Iriso Church Celebrates 50th Anniversary

Kenneth and Judy Bailey

The Iriso Christ Church recently celebrated 50 years of witness in Japan. Several former members traveled to celebrate with the current congregation, and Rev. Keichi Kimura, head of the Japan FWB Association and former member while attending seminary, was guest speaker. Located in Sayama City in the suburbs of Tokyo, the church was started by veteran missionaries Fred and Evelyn Hersey in 1969 near the Iriso train station where several hundred people passed through each day. At one time, Fred remembers having as many as 100 children attend their Sunday School meetings. He and Evelyn had several English and Bible classes in those early days, and Evelyn began cooking classes in their home. Her reputation as a “first class chef” is still mentioned around the community. One of Evelyn’s English classes continues to this day with three of the original members. In the early 1980’s after much prayer and planning, the members decided to buy land and build their own place to worship. On October 10th, 1986, the church moved into the completed building, where the congregation continues meeting today. The Herseys pastored the church until 1988, when they returned to the States for Evelyn’s health issues. Ken and Judy Bailey followed the Herseys and served at Iriso until 1999; Pastor Seiji Sabuta with wife Yoshiko became the next leaders, and the current pastor, Kiyoshi Kojima, along with his wife Miho have guided this great outreach since 2001. Former Child Evangelism Fellowship missionaries Fred and Jane Tanaka, long-time members, also frequently assisted in the work. Many people have been brought to Christ through the witness of the Iriso congregation and it continues to be a “shining light in the darkness” in Japan. Praise God that the Herseys answered the call many years ago to build a church to further His kingdom among the Japanese!


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About Kenneth and Judy Bailey

The Baileys are working to plant a church in the Kamifukuoka neighborhood in Tokyo.