A Word from Our Pastor 2016 February

The New Year is well upon us, and things are moving quickly. One of our most important projects for 2016 is an all-church planning process. The first step was held on January 17, after church. Rev. Greg Bergquist, Cal Nevada Superintendent for Leadership Development, led our gathered group in evaluating our activities since 2011, when we presented our Mission, Vision and Core Values statements. Evaluation is a critically important step for a good planning process.
The main planning session will be scheduled in the next 6 weeks on a Saturday (we are waiting for further information about Rev. Bergquist’s availability). The session will take 4-6 hours, but we will do everything we can to make the time go quickly and productively. We have not yet decided if we are planning short-term goals or a mix of short term and long-term goals. Before the next planning session, a task force will gather to prepare materials. If you would like to be part of the task force, please let me know.
And now, a report of the January 17 session. This session really began in the worship service as Rev. Bergquist preached about Luke 5, and how Jesus calls us to do familiar things in new ways. Some times those new ways may not make sense to us, or even go against what we believe is the right way to do something based on our previous experience. Jesus told the very tired fisherman to fish at the wrong time and in the wrong place, according to their expertise. However, after following Jesus’ instructions in faith, they were able to fill their nets to overflowing. Rev. Bergquist then gave the example of hospitality. When he moved to a new area, he found that the locals had a very different idea of what was hospitable behavior – in fact, their idea was the opposite to his. Similarly, we cannot assume that the way we have always done something will make sense or be welcomed by newcomers. We need to listen carefully to visitors, and be prepared to change! Jesus told the fisherman to push out into deep water – so we at BMU need to explore the “deep water” in our neighborhood and community.
For the after-church gathering, I prepared a rather long list of activities that comprised the ministry of BMU since 2011. Members of the group commented on things that they found especially meaningful: new screens and sound system, Godly Play Sunday School curriculum, Tuesday night Faith Clinic; Basketball Program, canned goods collection, the music program, Walk to Emmaus, Minister Chai’s role in Family Ministry, welcoming visitors. Other observations included a hoped-for “Sound of Music” sing-along evening and the decline in membership.
Rev. Bergquist responded with several comments: we have a challenge that was not present in previous generations: people, especially people in our area, generally are not looking for a church. (In the 1950s and early 1960s, most people wanted to attend a church because that was what was “expected;” this is no longer true). In the past, a church only had to offer some good programs. Now, it is more important for church members to build relationships, especially at events OUTSIDE the church building. Many people are unfamiliar with church, and are not likely to venture inside, so we should be ready to meet them in the community.
Rev. Bergquist noted that the basketball families who were present during refreshment time invited BMUers to attend the games. He felt that was a pretty big “hint” for ministry, and building relationships.
All organizations, including churches, have a life cycle: growth, plateau and decline. BMU is at the point of decline and our task now is to figure out how to re-invent ourselves, in order to grow. Whatever we do in ministry, we should make sure those things fit with our core values, and build on our strengths. Each year, we should emphasize not more than 2-4 new efforts.
Jean Hart then made a presentation on church finances that is summarized elsewhere in this newsletter.
The Christian Church all over the United States is going through massive changes. Many churches are being started and are growing; many others are getting smaller and closing their doors. When a new church is started it is relatively cont p.2
A Word from Our Pastor, cont. easy to attract members, because there are no local church traditions: everything is “new,” and can be modified or tailored to the people who attend. With a church that has long-standing traditions of what we do and how we do it, it is more difficult for newcomers, because there is some pressure to “fit in” to those traditions. Our traditions are also a blessing, because many people enjoying being part of a history, being part of a community with “roots.”
But it is important to remember that when Jesus called his disciples, the call was to leave everything behind and follow. We may not have to leave “everything” behind, but we must be willing to do so. As long as we cherish our tradition more than the call to follow Jesus, we may not experience the surprise – possibly a miraculous surprise – that comes from listening to Jesus rather than our own desires. . .
I look forward to seeing you at the planning meeting. Keep an eye open for the date and time announcement!
Rev. Naomi


We have just begun our “second round” for candidates for Choir Director/Worship Leader. After the first round, we interviewed only one person, and he chose not to pursue the full interview process (which would have involved meeting the choir). We changed the position description, making the requirements less demanding, and have distributed it. If you know of a place or person who might be interested, please let Rev. Naomi know, and we will get the job announcement to them.

In the meantime, Greg Suzuki, Kathy Uyeno, Irene Tekawa and Liz Nakamura have been working together to make sure the choir will continue to sing twice per month, and that there will be a song leader every Sunday. The pianists, Kaz Iwahashi, Karen Wilairat, Irene Tekawa and Vicky Jennings have also met to choose hymns and discuss other service music. Everyone has shown such deep commitment that demonstrates their love for music ministry. While we look forward to a professional Choir Director/Worship Leader, there is certainly plenty of talent and dedication among our members. THANK YOU! THANK YOU!