The Rev. David Kagiwada, a Japanese-American minister, was one of the founders of the North American Pacific/Asian Disciples of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). He served congregations in California and Indiana. The Rev. Kagiwada was known as a strong advocate for racial justice, reconciliation and Christian unity, fundamental values that undergird NAPAD’s ministry to this day.
Rev. Kagiwada’s ministry involved a lot of trailblazing and bridge building. While he worked tirelessly in birthing forth a ministry to include the gifts and ministry of Disciple Asian or Pacific Islanders, he did not do it alone. Much of the heavy lifting of trailblazing was done together with his wife, JoAnne Kagiwada along with many faithful and fearless Disciples such as Luz Bacerra, Janet Casey-Allen, Soongook Choi, Sarasopa Enari, Harold Johnson, Grace Kim, Flor Marcelino, Royal Morales, Rita Nakashima-Brock, Maureen and James Osuga, Joel Santos, Martha and Aki Suzuki, Manny Tamayo, and Geunhee Yu. A great reminder that ministry is done best when done together. Especially when those on the team share a deep passion and commitment toward working to establish what has become NAPAD. The struggle to cultivate intentional spaces in places that are often harsh and uninviting is often an uphill one. Yet, in the process of doing so, we give others a glimpse of what extending Christ’s Table looks like when we seek to welcome, value and include all. These are core values of the NAPAD community.
On July 10, 1985, David T. Kagiwada died at the age of fifty-six. The untimely death of this articulate and passionate Disciple was a great loss to the NAPAD community and the church as a whole. Given his ordeal at a concentration camp in Poston, Arizona, and his ardent advocacy of ecumenism and reconciliation, Kagiwada emerged posthumously as a pioneering leader of NAPAD. To celebrate him and NAPAD, the denomination designated in 1993 the second Sunday in September as David T. Kagiwada Sunday and the rest of the week as the AAD (later NAPAD) Ministries Week. In his name, a scholarship was established to support seminarians of Asian/Pacific-Islander background.