History of WLAUMC


WLAUMC founders

On May 15, 1930, six dedicated men chartered what now is the West Los Angeles United Methodist Church. These founding fathers are shown below. Mr. and Mrs. Shichiro Hashimoto were also instrumental in the chartering process.

Sadakichi Mizue, Isamu Nakao, Gisuke Sakamoto, Genji Nagayama, Rev Otoe So, Ushitaro Yagi, Ichiki Misao

Strength and Purpose: Through a long period of Adversity

•1913 California Alien Land Law passed. Prohibited Japanese from owning land. Permitted leases for no longer than 3 years.
•1915 Central Japanese Association of Southern California was formed
•1920 California Alien Land Law strengthened, leasing land no longer allowed
•1924 Natural Original Act and Asian Exclusion Act. Immigration of Asians stopped
•1925 Supreme Court rules that a Japanese person cannot be naturalized
•1927 Restrictions on Japanese schools ruled unconstitutional
•1929 Sawtelle Japanese Language School opens (now Japanese Institute of Sawtelle)
•1929 Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) Formed
•1929 October – Stock Market crashed. The Depression begins
•1930 Women in Japan given the right to vote
•1941 Japanese Americans Imprisoned or Interned under Executive Order 9066

History of West Los Angeles UMC: Reverend Otoe So

The first minister of the West Los Angeles Community Methodist Church was Reverend Otoe So. With the assistance of Drs. Frank Herron Smith and Paul Waterhouse, Reverend So was recruited and appointed.  Reverend So came to West Los Angeles from Oxnard. He was welcomed to our church on July 5, 1930. This would be 8 days before the first service. The first parsonage was a rented house located at 2153 Stoner Avenue.   Under the leadership of Reverend So and the outstanding effort of the pioneer members of our church, the congregation and church activities expanded to the point that a full-time church building was needed. Luckily a vacant commercial warehouse building at 1700 Sawtelle Boulevard was available and was leased in July 1931. Reverend So provided leadership for 3 years. At the June 1933 Annual Conference in Berkeley, Reverend Juhei Kono was appointed as the second minister and Reverend So was transferred to Tacoma Washington. This photo is is captioned as “5 miles South of Redondo Beach”. Reverend So is shown here with his camera and hat. The young ladies are from the Yagi and Mizue, and One Sakamoto is on the right. The date is circa 1930-33. The probable location of this photo may be at White’s Point, San Pedro. This was the location of a Japanese Spa and Hotel.

Japanese American Heritage at West Los Angeles Community Methodist Church

WLAUMC heritage
Hidee Hashimoto, Diane Kimura, Glendine Watanabe, Julie Hamachi, Julie Hamachi, Julia Araishi, Juliet Marause

West LA UMC Sunday

Sunday School Classes from the Mid 1950’s

These photos are taken on the lawn in front of the social hall. The old church sign can be seen behind the class. The old two story house is in the background.

West Los Angeles United Methodist Church Sunday School
Back: Morimoto, Noda, Kaizuka Saito, Okubo
Front: Setoguchi, Nakanishi, Saito, Kame, Mitsuida, Itami
WLAUMC sunday school
Back: Toji Hashimoto, Yosh Setoguchi, Dick Tamiya Bryan Ota, Stanley Harada, Ron Saito, Akagi, Rose Honda, Taye Noda.
Middle Irene Fukuhara, Janet Ohno, Linda Okubo, Edith Ann Kimura, na, Nancy Tominaga, Elsie Tominaga
Front Bruce Itami, na, Frank Miyake, Shig Ota, Mitsuida, Kenzo Okubo

West Los Angeles Community Methodist Church Families – Circa 1952

From Left to Right: Ono Family – Dean, David, Bobby, Rose, Roy; Ruth Miyada, Haru Nakata, Aki and Linda Yagi, Sakamoto Family – George, Aki, Fred, Barry, Randy; Mike lkuta.

Meet the Atomettes: a Nisei girls club

The Nisei Social World in Los Angeles

In “City Girls: The Nisei Social World in Los Angeles, 1920-1950,” UCLA historian Valerie Matsumoto describes a vast network of clubs that helped Japanese Americans girls weather racism and exclusion in the years before and immediately after World War II. Some of the groups, like the Atomettes of West Los Angeles, still meet.

West LA UMC’s 88th Anniversary

What a blessing to celebrate 88 years of ministry in 2018 with Bishop Grant Hagiya preaching and many of our previous pastors participating in worship.  God grant us more years of ministry in this community and throughout the world!

Grace Seto’s Donations to Manzanar

Our church member, Grace Seto, donated historic items to the Manzanar archives. Watch this interesting 7-minute video composed by one of the Manzanar rangers about her family and these important items. The video was released in June 2020.