An Expanded Chronology of Los Angeles Holiness Church and the OMS Holiness Church of North America

(Taken from “Pressing On!” Los Angeles Holiness Church 70th Anniversary — 1921-1991 Booklet) 


1703-91  Life of John Wesley, founder of Methodism (England).  Wesley’s teaching emphasizes not only salvation by faith in Jesus Christ, but also holiness–a progressive growing in Christian love for God and neighbor that transforms a person’s inward and outward life.  (See “What Does ‘Holiness’ Mean?) 

Early 1800’s  In the United States, holiness (Wesleyan) teaching plants seeds of the Holiness Movement, a spiritual renewal that spreads quickly across denominational lines. 

1859 First American Protestant missionaries arrive in Japan. 

1861-65  American Civil War.  1860’s-90’s  Holiness Movement helps to revive denominations left spiritually dead by the war.  New holiness organizations and churches are begun, including the Salvation Army (1865) and the Church of the Nazarene (1895). 

1870 Juji Nakada, co-founder of the Oriental Missionary Society
and founding bishop of the O.M.S. Holiness Church in Japan, is born in Hirosaki, the third son of a low-ranking Samurai father.
1872 First Protestant Church in Japan planted in Yokohama. One of the first nine to be baptized is Yoichi Honda (b. 1847).

1875  With John Ing, a Methodist missionary and Asbury College graduate, Honda co-founds a Methodist church in Hirosaki.

1887 Juji Nakada, 17, is baptized in Honda’s church.  Honda is spiritual father, counselor and life-long friend of Nakada.

1894  In July, Nakada is ordained in the Methodist Church in Japan.  A month later he is married to Katsuko Odate in the Hirosaki Church. 

1896  Dissatisfied with his spiritual effectiveness, Nakada sails to the U.S. to attend Moody Bible Institute in Chicago.  While in Chicago, in the midst of his feelings of spiritual inadequacy, he is able to thank God for giving him a hunger for righteousness.  Nakada says that “This was the turning point.”  He “felt God’s help, and…surrendered himself completely to God…He received the assurance that his heart had been cleansed, and he felt a great peace come into his heart” (Merwin, p.45).  Nakada finds his holiness experience. 

While in Chicago, Nakada meets Mr. and Mrs. Charles Cowman and Mr. and Mrs. Ernest A. Kilbourne through Grace Methodist Episcopal Church.  Cowman and Kilbourne are telegraphers by trade.  This friendship sows the seeds of the Oriental Missionary Society.

1898  Nakada sets sail for Japan by way of England, working his way across the Atlantic by tending the live cargo on a cattle boat.  In London he visits John Wesley’s tomb and leaders of the English Holiness Movement.  After a six-month journey, he arrives in Japan. 

1899  Nakada is appointed a traveling evangelist in the Methodist Church, though his preaching extends beyond Methodist churches.  (Eventually, Nakada will leave the Methodist Church.)  He receives financial and prayer support from Cowman and Kilbourne’s Telegraphers Mission Band in Chicago. 

1900  Charles Cowman is ordained in January, the first to be ordained in the Pilgrim Holiness Church, a denominational offspring of the Holiness Movement. 

1901  Charles and Lettie Cowman arrive in Japan and are met by Juji Nakada.  The Cowmans, Nakada and the Kilbournes are united by the vision of establishing a Bible training center in Japan which will emphasize holiness teaching.  A building is rented in downtown Tokyo, and the Bible Training Institute opens. 

1902  Ernest A. Kilbourne arrives in Japan.  In America the growing ministry is known simply as the Cowman-Kilbourne work. 

1905 With the aid of Tetsusaburo Sasao, a biblical scholar who becomes Nakada’s “right-hand man,” the
Oriental Missionary Society is formed with five directors: Promotion and Finance, Rev. and Mrs. Charles Cowman and Rev. E.A. Kilbourne; President of the Bible Training Institute, Rev. T. Sasao; Evangelism, Rev. J. Nakada. (Sasao, born in 1868, had gone to California to study business, but met Jesus Christ and the Holiness Movement instead.  He and Nakada meet after Sasao returns to Japan.)
The concern of the OMS is the evangelization of the whole Orient.  Among the early converts in Japan is

Sadaichi Kuzuhara, who will become first pastor of Los Angeles Holiness Church.

1919  The OMS Holiness Church in Japan is established.  While the OMS (today OMS International) continues to pursue missions, the need for organization of churches in each country is recognized.  Nakada is set apart as bishop.  (Long before other missions agencies would do so, the OMS practiced a philosophy of indigenous or home-grown church leadership.) 

Nakada explained that “OMS” was a denominational name, and “Holiness” expressed the character of the church he desired.  He intended to echo the name of John and Charles Wesley’s student group at Oxford, called the “Holy Club.”  Nakada is said to have once admitted that if ever his friend Yoichi Honda (now bishop inn the Methodist Church) gave up using the name “Methodist,” Nakada would have immediately taken it for his church. Also in this year, a very ill Charles Cowman leaves Japan.  He dies six years later in Los Angeles.

1920 Six Japanese men and women in their early 20’s begin prayer meetings at Trinity Missionary Church in Hollywood. They are Henry Sakuma, Hatsu Yano, George Yahiro, Paul Okamoto, Aya Okuda and Hanako Sugiyama. Sakuma, Yahiro and Okamoto are students at California Bible College, an OMS affiliate. The group is encouraged by Ugo Nakada, son of Bishop Juji Nakada.

They pray–often three or four hours at a time–for the evangelization of Japanese people.  Sunday afternoons they hold street meetings at the corner of E. First and San Pedro in Los Angeles, inviting people to evening services at Trinity.  One of the first converts is Buichi Yoshihara, whose family later becomes the nucleus of the Seattle Church.

1921  Attracted by the concentration of Japanese to the southwest of downtown Los Angeles, the group leaves Trinity and rents a small frame house near 36th and Denker for holding services.  Thus Los Angeles Holiness Church

is founded in April. Sakuma and Okamoto follow the Apostle Paul’s model of “tent-making” ministry: they quit school, work as gardeners and serve the church. 
In June, Rev. Sadaichi Kuzuhara, studying at Asbury College in Kentucky, is called as the first full-time pastor of L.A. Holiness Church. His services are arranged by Bishop Juji Nakada, who visits Kuzuhara while on a U.S. tour. Kuzuhara is named California district superintendent by the OMS Holiness Church in Japan.