CHURCH ACTIVITIES IN GENERAL
In 1965, Shinichi Fukiage was assigned, as pulpit supply, to a work in Milwaukee about 100 miles north of Chicago. He followed the ministries of Sadaichi Kuzuhara and Henry Sakuma. The Milwaukee area church, which began with only five members, had thirty regularly in attendance by 1966. In spite of this, the work was closed in 1970 and Fukiage was assigned to the San Diego Church.
On October 27, 1969, while pastoring the Whittier Community Church, a work he had started, Tameichi Okimoto was killed in an auto accident. His wife, Taeko, continued the ministry at the church until her retirement in 1989.
The statistics of church activities for both English and Japanese departments in 1970 are shown in Tables 18 and 19. During the next decade, while morning worship attendance in the Japanese department remained relatively unchanged, English attendance increased about thirty-three percent from 387 to 515. The English department has enjoyed steady growth during the postwar era.
In 1971, the Los Angeles Holiness Church celebrated its fiftieth anniversary. The anniversary program concluded with a grand banquet at the Chalon Mart in Los Angeles. The following year, an anniversary book, titled Torokobi no Izumi (Fountain of Joy) was published.
In 1973, to commemorate the birthday of the Conference, the last Sunday in April was designated as Founder's Day. All offerings received on that day were henceforth allotted to the Pension Fund.
At the 1973 General Conference, Daniel Shinoda announced that the Free Methodist Conference had approached the Holiness churches about a closer cooperation with them, since both organizations were very similar. Although a merger was implied, even without a merger there was a definite desire to cooperate and work together on some common activities. Thus pastors from both Conferences met at the Serra Retreat Center in Malibu for additional dialogue. However, no further actions have resulted since then.
On November 9, 1973, Kichiro Fukuda died at the age of eighty-five. The Conference held the funeral service at the San Lorenzo Holiness Church. Waichi Suehiro also departed for his heavenly home on November 10, 1973. Both men had served faithfully in the Conference for many years.
On October 27, 1974, the Retired Ministers and Pioneer Laymen were honored at a testimonial banquet held at the Proud Bird Restaurant in Los Angeles. Ninety-three Issei and twenty-four Nisei who had been baptized forty-or-more years earlier were honored before an audience of 265. Citations were presented to all the honorees. That same year, the total English division congregation exceeded 1000 for the first time.
In 1977, Daniel Shinoda, along with several families from the Contra Costa County community, began holding worship services at the Walnut Creek Masonic Lodge. The first worship service was held on October 2, 1977. The Sunday school program of the church was started a year later. Until its formal incorporation in 1981, the church operated under the San Lorenzo Church Charter.
Also in 1977, new satellite work began in the west valley of San Fernando with Ren Kimura as pastor. The work was called the West Valley Japanese Community Church. About twenty-five people attended the initiation of the new ministry. On August 17, 1977, Mikio Ishino, a retired minister, passed away after seventeen years of faithful Conference service. He left his wife, Kinu, and three sons: Stan, Ben and Makoto.
According to the statistics compiled by John Mizuki, in 1977 the Holiness Conference ranked third by denomination in the number of churches and membership, as revealed in Table 20.
By 1978, Holiness Conference churches were well-represented at the Centennial Celebration of Japanese-American evangelization. The National Conference brought together all segments of Japanese Protestantism in the United States, as well as a good delegation from Japan. Other countries represented included Brazil, Canada, Korea, and Taiwan.
As part of the Bay Area churches which hosted this historic event, the Santa Clara and San Lorenzo Churches took prominent roles in preparation and leadership. Arthur Tsuneishi served as secretary on the National Centennial Committee. In Southern California, Robert Tsujimoto and Akira Kuroda served as members of the Centennial Celebration Coordinating Committee. Tsujimoto also served as co-chairman of the banquet committee, while Kuroda edited the souvenir booklet of the Southern California churches.
In 1979, the total congregation of the Holiness Church of North America exceeded 2,000 members for the first time. Also in 1979, with changing attitudes within the church, a name-change option for local churches was approved. Thus many churches renamed themselves by dropping the Holiness name. For a number of years because of certain connotations of the name Holiness, we had been advised by even the OMSI to drop the name. The most often used new designation was Japanese Christian, which also served to identify our churches to those seeking an ethnic church. However, several churches have chosen to retain the Holiness name.
The statistics of church activities on English and Japanese departments in 1980 are shown in Table 21 and Table 22. This period was truly the Expansion Period for both departments. From 1970 to 1980, the Japanese department morning worship attendance increased from 401 to 601a fifty percent growth. During the same period, the English department increased from 515 to 751a forty-five percent growth.
The Conference Resource Committee (CRC) was created by the Executive Council in May 1980. The purpose of the CRC was to determine how best to mobilize and utilize the various resources and talents of the members and friends of the Conference. This committee proved invaluable for the planting and expanding of churches, as well as providing much needed services for Conference churches.
The proposition to establish the Conference Church Planting & Expansion Fund was approved by the 1982 General Conference meeting in Hawaii. The Committee challenged the people to raise the sum of 750,000 dollars in three years. However, due to some philosophical differences, the hoped-for amount fell short of its proposed goal.
In 1981, after a ten year ministry at the West Los Angeles Holiness Church, Kenichi Dojo tendered his resignation to take up a new position in Japan. On September 15 of the same year, Kumaji Yoshimoto, who had faithfully served as a lay minister for many years at the same church, passed away.
In March 1986, Robert Tsujimoto, who had faithfully served for twenty years in the Conference, resigned. In July of the same year, Sadaichi Kuzuhara celebrated his 100th birthday in Chicago. The same month he was invited by the Los Angeles Holiness Church and over 300 people celebrated his birthday.
At the 1986 General Conference, Akira Kuroda, a faithful laborer in the first Nisei church, retired after forty-four years of ministry in the Conference. On September 29, 1986, Kinu Ishino passed away at the age of eighty-six. She had been the wife of the late Mikio Ishino, a former pastor of the San Gabriel Valley Japanese Christian Church.
The year 1987 marked the passing of Isoroku Sekiguchi on March 27 at the age of fifty-one. He had faithfully served the Conference for twenty-five years. On May 31, 1987, Bill Hara resigned from the Conference to carry on his work at the Inland Empire Japanese Christian Church. That same year, David Shinoda terminated his services at the Los Angeles Holiness Church to accept a call to the Gardena Valley Baptist Church.
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