A Word from Our Pastor 2011 May We Are an Easter People

We Are an Easter People

You’ve probably heard it before: “We are an Easter people.” This means, our lives should reflect the Easter message all year round, not just on one Sunday. Easter can mean many things: second chances; the incredible love of God (we often sing, “What Wondrous Love is This;”) hope for eternal life and reunion with loved ones who have passed on before us; the possibility of miracles in everyday life. Most often we associate Easter with new life, rebirth — all the joyous signs of spring.

There are many ways to celebrate new life and rebirth — in our personal lives and in our life together as a church. A small group (the “Dreamcatchers” plus a few more of us) are working to design a process the whole congregation to re-write our mission statement, and eventually, come up with concrete plans to implement our mission in the programs of our church. This is a kind of rebirth: who is BMUC for the 21st Century? We will maintain our link to our Japanese heritage, but at the same time, it is important to think about the path ahead.

We have been studying a book called, “Memories, Hopes and Conversations” by Mark Lau Branson. This book outlines a process for helping a church to write a mission statement based on the church’s “best practices” — what the church knows how to do well. I would guess that this sounds somewhat interesting, but what makes the book REALLY interesting is that it describes how this process was used in a Japanese American church (First Presbyterian in Altadena, CA). So, many of the stories in the book about the church — what it was struggling with, what it values, what it does well, as examples — are very familiar to us. You might enjoy it.

It seems like a good time to consider a new mission statement because we are at a turning point of generations. The Niseis I have spoken with feel it is time to “pass the reins” on to a new generation of leaders. We will always treasure our Niseis and will always make sure that they are comfortable and well taken care of in our church. But it is time for a new vision of what our ministry should be, according to the “Sansei-plus” understanding of the blessings and responsibilities of Christian faith. There is a very limited future if we focus primarily on the Japanese American community, which is shrinking in size. If we are to continue to serve God in a healthy and happy way, we need to consider who will be in our church in 5, 10 or 20 years. How shall we reach out to those people now? What do we do well now, and how can that point us to our future ministry? What aspects of ministry do we need to improve or expand? These are the kinds of questions we will be asking in the weeks and months ahead.

Therefore, I hope that you will be thinking about what are your dreams for BMUC? Who, in addition to Japanese Americans will make up our future membership? Where do you want to see BMUC make a difference in the world?

In order for our new mission statement to be truly meaningful, we need to have participation from everyone. I believe that there will be a way that everyone’s voice will be heard and that we can come up with a statement and action plan that will be a reflection of the whole of our congregation. But it is everyone’s responsibility to think about their dream for BMU. Think about how little the Issei had when they began this church: if we have their spirit, and are faithful to God’s purpose for our church, we can accomplish anything. It is time to begin dreaming. . .

We will be planning a variety of activities and studies to prepare for the drafting of the mission statement. I hope that you will participate. I look forward to the rebirth of BMUC’s self-understanding and ministry, and you are all partners in this. I will keep you informed of upcoming events related to this effort. Remember, we are an Easter people, and it is time to celebrate!

–Rev. Naomi