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Missionaries and Modernization

On Tuesday, September 25th, an eager audience gathered to share a delicious Asian buffet and enjoy a guest lecture "Missionaries and Modernization in Meiji Japan: Obervations through Hepburn and Verbeck," presented by Dr. Hideo Watanabe. Dr. Watanabe, whose hometown is Yokohama, Japan, teaches Japanese culture and language at William Paterson University. In his slide presentation, which included wonderful photographs, charts, and maps, Dr. Watanabe outlined the way mid-19th century missionaries to Japan following the visit of Commodore Perry, who succeeded in finally opening Japan to a wider world, were instrumental in improving the physical and spritual aspects of the emerging nation. To illustrate his observations, Dr. Watanabe traced in detail the lives and contributions of two particular missionaries from the reformed tradition: James C. Hepburn of the Presbyterian Church USA, and Guido F. Verbeck of the Reformed Church in America. Closely related to the evolution of Meiji Japan, these leading missionaries were key persons in understanding the early relations between Japan and the western world. We are grateful to Dr. Watanabe for sharing his research and for his role as a cultural embassador between the people of the United States and Japan. The Reformed Church Center will be distributing CD's of this lecture. Anyone who would like a copy should contact Barbara Fillette, Director, Reformed Church Center, NBTS - bfillette@nbts.edu

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