JAPANESE ACTIVITIES IN THE LOS ANGELES AREA
In 1890, fifteen years after the first Japanese Christian gatherings in San Francisco, the Japanese Mission Home opened in Los Angeles on Fourth Street, between Broadway and Spring, with the help of some members of the Caucasian-American churches. Its establishment marked the first Japanese Christian gatherings in the area. In June 1896, the Los Angeles Japanese Methodist Church became the first Japanese Christian church in Los Angeles (the Centenary United Methodist Church of today in Little Tokyo). When Founder Bishop M. C. Harris assigned Rev. Tokutaro Nakamura, he became the first Japanese pastor in Southern California.

In 1902, a Miss Hurwood (her first name is not known) opened an English language school for Japanese youngsters, which later developed into a Congregational church. In the same way, the Los Angeles Bethlehem Church was founded by Mrs. Harrison (her first name is not known) in 1905. Thus many Japanese churches were founded by Caucasian-Americans.

In 1906, representatives of Methodist, Presbyterian, Congregational, and five other denominational groups working in eight counties in the area, formed the Southern California Christian Alliance. Seven years later, the Alliance merged with a statewide Christian evangelical group. This group served the community through its evangelical activities, established an education committee, built a children's training school, aided immigrants, and resolved matters regarding land laws. The February 1918 merger of the Congregational, the Presbyterian, and the Bethlehem churches saw the creation of the Union Church of Los Angeles. It became the largest of the Japanese-American churches.

By 1915 there were twenty-three churches with a total of 1,834 church members and 550 Sunday school students in Southern California. Yet in half of these churches there were no pastors, due to the shortage of available pastors. Over the next twenty years the Japanese churches in Southern California grew rapidly, as shown in Table 3.

In the early 1920’s, the Japanese population in the Los Angeles area was approximately 10,000; it then doubled over the next ten years. The Japanese represented nine percent of the population of Los Angeles in 1920, and this figure jumped to fourteen percent in 1930. The area's Japanese population increased dramatically during the early 1900’s, as shown in Table 4.

Thus Los Angeles quickly became a center of Japanese population second only to Hawaii. The OMS Church in Los Angeles was eventually established in 1921, through the efforts of dedicated Issei and Nisei lay persons. Thus in the strained climate of the early 1920’s, the OMS Church in Los Angeles arrived during a time of need for the salvation of their people.

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