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

Makiba's Challenge as a Home for Elderly Persons

Makiba (meaning “pasture”), which is operated by Chubu District in Nisshin City, Aichi Prefecture, is a Kyodan-related home for elderly persons that provides nursing care and is included in the category of facilities that charge fees. The institution was founded in 1997 to support the spiritual life of retired pastors and believers. Now, 13 years later, 52 persons ranging in age from 63 to 99 are living at Makiba, including five couples. The ratio of men to women is one to three. Twenty of the residents need nursing care, and all the rooms are full. A total of 50 staff persons, including part-time workers, assist the residents. They are 11 nurses and 12 caregivers at the core of the home, along with physical rehabilitation trainers, a care-support manager, life counselors, and additional staff. The number of Christians among the residents and staff is 50 percent.
The home has a close, cooperative relationship with Minamiyama Church, which is located in the same area, and a large number of persons from Makiba attend the worship service, Bible study, and prayer meeting there. Oshima Sumio, pastor of Minamiyama Church, also conducts a monthly worship service, with communion, and a weekly Bible gathering at Makiba. In addition, members of Minamiyama Church do various kinds of volunteer work there, and the head of the institution, Makiba Director Suzuki Takuya, is a believer at Minamiyama Church.
Makiba’s Journey Since Its Founding
Pastor Toda Isuke, who strongly promoted the building of a residence for retired pastors, gained the cooperation of Chubu District and established the home with the sanction of the Kyodan. However, the task of getting the operation of the home on track has not been a smooth one.
When the Public Nursing Care Insurance System was introduced in the year 2000, management of the home became easier, to some extent, but there were still many problems related to operation. Suzuki Takuya, who has outstanding business expertise, became the director in 2004 and took complete responsibility for operations. As a result of his continued efforts, full occupancy has been maintained for the last four years, and from the end of March 2010 the home has operated without borrowing funds.
The need for a nursing care facility developed because of the aging of the residents. For several years various plans had been devised but not realized. Then three years ago, through anonymous gifts that can only be thought of as God’s provision, an addition specifically designed as a nursing care facility was constructed. The chapel within the building enables residents who can no longer go to the nearby church to attend worship services for the rest of their lives.
Daily Life at Makiba
At Makiba, every morning begins with an employees’ worship service, including hymns, Bible reading, an exposition of a Bible passage by Director Suzuki, and prayer. This is followed by reports of the residents’ conditions, et cetera.
Miwata Yoshiko, currently a subleader of the care-workers team, made up her mind at age 50 to become qualified to serve as a helper, then entered Makiba as a part-time worker. For Miwata, who had been baptized 30 years earlier, serving at a Christian place of work had been an aspiration.”Is this a church? Oh, it’s an institution!” she recalls thinking, and she is grateful daily for the home’s work environment. Resident Yasui Teruo, who had seemed stubborn and demanding to her in the beginning, was baptized at the age of 91. Perhaps Miwata’s prayers reached him. Now, it is a routine for the two of them to join hands and pray each morning.
Kozaki Hiroo, a retired pastor, has some happy news. Machida Yoko, who serves as a care-support manager and a nurse, will be baptized soon. A participant in the employee worship each morning, she was later inspired by an experience she had while nursing a resident who, although facing death, repeatedly said “Thank you” and had complete assurance that she was going to go to be with Jesus. Seeing her, Machida was forced to consider the kind of death she was likely to experience. The institution has had six persons from among the residents and staff who have been baptized since its establishment.
“Respect for the Dignity of Each Person’s Character” as the Home’s Philosophy
An article entitled “Private Homes for Elderly Persons in the 24 Prefectures: Best Ranking of the 1,556 Institutions,” published in the weekly magazine Diamond’s May 20, 2009 special issue on Nursing Care, ranked Makiba as number one in Aichi Prefecture in the nursing care, private institution division. This shows that Makiba is the best home in Aichi Prefecture.
