History of the Restoration Movement

William James Bishop


Ligon Portraiture Picture

Biographical Sketch..., Jenkins
Brother Bishop Passes..., Lipscomb
William J. Bishop, Grant
William J. Bishop, Holder
William J. Bishop, Janes
Died At The Post Of His Duty, Kurfees
The Missionary Labors..., McCaleb
Mrs. William J. Bishop, Maner
Grave of Alice Bishop, Japan
Directions & Grave Photos

Biographical Sketch On Life Of William J. Bishop

William J. Bishop (1872-1912) was greatly influenced by James A. Harding while attending Nashville Bible School. Harding believed and taught dependence on God for financial support. Bishop was the first foreign missionary trained by Harding to implement fully Harding's "trust theory" in church planting. Often supporting himself and working closely with the Japanese, Bishop demonstrated faith beyond reason that ultimately led to his untimely death.

Little is known about his childhood except that he attended Nashville public schools and served in an apprenticeship in the printing business before entering Nashville Bible School. Bishop wrote about this period: "I attended school in the morning, worked in a printing office in the afternoon, and studies at night the first year 'til the burden became heavier than I could bear." Turning to the Lord, Bishop promised that if he were allowed to receive a Christian education, he would become a foreign missionary.

He married Alice Davis, a young widow, and began planning to go to Japan. Before acquiring enough funds for travel and support, he resigned his job. After he found his efforts had not produced enough money, he and Alice determined to go as far as their funds allowed. Having made this decision, he received the necessary funds and even more for his planned printing work.

Upon arrival in Japan, despite Alice's sickly condition, they threw themselves into the work. Their rented house gave them no protection from the elements, and Alice soon took sick and died only nine months after their wedding.

Two years after Alice's death, he began a correspondence with Clara Elliot, a former acquaintance. Recognizing the divine providence by which they had made each other's acquaintance, by letter William and Clara secretly made plans for marriage, and Bishop promised to come and marry her in the spring of 1902. "As he had promised, he arrived in the early spring and the two were wed by Bishop's best friend, Jessie P. Sewell, on April 1, 1902."

Returning to Japan, Clara became his partner in the work. Their work prospered, although he and Clara had to bury their firstborn child in the grave of his first wife. A marker was recently placed on their grave.

Bishop greatly desired to publish McGarvey's Commentary on Acts in Japanese. Requests for funs were sent to churches in the States, but little was given. Determined to continue, Bishop gathered the necessary funds by selling his printing press and hiring himself out to the largest Christian publishing house in Japan. Graciously, he distributed the commentary free of charge to Japanese evangelists of all denominations throughout the country and even made it available in Shinto temples and priests.

By 1912, Bishop's labors and sacrifices destroyed his health. Authorities in that day said the lack of nourishment, excessive mental worries and the strain to earn a living could contribute to tuberculosis. Bishop's situation made him a prime candidate. With the beginning of the new year, he decided to go back to the States for treatment. His last act was appointing elders in one of the churches.

Using money borrowed from J.M. McCaleb and promised by Nashville churches, Bishop traveled to Los Angeles. Friends took him to a sanitarium "where his case was so hopeless the doctors did not expect him to survive 'til morning."
Word was sent to Clara for her and the children to come as quickly as possible. She left Japan on April 6, 1912, not knowing William had died two days earlier. Brethren in Japan and the States decided not to tell her until she arrived. Her father said telling her the news was the hardest thing he had ever done.

In keeping with Bishop's spirit, Clara and her daughters returned to Japan, where she stayed several years. Few people in the Restoration Movement exemplify Christian devotion as did the Bishops.

