CHURCH ACTIVITIES IN GENERAL
Toshio Hirano had considered creating a church bulletin and his idea became a reality in February 1922 upon the publication of the first issue of the Reisei. The Reisei's publication has continued uninterrupted to this day.
The early leaders were all dedicated Christians who attended Bible schools during the first decade of the church’s history. In 1923, George Yahiro and Toshio Hirano graduated from the California Bible College in Hollywood. Junro Kashitani graduated from the Huntington Park Training School that same year. Hatsu Yano, who was attending a Bible school in Pasadena, married Yahiro after his graduation.
Yahiro became the first Nisei minister from the Japanese-American community in North America, and the first minister of both the San Lorenzo and the Centerville Holiness Churches. In 1924, Junro Kashitani was sent to San Diego as an evangelist. That same year Toshio Hirano was sent to Turlock and became the first pastor of that church. Due to certain difficulties, however, the church moved to Modesto two years later, and continued its activities until World War II. The Modesto Church eventually became the second largest OMS Church by the end of the war.
In 1926, Toshio Hirano was sent to Hawaii to evangelize, after his pioneering work in Turlock. As was often the case, he encountered many difficulties, including the death of his wife as well as financial problems. Yet God mercifully gave him three helpers: Fui Kuroda, whose son, Akira, later became the first English-speaking Nisei pastor; Kenji Akahoshi; and Hideo Tanji, who is still an active member of the Honolulu Japanese Christian Church.
With the help of these faithful lay members, the Waialae Holiness Church was born in Honolulu in 1929. Another Holiness group in Wahiawa held periodic worship services and special meetings. It was called the Wahiawa Holiness Church Group.
In 1928, both Goichi Okamoto and Henry Sakuma graduated from the Bible School in Pasadena, which was affiliated with the Pilgrim Mission. In 1929, Goichi Okamoto returned to Japan to a ministry in Hiroshima. Thus all the early converts dedicated themselves to the Lord, attended Bible schools, and were sent to local Holiness churches. Besides these early converts, several others committed their lives to the Lord either as laymen or as professionals. During the first decade of the church, several others committed themselves to the Lord.
During 1927 Fusataro Fujimoto and Kameo Hasegawa decided to become lay evangelists. To Kuzuhara they were like Aaron and Hur as they assisted in the ministry. Kichiro Fukuda, Takeo Shimotori, and Kakuta Nakamura entered Bible school in 1928. Fukuda had served the Lord as a layman for six years before beginning his studies. The year he entered the school, he transferred his membership from the Congregational Church to the Los Angeles Holiness Church. His kinship with the Holiness church came after a long spiritual journey.
In 1929, Akio Akutagawa also came from another church and dedicated himself to the Lord after witnessing the lives of the early Holiness converts. That same year, Kumaichiro Shinoda of the San Lorenzo Nursery donated one acre of land to the Holiness church. He had been converted to Christ by a pioneer missionary in Japan, Lord Buxton. On October 13, 1929, Bishop Juji Nakada officially dedicated the San Lorenzo Church building. George Yahiro was assigned as its first minister.
In 1930, the fourth OMS Holiness Church was established in San Diego with Kichiro Fukuda appointed as its first pastor. The nineteen members included seven charter members.
In 1931, the Wahiawa Holiness Church was born as a result of the efforts of men like Hideo Tanji. The following year the Honolulu Holiness Church was born through the experience of three dedicated Christians.
In 1934, after a twelve year affiliation, the OMS Holiness Church in America declared its independence from the church in Japan. A schism had developed in the Church in Japan over issues pertaining to the Second Coming of Christ and the relationship between Israel and the Church. Not wanting to become involved, the American church decided to establish its independence.
During the same year, three additional Holiness churches were established: Centerville, Baldwin Park, and Seattle. In January 1935, the first General Conference was held under the name of the OMS Japanese Holiness Church of North America. Sadaichi Kuzuhara served as superintendent until 1941, when war broke out between Japan and the United States.
In 1935, the Baldwin Park Church became independent from the Los Angeles Holiness Church. Frank Heisdorf had already been assigned there as minister of the church a year before.
In 1936, Sadaichi Kuzuhara conducted cottage meetings in various West Los Angeles area homes. These meetings were to become the foundation of the West Los Angeles Holiness Church after the war.
Arriving from Japan in 1937, Tameichi Okimoto began to serve the San Diego Holiness Church. That same year also witnessed the dedication of the new Modesto Holiness Church facilities, which culminated ten years of pioneer work in the area.
In 1938, the second General Conference in three years was held at the Los Angeles Holiness Church. A geographical map of the each Holiness church of that year is shown in Figure 1. On November 12th of the same year, Sadaichi Kuzuhara's wife, Kiyoka, died after a lengthy illness. The first Conference Funeral Service was held in her memory.
By 1940 ten churches comprised the OMS Holiness Church of North America. They were the Modesto, San Lorenzo, San Diego, Wahiawa, Honolulu, Baldwin Park, Centerville, Seattle, Hilo, and San Fernando Holiness Churches. In many of these churches, the Nisei, who were coming of age, were becoming involved in young people fellowship groupsthe forerunner of the postwar English-speaking departments.
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