50 Years of Faith

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Faith United Methodist Church Ministers past and present, from left to right, Pastor Ki Tae Choi, Rev. Dr. Hidemi Ito, Rev. Keith Inouye, Bishop Bob Hoshibata, Bishop Grant Hagiya, Rev. Alpha Takagi, Rev. Derek Nagano, Rev. Becky Hirata, Rev. Ken Suhr gathered to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the church on Oct. 10.

Faith United Methodist Church marked its 50-year anniversary with a worship service on Oct. 10, followed by a luncheon at the Torrance Marriott. Several hundred attended the luncheon where the church’s original charter members were recognized.

In 1959, under the direction of the Japanese Provisional Conference of the United Methodist Church, Rev. Peter Chen was appointed to organize and establish a church in Gardena area to serve the spiritual needs of a growing Japanese American population.

On Sunday, Jan. 10, 1960, the first worship service of the Gardena Community Methodist Church was held at Hollypark Methodist Church with 20 adults and 20 children in attendance. Four months later, on May 15, 1960, 44 founding members formally organized the church and made the decision to relocate to the Spanish American Institute.  The first year ended with 99 charter members.

It soon became apparent that this newly chartered congregation needed its own facility to accommodate its growing ministry. The site chosen for the new church home was on Rosecrans, near Normandie Ave. in Gardena. On Feb. 22, 1962, the groundbreaking ceremony took place for the future North Gardena United Methodist Church. On Aug. 5, 1962, the newly constructed education and multi-purpose building was consecrated.

Rev. Nakano, left, accepting a congratulatory certificate from Steve Napolitano representing L.A. County Supervisor Don Knabe.

On Aug. 7, 1968, with a successful pledge drive and the help of the United Methodist Board of Missions, the Sanctuary construction began. The completed Sanctuary was consecrated on Feb. 2, 1969 by Bishop Gerald Kennedy and District Superintendent Melvin Talbert.

In 1978, a Japanese language Nichigo ministry was started by Rev. Bob Hoshibata, now Bishop Hoshibata.  The ministry was later renamed Nihobgobu, and in 1989, a full-time pastor was hired to help develop and expand its outreach to the surrounding communities.

In the ensuing years, the demographics of Gardena began to change with many Japanese Americans moving to Torrance and other South Bay cities. During the 1980’s, the church began to experience a decline in attendance and had to evaluate how to best meet this challenge. The decision was made to explore the possibility of finding a new location.   In late 1994, the members of North Gardena United Methodist Church sold their church without knowing where their journey for a new home would lead them. After the sale of the NGUMC building, members found a temporary home at First United Methodist Church of Torrance, where they worshipped from Sept. 3, 1995 to June 1, 1997. During that time, the members of NGUMC felt blessed for the love and hospitality their received from their “temporary” church family, First UMC of Torrance.

The membership chose Faith United Methodist Church as its new name, and the first worship service was held on June 29, 1997, with Bishop Roy I. Sano officiating.

The church continued to grow, and in May 2005, the church merged with Gardena First United Methodist Church, which brought its rich history of over 100 years to join that of North Gardena UMC and Faith UMC.

In 2008, Faith made a commitment to their children and youth by hiring a third pastor, Ki Tae Choi, to provide spiritual and programmatic guidance for our children, youth and families.  Under his pastoral leadership, the ministry continues to grow and thrive.

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