LOCAL HOLINESS CHURCH ACTIVITIES
The Campbell Church
In May 1950, Kameichi Wakatani and his wife, Fusayo, began pioneer work in the San Jose area. Home meetings began in 1951. At the General Conference of 1952, the San Jose mission was called the San Jose Church. In due time, regular services were held at the Assembly of God Church in Campbell on Saturday nights, with Saturday morning Bible classes for children. Tameichi Okimoto and Dan Shinoda, pastors of the San Lorenzo Holiness Church at that time, often came out to assist with the work. At the General Conference of 1953, Kameichi Wakatani was named as an evangelist of the Campbell Church.
The first official business meeting of the congregation was held in November 1954 to formally establish a church. In 1955, James Toda was appointed as their first pastor and served in a bilingual capacity until 1959, when he was assigned to Honolulu. David Shitabata served the English Division of the Campbell Church for one year. Daniel Shinoda helped Fusayo Wakatani to keep the English Division going. He ministered every Saturday evening in the worship service, thus helping Fusayo Wakatani in establishing the English Division. Joseph Akahoshi also assisted for a short time.
The Honolulu Church
During World War II, the Holiness churches on the Mainland were closed due to the evacuation and internment, but the Honolulu Church continued its ministry uninterrupted. The church prayed for guidance during the tense war years, while they gathered and sent needed goods to the internees during their stay. Kichiro Fukuda continued to minister to the Japanese-speaking congregation until 1954.
In 1949, the church moved to a large converted home on Heulu Street in the Makiki area. Dedication services were held on April 18, 1952. That year Kenneth Ashitomi, along with a number of collegians, left for Asbury College in Kentucky in preparation for the ministry. Fusayo (Miyoshi) Wakatani had begun work with the Sunday school children and young people when Ernest Kilbourne, the first English-speaking pastor, arrived. Kilbourne left in early 1953 for Japan as an OMS missionary after a four year ministry.
In September 1953, Arthur Tsuneishi was appointed to the Honolulu Church. During his ministry, Isoroku (Iso) and Irene Sekiguchi were both active with the young people. Iso dedicated himself to the ministry at this time. A year later, Mikio Ishino succeeded Kichiro Fukuda, who had served the Japanese Department for eighteen years.
In 1957, Akira Kuroda transferred from the Los Angeles Church to serve in the Honolulu Church’s English Department. It was during his ministry that the church moved to Oahu Avenue in 1958. The facility, which was formerly a Jewish synagogue, was purchased for 75,000 dollars. Dedication services were held on March 20, 1960.
In 1959, James Toda was appointed to the English Department. During his ministry, Elaine Ige dedicated herself to mission work in Brazil, and Janet Fujii went as a missionary to serve as librarian of the OMS Seoul Theological Seminary in Korea.
The Los Angeles Church
In March 1951, the Los Angeles Japanese Department started a monthly luncheon meeting for the young people attending their worship services. These meetings became the traditional evangelistic tool for youth ministry. That year, the church celebrated its thirtieth anniversary with four days of evangelistic meetings with Sadaichi Kuzuhara preaching.
During October 1951, the church property on 35th Place was sold and a Greek Orthodox church at 36th and Gramercy Place was purchased. On March 9 of the following year, a dedication service was held with over 500 people in attendance. Since 1949, the Los Angeles Church Japanese Department had faithfully carried on an outreach into the West Los Angeles area; in 1955, they were able to witness the birth of a mission church.
In 1957, Arthur Tsuneishi was appointed as the English Division pastor, with Akira Kuroda replacing him in Honolulu. Two years later, Kuroda was reappointed to the Los Angeles Church. George Toda was called to serve as Associate Pastor and Director of Christian Education, thus beginning the first multi-staff arrangement in a local church in our Conference.
On February 25, 1960, the church started an outreach ministry in the Orange County area at the home of Kunijiro Okubo. It was a monthly cottage prayer meeting for members who had moved to the area. The group was ably led by Eiji Suehiro. Faced with mushrooming needs, an educational building fund was begun in 1961. That same year, the church celebrated its fortieth anniversary with an outstanding guest speaker from Japan, Evangelist Koji Honda. As a reflection of the times, the installation of a rotation system for the election of Board members was epoch-making in the annals of Holiness Church history.
The Monrovia (Azusa) Church
In July of 1949, Mikio Ishino was appointed pastor of the Monrovia Church. Working as a gardener to support himself and his family, Ishino continued the area’s cottage meetings begun by Kameo and Tsuruko Hasegawa in 1917. The Monrovia Church was renamed the Azusa Holiness Church with various families hosting meetings in their homes. In the early 1950’s, an old Japanese language school was rented to house a Sunday school and to hold worship services. Arthur Tsuneishi, then a student at the California Baptist Seminary in Covina, along with his wife, Sally, helped develop the Sunday school and the youth activities.
