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NAPAD congregations celebrate life of Kagiwada (9/9/06)
By Robyn Graves, DisciplesWorld contributing writer

CHICAGO (9/9/06) — On Sunday, Sept. 10, many of the North American/Pacific Asian Disciples (NAPAD) congregations will celebrate the accomplishments and life of David Kagiwada, the first convener of American Asian Disciples, now NAPAD, and a forerunner of Disciples' efforts to address racism against racial ethnic minorities in the church.

Kagiwada Memorial Sunday was declared a special day for NAPAD congregations nationwide in September of 1993.

The celebration includes a worship service that is centered on the great strides made by Kagiwada, and three sermon responses concerning reconciliation that came from NAPAD's convocation last month.

David Tamotsu Kagiwada was born September 9, 1929 in Los Angeles. He was a second generation Japanese-American Disciple.

During World War II, Kagiwada and his family were forced into a concentration camp in Arizona with other Americans of Japanese ancestry. Since the United States was at war with Japan, the fact that Kagiwada, his family and the many others in the concentration camp were American citizens was ignored due to their ancestry. Even the fact that many of them had family fighting for the U.S. Army was disregarded, accordiing to the NAPAD Web site.

This terrible injustice motivated Kagiwada to dedicate his life to helping and empowering others, not only Asian Americans, but other minorities and women, as well.

Kagiwada attended University of Chicago School of Divinity and was ordained in the Illinois-Wisconsin Region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). One of his main concerns was getting churches and communities to understand that people from all backgrounds had special gifts from God and that could be learned from.

Kagiwada was serving at Central Christian Church in Pasadena, Calif., as the minister of education when he met his wife, JoAnne at a church conference.

JoAnne currently serves on the Board of Trustees for The Disciples Divinity House of the University of Chicago. She also attends a Methodist church near her home that is historically Asian American.

“The exciting part for me is knowing that Kagiwada Sunday is marked on the calendar as a special day for the denomination. It is a great day to recognize and acknowledge the contributions of my husband and all Pacific Asian disciples,” said JoAnne.

Traditionally, Kagiwada Memorial Sunday has been followed by NAPAD Ministry Week in order to make the church aware of NAPAD ministry with its significance among Disciples.

“Having Ministry Week follow Kagiwada Memorial Sunday is a way of tying the past with what's going on now. It's a way to kick start it off,” said April Lewton, NAPAD's past moderator.

NAPAD Ministry Week is a time when the church intentionally and programmatically pays attention to NAPAD life and ministry. It includes a variety of activities and small group discussions that cover topics like multicultural societies and anti-racism.

“Diversity is a beauty in the NAPAD community. Fourteen different ethnic groups, sometimes with different languages, work together for the ministry of Christ. It is one of many things to be a good example to American culture,” said Geunhee Yu, executive pastor of North American Asian Ministries.

It is also one of many things that Kagiwada was a great advocate for — the unity of all people and the acknowledgement of the beauty in diversity.

“As we commemorate the life and ministry of Rev. David Kagiwada this Sunday, I invite you to live life as Rev. Kagiwada did, ever faithful and aware of how you will impact the lives of others through your own ministry,” wrote Cindy Kim, NAPAD's current moderator, in an invitation to the congregation.

It is hoped that all Disciples of Christ churches will celebrate Kagiwada Memorial Sunday in solidarity with NAPAD.

“As a community we highlight this special day. It's not just a NAPAD celebration. All Disciples congregations are encouraged to participate in their way,” said Lewton.