Akira Kuroda was born in Hawaii on July 13, 1914. His first exposure to Christianity began in 1921 when he was a seven-year-old living in Montecito, California. Every Sunday, a kindly gentleman named Mr. Nishida would pick up a carload of children, including Akira, to attend Sunday school at the Japanese Congregational Church in Santa Barbara.
He was baptized at the age of twelve while he was attending the Nuuanu Congregational Church in Honolulu. However, it was not until 1936, when he visited Tamcichi Okimoto’s small Holiness Church in Shinagawa, Japan, that he realized what it was to be a truly regenerated person.
Upon his return to Hawaii shortly thereafter, Akira encountered another individual who would have a significant impact on his life. Tetsuji Tsuchiyama, the Bishop of the Free Methodist Church of Japan, en route home from an evangelistic campaign in the United States, stopped at the Kuroda home. The Bishop impressed upon Akira the great need for English-speaking pastors in the Japanese churches in the United States. Before embarking for Japan, he encouraged Akira to dedicate his life to the ministry, as he laid his hands upon Akira praying earnestly that God almighty would set him apart for this task.
In 1936, Kuroda entered the Huntington Park Training School for Christian Workers in preparation for the ministry. Since there were no English-speaking divisions yet, he served as an advisor to the young people’s society of the Los Angeles Holiness Church. With the imminence of the evacuation, he was ordained in 1942 at the Los Angeles Church by Mrs. Letty Cowman of the OMS. He went to the Santa Anita Assembly Center, then to the Amache Relocation Center in Colorado where he was involved in the camp ministries.
To further his training, he left camp to attend Wheaton College in Illinois, graduating in 1945. Although he had planned to matriculate at Princeton Seminary, Sadaichi Kuzuhara dissuaded him since he wanted Akira to help organize a church in Chicago. Hence, he opted to pursue his training at McCormick Seminary in Chicago. When he completed his seminary training in 1947, the Holiness Conference appointed him to the Los Angeles Church to establish the English-speaking division. Later, when approached by the superintendent of the Hawaiian Evangelical Association (Congregational) to return and serve in one of their churches. Akira chose to cast his lot with a small Christian group called the OMS Holiness Church of North America. No doubt, he remembered the words and encouragement of Bishop Tsuchiyama uttered a few years earlier. Also to Kuroda, it offered a great challenge to serve in a truly indigenous work which was begun, a little over a quarter of century before, by a band of stalwart Issei pioneers.
As the first Nisei minister in an English division in the Holiness Conference, Kuroda devoted forty years of his life serving in various Conference churches. Over that period, he served on various Conference committees; he also served as executive secretary for a time. In addition, Kuroda was among the Nisei ministers who helped found the JEMS in the postwar years. Counting his work at the Japanese Christian Church in Chicago in 1943, his pastorates included:
1943Japanese Christian Church at Moody(Lakeside)
1947Los Angeles Holiness Church
1957Honolulu Holiness Church
1959Los Angeles Holiness Church
1978West Los Angeles Holiness Church
1981San Fernando Valley Holiness Church
God had also granted unto him a faithful and devoted partner in the ministry, the former Michiko Fujisaka, whom he married on March 29, 1942. Her parents were prominent members of the Centenary United Methodist Church. From this union, four children were born: David Kenichi, Rhoda Keiko, Janet Tami, and Andrea Akiko. Akira’s loving wife, Michiko, passed away after a lengthy illness on November 2, 1989.
As he reminisced over the years, it has been a life filled with great joy and blessings to have had rich associations with many of God's children not only in the Holiness Conference, but in other denominations as well. Akira’s earnest desire and prayer are best expressed in the words of St. John the Divine: “No greater joy can I have than this, to hear that my children followed the truth.” (3 John 4)
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