The Protestant Missions — October 21, 2010 at 10:49 pm

Conventions in Tokyo and Osaka!


Joseph Hardy Neesima

The year 1878 was marked by a number of conventions that in various ways showed the progress that was being made. The earliest of these was a meeting of delegates sent by the nine churches that had grown up in connection with the work of the American Board. It was held in Osaka January 2 and 3. Its purpose was to promote fellowship among the churches and to devise plans for uniting their forces for spreading the Gospel.

Besides the delegates, many Christians living in the vicinity were in attendance. Mr. Neesima was the chairman. The most important business accomplished was the establishment of the Japanese Missionary Society, the churches promising to make monthly contributions for its support. The management of this society was wholly in the hands of the Japanese, and at first it did not receive any financial aid from the mission. The next summer it sent several theological students from the Doshisha to places where there were promising openings, and in these they laid the foundations of what have since become large churches.

In May the missionaries of the Church Missionary Society, the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, and the American Episcopal Mission met in Tokyo for a conference. Two bishops and fifteen other clergymen were in attendance. They decided that the Japanese churches formed in connection with their work should use the same Book of Common Prayer. For this the translations already made of the Litany and of the services of Morning and Evening Prayer were adopted, and a committee was chosen for the translation of other portions.

May 1013 a convention of missionaries was held in Tokyo. As this was a delegate convention, it is not reckoned as one of the “General conferences.”Besides forty-one missionaries representing ten missions, each of the three Bible societies (British and Foreign, Scotch, and American) working in Japan sent a delegate, and there were three honorary members. The chief business related to the translation of the Old Testament. It was decided that each mission should be requested to appoint one of its members to serve upon a permanent committee that should have authority to select committees for translation and general revision.

Tsuda Sen (津田 仙?, August 6, 1837 – April 24, 1908) was an agriculturist and educator in Meiji period Japan, one of the founders of Aoyama Gakuin university, and the father of noted author Tsuda Umeko.

The first Dai Shimboku-kwai, or General Fellowship Meeting, for all the Protestant Christians of Japan was held in Tokyo, July 15-18. Twelve cities were represented by twenty-seven delegates ; and it is said that from five hundred to six hundred people were present at some of the meetings. Mr. Tsuda Sen was chosen Chairman. There were reports from the churches and addresses upon such subjects as “The Spirit of Christian Fellowship,” ” Christians should be Independent,” ” The Church and the Nation,” ” Christianity and Literature,” “Christianity and Social Reform,” “Christianity and Liberty,” etc. Much enthusiasm was manifested and it was a great advantage to have the Christians of different churches thus brought together. It was decided to have such meetings annually. The next year, however, the prevalence of cholera in the city of Osaka, which had been chosen for the place of meeting, led to a postponement until 1880. These Fellowship Meetings, either under the original name or as meetings of the Japanese Evangelical Alliance, have been held at irregular intervals until the present time.

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