Founded in Kanda in 1875 (Meiji 8) as a Methodist church
Kudan Church celebrates its 147th anniversary this year. Julius Soper , a missionary dispatched from the American Methodist Episcopal Church , began evangelizing in Kanda in 1875 (Meiji 8), and Masao Furukawa , who became the first believer, was baptized by Soper. This is how Kanda Church, the predecessor of Kudan Church was founded.
Kudan Church’s religious tradition has its roots in the Methodist sect, which inherited the faith of John Wesley (1703-1791), an Anglican pastor. Kudan Church is the tenth oldest Protestant church in Japan and the fourth oldest church in Japan.
When Soper started evangelizing in Kanda, there were many temple schools in the Kanda area, and Masao Furukawa, who was the first to be baptized, taught reading, writing, abacus and English on the premises of his home in Kanda Nishikicho 3-chome as a private school named “Kinsei Juku,” Soper taught English to the students of Kinkei Juku run by Furukawa. On Sundays, he preached Christian sermons to around 25 people who were mostly students.
Then after, the location of the church has changed several times as attendance has increased. In 1897 (Meiji 30), under Yoichi Honda, the 6th pastor of Kudan Church, who was concurrently serving as the director of Aoyama Gakuin at the time, the church decided to build a new chapel at the current location.
As mentioned in Matthew 7:24-27 in the New Testament, Kudan-zaka (nine-step hill) with a solid foundation was chosen as a candidate site. At the time of construction, the name of the church was also changed to Japan Kudan Bii (Methodist) Church.
Consecrated the first chapel in 1898 (Meiji 31)
In 1898 (Meiji 31), the first European-style chapel modeled after the Trinity Church in Boston, USA, was dedicated.
This chapel has given many people faith in Jesus Christ in spite of many difficulties during the period of great social change from the Meiji, Taisho and Showa periods.
And for about half a century until it was destroyed by fire in the Great Tokyo Air Raid in March 1945, worship services were held in this chapel every week and it became a place of prayer and missionary work of Kudan Church.
Reconstruction of the chapel that was destroyed in the Great Tokyo Air Raid.
The original chapel and its parsonage were completely destroyed in the Great Tokyo Air Raids during the World War Ⅱ but in 1949 (Showa 24), through the prayers of Rev. Kiyoshi Fujioka and the congregation, it was decided to rebuild the chapel. In 1950 (Showa 25), the second chapel was dedicated using part of the war damage reconstruction funds.
The second chapel was characterized by a wooden building that gave a feeling of cozy and warmth as it was surrounded by trees of various sizes. This chapel was known to many people for many years as a “church in the forest in the city”.
The church continued to grow in this new chapel rebuilt after the War. In 1960 (Showa 35), the 85th anniversary ceremony was held under the leadership of Pastor Toyosaburo Miyakoda. Afterwards, the facilities were improved by the construction of a parsonage. Church’s activities became very active, centering on the Youth Association and Women’s Association. In 1963, the Kudan Church of the United Church of Christ in Japan was formally established as a religious corporation. Kudan Church celebrated its 100th anniversary on Sunday, October 12, 1975 where Kudan Church began its second century since its foundation with a memorial service.
In 1995 (Heisei 7), the current 3rd generation chapel was consecrated.
In 1992, in commemoration of the 120th anniversary of Kudan Church’s foundation, it was decided to build a new chapel for the third generation. The reconstruction plan itself had been under discussion for about 20 years given the deterioration of the previous church building, but it was not realized due to numerous challenges but finally realized.
Characteristics of the church
The first is that it has a sharp-edged structure, imagining the church of salvation seen in Noah’s Ark as it raises its sails high and walks toward the future. Secondly, inside the chapel, in order to encourage us to “look up to the cross” and praise Jesus, we have placed the “wooden cross” that the Lord Jesus hung at Golgotha in front of the altar. And also the “Seat of Grace,” which is a tradition of a Methodist church is established. The third is that many spaces have been incorporated to secure enough places for those who come to the church to find peace of mind.
The Future of Kudan Church
Kudan Church aims to be a church open to the future while firmly inheriting the history and tradition of the Protestant faith in Japan. As a proof of our faith, we hold up our cross high, embrace the wind of Jesus Christ and receive the wind with our whole body, and have a desire and strong faith to become a church that is suitable for the age of globalization and that is open to the community in Kudan. As a church that lives in words, we want to respond to God’s commission.
History of Kudan Church
|1875||Founder J. Soper||On January 17th, the first service was held at the home of Masao Furukawa, 3-4, Kanda Nishiki-cho, with a missionary officiating ceremony. |
This is the date of birth of Kanda Mii Church, the predecessor of Kudan Church.
|1881||1st Pastor Heizo Hirata||He was appointed as an elected missionary and became the first pastor.|
|1882||Acquired land at Kanda Imagawa Koji 2-chome 17. |
Built the first church.