-Excerpt, Ancil Jenkins, Gospel Advocate, Vol. CXLIX, No.7, July, 2007, page 21

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Brother Bishop Passes To His Reward

Here follows the telegraphic story of the last illness and death of brother William J. Bishop, who passed to his reward on Friday, April 4:

Monrovia, Cal., April 1, 1913, J.C. McQuiddy, 317-319 Fifth Avenue, North, Nashville, Tenn. - Brother Bishop much worse. We have cabled his wife to borrow passage money and catch Steamship Mongolia, April 5. Surely the brotherhood will enable her to pay bank promptly. Make all remittances payable only to Mrs. Clara Bishop, Box 638, Monrovia, Cal. -C.C. Klingman

Monrovia, Cal., April 5, 1913 - J.C. McQuiddy, 317-319 Fifth Avenue, North, Nashville, Tenn. - Bishop died eleven fifteen last night. Interment at Los Angeles Monday. -C.C. Klingman

Monrovia, Cal., April 6, 1913 - J.C. McQuiddy, 317-319 Fifth Avenue, North, Nashville, Tenn. - Conducted Bishop's funeral at Monrovia to-day. Body in metallic casket in vault at Los Angeles, awaiting for Mrs. Bishop's arrival. Many friends and flowers from Long Beach. No word from Mrs. Bishop yet. No insurance carried. Her father requests all funds for her be sent to me, at Riverside, Cal. to Mrs. Clara Bishop. -C.C. Klingman.

The news of Brother Bishop's death was not unexpected. Those who have read reports of his condition have felt for some time that the end was near. We had hoped and prayed that he might live until Sister Bishop and the children should have reached his bedside. But our heavenly Father knows best, and we bow submissively to His will.

Brother Bishop's works speaks for itself. The seed he has sown in far-away Japan cannot die. It will bear fruit in years to come. The souls that have been saved through our brother's teaching and preaching of the gospel will save other souls, so that finally the foundation that our brother has laid will be his most enduring monument. While there is nothing we can do for Brother Bishop personally, there is a duty of extending the work already begun and building upon the foundation which is Christ. The death of one man should not lessen one whit our interest in Japan missions. It should make us more eager to perpetuate it, that nothing be lost. Here I am reminding of the timely saying of my lamented uncle, Horace G. Lipscomb: "We cannot resign a duty." It is fortunate indeed that Brother McCaleb and some native workers in Japan to keep in touch and in a measure oversee Brother Bishop's charge until some other God-fearing, self-sacrificing man can be secured to take it up. It is hardly necessary to add that Sister Bishop and the children deserve our loving sympathy. The sacrifice she made in staying behind with the children to prosecute the work, while her husband came home in an almost hopeless quest of health, proclaims her as a woman of faith and courage. We almost lose sight of the pathos of the act in our appreciation of its nobility. It is hardly appropriate for any one to say, "Let us see to it that Sister Bishop does not suffer." She has suffered and is suffering now, not for the lack of food and raiment, but that bitterness and agony that is occasioned by separation from loved ones who need us. We cannot prevent her from suffering, but we can soften and alleviate that suffering to a great extent by some substantial expression of our tender sympathy; and in what better way could we pay tribute to the memory of him who was devoted to her and to the work of the Lord?

A more extended sketch of Brother Bishop will appear later; but this will suffice for this issue.

-A.B. Lipscomb, Gospel Advocate, 1913, page 349

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William J. Bishop - Grant

The subject of this sketch was born in Williamson County, Tenn., on the 20th day of September, 1872.

Having lost his mother early in life, he came to Nashville as a boy and learned the craft of printer. During at least part of the time he was learning and following his trade, he made his home with Brother and Sister Henry Notgrass; and he always spoke of them with the utmost affection, and commended their kindness to him as a boy in their home. Much of his early work, and possibly the learning of his trade, was with an old gentleman, Mr. Paul, of whom he always spoke as treating him well and giving him good advice.

My first acquaintance with him was when he matriculated in the Nashville Bible School in 1894; and in 1895, February 20, he came to my home to make it his home at his pleasure. His means had given out, and he was ready, with truck packed, to leave school and resume his trade. When I learned this, I told him I would give him a home as long as he needed and would accept it. From that time he made my home his while in school, and his headquarters when in the city, till his first marriage in June, 1899.

A gloom came into our home and our hearts were saddened when the news came that Brother Bishop - "our boy," as we often called him - had departed this life at Monrovia, Cal., on April 4, 1913. Why are we sad? Certainly not for Brother Bishop. We are confident that he has gone to the home prepared by our Savior for his saints, a home far better than any earthly paradise. But, O how sad that he had to die so far from his devoted wife and loved little children! We are sure that all was done for him that loving hearts and tender hands could do. Nothing more can be done for him; but much can be done for his brokenhearted wife and orphan children by the sympathy and support of a united brotherhood, the church, which he served so faithfully.

