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Gardena Valley Baptist Church

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Gardena Valley Baptist Church (currently located at 1630 W. 158th St. in Gardena, California) was founded in 1914 by the Los Angeles Baptist Mission Society, targeting the recent immigrant population that had come from Japan. The church started as a Sunday School for the children of immigrants at a small rented cottage in Moneta, California (now known as Gardena). Attendance later grew to include entire families, and a formal church was established in 1919, called The Moneta Japanese Baptist Church. Services were discontinued during World War II when the Japanese American community was forcibly removed and displaced at internment camps. After the war, the church met in various facilities including the Japanese Community Center and Seventh-day Adventist Church in Gardena. The church was never the same again; Sunday School enrollment had dropped from more than 700 children to about 200. Over the past 90 years, the Gardena Valley Baptist Church community has been indicative of the significance that a physical place of aggregation has on an ethnic community. Generations of memories, traditions, and families are tied to Gardena Valley Baptist Church, and it serves as a prevailing cultural and communal anchor for the ever-changing Nikkei community in Southern California.


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