The year 1954 was significant in the history of the church, for it marked the purchase of a church property in Monrovia. On December 30, 1954, the OMS Monrovia Holiness Church was officially incorporated. With thanksgiving and faith, the congregation held the dedication services on January 16, 1955.
The years that followed saw many pastoral changes. The Japanese Department received three new pastoral appointments in the course of four years: Daniel Sai in 1955; Ken Nishimura in 1950; and Tameichi Okimoto (for a second time) in 1958. The English Department was served by a number of student pastors who had attended Fuller Theological Seminary: Ted Ogoshi in 1956; Harry Kawahara in 1957; and Kenneth Ashitomi in 1959. While the Nisei matured and acquired greater responsibility within the church, the English Department was formally organized in 1956. Taeko Okimoto served as interim pastor of the English Department in 1961. Thus she became the first ordained woman to serve in the Holiness Conference. To accommodate the growth of the church, an educational unit was added a year later.
The San Diego Church
When World War II ended in 1945 and the Japanese were allowed to return to California, initially only a few families returned to San Diego. The San Diego Church reopened with only three or lour families attending services. Tamcichi Okimoto served briefly until he was transferred to the San Lorenzo Holiness Church in 1946. George Yahiro was then appointed pastor of the San Diego Church. He not only carried on a bilingual ministry, but later also managed to reach many tannothe short-term farm laborers from Japanwho were working in San Diego.
As the Nisei grew into adulthood, the San Diego Church saw new opportunities to minister to their needs. The presence of a growing number of Nisei families necessitated the development of an English Language Department. As a result, an exclusively Japanese-speaking Board of Deacons welcomed its first English-speaking Nisei deacons in 1951. English worship services began in 1954 with ten to twenty people in attendance. Three years later, Bill Hara, then enrolled as a student at San Diego State College, was appointed student pastor. For the following year, he served the English Department. His responsibilities included the worship services, midweek prayer meetings, and visitations.
In 1959, Arthur Tsuneishi was appointed as the first full-time English Department pastor. Although they served their respective departments, Tsuneishi worked closely with Yahiro. During this period, evangelistic services led by visiting Japanese evangelists like Hatori, Honda, and Ariga, were held at the church, as well as at mess halls where the tanno worked in the San Diego area. Many were won to Christ and baptized. Weekly Bible studies were also held at various camps.
In 1962, a fruitful sixteen-year ministry in San Diego ended with the sudden passing of George Yahiro. He had served faithfully in the Holiness Conference since its inception. Arthur Tsuneishi then assumed the responsibility of ministering in both Japanese and English. For the next three-and-one-half years, the church was again pastored by a bilingual pastor.
The San Fernando Church
On November 4, 1946, the Los Angeles Holiness Church board members decided to begin bimonthly worship services on Saturday nights in the San Fernando Valley. The first meeting was held at the Yoshikata Kimura home in Sunland with Eiji Suehiro as a special guest. In July 1949, Yoshisuke Iguchi and Eizo Morishita provided their homes as meeting places for the church. At this time, Ren Kimura administered the Sunday school, Akira Kuroda pastored the English Division, and Eiji Suehiro pastored the Japanese Division. After the remodeling of the Morishita home in 1950, it was called the Morishita Kaikan.
In 1952, Ren Kimura was officially appointed by the Holiness Conference as the first English pastor of the San Fernando Valley Holiness Church. He completed his training in 1953 at the California Baptist Theological Seminary in Covina. Katsuei Yoshino, who had come to the United States to study English, was appointed pastor of the Japanese Division. On May 31, 1952, the church was officially recognized and in August 1953 incorporated as a non-profit organization. That year a one-acre plot on Haddon Avenue in Pacoima was purchased. Subsequently, under the leadership of Yas Inada, a building program was initiated. April 25, 1954, became a memorable day in the history of the San Fernando Church, for it celebrated the dedication of the first church edifice.
In 1962, George Toda was appointed to succeed Ren Kimura. His pastorate was characterized by his orderly teaching ministry, which brought steady growth and solidarity, especially in the Sunday school and young people. The two congregations and the Sunday school eventually began outgrowing the social hall, which was inadequate for the tasks. The Church Building Chairman, John Iguchi, spearheaded a successful drive which culminated in the construction of the present sanctuary in 1964. Prior to the construction, two acres adjacent to the then existing property had been purchased in 1958, thereby providing ample room for parking and future expansion.
The San Lorenzo Church
In August of 1945, Eiji Suehiro returned to the San Lorenzo Church from Topaz, Utah. The church resumed its activities under the leadership of Suehiro; however, the following year at the General Conference, he was selected to be the Bishop of the Conference. Consequently, he had to move to the Los Angeles Holiness Church. Replacing him on October 8, 1946, Tameichi Okimoto was reassigned from the San Diego Church to the San Lorenzo Church.
