The origins and the development of the Japan Assemblies of God: the foreign and Japanese workers and their ministries (1907 to 1975)

Electronic versions


  • Masakazu Suzuki

    Research areas

  • PhD, School of Theology and Religious Studies


The Pentecostal Movement was brought to Japan by the group of missionaries led by Martin L. Ryan in 1907. Although their own ministry in Japan was short-lived, they shared the Pentecostal message to William and Mary Taylor, who worked as Pentecostal missionaries in Japan from 1913. Estella Bernauer also worked as a Pentecostal missionary in Japan from 1910. Moreover, the Taylors and Beranuer worked with Makoto Niki and Ichitaro Takigawa, who had become Japanese Pentecostal ministers. However, all of these missionaries and ministers as well as many others have been forgotten and omitted from the official history of the Japan Assemblies of God (JAG), which emphasizes the work of the Carl F. Juergensen family and the Japanese minister who worked closely with them, Kiyoma Yumiyama. An accurate history needs to include all workers and to give an account of their various ministries. In the beginning, the Pentecostal missionaries worked independently and had a loose fellowship, but the forming of the Japan District of the American AG in 1920 resulted in a Japanese Trinitarian Pentecostal denomination, the Japan Pentecostal Church, which is the early forerunner of the Japan Assemblies of God. The Japan Pentecostal Church evolved and became the Japan Bible Church in 1929. Before it needed to dissolve because of new government regulations around the time of World War II, the Japan Bible Church experienced a series of transformations: the split of the Takinogawa Mission as the Takinogwa Holy Spirit Church in 1938, the removal of missionaries from Japan in 1940, and the split of the Spirit of Jesus Church in 1941. Before the war, missionaries and Japanese ministers worked together and formed a “mission,” which became the place where they continued to do ministry. The relationship of missionaries and ministers differed with each mission. But gradually Japanese ministers gained a higher status, and with the break of WWII, the missionaries had to depart from Japan, leaving the Japanese ministers in charge. After the war, the JAG started as a Japanese led organization under the strong authority and leadership of its superintendent Kiyoma Yumiyama, while nevertheless resting upon the unique cooperation and a certain balance of power between the missionaries and Japanese ministers. The JAG had a lack of funds and was financially dependent on the missionaries, who often took the initiative to start local churches, for which there was a great need. But with the growth of the Japanese economy and development of the JAG, the missionaries gradually came to have a more subordinate role in the JAG. With the retirement of Yumiyama as superintendent in 1973, followed by the transfer of both the ownership of the property of JAG headquarters as well as the authority for Central Bible College from American AG to the JAG in 1975, the post war era of the JAG’s history had come to an end. The JAG had become a more autonomous and independent denomination.


Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Bangor University
  • Paul Lewis (Supervisor)
Award dateJan 2011