Presently, there are 40 persons who want to live at Makiba and are waiting for the opportunity. However, there is no plan to enlarge the facility to increase the number of residents. “We can care for each resident’s specific needs because there are just 50 persons. We want to send the message to society that we can provide this kind of care because we are a religious corporation and our institution’s philosophy is to ‘always have the same respect for the dignity of each person’s character.’” (Tr. RT)
–Nishio Misao, member
Suginami Church, West Tokyo District
KNL Editorial Committee
Based on an article in Shinto no Tomo (Believers’ Friend)
 教団の介護付き有料老人ホームとして、中部教区が運営するシルバーホーム「まきば」が愛知県日進市にある。1997年に隠退教師と信徒の信仰生活を支援する住まいとして設立された。13年の時を経て、現在「まきば」には63~99歳まで52名の入居者がおる。うち5組が夫婦、男女比は1:3、要介護は20 名、満室状態にある。看護職員11名、介護職員12名を中心に機能訓練指導員、ケアマネージャー、生活相談員ら、非常勤職員も含めると総勢約50名のスタッフが彼らの生活を支える。クリスチャン比率は入居者、職員ともに半々である。同じエリアにある南山教会とは深い協力関係があり、「まきば」から多くの人たちが礼拝や聖書研究会、祈祷会に出席している。一方「まきば」でも、南山教会の大島純男牧師を中心にして月一回の礼拝・聖餐式、毎週の聖書の集いも行われている。また南山教会には「まきば」で様々なボランティアをする教会員がおり、「まきば」の施設長の鈴木卓也さんも南山教会の信徒である。
 「まきば」は、隠退教師の老後の住まい作りを強力に推進していた戸田伊助牧師が中部教区からの協力を取り付け、教団が認可し、設立された。しかし、経営が軌道に乗るまでの道のりは平坦ではなかった。 2000年に介護保険が導入されてやや楽になったが、まだ経営上多くの問題があった。2004年に営業手腕に優れた鈴木卓也さんが施設長に着任、経営の責任を一切引き受け、努力を重ねた結果、ここ四年来満室状態をほぼ維持し、今年の三月末の決算では初めて無借金経営に転じた。
 現在、「まきば」への入居希望の待機者は40人もいるが、入居者を増やすために規模を拡大していくことは考えていないという。「きめの細かい心遣いなど、50人だから出来ることがあります。入居者を’ずっと同じ人格として尊重すること’を施設の理念として、宗教法人だからこそ出来る介護があるということを、社会に発信していきたいと思います。」 (「信徒の友」に基づいたまとめ)西尾操(KNL編集委員・杉並教会員)

Faith Journey of the New Japanese Church in Brussels

by Okada Naotake, Kyodan missionary
As a missionary from the Kyodan, I started a Japanese church in Brussels, capital of Belgium, in the spring of 2006. Before I came, the people there had been gathering for worship one Saturday a month for 24 years. I studied in Trier, Germany from 2000 to 2005. Sasaki Satoshi, who had been helping with this gathering, became ill in October 2004 and asked me to take over his responsibilities. Sasaki was the pastor of Cologne Bonn Japanese Church from 1987 to 1992 and had remained in Germany after that. Around Easter in March 2005, Sasaki was called to heaven. In the belief that my calling is to share the Good News with the 4,000 Japanese people living in Brussels, I decided to help build a church. I had a chance to see Sasaki one last time, two weeks before Easter, in a hospital in Bonn.
When the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, Sasaki, who was stationed at the Naval Academy in Edajima, witnessed the mushroom cloud from afar. After the war, he saw the ruins of Hiroshima before returning home. Sasaki said to me, “I will leave everything up to you,” and prayed fervently for my wife and me. I still remember his smile as he gave me a firm handshake. At Bonn Station, I felt strongly that the Lord was calling my wife and me into ministry with Japanese people in Brussels.
I contacted an evangelical organization, the Belgian Evangelical Mission (BEM). Following an examination of my documents and an interview, I was given provisional status under the auspices of that organization. After passing a French language test two years later, I was officially admitted to the BEM, which lent me the use of their chapel, and I started to hold services on Sunday afternoons in Brussels. As with most Japanese churches in Europe, our church sought support from Japan. I had an opportunity to meet Tanabe Masataka, an evangelical pastor of the Liebenzeller Mission, who served not only the Japanese Church in Frankfurt but also the Japanese Church in Switzerland. From him I learned about missionary work and the formation of Japanese churches in Europe as well as practical things, like newsletters and support groups.