Brother Bishop made it known, when he first became a student in the Bible School, that he desired to make his life work that of a missionary in the foreign field. All at the school, both teachers and students, loved him for his noble worth and fine character; and all rejoiced when provision was made that he should continue in the school. He himself was grateful for the opportunity, and never lost a chance to express his gratitude for the favor. He told us that he had made a vow to the Lord that, if the way should be opened in the providence of God by which he could attend school and get an education, he would give his life to service as a missionary in a foreign field. He looked upon our offer to him as God's means of opening the way; and all who knew him later know that he sacredly and faithfully kept his vow.

After leaving school, which he finally did without getting a diploma, he labored for a considerable time as evangelist in Texas, making headquarters in Paris. During all this time he was continuing preparation for his life work as missionary. At Paris he made his home with the family of Brother J.D. Elliott, on much the same plan on which he made my home his when in Tennessee. He so conducted himself that he soon won the hearts and gained the confidence of these people; and this influence very largely all the latter part of his life. After his returned from Texas, he was with us considerably and talked frequently of his future work. He was always full of hope and trust.

It was at my home, in 1895, that he met his first wife, Sister Alice Davis, a young widow who was then boarding with us. They were thus associated for some months, but it is doubtful that either of them, in that time, ever thought of marriage to each other. But in the summer he and Brother S.P. Pittman held a meeting at Cedar Hill, Tenn., where Sister Davis was then keeping a home, and she entertained them for the meeting. It was then that he learned to love her beautiful character; and on June 8, 1899, in the same home, I said the words that made them husband and wife. After a few days with us in Nashville, they started out together to visit the churches in the interest of a mission to Japan as a field. They spent several months visiting among the churches, he informed them as to the nature of the work and exhorted them as to their duty in sustaining missions; and on October 14 of that year they sailed from San Francisco for Yokohama, their destination being the great and populace city of Tokyo. There they began work immediately upon arrival (on November 2), and he rejoiced that he had now entered upon the real work of his life.

But sadness soon came. His beautiful and lovely helpmate had happened to an accident before their marriage, in which several of her ribs were fractured; and being of consumptive ancestry, tuberculosis set up in the fractured bones in less than two months after their arrival in Japan and soon spread to vital organs. The end came quickly, and she passed away on March 9, 1900, having been his wife just nine months. He buried her lifeless form in the beautiful Tokyo cemetery, and then determined to bury his grief in his work; and so he pushed on at it.

He won the confidence and love of the Japanese for whom he labored, and had the esteem and respect of the other missionary workers of the city. But he was handicapped. He needed a wife. In correspondence with Brother Elliott's family in Paris, Texas, he learned that one in that family had already learned to love him and was willing to work with him in his chosen field. He came back to America early in the year 1902, and on April 1 of that year he was united in marriage to Miss Clara May Elliott, a daughter in the family in which he had made his home when he first went to Paris to engage in evangelistic work.

He and his lovely wife spent several months traveling among the churches, as he had done before his first departure for the field, and in November they sailed from San Francisco for his Japan home. He now entered into the work there with renewed interest, his wife entering into it heartily with him. Having mastered the language of the Japanese thoroughly, he procured a printing press and reproduced and printed in that language many thousand copies of many valuable tracts and treatises. Perhaps the most important of these, the greatest work of his life and a lasting monument to his memory, was the reproduction by him in the Japanese language of McGarvey's "Commentary on Acts." Many copies of this, we understand, were printed were printed by him and are scattered in Japan.

Seven years he and his wife toiled in their adopted home. He overtaxed his strength, and they were obliged to return to America for a rest, his strength being largely depleted when he got back. They came in 1909, bring three little Japan-born girls, as the increase in his family for the time. They stayed about a year, but were both eager to go back to the work, which they did in 1910. He was not sufficiently recuperated, but went on with the work. Rumors came that his health was failing, and several months ago word came that he had developed Tuberculosis. Later we heard of his hasty flight to California, leaving his loved ones behind, and then the sad message of his departure to his eternal home before his loved ones could be brought to him. His was a noble life, and his loved ones left behind should labor should imitate him in striving to carry out those lofty ideals taught by his Master for the service of humanity.

