Our History

The San Lorenzo Japanese Christian Church is part of the Holiness Conference, which stems from OMS (Oriental Missionary Society) International, a missionary sending organization. The OMS began in 1901, when Charles and Lettie Cowman arrived in Tokyo, Japan to begin fulfilling their dream of establishing a missionary society that would train nationals to win their own people to the Christian faith. Shortly after, the Cowmans were joined by Ernest Kilbourne Sr., and in 1905 they formally established the OMS. In 1917 the first Japanese Holiness Church was organized with Rev. Juji Nakada elected as its first bishop.

In October 1920, in the United States, a group of college students began prayer meetings at the Trinity Missionary Church in Hollywood, California. They were ministered by Rev. Ugo Nakada, son of Rev. Juji Nakada of the Japan Holiness Church. They held street meetings at East First and San Pedro Streets in Los Angeles and began Sunday afternoon worship services. The group rented a house and formally established the church, creating the OMS Holiness Church of Los Angeles in April 1921. In June of that year Rev. Kuzuhara accepted the invitation to become the first pastor. The church and the affiliated Bible School (California Bible College, an affiliate of the OMS) were located in Southwest Los Angeles at 36th and Denker (just a few blocks from the present location of the Los Angeles Holiness Church).

Under the spiritual guidance of Rev. Kuzuhara, the members of the young church were instructed and trained for the work which the Lord had in store for them. A revival took place from 1922 to 1923 as their ministry expanded beyond Los Angeles to other southern California areas: Long Beach, Laguna, West Adams, Fruitland, San Fernando, and Baldwin Park. Between 1924 and 1934 other churches were founded in California (Modesto, San Lorenzo, San Diego), and in Hilo, Hawaii.

With the coming of World War II and the subsequent evaculation of the Japanese from the West Coast, all ten self-supporting churches were closed except the church in Honolulu. However, during the war, the Chicago Holiness Church was established. The post-war period brought new vigor into the churches as a growing number of Nisei ministers assisted in the faithful labors of the early founders. English speaking congregations were formed throughout California: in Los Angeles, West Los Angeles, San Fernando Valley, San Gabriel Valley, San Diego, San Lorenzo, Santa Clara Valley, and also in Honolulu, Hawaii. Then in the 1970’s churches were founded in Orange County, Pearl City, and Walnut Creek. This decade also saw several of the original Issei pastors retire, and by the 1980’s even the Nisei ministers were reaching retirement age. But God is providing replacements as He raises up young men to fill the open positions. In the 1990′s the ministry and outreach of the conference grew. The most recent church to be added to the conference was the Fremont Asian Christian Church (which was added in 1998), under the leadership of Pastor Joe Roberts (English) and Pastor Mike Matsuda (Japanese).