5: Brothers, Japan and peace

by Sandra McPhee

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CHICAGO - On September 1, 1923, the great Kanto earthquake destroyed the city of Tokyo. Into this devastation strode a young man, raised in the Episcopal Church in Louisville, Kentucky, a veteran of World War I and a member of a team sent to rebuild the Tokyo and Yokohama YMCAs.

He made his home in Japan for the rest of his life.

Paul Rusch viewed Japan as a vast mission field, where he could spread the message of Christianity in action, and encourage Japan's conversion to the ideals of Western democracy. After a year in Japan, he accepted an offer to teach economics at Rikkyo (St. Paul's) University in Tokyo, the only Anglican university in Japan. The Rikkyo motto For God and Country focused his life as a missionary. He accepted as his personal goal the use of Christian principles to realize God's kingdom on earth for the benefit of Japan. At Rikkyo, he gathered around him a group of young men and by conversation, prayer, and example nurtured their Christian faith.

Brother Rusch started a chapter of the Brotherhood of St. Andrew at Rikkyo on November 30, 1921, St. Andrew's Day, as a part of the Brotherhood of St. Andrew in the United States. The story goes that Paul decided that he needed additional resources to help his "boys" develop and strengthen their Christian faith. Using a copy of The Living Church Annual as a guide, he wrote to every organization listed in its pages, including the Girls Friendly Society. He received cartons of information and decided that the Brotherhood of St. Andrew was the best fit with the needs of his "boys," because it emphasized the importance of young lay men in the life of the church and because of its simple motto of Prayer and Service.

In fact, the Brotherhood of St. Andrew had been started in Japan in 1894, when Dr. Charles H. Evans was sent from the U.S. as its representative. Together with his successor Frank E. Wood, Dr. Evans established 30 chapters of the Brotherhood of St. Andrew in Japan but, they faded into oblivion after Mr. Wood left Japan. A large number of those early members of the Brotherhood of St. Andrew in Japan eventually went to theological school and were ordained.

In 1928, Paul returned to the U.S. with Dr. Rudolf Teussler to assist with raising funds for the building of St. Luke's Hospital in Tokyo. During his time in the U.S. he was active in the Brotherhood of St. Andrew and when he returned to Japan in 1931, he began the process of making the Japanese branch of the Brotherhood of St. Andrew separate from and independent of the Brotherhood of St. Andrew in the United States.

While Paul was in the U.S. in the late 1920s, the Brotherhood of St. Andrew movement spread in Japan. Chapters were established on the campuses of Keio, Waseda and Meiji universities, emphasizing the spiritual and theological aspects of Christianity. An important focus for the members of the Brotherhood of St. Andrew was summer camps, which were held from 1933 on, usually, a YMCA camp.

By the mid-1930s, Rusch sought a rural location that he could own or control, where he could take young Brotherhood of St. Andrew members for summer camps, which would emphasize spiritual training, physical activity and recreation. Determined that Mount Fuji, the symbol of Japan, be visible from the camp, he selected a site on the slopes of Mount Yatsugataki near the village of Kiyosato.

Paul returned to the U.S. in 1931 to visit his ailing father and to meet with officers and representatives of the Brotherhood of St. Andrew. In April of that year an unincorporated association called the American Committee for the Brotherhood of St. Andrew in Japan was formed. The chairman was James L. Houghteling, Jr. the son of a founder of the Brotherhood of St. Andrew. Courtney Barber, a former president of the Brotherhood in the U.S. was the treasurer. The board consisted of wealthy businessmen and a headquarters office was opened in Chicago. After a whirlwind fund-raising and building campaign, Camp Seisen Ryo was dedicated in July, 1938.

There had been some resistance in the U.S. to giving any funds to Japan because of the rise in militarism and the threats that had been made by Japan against its neighbors in Asia. However, the initial $20,000 that was needed was raised and the building of Camp Seisen Ryo was able to proceed.

Brother Rusch participated in another interesting Brotherhood of St. Andrew-related project during the 1930s. A series of Christian training books had been written for and published by the Brotherhood of St. Andrew staff in Japan. By 1937, 87,000 volumes had been published. These books focused on Christian leadership for young laymen. Paul and his friends in the Brotherhood knew that these books would be of wide interest, even to those Christians who were not members of the Nippon Seikokai, the Episcopal Church in Japan. So, he developed the Brotherhood Literature Endowment Fund to make these books available to a wider audience.

The Japanese entrance into World War II halted summer camps for the Brotherhood of St. Andrew, and on Dec. 9, 194I, Mr. Rusch was interned as an enemy alien. He was repatriated to the United States in 1942 and attended the Military Intelligence Service Language School in Minnesota. There he developed close friendships with many of the Nisei who had been recruited to the language school.

Returning to Tokyo with Gen. Douglas MacArthur's staff after the war, Brother. Rusch located many of his old friends and began in earnest to build a model rural community.

The Kiyosato Educational Experiment Project (KEEP) was born in 1946, with the rebuilding of Seisen Ryo lodge. With a motto of Food, Faith, Health, and Hope for Youth, the Kiyosato Educational Experiment Project was located in an Anglican church, and grew to include a clinic, nursery school, farm training school and lodge.

The early history of the founding and building of KEEP is full of the names of members and officers of the Brotherhood of St. Andrew in Japan and the U.S. and it is no exaggeration to say that this project would not have taken place without the enthusiastic support of this important group.