-J.W. Grant, Gospel Advocate, 1913, pages 390,391

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William J. Bishop - Holder

Of course I was not surprised to hear of dear, noble, Christlike Brother Bishop's death. I was expecting this. Brother Bishop has always had my sympathy and prayers in his noble work for the Master. He had my sickness and prayers in his sickness and sufferings. But William J. Bishop has fought a good fight; he has successfully climbed the rugged Alpine cliffs, reaching the summit, and passing the gate called "death" into the great beyond, and is sweetly sleeping, to arise in that beautiful, glorious resurrection morning and ascend with Christ to that celestial city. I would rather be William J. Bishop, with the consciousness of having done my duty faithfully to God, lying in that vault in Los Angeles, Cal., than to live in the most beautiful home in the wide, wide world, surrounded with literature, music, art, and everything money and talent can supply, without Christ. "What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul!"

Brother Bishop's pure, sweet, noble, self-sacrificing, short life is ended. His work is over, and he will reap the golden grain. He had suffered and sacrificed enough, and God called him home to rest. Farewell, dear, good, noble brother; we will meet you in the city of the new Jerusalem, in that "city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God."

Mrs. Bishop and the little girls have my love, prayers and sympathy. But I feel sure that Mrs. Bishop will hold out faithful; that she will ever "press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus," and will hear the welcome plaudit: "Well done, good and faithful servant; . . . enter thou into the joy of thy Lord."

-Mattie Holder, Gospel Advocate, 1913, page 391

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William J. Bishop - Janes

If I able to locate the beginning of my interest in mission work, it had its origin in a lecture given by William J. Bishop at Potter Bible College about ten or twelve years ago. That was near the time he was to return to Japan with his new wife, who is now the widowed mother of three precious children. Relative to this long trip which would separate the both from all their earthly kin, he said: "We don't want anybody to pity us."

Probably it is not generally known that funds were available during the Russ-Japanese War to bring the family home, but he remained at his post. When they came home a few years ago, he was asked to remain in America, but he would not. The he was asked to remain ten years, but he was unwilling to do that. He was deeply interested in his work among the Japanese and stuck to it persistently.

Away back there when he was a poor, uneducated boy, he promised the Lord that he would give his life to mission work if enabled to go through school, and neither war, nor the wish of relatives, separated him from his chosen field. Humanly speaking, his departure is very sad. He was greatly needed both in the United States and in Japan.

It is a time for prayer. Let us earnestly pay almighty God to raise up more men for the work. And let us, with both prayers and pocketbooks, stand nobly by his faithful and devoted wife and help her continue the good work. She deserves no censure for remaining on the field when Brother Bishop was driven off by sickness. The world would be better if we had more women like her.

-Don Carlos Janes, Gospel Advocate, 1913, page 391

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Died At The Post Of Duty

Brother W. J. Bishop has gone from this world. His earthly career has closed. The circumstances attending his departure are pathetic in the extreme. The following letters tell their own sad story. The first is a note from Brother Elliott Sister Bishop's father, written from Los Angeles, Cal.:

Dear Brother: Your gift check for - for Brother Bishop reached me after he passed away. All gifts received will be applied on his expenses; and if any is left, it will be given to Mrs. Bishop and the little girls on their arrival on the 19th. I thank you for them. May God bless and prosper you. Yours, J. D. Elliott.

The second letter is from Brother Charlie Klingman, and is as follows:

Dear Brother: Your second remittance of - for the Bishops came today. Brother Elliott and I are en route to San Francisco now to meet Mrs. Bishop. We expect her on the "Nile" on the 19th. She is still ignorant of her husband's death, and we anticipate a sad meeting. Pray for her and all of us and know that your fellowship is very welcome now. Your brother, C. C. Klingman.