After studying at Gordon Theological Seminary in Boston, Dan Shinoda returned to San Lorenzo in 1945, not only to work in the family flower business, but also to start the English Division. By 1950 more than eighty were enrolled in the Sunday school. The following year, Saturday morning classes for children were started in Irvington. Then in 1951, the Lifeliners, a high school group, began meeting weekly as did a group of college-age young people. At the same time, Shinoda started a Sunday morning adult Bible class. Throughout the years, the Lifeliners ministered to youths with the help of many faithful advisors.
In 1953, to meet the church's growing needs, an 11,600 dollars combination classsroom and social hall was built and dedicated. San Lorenzo Church observed its twenty-fifth anniversary in October 1954. That same year when Tameichi Okimoto was transferred to San Fernando, Kichiro Fukuda replaced him after a long ministry in Honolulu. During his nine years of ministry at the San Lorenzo Church, Fukuda also conducted pioneer evangelism in Campbell and in Mountain View.
Other new ministries in the English Division included: the Sky Pilots, organized in June 1955 for boys ages nine to fourteen; and the Mariners, a group for collegians and young adults. During this time, the Sunday evening lay scries began, giving various church groups an opportunity to share their faith. Also, the annual Fall Sunday School Attendance contests were instrumental in bringing many new people to the church. Teams were also formed for monthly visitations on Wednesday nights. Through the prayers of many people, twenty-nine people who had attended the Billy Graham Crusade and had decided to accept the Lord were brought to the church.
Joseph Akahoshi was added to the staff as assistant pastor in 1960. Serving for over two years, he assisted Daniel Shinoda with many responsibilities at the San Lorenzo and the Campbell Churches. During this period, the church published the book The Four-Fold Gospel by Akira Hatori. In 1960, both the sanctuary and the kitchen were enlarged, while additional classrooms and a library were completed and dedicated. Additional offices and the West Wing educational facilities were built in 1963 to accommodate increasing ministry needs.
The Seattle Church
Waichi Suchiro, Eiji Suchiro’s older brother, joined the Holiness Church in 1943, during World War II. The Seattle Church was started by dedicated laymen after the war ended. Although attendance was very low at the Seattle Church, Waichi Suehiro, who had been doing secular work in Philadelphia, was assigned there on February 26, 1947. Worship services, as well as other church activities, were held at Kiyoko Motoda’s home on Massachusetts Avenue. From 1951 to 1952, seven people were baptized. Although the English-speaking worship services were first held in 1957 with Jundo Uzaki as pastor, they were discontinued the following year.
Worship attendance generally numbered from fourteen to seventeen, with a membership of about twenty-five. At the 1963 General Conference, with Waichi Suehiro’s retirement, Shin Nishimura took over as student pastor and served until 1966. Due to a conflict between Mrs. Motoda and the Holiness Conference, the Seattle Church was officially closed on January 29, 1967, after a thirty-two year ministry.
In spite of its official closure, Mrs. Motoda continued the ministry as the Japanese Evangelical Church. In 1982, the church building was selected for display at the Meiji-mura Museum near Nagoya. It was subsequently dismantled and rebuilt at Meiji-mura as the only North American memento of a building used by the Nikkei during that period. Significantly, it is a permanent reminder of the work carried on in the Northwest by our Conference.
The West Los Angeles Church
The origin of the West Los Angeles Church dates back to 1936 when cottage meetings were held in the Sawtelle area. Along with Kumaji Yoshimoto, Kamako Nakada took an active part in leading cottage meetings. Unfortunately, due to the war and the relocations, the group was forced to abruptly terminate their fellowship. After the war ended and the West Los Angeles residents returned, the mission commenced with renewed zeal.
In 1949, the Los Angeles Holiness Church initiated a regular outreach into the area. Kyuzo Nakada, husband of Kamako, was one of the converts baptized at the Los Angeles Holiness Church. A Bible study group began meeting once again at the Nakada home. This group later became the core of the West Los Angeles Holiness Church. Five years later, in the spring of 1955 with the purchase of some property on Iowa Avenue, the mission church was born. Eighteen Los Angeles Holiness Church members transferred to and became charter members of the newly organized West Los Angeles Church in June of 1955.
The dedication service was held in July 1955, and Kumaji Yoshimoto was appointed as lay evangelist. Kenneth Ashitomi was appointed as student pastor in September 1956. He organized and laid the foundation for the inception of the English-speaking Department. Upon his graduation from the Fuller Theological Seminary in June 1961, Ashitomi was appointed as the first full-time minister of the English Department. In 1962, David Hosomi came from Japan to enroll at Azusa College. He assisted in the ministry of the church.
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