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Welcome to Kobe Seiai Church
History of our church
Our pastor
Church Covenant


History of our church

Kobe Seiai Church was born in 1882 (Meiji 15) as “Kobe Shizume(Immersion) Church”.


The denominations that sent missionaries to Japan included various denominations such as the Presbyterians, the Mesistists, and the Union Church. The Baptists who made the foundation of our church are one of them.


On March 1, 1882, the Baptist missionary Dr. Rheese has opened the “Kobe Church” at his home in the unnumbered Kitano area in Kobe. This is the beginning of our mission. Later, in February 1895 (Meiji 28), Tamson missionary who came to help Dr. Reese opened a mission in the “Zenrin Kindergarten” of Christianity that opened in Onohama in Fukiai area in August of the same year. Then thy opened a lecture hall in Toba-cho in Hyogo. These later evolved into three Baptist churches in Kobe, Fukiai, and Hyogo.

Lease missionary


Dr. Henry Holcombe Rheese, the founder of “Kobe Immersion Church” was born in 1828 in New Jersey, USA. 

When he was a lawyer and judge in California, he felt  a mission for the propagation of the Gospel  and became a pastor by receiving ordination.

At the age of 50, he volunteered as a missionary for a foreign mission, and came to Japan in 1878 (Meiji 11), where he served as missionary at the Tokyo Dai-ichi Immersion Church. After that, he moved to Kobe in 1882 (Meiji 15) for Kansai mission, and started Kansai's first mission as a Baptist group.


Kitano's home was opened as a church, school, and pastoral house, and he continued his mission with bringing up evangelists and pastors. 


In 1892 (Meiji 25), he was given the mission of the United States, and he built the foundation of our church, such as constructing a fine hall in Shimoyamate-dori.

Thus, after 18 years of Japanese ministry, Mr. Reese was called to heaven in His house in Kitano at the age of 71 on May 10, 1899 (Meiji 32).

In 1981 (Showa 56), his grave marker of the missionary was founded in foreign cemetery in Futarabi mountain.

Since then, we have visited his cemetery on the second Lord's day in May in every year to hold the pre-grave ceremony . We learn its work and pray for him and learn his works there.

Mr. and Mrs.Tamson missionaries

Dr. Robert Austin Tamson was born in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1860. He studied theology at Hurley College in London. He visited Japan in 1884 (Meiji 17). Four years later, he was appointed missionary for the North American Baptist. Then, he came to Kobe to help old Dr. Reese and lived in Onohama in Fukiai.


In 1895 (Meiji 28), Japan's first Baptist kindergarten “Zenrin Kindergarten” was opened, and his wife became the first director. This later developed into the Fukiai Baptist Church and the Hyogo Baptist Church.


After the death of Dr. Lease, he served as the leader of three Baptist Churches, and also focused on Kansai and especially Osaka.


His achievements are diverse, including the efforts to realize the Seto Inland Sea mission by Fukuin (Gospel) Maru and the foundation of the current Okinawa Baptist Federation by resuming the mission in Ryukyu.

However, due to the worsening of his wife's illness, he returned to US after 1931 (Showa 6) leaving his thoughts. In 1932 (Showa 7), she was called to heaven at the age of 72 on November 28, just two weeks after she was called to heaven because of illness. In 1991, the couple was found buried in Sunnyside Mausoleum in Long Beach, USA, and after two years of negotiations, the church was able to attach the lost nameplate to the marble tombstone (lid) it is complete.

Kobe Baptist Church


The church, which was founded in 1882 (Meiji 15) as “Kobe Shizume Church”, was renamed “Kobe Shinrei Church” at the same time it was given a church hall in Shimoyamate-dori, Kobe 10 years later.


However, it was called “Kobe Baptist”. After that, in 1924 (Taisho 3), it was officially renamed “Kobe Baptist Church”, and the results of evangelism were given as the central presence of the Protestant Church in Kobe.


The church, designed by Mr. Vorris, as well as the Fukiai and Hyogo churches described below, was given to a place facing the main street known as ToaRoad in 1892 (Meiji 25), 10 years after the founding of the church. This church hall watched the faith of the believers of the “Kobe Baptist Church” for 53 years until it was burned down in 1945.

Fukiai Baptist Church

In 1895 (Meiji 28), the Tamson missionaries and their wife opened the “Zenrin Kindergarten” in Onohama, and at the same time they started Christian missions there.

In 1919 (Taisho 8), it became an independent “Baptist Church”. This church was evangelized in the poor living area, where Toyohiko Kagawa was the base of a new life movement in eastern Kobe. This church hall was also destroyed by the Kobe air raid in dayspring on June 5, 1945.

Zenjin Kindergarten was the second oldest kindergarten in Kobe. It is said that it was the first welfare kindergarten in Japan that was started for children in difficult home environments such as harbor workers.

The current location of Kagawa Memorial Hall where there was there was Zenjin Kindergarten, and it was transferred at free charge for the work of Kagawa. The Kindergarten was abandoned in 1986 due to a decrease in number of children.

Hyogo Baptist Church

The origin of this church is that the Tamson and his missionaries opened a lecture hall in Western Hyogo at the same time they started evangelizing at the good neighbor kindergarten. After that, in 1908 (Meiji 41), the name was changed to “Hyogo Church” and in 1911 “Hyogo Baptist Church”. The so-called “Hyogo Church” experienced numerous persecutions not seen in other churches, such as the buzz of battering during street missions in the primeval area, near the red light district “Shinkai”. He continued his missionary work as a homely church.

The church hall was in Toba-cho, Hyogo during the lecture hall period, but in 1911 (Meiji 44) Tsukamoto-dori was given a new church hall. This hall is a wooden mortar designed by Mr. Voulis, and the Western-style calmness blended with the surrounding private houses. The lighting of the chapel was a gas jar that was rare even at that time, and the faint light created a devout space. This also disappeared on March 17, 1945 by air raids prior to the other two churches.

Establishment of the Japanese Christian Church

The 1st Japan Baptist Eastern Union, to which the three churches of Kobe belonged, joined the Western Union in 1940 to become the `` Japanese Baptist Christian Church, '' and the following year, in 1941, joined the Japanese Christian Church established by the Religious Organization Law as the 4th part. did. As a result, the church names became Shimoyamate Church, Sogo Church, and Tsukamoto Church.

After the war, there was a parliamentary problem in the former Eastern Baptist Union, and eventually some of the churches left the Japanese Christian Church and became the Japan Baptist Alliance. On the other hand, the church that chose the way to remain in the Japanese Christian Church formed the new Church

Birth of the Kobe Seiai Church

Two years after the disappearance of the three sister churches, the temporary church was given to the Shimoyamate Church in 1947. According to the favor of the occupation army, two outlets and hats (former US wartime assembly barracks, commonly known as “kamaboko barracks”) will be given to the Kobe church that lost the synagogue by lottery.

The joy of all members, including Pastor Naito, when the sword was hit was great. This was temporarily set up as part of a burnt-out ruin in the Sogo Church, and a dedication ceremony was held on November 15 of the same year.

In 1948, it was decided that the three churches would join together as the Kobe Seiai Church and built a new church hall on the current land. The dedication ceremony was held on November 15, 1952. 

Construction of new hall

In commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the foundation, in 1982, a “Memorial Hall” (currently the North Hall) was built on the north side of the old chapel. The 2nd floor is a pastor's house.

In 1992, the 110th anniversary of its founding, the current chapel was dedicated.


The dedication ceremony took place on March 1st. The chapel with a high ceiling is excellent in sound and has many concerts.


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