Centenary United Methodist Church was organized in 1896 as the Methodist Episcopal Mission of Los Angeles and met in a small cottage at 252 Winston St. For the new immigrants from Japan and their families, it was a place not only to grow their faith but a way of maintaining cultural connections and finding community as they adapted to this new land.
After regular worship and study, the mission members held outdoor evening services in Little Tokyo that grew the congregation. Because of prejudice and racial covenants, Centenary was unable to construct a church building until 1925. In its new home at the corner of 35th and Normandie, the congregation grew and expanded its ministry.
With the World War II removal of Japanese Americans from the West Coast, Centenary closed its doors. At war’s end, it reopened as a hostel for those returning to Los Angeles. The rhythms of church life gradually returned to normal. Centenary became a center for spiritual growth and family activity.
Over time, a restlessness to return to its birthplace took hold. After much prayer and conversation, the decision was made to build a new church building in Little Tokyo. Maryknoll Catholic Church graciously offered to share their facilities with Centenary during construction.
In 1988, Centenary returned to its historical roots, building a multi-purpose unit at Third and Central. The Sanctuary and Chapel were completed in time for its 100th anniversary. Centenary continues to be a place of faith-building, community involvement, cultural connections, mission, and growing racial and cultural diversity.
A physical journey that spanned 125 years. A spiritual journey that continues as Centenary celebrates with a 125th Anniversary Luncheon at the Anaheim Majestic Garden Hotel on Saturday, Oct. 15 (https://www.centenarydtla.org/product-page/125th-anniversary-luncheon), and Anniversary Worship Service with Bishop Grant Hagiya preaching on Sunday, Oct. 16, at 10 a.m. (https://www.centenarydtla.org/bookings-checkout/english-sunday-worship-in-person/book).
For more historical perspectives and information about the 125th Anniversary Celebration, go to centenarydtla.org.