I spent six months in Japan preparing for this assignment, making presentations in about 20 different churches on reaching out to the Japanese people in Brussels. I was a bit anxious, wondering if I would receive the necessary support. Through God’s grace, I was given all that I needed .In the beginning there were only ten people who came to our service, but in 2007 two women, a scholar and a student studying music, were baptized on Christmas Day. In 2009, two men, bankers located in the area, were baptized on Pentecost Sunday. Now, we have about twenty people attending our services, ten people attending Sunday school, and three or four seekers. I have gone back to Japan twice, making presentations in 40 to 50 churches and giving reports for eight to ten weeks each time, something I will continue to do every second year. It was a joy to be able to meet with people from different denominational backgrounds, regardless of whether or not they were members of the Kyodan. During that time I experienced diversity and rich companionship.
Our church is the only interdenominational Protestant Japanese church in Belgium. As we have comparatively large numbers from both evangelical backgrounds and those who have not yet made a commitment, from the beginning of this ministry I have placed great importance on keeping balance and flexibility. Also, since this church has been functioning as a gathering for a long time, I have been careful to refer back to the traditions of evangelical Protestant churches with respect to confession, doctrine, and orders in order for it not to just be a community center. Later we established our own confession and bylaws. Our church pursues the Reformed doctrine, yet our ministry aims at a balance between the Kyodan and evangelical denominations. Once a month, we have the youth lead our worship. In addition, we have what is called family worship, when we use a picture-story show. In our services, we regularly sing worship songs.
There are about 30 Japanese churches and gatherings in Europe. The majority of these are of evangelical denominations. I believe their piety, views on the Bible, devotions, testimonies, and worship have had quite an influence on the spirituality of this church. Yamakita Nobuhisa, the former Kyodan moderator, has mentioned the importance of interdenominational cooperation between the Kyodan and local evangelical churches. As long as these churches can maintain balance and flexibility while respecting each other’s traditions, I believe they will create a new way to minister to the Japanese. I am certain that the tradition of evangelical Protestant churches will play an important role in the Kyodan and interdenominational churches.
For the first time, our church had an overnight retreat near Brussels this September. In October, three people will be getting baptized: a woman who is a musician and a couple in the medicine profession. I would like to ask you to continue to pray for and support this Japanese ministry in Brussels. (Tr. DV)
ブリュッセル日本語プロテスタント教会牧師 岡田直丈
 その後、Belgian Evangelical Mission(BEM)という福音派の団体とコンタクトをとるようになり、書類審査と面接を通って仮の所属が決まり(ベルギー着任から2年後に仏語審査があり、正式にBEMの所属が認められました)、ブリュセル市内で日曜日午後にBEM関係の教会堂を借りることができるようになりました。私たちの教会は小さな群れなので、ヨーロッパの殆どの日本語教会と同様に、私も日本に支援母体をもつ宣教師として派遣される道を歩みました。そこで、支援会やニュースレターの作り方、欧州の日本語教会の伝道牧会や教会形成などについて、フランクフルトとスイスの日本語教会を兼牧されていた福音派の田辺正隆(まさたか)先生(Liebenzeller Mission)から多くのことを学ばせていただきました。
 日本での準備期間は約半年で、約20教会で奉仕やブリュッセル邦人伝道のアピールをしました。支援が満たされるか不安な毎日でしたが、無事に始めることができました。教会開始時は約10名の群れでしたが、2007年のクリスマスに女性2名(研究者と音楽留学生)が受洗し、2009年のペンテコステに男性 2名(駐在銀行員)が受洗して、今日では礼拝出席約20名、CS約10名、求道者約3~4名とう群れに成長しました。その間、一時帰国を2回して、 8~10週間で40~50教会でデピュテーション(奉仕や宣教報告)をしました(今後も2年毎)。宣教師にならなければお会いすることのなかった教団内外の様々な教派的背景をもつ方々とお交わりをもつことができたのは、大きな喜びでした。そこで教団の多様性と共に、超教派の交わりの豊かさを学び知ることができました。

The General Secretary's Diary

Those of us in the Kyodan who are eager to see progress in evangelism should keep an eye on two books published recently by the Kyodan Board of Publications. One is Our Evangelism, edited by the Committee on Evangelism, and the other is Believers’ Guide, edited by the Research Institute on the Mission of the Church. I was asked to give brief reviews on each of them.