On May 31, 1950, the organization that had been an informal support committee for KEEP was finally incorporated in the State of Illinois, using the name the American Committee for the Brotherhood of St. Andrew in Japan. You may be interested in hearing what the stated purpose of that corporation was:

"Charitable, benevolent, eleemosynary, educational, civic, patriotic, scientific and agricultural and without limiting the generality of the foregoing, to foster and promote the interests of the Brotherhood of St. Andrew in Japan, an organization of the Episcopal Church for men and boys of the Nippon Seikokai, charted by the Japanese Government July 17, 1947; to maintain and further the spirit of international goodwill and friendly cooperation between the United States of America and Japan; to coordinate the overseas support, and provide funds, equipment and supplies for the Brotherhood of St. Andrew in Japan; to aid its program of agricultural, vocational, recreational, public health and spiritual training among young men in Japan and to otherwise to aid the Brotherhood of St. Andrew in Japan to carry out its objectives."

In 1955, the name was changed to the American Committee for KEEP but members of the Brotherhood of St. Andrew continued to serve on the board and be active in its work for many years to come.

The 1950s and 1960s were periods of growth and success for KEEP. The rural clinic provided medical care to those in the surrounding area. The farm and training school introduced Jersey cattle to that area of Japan. KEEP is located about a mile high, like Denver, and is above the altitude at which rice can be grown. Dairy cattle, and the rich milk that the Jersey cows provided, created a cash crop for area farmers, many of whom had been moved to Kiyosato after being displaced as a result of the war and the government policies that led to it.

Even today, Jersey milk is a key ingredient in the soft serve ice cream for which KEEP is famous. On warm days, and even in the winter, people travel from Tokyo by train to sample the "best soft serve ice cream in Japan." The profit from that ice cream helps to fund much of the charitable work that KEEP does in the Philippines and other places.

For three decades KEEP grew and prospered, supported in part by donations from members of the American committee for KEEP(the ACK). Paul Rusch returned to North America almost every year, visiting churches, preaching, teaching, and soliciting contributions for his experiment in "muscular Christianity."

Brother Rusch died in Tokyo on December 12, 1979, but the story of KEEP does not end there. The power of God's love shines in the transformation of KEEP during the past 29 years. Paul Rusch's successors at KEEP have developed his legacy to meet the world's changing needs.

Let me tell you a bit about the KEEP of today and the KEEP of the future.

Food, Faith, Health, and Hope for Youth had been the motto of KEEP since its founding. Obviously, Japan and the world have changed radically since the post-war era. Mr. Rusch's successors have added two new challenges to that motto. They are Environmental, Education and International Outreach. The relationship between these two goals can be seen through KEEP's work outside of Japan.

"So that in our time, in a world full of pain and confusion
and bitterness, the world's religions find themselves faced
with one great common mission: The mission of peace."

- Brother Paul Rusch, Kiyosato, Japan, 1958

By the early 1980s, KEEP had established a community development relationship through the Episcopal Diocese of the Northern Philippines, with the village of Tulgao, located in northern Luzon. Tulgao was remote and isolated, with no industry or market for its products. KEEP has partnered with the people of Tulgao to implement projects deemed essential by the villagers.

They first used piping from a nearby stream to create a water delivery system for the village. Each faucet serves several households.

Together with the presence of a nurse-midwife in the village, funded in part by KEEP and the American Committee for KEEP, health and sanitation in the village have improved dramatically. The second major project was the creation of a mlcro-hydroelectric system. Each household now has access to 50 watts of power. Villagers were trained to install the system and the cost was shared by the people of Tulgao, KEEP, the ACK and the nearby village of Dananao.

This is an interesting story. This area of the Philippines is only a generation removed from the time of headhunters and witch doctors. Tribal and village feuds still persist and can break out at any time. There was a long-standing feud between the villages of Tulgao and Dananao.

In order to build a micro-hydroelectric system, a fast-flowing stream was needed, and the most appropriate one was located in a place where the only thing that made practical sense was to develop a system to serve both villages. Both villages wanted electrical power but were not eager to work with their enemies.

After many meetings and much negotiation mediated by Father Pablo Buyagan, the Episcopal priest in Tulgao, they agreed to work together and teams that included men from each village worked to install the electrical system.

I wish I could say that ended the violence between the two villages. There are still occasional outbreaks of the feud, but relations between the villages are much better than they had been.

There is another story about the electrical project that you may enjoy. Several months after the electrical system was up and running, the adults in the village started to complain and said that life may have been better before electricity. It seems that the teen-agers were playing loud music in their boom boxes until late in the evening and keeping their parents and younger siblings awake! Fifty years ago, in 1958, Brother Paul Rusch wrote the following:

So that in our time, in a world full of pain and confusion and bitterness, the world's religions find themselves faced with one great common mission: The mission of peace. Regardless of the differences between religion and religion, or creed and creed, to fulfill their promise to their followers, they must gather under the one banner bearing the inscription, the mission of mankind is peace."

In 1942, in the middle of a world war, Paul Rusch wrote: "The day for responsible international living is at hand."

Sixty-six years later, the urgency of that statement echoes in a world vastly changed, but yet fundamentally the same.

I believe that KEEP, the Brotherhood of St. Andrew, and most fundamentally, our Christian faith, can be a part of creating a world where responsible international living flourishes.

Sandra McPhee is a counselor for the American Committee for KEEP, located in Wilmette, Illinois.

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St. James' Episcopal Cathedral

St. James' Episcopal Church in 1871, site of the founding of the Brotherhood of St. Andrew.

James Houghteling

James L. Houghteling (1855-1910), whose 13 member adult men's Sunday School class, at St. James' Episcopal Church in downtown Chicago, founded the Brotherhood of St. Andrew. more...

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An Act for the Incorporation of The Brotherhood of St. Andrew was passed and signed into law by President Theodore Roosevelt on May 30th, 1908.