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Moneta / Gardena Valley Baptist Church (1930-1940)

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Rev. Masahiko and Kuni Wada's family photo collection of their years at Moneta Baptist now Gardena Valley Baptist Church in Gardena, CA. Most of the photos are from around 1930 - 1940.  Additional photos are from the collection of May Yanaga Koga donated by Melissa Kitano. Rev. Masahiko Wada came to Moneta Baptist of Gardena in 1931.  Previously, he was the pastor at Garden Grove Baptist Church after he arrived from Japan.   His last church in Japan was First Baptist Church of Kure, Hiroshima-ken.   In 1928, Rev. Wada was asked to come to California from Japan as a missionary under the Los Angeles City Baptist Mission Society in California to minister to the farm workers in the Garden Grove and Pomona areas. In 1930, the Los Angeles Mission Society sent Rev. Howard Ross, who recently returned from Japan as a missionary, to help with the growing Nisei congregation. In the 1930s, the Sunday school program under the direction of Mrs. Takeno and Mrs. Wada continued to flourish. The Sunday school was fashioned after the famous Kure Baptist Sunday school in Hiroshima-ken. The YMCA also sponsored events at the church.  It was the only church in the South Bay area that had YMCA activities. The Wada family had close ties with the YMCA in Japan and served as YMCA sponsored missionaries to Japan occupied Manchuria, Korea, and Russia. The church had a blue Los Angeles Baptist Missionary Sunday School bus that picked up children from all over Gardena Valley. One of the bus drivers was Mrs. Takeno’s oldest son, Roy, who was a student at USC.  Youth minister Rev. Paul Nagano also drove the bus in the late 1930s.  During this time, the church Sunday school was very large and continued to grow until the church had to close due to Executive Order 9066, which relocated most of the church members.  The famous lantern slides of bible stories used in the Sunday school classes have been digitized and preserved. Rev. Wada stayed at Gardena Baptist church until 1940 and was also the director of the So. Cal Japanese Church Federation.   The church had very popular youth and leadership programs.   Famous future Japanese Baptist church leaders served as Youth pastors during this time.  Rev. Paul Nagano and Rev. Jitsuo Morikawa served as Youth pastors.   My grandmother, Mustu Wada Homma, played the piano and taught in the Sunday school. In November 1940, Rev. Wada was brought to First Pomona Baptist by Rev. Frank Kepner. At Pomona Baptist church, the Wadas were reacquainted with the famous missionary, Rev. Herbert Nicholson. Rev. Nicholson visited each Wada family member in the different internment camps and wrote about them in one of his books, Treasure in Earthen Vessels.

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community history

mhomma — Last modified Jul 25 2016 2:09 p.m.


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