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- Powell Street United Church
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Dates of existence
The Japanese Methodist Mission was established in Vancouver in 1896. It fell within the purview of the Home Missions Board until well after WW II, even though the congregation had become self-supporting by 1936. The congregation's first building was constructed in 1907 or 1908 at the corner of Jackson and Powell Streets. It became known as the Powell Street Church. A gymnasium and social hall were added in the 1920s, for which the congregation raised $12,000. The Woman's Missionary Society (WMS) was involved with the Japanese Mission from very early on. They taught kindergarten and home economics at the Mission, held prayer meetings, and raised funds to add to the voluntary contributions of the congregation and Home Missions. The congregation boasted an excellent Sunday school, Tuxis and Explorers groups, Mission Band, and CGIT. The Rev. Dr. Kosaburo Shimizu served the congregation from 1926 to 1942. He introduced many Christian education opportunities within the congregation, established the Young People's Union, introduced monthly English-speaking worship services, and started a relief department providing food and clothing during the Depression of the 1930s. He also helped the congregation achieve self-supporting status.
Members living in Vancouver's Fairview neighbourhood raised enough money, along with a Home Missions grant, to build a second Japanese Church in 1928 (by then part of The United Church of Canada).The Fairview Mission later became known as the Columbia Street Mission (from 1949 on), which was sold in 1977. From 1942 to 1949, the two buildings were used by First United Church, St. Giles, and the WMS. The Powell Street and Columbia Street buildings were held in trust by the Board of Home Missions during the war. In 1953, the Powell St. property was sold. From then on, the Japanese- and English-speaking congregations met in a number of different venues, none of which they owned, beginning with First United Church. In 1958 both Nisei and Issei (Japanese speaking) church members were worshipping in Fairview Church on Columbia. In 1962, they moved to Renfrew United Church. In 1978, the congregation purchased St. Luke’s United Church building.
At its general meeting in May 2009, BC Conference made a statement of Recognition and Apology to the Japanese United Church for the sale of the Powell Street church building 56 years earlier. In June of that year, a Service of Reconciliation took place at the Vancouver Japanese United Church. Early in 2017, the English-speaking congregation disbanded.
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Revised October 9, 2018