GENERATIONAL TRANSITION
Most Issei came to the United States before the Exclusion Act was enforced in 1924, so today, they are eighty years old or more. Many Issei women came as “picture brides,” in which the man and woman knew each other only through the photos that they had exchanged before their marriage. In a few years, there will be very few if any Issei Christians left in our churches. As a result, in recent years we have been witnessing the increased leadership roles taken over by not only younger ministers from Japan, but also new Issei, those who have come to the United States since World War II. Today, in the Japanese-speaking division, we see the new Issei: students, businessmen, members of international marriages, recent immigrants and a sprinkling of Isseis.

In the Post World War II era, the English department was born under Nisei leadership. Kibei Nisei, who were able to speak both languages, belonged to either the Japanese or English-speaking divisions. Now, as many of the Nisei enter their retirement years, more and more Sanseis are taking active leadership roles in the English department. Also Sansei pastors far outnumber the active Nisei pastors today. Moreover, the high rate of interracial marriage among Japanese-Americans will definitely have an impact on the Nikkei Church in the future.

Table 26 provides a breakdown of the numbers and types of people attending the Japanese-speaking divisions of the local churches. Traditionally, there have been more women than men in churches, and that same pattern currently prevails. While the number of businessmen and students does not differ greatly among churches, the number of interracially married persons differs greatly according to geographical location. For example, the majority of worshippers at the San Diego Church are interracial married women, and male attendance is very low by comparison. All in all, Japanese-American churches are currently facing the greatest transitional period ever experienced in their history.


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