Forty Years and Counting


The year 1969 was a remarkable one.  The Saturday Evening Post stops publication after 147 years.  The Beatles give their last public performance and Elvis Presley begins his comeback.  Richard Nixon becomes the 37th president of the United States succeeding Lyndon B. Johnson.  Neil Armstrong takes man’s first step on the moon.  The first troop withdrawals from Vietnam begin.  The Woodstock Festival is held in upstate New York.  The first automatic teller machines (ATM) are installed in Rockville Centre, New York.  Wal-Mart incorporates as Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.  Sesame Street premieres on the National Educational Television. The first Boeing 747 makes its debut.

And Dwight Albright and Josephine Stinson travel with a group from Harding College to help with evangelism in Japan.  Thus begins a long term commitment to help the Lord’s church in Japan.

During that summer campaign trip led by Joe Cannon, the group did work in the Ibaraki area of Japan and on Okinawa, then a territory of the U.S.  The group also visited mission works in the Philippines, Taiwan, and Hong Kong.  It was during this trip that Josephine received her engagement ring, purchased in Hong Kong, and they decided to set their sights on working in Japan.


With that goal in mind, they returned to the states at the end of the summer of 1969 to complete their education and prepare to return to Japan.  The following year Dwight graduated from Harding College and he and Josephine were married September 8, 1970.  The next year Josephine completed her training as a registered nurse and Dwight began his work at the Harding Graduate School in Memphis supported by Josephine.

In 1974 they asked the elders of the Park Avenue church of Christ in Memphis if they would consider overseeing and supporting their future work in Japan.  They agreed with the stipulation that they work with the congregation for three years before going.  After some prayer and thought, the Albrights agreed and thus began a thirty-five year relationship.  Near the end of the summer in 1977, Dwight and Josephine along with Rachel (3 years) and Jonathan (1 year) set sail for Japan to return to the country they had committed to help eight years before.

1978 - Tachikawa church
1978 – Tachikawa church

The first three years in Japan were spent in language study and cultural adjustment.  While attending the Tachikawa church in a suburb of Tokyo, they commuted to downtown Tokyo for language study.  Upon Dwight’s graduation for the Japan Missionary Language Institute in 1980, they committed to work with the Uenohara church thirty miles from Tachikawa in Yamanashi Prefecture.

Over the next six years of work with the Uenohara congregation, there were six baptisms and the attendance almost doubled.  Uenohara is a highly traditional community and the church is the only Christian organization in the city of about 35,000.

1980 - Uenohara (Jonathan 4, Rachel 6)
1980 – Uenohara (Jonathan 4, Rachel 6)

Upon their return to Memphis in 1986, Dwight assumed responsibilities as involvement minister with the Park Avenue church. The following year he and Dana Baldwin were asked to team preach, a relationship which continues today. With two pulpit ministers, this permitted Dwight to make return trips to Japan.  At first he went alone, but after parenting responsibilities and care for aging parents were completed, Josephine was able to go along allowing for longer stays in Japan.

This year, 2009, marks the twelfth consecutive year that they have gone to Japan for an extended time of ministry. During those years they have filled in for missionaries on furlough and for congregations between missionaries. They have participated in many church and area-wide retreats. Numerous individuals have accompanied them on these trips introducing them to the work and giving Japanese brethren the opportunity to tell their story. Through all of  the past thirty-five years the Park Avenue church has continued to be a support and encouragement to the Albrights as well as the work in Japan. This congregation has a long standing interest in and support of the work in Japan.