Members of Kahaluu United Methodist Church’s baseball team in 1944 include Sei Serikaku (backrow, second from right) and Saburo Ige (second row, left).

An Excerpt from Baseball Evangelism

Alex R. Vergara, Editor
From Waves 1888-1988: The United Methodist Church of Hawaii: A Centennial Jubilee

The Rev. Chinpei Peter Goto knew how to attract Japanese boys to his church through baseball. In 1909, Chinpei was baptized at the South King Methodist Church. He became a leader among the youth while employed in Honolulu. He was known as a baseball star and an excellent tennis player. But he also participated faithfully in evangelistic street preaching in the slums of Honolulu, in the Sunday school, and the Epworth League.

Since he had no theological training, he studied by means of the Conference Course of Study under the guidance of a Senior Elder, the Rev. Tokuji Komuro. For five years, Chinpei diligently took examinations at the Annual Mission Sessions until he was duly ordained a Deacon in 1927 and Elder in 1929.

Goto wrote one of the first books on baseball in the Japanese language. He knew the popularity of the game would attract a lot or boys, so he carried on his bicycle’s handlebar a bag containing baseball gear on one side and the Bible on the other. It must have been a heavy Bible to keep the balance.

Goto was assigned to Windward Oahu, covering an area of about 30 miles, where there were only three Japanese who were Christians among a scattered population of workers. These Japanese laborers worked in sugar and pineapple fields, as truck farmers and in piggeries. It was here, in the Fall of 1927, that Goto began a ministry of 27 fruitful years.

He started with no church building. His ministry was basically pastoral involvement with individuals and families. It meant calling in humble homes, after long hours of labor, with words of encouragement and concern, usually from Holy Scripture, and a prayer.

First he traveled by foot from house to house, then rode a bicycle, and finally used a Model A Ford. But his evangelism was more identified by the colorful “Three B’s:” firstly, he was always seen traveling on his bicycle; secondly, he was often carrying his baseball gear; and thirdly, without fail he carried his Bible. He would pause periodically to roundup interested youth for a game or two. His activity was always highlighted by the reading of Scriptures. And his method of baseball evangelism won for him and for Christ scores of youth who later became faithful Methodist lay persons.

Between 1927 and 1954, this circuit rider organized flourishing work in Kaneohe and Kailua. In addition, he carried on the work started at Waimanalo, Kahuku and Kahaluu. Goto listed 593 Sunday school students in his block, with an average attendance of 463 in five schools, and with 18 teachers.