For many, Easter is all about community.  Shopping with family for that special meal, the annual Easter egg hunt, and, for some, the one time of year (other than Christmas) that people attend church service.  As the community spends this Easter Sunday without the ability to gather together, this photo offers us a glimpse into the past to see how others celebrated this day. Pictured here are congregants of the Japanese Methodist Church on Easter Sunday 1925. In the doorway of the church is Reverend Kusaburo Baba, an important local figure in Ventura County history. 

Japanese field laborers first came to the Oxnard Plain around the turn of the century to work in the expanding agricultural industry. Later, as women began to arrive and families grew, the need for businesses, churches and social groups emerged. The Oxnard Japanese Methodist Episcopal Church became an important place of worship and resource for the growing Japanese-American community. 

In 1900 labor contractors recruited a group of 1,000 Japanese farm workers to work in the sugar beet fields. One labor contractor, Kusaburo Baba, became deeply involved with the Oxnard Japanese laborers. Concerned about the well-being of the young workers, Baba collaborated with Rev. J.H. Avery of St. Paul’s Methodist Episcopal Church. They created the Japanese Christian Young Peoples’ Society, offering language and religious classes. In 1903 they established the Methodist Mission Church, and in 1908 the Japanese Methodist Episcopal Church building was dedicated at 632 A Street, Oxnard. Baba became a minister and also served as the Sunday School Superintendent. The importance of this church to the Japanese community was recognized by the County of Ventura in 1993 when the Japanese Nisei Methodist Episcopal Church was designated a Ventura County Historic Landmark. 

Image: PN27575. Oxnard. Japanese Methodist Church, Easter 1925. Group photo, Reverend Baba in doorway. 

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