Rev. G. I. Keirn (1854 – 1922) Obituary

Gideon Isaac Keirn

The Universalist Leader Nov 1922
The Universalist Leader Nov 1922

The news of the death of the Rev. G. I. Keirn, D. D., Oct. 25, came as a shock, for we had supposed that Dr. Keirn was in his usual excellent health. A host of friends in all parts of the world will mourn the sudden passing of one so beloved in our fellowship.

Gideon Isaac Keirn was born in Columbus City, Indiana, in 1854, He was early drawn to the ministerial profession and graduated from Canton Theological School and Tufts College, receiving the degree of D. D. from Buchtel College in 1904, He served as pastor in Mt, Vernon, NY, Norwood,  Mass, Portland, Me.,  Charlestown,  Mass.,  Muncie, Ind., and Atlanta, Ga. But his greatest work was achieved as Superintendent of our Mission in Japan.

Dr. Keirn was first called to the Japan Mission in 1898, when he was pastor of our historic church in Charlestown, Mass. He was succeeding admirably and was happy in his work, He did not want to leave, much less to go to the other side of the world far away from his many friends, But the officials of our church convinced him that it was his duty to respond to their call, and he rose to their demand with customary courage and cheerfulness.

He made a notable contribution to our cause in Japan, and we owe him much for his devotion and unflagging energy, He accomplished his work principally through the printing press. He not only preached much, he wrote more, He published tracts and articles upon all phases of the liberal theology, and these were scattered broadcast through the empire. His words found their way into many Japanese publications, aroused wide interest and stimulated genuine sympathy, He was a sower of seed. No one can estimate how far these seeds were scattered, but of this we may feel sure: in the reconstruction of religion which is taking place in Japan, the words of Dr. Keirn will bear abundant and excellent fruit.

His missionary work was interrupted by his return to America in 1901 on account of the health of Mrs. Keirn. For seven years he was the pastor of our church in Muncie, Indiana, returning finally to Japan for another period of devoted service, Four years ago he returned to America, and after a prolonged and much-needed rest he accepted the pastorate of the Union Liberal Church of Atlanta, Ga. Here again, in a new field, he achieved success and won the affection and respect of the people of the city.

Perhaps the strongest characteristic of Dr. Keirn was tenacity of purpose. When he felt that he was right nothing could swerve him, This quality was so marked that sometimes associates became impatient with his intensity of conviction, But where he felt a certain course to be his duty, not even friendship must stand in the way of his pursuit, Quietly, without noise or bluster, he kept his way. And this must be said, that in the end his way generally proved the right way.

He took his share of hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ and never turned his back to a foe, but moved straight on to what he felt to be the triumph of the true and good, So, he has fought a good fight, he has kept the faith, he has finished his course. We shall miss the influence of his fine personality, and the wisdom of his counsels.

Dr. Keirn was married in 1881 to Miss Anna M. Kimmell, who has shared the success which she helped him to achieve, and who will receive the sympathy of the entire Church in her bereavement.

Crematory services were held in Cincinnati on Friday, Oct. 27, the Rev. Harry Adams Hersey of Muncie Ind., officiating.

Source: Google Books The Universalist Leader November 4, 1922