teach English classes when so requested.
In particular, the effort she poured into raising up women evangelists was introduced in the March 1885 issue of the Heathen Women's Friend, in an article entitled "A letter from Jean Gheer, the first women's evangelist in Nagasaki." In her free time, she learned Japanese tea ceremony and tried hard to get to know the local townspeople, coming to be trusted as a school principal who devoted herself with integrity to education and evangelism both inside and outside the school.
However in June 1887, after just two years of service as the school principal, ill health forced Gheer to resign and go back to the United States. She was later able to return to Japan and undertake extremely valuable work in evangelism, repeatedly travelling around on evangelistic tours and preaching the gospel enthusiastically. She often came to Fukuoka and was of great service to our school, which at that time was still called Eiwa Girls' School. In 1891, she undertook the direction of classes for the development of women's evangelism at Kwassui Girls' School. However, her health again deteriorated, and in June 1894, she returned to the U.S. for a period of recuperation. Back in Japan from 1896 to 1907, she had overall responsibility for training women evangelists in Kyushu.
While on the voyage back to Japan after a period of furlough in the U.S. from July 1907 to May 1909, Gheer was among the many passengers became ill with food poisoning. Because she went straight back to her evangelistic work in Kagoshima, without taking time for proper recuperation, in February 1910 she ended up being hospitalized at St. Bernard's Hospital in Nagasaki.
On May 17, she again left Japan for the U.S. and arrived at her sister Anna's home in Bellwood on June 13. In spite of the tender care she received, she died just a week later on June 20, 1910. She was 63 years old. She was buried beside her parents in Logan Valley in Bellwood. Although in Japan she was mainly known as Jennie (or Jenny), the name on her gravestone is Jean.
The Bible that Gheer used during her 30 years of preaching the gospel in Japan was later given to Fukuoka Jogakuin by a former minister and his wife from Gheer's home church in Bellwood, and a ceremony was held on May 29, 1985 to mark the receipt of this gift, at the time of our 100th anniversary celebration.
In July 1984, Gheer's outstanding achievements were introduced at the Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church's Altoona District in Pennsylvania. It was reported that as she neared death, she spoke the following words to the minister of her church: "It doesn't matter if my name is forgotten. Let everything be to the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ." (Tr. SN)
福岡女学院創立者ジェニー・M・ギール(Jennie Margaret Gheer 1846-1910)
 福岡女学院の歴史は、米国メソジスト監督教会の日本宣教にその源を発する。学院の創立は、「切支丹禁制」の高札が撤去された1873(明治6)年から、7 年を経た1885年のことである。
 福岡女学院の創立者ジェニー・M・ギール(Jennie Margaret Gheer)は、1846年11月13日、米国ペンシルバニア州プレア郡ベルウッドで生まれた。ペンシルバニア州立師範学校で学び、卒業後アンティス、タイロン、アルトーナ地区の公立学校で教鞭をとった。その頃、米国メソジスト監督教会婦人外国伝道会の海外伝道の話を聞き、召命を受け、その道に献身したい旨を同会に申し出た。同会はその志を受入れ、ニューヨーク支部の派遣員とした。そして、シンシナチ支部派遣のラッセル宣教師の協力者として、1879年 11月13日、ゲイリック号で来日し長崎に着いた。その時、ギールは33歳であった。
 1885年6月15日、英和女学校の初代校長となったギールは、学外の活動にも骨身をおしまず活動し、福岡師範学校の生徒たちで、聖書を学び英語の勉強にやって来るものたちを熱心に指導し、また頼まれれば英語の教授にも出かけた。特に婦人伝道師の養成に力を注いだ。そのことは、1885年『Heathen Woman'sFriend(異教徒の婦人の友)』3月号に掲載された「長崎で初の婦人伝道師ジー
 1896年、再度来日し1907年まで、九州婦人伝道者養成の責任者として活動した。1907年7月、休暇を得て帰国した。1909年5月、モンゴリア号で再び日本へ向かう途中、ギール他多くの乗客が食中毒で倒れた。充分な回復を待つひまもなく鹿児島で伝道の仕事に就いたが、1910年2月、長崎の聖ベルナール病院に入院した。同年5月17日、ミネソタ号で日本を離れ、6月13日故郷ベルウッドの妹アンナの家に着いたが、手厚い看護にもかかわらず、わすか1週間後の6月20日午後3時、63歳で永眠した。ベルウッドのローガンヴァレーにある両親の墓地の側に葬られた。なお、ギールは日本では、ジェニー(Jennie 又はJenny)という名前を用いたが、墓碑にはジーン(Jean)と記されている。
 「わたくしの名前は覚えられなくてよい。すべては私たちの主イエス・キリストの栄光のために覚えられるべきである。」福岡女学院 資料室 松田 裕之

Kyodan News
〒169-0051 東京都新宿区西早稲田2-3-18-31
Copyright (c) 2007-2024
The United Church of Christ in Japan