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St. Mary’s Episcopal Church

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The only historically Japanese-American Episcopal Church in Los Angeles.

Office open Monday thru Friday (except holidays)
9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Rev. Anna Olson Rector
Rev. Floyd N. “Butch” Gamarra Assistant Rector
Rev. Canon Richard Van Horn Priest Assisting
Rev. Jimmy H. Shiode Deacon Assisting
Emma Coleman Office Administrator
Carlos Guzman Ramirez Sexton
Jeffrey VanderWilt Organist/Choir

Every Sunday:
7:30 a.m. Holy Eucharist
8:30 a.m. Choir Practice
9:45 a.m. Holy Eucharist
9:45 a.m. Sunday School & Nursery
11:45 a.m. Holy Eucharist (Spanish)

Every Wednesday:
11:00 a.m. Noonday Prayer/Oracion del Mediodia, w/ guitar accompaniment

– – –

Founded in 1907 by Mary Louise Paterson, a former missionary to Japan, St. Mary’s began as a mission to minister to Japanese immigrants. The Reverend John Misao Yamazaki, himself an immigrant from Japan, was the founding vicar of the Episcopal Mission. During this period, many of the parishioners lived within the neighborhood of the church. St. Mary’s served as a hub of community activities for the Japanese-American community and served to help Japanese immigrants assimilate into the American culture. Since many of the members of the congregation were Issei, first generation from Japan, services were conducted in both Japanese and English.

During World War II, as a result of Executive Order 9066, a majority of the congregation was evacuated to internment camps. While in the camps, The Reverend John Misao Yamazaki and his son, The Reverend John H. M. Yamazaki, continued their ministry, conducting services in the barracks of the camps. The World War II experience is an important part of St. Mary’s history as it bonds many members of the congregation.

At the end of the War, many of those interned returned to the Los Angeles area. Since the majority of the Japanese families sold or gave away their homes before internment, many in the Japanese-American community had nowhere to live. St. Mary’s became a refuge and resource center for them. St. Mary’s opened up the church and the vicarage was used as a hostel for those without housing. St. Mary’s also re-established a Boy Scout Troop, which remained active until 1969, and the Girls Friendly Society, which continued until 1982.

The Reverend John H. M. Yamazaki, affectionately known as Father John, succeeded his father as the second vicar of St. Mary’s in 1946. At that time, the congregation was made up of twelve active families. In 1956, St. Mary’s achieved parish status in the Diocese of Los Angeles, and The Reverend John H. M. Yamazaki was called as St. Mary’s first rector. He continued in that capacity until he retired in 1985.

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