Brother Bishop died on April 4, 1913. The next day Sister Bishop, with her three little girls, embarked on the Steamer Nile for the United States, but the time between his death and her embarkation was too short for her to receive the sad intelligence before starting on the long and sad voyage across the Pacific Ocean. Even a poor imagination, can picture with vivid effect and melancholy interest what that voyage must have been to her. And then think of the landing on the American shore and the breaking of the sad news! With her heart burdened both with the care of three precious little girls and with distracting foreboding concerning the condition of her husband from the very moment that the ship weighed anchor at Yokohama until it cast anchor on the American shore, what an experience she must have had while for two long and weary weeks they were all "rocked in the cradle of the deep!" And what mingled emotions must have surged through her being as the good ship Nile glided through the Golden Gate: Brother Kingman and Brother Elliott, the father of Sister Bishop, went together with some other friends to San Francisco to meet the incoming ship, gently break the sad news, and do what they could to care for and comfort the grief-stricken hearts.

What a chapter we have here in the history of modern missionary endeavor! Fourteen years ago our deceased brother and his first wife, standing side by side in the work, summoned the courage to brave the briny deep and began work among the natives in the "land of the Rising Sun." Her useful life was cut short by death soon after their arrival in Japan, and her body sleeps in the dust of the "Island Empire." About eleven years ago the second wife - the present Mrs. Bishop - with equal courage and seal went with him to the same work in the same distant Geld. They, seem to have been untiring in the work even after the hand of wasting disease had fastened itself upon his her useful life was cut short by death soon after their arrival in Japan, and her body sleeps in the dust of the "island Empire." About eleven years ago the second wife - the present Mrs. Bishop - with equal courage and seal went with him to the same work in the same distant field. They seem to have been untiring in the work even after the hand of wasting disease had fastened itself upon his frail body, Our readers have already been informed of his forced return on account of broken health to the United States, and of his arrival in California, where he made the last fight with the relentless disease which finally conquered on April 4, 1913.

It does not occur to us that an appeal for help, in the popular sense of the term, is necessary in this case. Surely a mere statement of the facts of the situation will be sufficient to make its own appeal. Surely this of itself will be enough to move the hearts and open the purses of faithful men and women, and to lead them to do all that is needed. Like a true soldier in battle, our brother fell at the post of duty with his face to the foe. He leaves behind a devoted wife whose burden of grief, incident to his death, is enough for her to carry without adding to it the burden of financial distress. But this is not He leaves in her arms of maternal love and anxiety three precious little girls. This fact leads sweetness and power, as well as eloquence, to the appeal of the situation. Their address is Riverside, Cal, care of C. C. Klingman. May "the Father of mercies and God of all comfort" provide for their every need!

-M.C. Kurfees, Gospel Advocate, 1913, page 441,442

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The Missionary Labors of William J. Bishop

Brother Bishop made up his mind to be a missionary while yet a student in the Nashville Bible School. He reached Japan in August, 1899. The first Mrs. Bishop shortly before starting to Japan received some internal injuries from a fall and died in less than a year after reaching the field. Brother Bishop returned to America in February, 1902. On the first day of April of the same year he was married to Miss Clara May Elliott, of Paris, Texas. They reached, Japan on his second trip in November, 1902, remaining at home less than a year.

Soon after his arrival Brother E. Snodgrass returned home and gave the Koishikawa church over into his hands. The work of the church has done well under Brother Bishop's management. In January, 1913, our brother was forced to leave his family in Japan and h ten to California on account of tuberculosis of the lungs. He did not improve as he had hoped, and Sister Bishop early in April was called to come by the first ship. The day she left (April 6) another, cable message came saying that Brother Bishop was dead. As she had just left Japan by only an hour or two before the message came, the sad news was to be broken to her first by her father at San Francisco twelve days later.

