FORMATION OF THE HOLINESS CHURCH

[Sakuma, Yahiro, Hirano]

In the summer of 1991, the Oriental Missionary Society (OMS) Holiness Church of North America celebrated its seventieth anniversary. The celebration was held in conjunction with the annual General Conference which convened at the Los Angeles Holiness Church—the same church a small band of young people founded in 1920. Throughout the seventy-two year history of the OMS Conference, God has blessed us in many ways. Although most of the pioneer Issei and some of the Nisei members are with the Lord, those remaining still carry on as spiritual warriors today.

Much of the history of the Holiness Conference was extracted from the pages of the Conference bulletin entitled the Reisei (the Voice of the Spirit). Reading these accounts firsthand was both inspiring and fascinating. It was especially thrilling to realize the uniqueness of the Holiness Conference: to this day it is the only truly indigenous Christian work among Japanese-Americans.

The Reisei originated in 1922 as a monthly bulletin of the OMS Holiness Church. With the passing of time, it changed from a monthly to a seasonal publication and the entire series numbered 134 bulletins by 1979. Fortunately, Rev. Eiji Suehiro, the retired minister of the Los Angeles Holiness Church, had carefully saved the entire collection. Thus in 1986 Tsukasa Sugimura republished the entire series, including the handwritten wartime Reisei, to preserve for newer generations what God had achieved through the Holiness church. In 1987, the Reisei was revived as a seasonal bulletin and it continues to be published today.

During the past few years, there has been a growing conviction that the Holiness Conference must be revived spiritually, especially as the year 2000 approaches. Seventy-two years ago the Holiness Church of North America began with revivals. This study emphasizes the need to rediscover the spiritual treasures of these past revival experiences, if we are to determine the future course of the Holiness church.

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