Densho Digital Archive
Bainbridge Island Japanese American Community Collection
Title: Brooks Andrews Interview
Narrator: Brooks Andrews
Interviewer: Joyce Nishimura
Location: Bainbridge Island, Washington
Date: October 7, 2006
Densho ID: denshovh-aemery-02-0002

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JN: We'd like you to talk a little bit more about what, what it was like for your father to, to be a minister of the Japanese community.

BA: I think probably all this ministry started just as part of his seminary work, in, in California. And I think it was just part of his seminary work, he just continued in that area. And when he moved up to Seattle there was a need for mission work among the, the, the Asians, specifically Chinese and the Japanese. And part of the reason probably that he was called to be pastor of Japanese Baptist Church was because there was, there was not, there were not any probably, or very, very few Japanese English-speaking pastors, trained pastors, to pastor a church. And so it was just natural out of Dad's work among the, the Asians in Seattle area that he would be called to be the pastor of Japanese Baptist Church. But not as the Japanese-language pastor, but as the, the English, English-language service. Because we did have a Japanese-language pastor there also, at that time. And, you know, his reception at the church, I think, was welcome, simply again because he has this history of working with the Asians, and also because there was, maybe it was, "Well, there's no Nisei pastor to come to the church, so, well, we might as well have Pastor Andy come and be the English-speaking pastor at the church there."

JN: Did he know Reverend Hirakawa at that time?

BA: Yes, yes. In fact, a little story about Reverend Hirakawa, he was a member of Japanese Baptist Church in Seattle when my dad was there. My dad came in 1929. Hirakawa-Sensei was already there. But he moved, Reverend Hirakawa moved over to Bainbridge area and worked in the lumber mill at Port Blakeley, and there was quite a few Japanese men working in, in that mill. And so the unusual thing about Reverend Hirakawa was that at about age fifty, he, he felt call of God to be a minister. So he left Bainbridge and he went back to William Jewell College in Liberty, Missouri. And did his work there and then went from there to Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, to, to continue his seminary education there. So by the time he came back to this area, to Bainbridge, he was sixty years old. So he started kind of late in the ministry. And when he came here to Bainbridge, he started a church mission with... and with help, I think, from some of the American Baptist denomination at that time. It would be, it's called the American Baptist Home Mission Society at that time. So what Reverend Hirakawa did... in the meantime, before he came back, the mill at which he had worked burned down. And so to build a church mission here in Bainbridge, he and some of his, his co-workers salvaged some lumber from the burned-down mill, and they built the little mission church here on Bainbridge Island. And he said, Reverend Hirakawa said that this church was a lighthouse, and so he called it the Lighthouse Mission. And then we, you know, as a family, we would come over to Bainbridge oftentimes and visit our friends over here. Maybe, I think sometimes have a joint service, worship service. But also, Dad would, would always travel in what was called the "Blue Box." The Blue Box was an old, I think it was a Ford truck body with a, with a, just a box on the back of it, and it looked like a bus. A very square-shaped bus. And it was blue and it was affectionately known as the Blue Box, because everywhere you went, you rode, rode in the Blue Box. You came over here to Bainbridge to pick up some of our friends, especially the young people and go on trips around the area, it was always in the Blue Box. So you talk to anybody in the Seattle area that's a Nisei or maybe even Issei and you say, "Blue Box," and they'll have some story about the Blue Box.

JN: Wow.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.