Our brother's labors are ended. He has done a good work in Japan. The Koishikawa church has forty or fifty members, with Brother Hlratska as their minister. The congregation also has two flourishing Sunday schools and two preaching stations, one in Tokyo and the other some eighty miles in the country. There are ten Christians at one of these stations and nine at the other. He has built a monument to his memory in Japan that will outlast one of marble and be of far more value to mankind. It is to be he regretted that even before he reached the meridian of life (for he was only forty-one) his labors should have been cut off; but thus it has been, and we can only submit to the Inevitable, believing that in some way it may have been for the best. In December of last year he made a week's trip one of the hot springs of Japan, hoping that the baths and milder weather might help him. There was no indication of improvement. That week's outing with him led me to have grave apprehensions that he would never recover. We had labored together in a common cause for nearly fourteen years, and, naturally enough, his loss is keenly felt; but we put our trust anew in Him who knows, who cares, and who doeth all things well, and press on toward the mark.

-J.M. McCaleb, Gospel Advocate, 1913, page 542

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Mrs. William J. Bishop

Mrs. William J. (Clara) Bishop, former missionary in Japan and registrar at Abilene Christian College for twenty-five years, died July 25 in Springfield, Mo.

Funeral and burial services were conducted July 28 in Rogers, Ark. Her husband, who was a missionary in Japan in 1902-09 and 1911-1913, and one daughter, Margaret, preceded her in death. Survivors include two daughters: Julia of Philadelphia, Pa., and Mrs. Shaffer (Mary) Arledge of Crane, Mo.

A native of Tennessee, Mrs. Bishop moved to Paris, Texas, with her family when she was two years old. Paris was her home until she married and went to Japan with her husband. Her three daughters, who all attended Abilene Christian College, were born in Japan.

The Bishops returned to the United States in 1909. They moved back to Japan in 1911, but were forced to return again to the U.S. because of Mr. Bishop's illness. He died in California shortly after leaving Japan in 1913. Mrs. Bishop came to ACC in 1921 as President Jesse P. Sewell's secretary and dormitory hostess. Five years later she was named registrar and served in that office until her retirement in June, 1951. She was also secretary to ACC President Batsell Baxter.

She left Abilene in early 1952 to live with her daughter in Missouri.

-Charles H. Maner, Gospel Advocate, August 20, 1970, p.542

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Grave of The First Wife, Alice, And Son Of William J. and Clara Bishop

Buried In Tokyo, Japan

Wife of William J. Bishop

Died March 9, 1900, Aged 27
Son Of William J. & Clara May Bishop

Born & Died December 5, 1902

Christian Literature Society Of Japan

Location and Directions To The Final Resting Place Of William J. Bishop

W.J. Bishop is buried in one of the largest cemeteries in America, located in Inglewood, California. Inglewood Cemetery is within five miles of Los Angeles International Airport. From the airport travel east on Century Blvd. Go under I-405 and continue traveling east. You will enter the city of Inglewood. Turn left on Prairie Road. When you pass SoFi Stadium on the right you will begin passing an extremely large cemetery. Go until you come to Florence Road and turn right. Enter the cemetery from Florence.

Inglewood Park Cemetery
720 East Florence Avenue
Inglewood, California 90301
(310) 412-6500
Open 8:00am-5:30pm Monday-Friday

See Cemetery Map Here

When you enter the cemetery go to your right, passing in front of what is called the Sunset Mission Mausoleum, a beautiful mausoleum with a Hispanic theme. Pass in front of it and begin going into the cemetery. You will begin looking for a smaller family Mausoleum ahead on the left with the name, E.A. Clampitt above the front door. Stop the car and head behind this mausoleum on the left side. Head back 11 rows from the street and look for a grave marker PATTERSON. Then begin to look down and to the left to find the Bishop foot marker. The location is Sierra Section Lot 223. Note the pictures below to find perspective in the section.

GPS Location
33.969405, -118.342727

The Grave Pointed To Above Is McCLURE. Just Behind It Is The Bishop Grave

See Bishop Grave In Foreground - Picture Looks Off To The Southwest

W.J. Bishop

Sep. 20, 1872 - Apr. 4, 1913

Missionary To Japan

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The Lord Will Provide: A Doctoral Dissertation by Shawn Z. Daggett
Special Thanks: To Shawn Z. Daggett who contributed his 2007 Doctoral Dissertation entitled,
Also, to Gary C. Hampton for his assistance in procuring permission to post here. 05.25.2023

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