The Protestant Missions — June 10, 2011 at 1:30 am

Reaching the Japanese immigrants in California, 1890!


Hosokawa Gracia It is fitting that some notice should be taken of the work that was being done for the Japanese residing in California, and an article published in The Church, July, 189O gives an account of its condition at that time. The number of Japanese then living in San Francisco was about two thousand, while from a thousand to fifteen hundred more were in the vicinity. A few years earlier, many young men had gone to California for study, supposing that they could easily gain admittance to the best schools and get an education at a very small expense.

Mission for the Chinese:

Some of these soon found it necessary to exchange study for work. Later comers were merchants, clerks, and laborers. Not only did individual churches endeavor to reach these people, but there were special movements in their behalf. That of the Methodists began about 1880, in connection with the Mission for the Chinese, and in 1886 was organized as a separate mission under the superintendence of Rev. M. C. Harris, D.D., who had been obliged, on account of Mrs. Harris’s poor health, to give up missionary labor in Japan itself. Dr. Harris’s earnest efforts in behalf of the Japanese in California were in 1898 recognized by the Japanese Government, which conferred on him the decoration of the Fourth Degree of the Imperial Order of the Sacred Treasure.

In 1890 the Christian societies of Japanese in San Francisco were the following:

  1. I. The Gospel Society, connected with the Methodist Church, and numbering one hundred and fifteen young men.
  2. 2. The Japanese Ladies’ Benevolent Society, also connected with the Methodist Church, whose object was to relieve the sick and destitute, to distribute clothing, to find employment for Japanese women, and otherwise to assist them when in need.
  3. 3. The Japanese Young Men’s Christian Association, connected with the Presbyterian Church and having ninety-five members.
  4. 4. The Only Friend Society, made up of about a dozen young men who were members of Kumi-ai Churches in Japan.
  5. 5. The Japanese Christian Union composed of twenty- one persons of different denominations, who desired to become preachers of the Gospel.

There were two organized churches; one Methodist and the other Presbyterian. Several other churches in the city had Japanese among their members.

As time went on, the number of Japanese on the Pacific Coast and in other parts of America increased. Efforts for their evangelization were made in many places, and some churches were organized.


Japanese Ladies’ Benevolent Society website

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