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"PREWAR PERIOD Although I may not be old enough to go way back to the founding of the original church, I do, however, recall church related events starting from the mid 30's. I attended Sunday School at the old Gardena Japanese Baptist Church on Dalton and 164th St. with my younger brother, Ed and many friends from both English and Japanese schools. Among my friends were the Tashiro girls, Aki Tsukuhara, Sachi Watanabe, and Cookie Atsumi.

Among the boy's Sunday School teachers, I especially remember, Paul Nagano, Roy Ishihara and Yas Wada. The young adults' pastor was Jitsuo Morikawa and the Issei pastor was Rev. Wada. Although I was too young to be a young adult, when I attended Rev. Morikawa's evening services on occasion, I vividly remember Rev. Morikawa as a powerful and inspirational speaker.

Of the many things that were different back then was the old Sunday School bus that went to the surrounding communities to pick up the children that lived in the farming areas. I really enjoyed riding the bus to Torrance, Hawthorne, Lawndale, and other communities.

The other thing that was distinctly different was that the only YMCA activity in Gardena was sponsored by our church. Of the many groups sponsored by our church, I first belonged to the YMCA Pioneers boys club and then graduated to the Cardinals junior high school group. Our leaders were Rev. C. H. Ross and Mr. Elton Randolph. Among the club members were Frank and Hippo Kuida, Yo Minami and my brother Ed.

POST- WAR PERIOD, 1945 to the MID 1950'S When the Japanese evacuees began to return to So. Bay area, Rev. Roy Ishihara organized the local Nisei youths and formed the Gardena Nisei Baptist Youth Group (BYF) in 1946 or 47. As always, the LA City Baptist Missionary Society supported the Baptist Church.

We met on Sunday evenings at the old Torrance Baptist church for a while and later at the Seventh Day Adventist Church on Dalton. Worshipers in those days included, just to name a few, Mitsy Miki, Alice Miyake, Rose Jow, and Sets Kojima. I recall serving as a youth leader and a primary Sunday School teacher with Julia Taniguchi.

In the early 1950's, construction was started on the first of several buildings on our present site. Although I didn't know at the time, the buildings were to play an important part in my life. Thirty five years ago, Reiko Hagio and I were married in the new chapel by Rev. Nishimoto. The organist as, of course, Molly Nishimoto. That chapel is now the Nichigo Chapel.

All in all, life was much simpler in those days, because of sparse population, low crime rates, no drugs, no traffic congestion or pollution to speak of. However, despite the complexities of life today, I am very grateful and thankful to God for His faithfulness and He has blessed the Gardena Valley Baptist Church with a dedicated congregation and pastoral leadership."

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genieinjapan — Last modified Mar 30 2011 7:56 p.m.


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