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Merriman Colbert Harris

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United States

Missionary, educator

Merriman Harris

Scio College

July 9, 1846 (
Beallsville, Ohio, USA

May 8, 1921, Aoyama, Minato, Tokyo

Merriman Colbert Harris (July 9, 1846 – May 8, 1921) was a Missionary Bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church, elected in 1904, who was active in late nineteenth and early twentieth century Japan.


Birth and family

Merriman was born July 9, 1846 in Beallsville, Ohio, the son of Colbert and Catherine Elizabeth (Crupper) Harris. Merriman married Flora L. Best October 23, 1873, in Meadville, Pennsylvania. They had two daughters, Florence and Elizabeth.

Military service and education

Merriman served for three years as a soldier in the 12th Ohio Cavalry in the American Civil War (1863–65), attaining the rank of corporal. Following the end of the war, he attended the Washington Academy in Ohio, and the Harlem Springs Seminary. He then attended Scio College, earning the B.A. degree (1873) and the M.A. degree (1877) from Allegheny College.

Ordained ministry and missionary service

Merriman entered the ministry of the Pittsburgh Annual Conference of the M.E. Church in 1869, serving as a pastor and a missionary. He was sent to Japan in 1873 and was stationed at Hakodate on the northern island of Hokkaido. During his first stay in Japan, his converts included Kanzo Uchimura, Inazo Nitobe, and Akira Sato.

He left Japan in 1892, and established Japanese missions on the Pacific Coast of the United States and in Hawaii in areas with large numbers of Japanese emigrants. He became the Superintendent of Japanese missions in San Francisco, California in 1886. He also served as Superintendent of all Pacific Coast Methodist Japanese missions, including the Hawaiian Islands, in 1890. During this period, Yosuke Matsuoka was one of his converts.

Episcopal ministry

Merriman Colbert Harris was elected a Missionary Bishop by the 1904 General Conference of the M.E. Church. He was assigned Korea and Japan, where he remained until his death. As a Missionary Bishop he served with distinction. He was twice decorated with the Order of the Sacred Treasure by the Emperor of Japan.

In 1919, ten years after the death of his first wife, Flora, he remarried and lived within the grounds of Aoyama Gakuin, in a home given to him by his Japanese converts. He died May 8, 1921 in Aoyama, Tokyo and his grave is at the Aoyama Cemetery.

Selected writings

  • Address: Japanese Buddhism, San Francisco, 1887. Typed, in Methodist Bishops' Collection.
  • Christianity in Japan, 1907.
  • Save Korea, Quarterly-Centennial Documents, 1910.
  • Contributor, Japan Proverbs.
  • Statement in Competent Witnesses on Korea as a Mission Field, Korea Documents, with others.
  • References

    Merriman Colbert Harris Wikipedia

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