The Hopevale Martyrs
In December 1941, less than 12 hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Japan attacked the Philippine Islands. Very soon after, troops from the Japanese Imperial Army landed in the Philippines. A number of American Baptist missionaries had continued their ministry, despite warnings through the summer and autumn of the likelihood of war. They were joined by missionaries to Japan who had left that country, as instructed by the American Baptist Foreign Mission Society.
Missionaries martyred at Hopevale
Jennie Clare Adams, Dorothy Antoinette Dowell, Signe Amelia Erickson
Frederick W. Meyer, Ruth Meyer, Francis Rose
Gertrude Rose; James Howard Covell, Charma Covell (missionaries to Japan)
Louise and Erle Rounds with son, Erle Douglas
The group, made up primarily of educators and health-care workers on the island of Panay, fled into the mountains of Tapaz, in the province of Capiz, in April 1942. There, they established a refuge which they called "Hopevale". They built several thatched structures for housing, and created an outdoor chapel known as the "Cathedral in the Glen".
A replica of the “Cathedral in the Glen” at Green Lake Conference Center.
The missionaries survived for 20 months supported by Filipino believers who risked their lives to bring food, supplies, and news. Up to 100 people would join them in worship from the surrounding area.
A sketch map of the Hopevale barrio and Meyer's hut
Sadly, an American soldier, after being captured and tortured, disclosed the location of the missionaries who were then captured on December 19, 1943. The Covells, speaking Japanese, pleaded for their lives with the Japanese soldiers but to no avail. On December 20th, they requested and were granted one hour to pray together and sing hymns to God. After the hour, one of the missionaries responded, “We are ready.” They were taken one-by-one to a hilltop nearby and beheaded; eight-year-old Erle Douglas Rounds was also killed.
This cross marks the site where the remains of the Hopevale martyrs were buried.
The inscription reads, “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life. Rev. 2:10”
A memorial was dedicated in 1993 at Central Philippine University, upon the 50th anniversary of their death.
International Ministries’ collections include two copies of a memory book kept by the martyrs during their time at Hopevale. It includes diary entries, hymns, a map of their compound, recipes, and drawings, which document their attempt to live as normally as possible while in hiding.
HOPEVALE COMMEMORATION RESOURCES
In commemoration of the Hopevale martyrdom in the Philippines in which missionaries of the American Baptist Foreign Mission Society (now International Ministries) died heroically for their faith, the Sunday nearest to December 20 (the anniversary date of their deaths) has been designated as Hopevale Commemoration Sunday.
For Additional Study:
No Greater Love: Triumph and Sacrifice of American Baptist Missionaries During WII, Elmo D Familiaran
The Edge of Terror, Scott Walker