Our Evangelism is a collection of talks given at a series of evangelism seminars that were conducted from the fall of 2007 through the fall of 2008 at various locations across Japan. Commemorating the 150th anniversary of Protestantism in Japan, the book was published through
the strong support of the Kyodan Board of Publications. It records testimonies of four pastors who fought for God over several decades, proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus at the risk of their lives. Evangelism is about building up the church of Christ in this land that we love. We who belong to the Kyodan are called to this purpose, and this book strongly asks readers to commit to that. I feel that it should be read by Kyodan believers as well.
Believers’ Guide is a timely publication produced through the good efforts of the Research Institute on the Mission of the Church. At the recent 37th General Assembly a decision was made regarding one of the sacraments, namely communion, so the Kyodan is now at the point when it ought to have its own common ground of faith and truth. In question and answer form, Believers’ Guide clearly explains the basis of Christianity as derived from the Kyodan Confession of Faith, the Ten Commandments, and the Lord’s Prayer. Therefore, it clarifies the beliefs on which the Kyodan stands.
It is said that the foundations of the Christian church are the Bible (canon), the creed (credo), and order and organization (ordo). The Kyodan has indeed inherited the traditions of the Christian church and recognizes the Bible as the canon and professes the Kyodan’s Confession of Faith, which is mainly based on the Apostles’ Creed and is the result of trials and efforts of faith. This Confession of Faith has produced an institutional church with a clergy system, as an embodiment of biblical order, as well as a constitution and bylaws by which church governance is conducted.
It is desired that the Kyodan will proactively engage in evangelism, standing on this foundation of faith, and that it will be further equipped as an organization and as an institution. In this sense, it is my sincere hope as general secretary that Kyodan believers read these books and make the most of them so that each one will be nurtured in faith and be equipped as faithful witnesses of Christ. (Tr. YY)
–Naito Tomeyuki, general secretary
 このたび、教団の伝道の前進を願う私たちにとって、注目すべき二冊の本が刊行されました。一冊は伝道委員会(Committee on Evangelism)編『わたしたちの伝道』であり、もう一冊は宣教研究所(Research Institute on the Mission ofthe Church)編『信仰の手引き』です。今回はこの二冊の本を短く紹介することとします。
 『信仰の手引き』は、宣教研究所委員会の労作として時宜を得て刊行された本です。というのは、聖礼典(特に聖餐)をめぐる教理理解に決断をくだした第37回教団総会(General Assembly)を終えた今、私たちは教会を真に教会たらしめる信仰の真理を共通の基盤とすべき時を迎えているからです。この本の内容は、教団信仰告白(confession of faith)と、いわゆる三要文といわれる十戒と主の祈りをふまえたキリスト教信仰の基本を問答形式で分かりやすく解き明かしたものです。従って、それはそのまま教団がよってたつ信仰とはどのようなものなのかを明らかにしているのです。そもそも、キリスト教会形成の土台は聖書(カノンcanon)と信条(クレドーcredo)と秩序・組織(オルドーordo)と言われています。私達の教団はまさにキリスト教会の伝統をしっかりと受けとめ、聖書を正典として受け入れ、歴史の中での信仰の戦いによって勝ち取ってきた使徒信条を初めとした基本信条を受け継ぎつつ教団信仰告白を告白し、それにふさわしいみ言葉の秩序としての職制をもつ制度的教会なのです。それ故に教憲・教規(constitution/bylaws)を定めて教会政治を行ってきているのです。教団が今後益々伝道活動の主体として教団は信仰にたち、組織的に制度的に整えられていくことが求められているのです。