“Japan and Korea for Christ and His Church”: The Unexpected Success and Demise of the Yotsuya/William D. Cunningham Mission, a Mission of the Stone-Campbell Movement
- Journal of Korean Religions
- University of Hawai'i Press
- Volume 4, Number 1, April 2013
- pp. 123-138
- Additional Information
The Yotsuya/William D. Cunningham Mission operated from 1901 to 1953 in Japan and Korea as a mission of the Independent Christian Church, a stream of the Stone-Campbell Movement, a Protestant reform movement that originated in the United States and known during its earlier years for its eschewal of denominationalism and emphasis on a return to biblical Christianity. The founders of the Mission, William D. Cunningham and his spouse Emily Boyd, sought to develop the Mission mainly as a Japan-based endeavor, with Korea as a subsidiary. But as the Mission developed, the Cunninghams unexpectedly discovered that they were more successful in Korean than in Japan, causing them to reorient their mission policy to cater more to Koreans. For a time, the Yotsuya/Cunningham Mission thrived, becoming the most successful mission of the Independent Christians in Japan. Following the death of Williams, however, the Mission fell on hard times and eventually folded, as it found itself embroiled in internal rivalries and unable to recover from the difficulties it experienced in the final years of Japanese rule in Korea, owing mainly to its refusal to embrace State Shintoism.