Shikikai is organized as Kanda Mii Church.
|1883||Extension of the church, construction of the parsonage.|
|1884||2nd Pastor Yamaga Hatanoshin||Nihon Mii Church’s first annual meeting was held at Akashicho Church.|
|1887||3rd Pastor Kameji Ishizaka||Purchased 320 tsubo of land in Kanda Nishiki-cho and formulated a plan to relocate the church, but the ground is weak and relocation to another location is being considered.|
|1891||4th Pastor Wasuke Ishikawa||Purchased another piece of land in Kanda Nishiki-cho (to the north of Furukawa’s house) and moved the church there.|
|1892||Although the construction of the synagogue was started, it was destroyed in a fire in the early morning of April 10th.|
|1893||Sell the land in Kanda and buy the current location on Kudanzaka.|
|1895||5th Reverend Tokumatsu Ikeda||The design of the church is done by the American Messist Episcopal Church.|
|1896||6th Pastor Yoichi Honda||Careful discussions are held regarding the design of the church building.|
|1897||7th Pastor Kunisaburo Nakagawa||In May, the parsonage was completed, and in July, the foundation stone-laying ceremony was held in the ceremony of Mr. Joyce, Bishop of Nihon Mii Church. |
The name of the church was changed to Nihonbii Kudan Church.
|1898||February 19: The consecration ceremony of Nihon Bii Kudan Church is held by Soper.|
|1902||8th Pastor Yoichi Honda|
|1903||9th Pastor Yamaga Hatanoshin|
|1906||Fujimicho Church dedication ceremony|
|1907||The first general meeting of the Methodist Church of Japan was held at Aoyama Gakuin. |
Each church belonging to each denomination was unified under the name of ‘Japan Methodist Church’ (the first director Yoichi Honda was appointed).
|1914||The 10th Pastor Kunisaburo Nakagawa|
|1922||The 11th Pastor Mashu Nikaido||Kudan Church 25th Anniversary Celebration.|
|1923||In the Great Kanto Earthquake that occurred on September 1, it was used as an evacuation center for nearby students and others without suffering any major damage.|
|1924||12th Pastor Akira Hagiwara|
|1926||“Methodist Church Association Retreat” in Tokyo is held at Kudan Church.|
|1927||13th Pastor Satoshi Yanai||On April 27th, a church get-together in Tokyo will be held at Kudan Church.|
|1928||Kunisaburo Nakagawa, 14th Pastor||First church repairs.|
|1930||15th Pastor Keiichiro Sato||Hymn instruction and choir organization.|
|1933||16th Pastor Kiyoshi Fujioka|
|1936||On January 12th, the opening ceremony for the new Sunday School classrooms will be held.|
|1941||On June 24, the General Assembly of the United Church of Christ in Japan was held at Fujimicho Church, and the “United Church of Christ in Japan” was established, with Kudan Church joining.|
|1943||The “National Funeral Ceremony for General Yamamoto” was held at Kudan Church by the city union of churches.|
|1945||In the middle of the night of March 9, the Kudan Church was completely destroyed by the Tokyo Air Raid. |
Due to this incident, all historical records of Kudan Church were destroyed.
|1947||From May 11th, worship services will be held at the Tokyo YMCA (Fujimicho).|
|1949||Decided to rebuild the church on June 12th. |
Organized a church reconstruction committee.
|1950||On October 29th, the dedication ceremony of the second new hall was held with the assistance of the domestic and foreign cooperation associations.|
|1952||Teacher in charge of Isaburo Takayanagi|
|1954||At the church general meeting, it was decided to save 10% of the income for building the parsonage as a fund.|
|1957||Pastor Toshio Uemura|
|1959||17th Pastor Toyosaburo Miyakoda||Kudan Church parsonage building plan approved (January 25 extraordinary church general meeting). |
Six people who have lived in the faith for more than 50 years are commended at the 100th Anniversary Ceremony.
|1960||On November 6th, the church’s 85th anniversary memorial service and commemorative ceremony will be held.|
|1961||The church magazine “Majiwari” is published.|
|1963||The Kudan Church of the United Church of Christ in Japan, a religious corporation, was established.|
|1965||Kudan Church’s 90th anniversary memorial service and ceremony will be held on October 31st.|
|1975||On October 12th, the church’s 100th anniversary memorial service and commemorative ceremony will be held. |
As commemorative projects, the repair of the synagogue and the purchase of the church cemetery are decided.
“Kudan Church 100 Year History” is edited and published.
|1977||On November 20th, church renovations and cemetery construction commemorative services are observed. |
This completes the 100-year continuous business.
|1980||On June 8th, a ceremony to celebrate the completion of the graveyard will be held at the Kudan Church Cemetery.|
|1984||18th Pastor Minoru Ota|
|1986||The church regulations are examined, and the “Kudan Church Regulations” are approved at the extraordinary church general meeting on March 8.|
|1988||Commissioned to examine the construction of a church.|
|1989||19th Pastor Kenichiro Katsuyama|
|1990||Established a church construction committee and decided to actively work on the construction of the new church.|
|1992||Two meetings were held for all members of the church to discuss the construction of the church, and the necessary procedures related to the construction of the church were started.|
|1993||The design of the new hall was commissioned to Ookayama Architectural Design Institute, and the construction to Daimei Construction. |
On February 20th, a cornerstone laying ceremony was held for the construction of the new building.
On October 3rd, the current church appreciation service will be observed by 125 attendees.
|1994||Organized an editorial committee to commemorate the 120th anniversary of the founding of the church next year. |
The construction of the new church is completed, and the handover ceremony will be held on November 28.
The new church entrance ceremony will be held on Sunday, December 11th.
|1995||On January 22nd, the 120th anniversary of the foundation of the church and the dedication service are held. |
On March 18th, the 120th Anniversary Commemorative Ceremony and Dedication Ceremony were held.
20th Pastor Masashi Sakumoto
|2012||21st Pastor Kazuhiko Takada|
|2019||22nd Pastor Hisahumi Tana|