Emery Andrews

Name Emery Andrews
Born July 29 1894
Died 1976
Birth Location Albion, Nebraska

English-language pastor of the Japanese Baptist Church in Seattle from 1929 to 1955, who continued his ministry through the wartime incarceration of Japanese Americans, even moving his family to Idaho when his congregation was incarcerated at Minidoka .

Rev. Emery Andrews was born on July 29, 1894, in Albion, Nebraska, but grew up on a farm in Modesto, California. Aspiring to the ministry by age ten, he did theological training at the Bible Institute of Los Angeles and was ordained in 1917, doing ministry in Italian and Mexican American communities while attending Los Angeles Junior College. He moved to Seattle in 1919, with his wife, Mary Brooks Andrews, and a baby daughter. He attended the University of Washington, graduating with a B.A. in sociology in 1922 and a second B.A. in education in 1931. In 1929, he became the first English language pastor at the Japanese Baptist Church in Seattle, a position created to minister to the growing number of Nisei coming of age. The young pastor quickly built close ties with Nisei youth, leading scouting troops on frequent hiking and camping trips. Rev. Andrews also served as minister to the Japanese Baptist Church on Bainbridge Island .

With the coming of war and the incarceration of Japanese Americans, Andrews continued his ministry, first organizing the church gymnasium for storing household items, then making almost daily trips to the Puyallup Assembly Center where his congregation was first incarcerated. He was also part of the Evacuees Service Council, made up of representatives of the American Friends Service Committee , YMCA, and other groups, an organization that set up part-time school and library facilities at Puyallup. When Seattle Japanese Americans were moved to the more permanent concentration camp in Minidoka, Idaho, Andrews took the dramatic step of moving his entire family to nearby Twin Falls, Idaho, so he could continue his work. [1] Renting a large house about fifteen miles from the camp, the family used spare rooms as a hostel for those coming or going to Minidoka: Nikkei working in town or on farms, Nisei leaving camp for resettlement, Caucasian visitors and staff members, and Nisei soldiers visiting their incarcerated families. An average of 167 visitors a month stayed at their home. When in town, he visited the camp nearly every day to attend to his ministerial duties, often taking his children with him on weekends, where they could play with their Japanese American friends. He also made frequent trips to Seattle to bring back supplies or attend to property or business for the inmates; he made 56 such trips, a round trip of some 1,500 miles. He and his family faced frequent threats and were called names by members of the local community; despite this, he was vocal in his opposition to the exclusion and incarceration. [2]

At war's end, he and his family returned to Seattle, and he resumed his duties at the Japanese Baptist Church, helping returnees with jobs and housing. He also took two trips to Hiroshima with Floyd Schmoe 's "Houses of Hiroshima" project. He retired in 1955 at age 61, but continued as pastor emeritus; he was succeeded by a Nisei, Rev. Peter T. Koshi. Andrews was honored by the Japanese government in 1970 and at a lavish banquet by the Japanese American community in 1976 before his passing at age 81 in May 1976. He has been the subject of two documentary films: My Friends Behind Barbed Wire (2008) by Lucy Ostrander ad Don Sellers and Act of Faith: The Rev. Emery Andrews Story by Janice D. Tanaka.

Authored by Brian Niiya , Densho

For More Information

Andrews, Emery Brooks. Interview by Tom Ikeda. Seattle, March 24, 2004. Densho Digital Repository.

"Guide to the Emery E. Andrews Papers, 1925–1969." University of Washington Libraries Special Collections.

"History: Our Story." Japanese Baptist Church of Seattle website.

Pritchett, Rachel. "Rev. Andrews Tended His Flock in Internment." Bainbridge Conversation blog post. Kitsap Sun website, May 7, 2007.

Shaffer, Robert. "Opposition to Internment: Defending Japanese American Rights During World War II." The Historian 61.3 (Spring 1999): 597–619.

Siegel, Shizue. In Good Conscience: Supporting Japanese Americans During the Internment . San Mateo, CA: AACP, Inc., 2006.


  1. Three white women church workers also moved to Twin Falls with the Andrews family: Florence Rumsey, May Herd Katayama, and Esther McCollough. For brief profiles of these women, see Shizue Siegel, In Good Conscience: Supporting Japanese Americans During the Internment (San Mateo, CA: AACP, Inc., 2006), 154–55.
  2. See Robert Shaffer, "Opposition to Internment: Defending Japanese American Rights During World War II," The Historian 61.3 (Spring 1999): 597–619.

Last updated Dec. 4, 2023, 6:05 p.m..