VALLEY FORGE, PA (11/23/15)—With fears of Syrian refugees being compared to fears of Japanese Americans during WWII, it is helpful to recall stories of American Baptist ministry among Japanese and Japanese Americans. One such story was highlighted on November 7 in Los Angeles, as American Baptist Historical Society (ABHS) Executive Director Deborah Van Broekhoven and President Garth Brokaw presented commendations to Nitto Tire Company, the sponsor of Act of Faith: The Rev. Emery Andrews Story, and to its film director, Janice D. Tanaka. The award commended the filmmakers for their careful research and creative presentation of the story of one pastor, one family, and one congregation during the painful process of Japanese American removal from their west coast home to internment camps during World War II.
Dr. Van Broekhoven expressed deep appreciation and thanksgiving for the efforts that went into making this film—a vivid, compelling witness to the humanity of Rev. Andrews, his family, and the congregation of Japanese Baptist Church in Seattle, Washington. Continuing in ministry today, that congregation invited the community for a local premiere showing. Additionally, Japanese subtitles are being prepared for the film, with a premiere of the film on a Japanese public television network being planned.
The presentation of a certificate, letter of commendation, and small gift occurred during day two of the American Baptist Home Mission Societies’ conference, Space For Grace, a day in which “justice” was the theme. Senior Project Manager Ai Tokuno accepted the award for Nitto Tire and film producer Janice Tanaka was also present to accept a commendation. Also there to assist those interested in planning a viewing of the documentary film was Mr. Yosh Nakagawa of Japanese Baptist Church in Seattle. Both Nakagawa, and the present pastor of Japanese Baptist Church, Rev. Jennifer Ikoma-Motzko, were interviewed for the film. Individuals interested in scheduling a film showing can contact Nakagawa through the Japanese Baptist Church (206-622-7351). The Historical Society staff is working with early viewers of the film to create an accompanying study guide.
A separate DVD on the subject, A Church Stands With Its People, produced by the American Baptist Home Mission Societies, can be ordered here. Or, view another resource, here: An Eloquent Baptist Protest…
Founded in 1853, the American Baptist Historical Society preserves and shares its collections documenting the influence Baptists have had on religious and civic life. Its six miles of shelving hold the archives of the national mission societies of the American Baptist Churches USA, of which it is a part; the personal papers of prominent Baptist leaders; original church records; periodicals representing the world-wide Baptist press; national, state and associational published minutes from the vast array of Baptist denominations in the U.S.; and books and pamphlets that are by, about, for and against Baptists. Researchers come from all over the world from a multitude of disciplines, including American history, political science, women’s studies, anthropology and sociology. For more information about ABHS, including how to make a research appointment or to volunteer, visit our website at http://www.abhsarchives.org/.
American Baptist Churches is one of the most diverse Christian denominations today, with more than 5,200 local congregations comprised of 1.3 million members, across the United States and Puerto Rico, all engaged in God’s mission around the world.