Pastor’s Letter 2023 December

As the angel choir withdrew into heaven, the shepherds talked it over. “Let’s get over to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see for ourselves what God has revealed to us.” They left, running, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. Luke 2:15-18 (Msg) Greetings and Blessings Dear Siblings in Christ, It is an awesome thing that God determined to come and live among the humans that they created in their image.  We might wonder what possessed God to decide to leave a place of security, of love, of justice and mercy, of kindness and compassion to live with humans – flawed, oftentimes more emotionally driven than spiritually led, sometimes overly confident, sometimes completely insecure, yet hungry for love and learning and, sometimes, a willingness to become something … [Read more...]

Pastor’s Letter 2023 July

Greetings from Annual Conference Session (ACS) Lay Members to ACS Paul Iwahashi, Olivia Iwahashi, & Rev. Pam We are writing to you post-2023 Annual Conference Session (ACS).  We want to share with you some of the highlights we witnessed and experienced One of the newest items to come out of ASC this year was a vision statement for the Cal-Nevada UMC developed by the CORE team.  The CORE team, comprised of four main areas, oversees the implementation of the mission and vision of the annual conference, and follows up on decisions made at the annual conference session. The vision statement developed is Follow Jesus; Thrive in Community; Healing the World. Bishop Dyck said, “A vision statement can help us in our daily living, decision making, behavior and witness… … [Read more...]

Pastor’s Letter 2023 May

Grace and Peace my siblings in Christ,  I write to you from our Palestine Holy Land Pilgrimage. We have just begun our pilgrimage in Bethlehem, West Bank, entering one of the many Palestinian refugee camps and along the Barricade Wall (called also The Separation Wall). I am reminded that it is still the Easter season, the resurrection of our Lord, Jesus, a Palestinian Jew.        Having to go through the military checkpoint to enter and leave Bethlehem, I am reminded as the Gospel of Luke shared, Joseph with a very pregnant Mary, walked from Nazareth to Bethlehem, around a two week walk. If this were today, they would have had to go through a military checkpoint, having to explain what right they had to go in or to leave.       This day … [Read more...]

Easter Letter 2023 April

Easter, 2023 A Blessed and Happy Easter Dear Siblings in Christ, Happy Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of the Lord! Jesus has risen from the dead! This announcement resounds in the church throughout the world, together with singing ‘Christ, the Lord is Risen Today. Alleluia!’  This Good News has been lit like a new flame in the hearts of believers, even in the face of the challenges in our world due to climate change, war, and increased restrictions on individual rights and liberties. We can be so grateful and joy-filled to gather as an open and inclusive community of faith in the Lord’s resurrection, when many do not welcome people because of who they love, how they identify, and how they worship the Creator of all.  This gratitude and joy grown in the love of God in … [Read more...]

Pastor’s Letter 2023 February

Greetings Siblings in Christ, I pray you are well this day. Lent begins, Wednesday, Feb 22, with Ash Wednesday marking the beginning of our 40-day journey into reflection and introspection on how we might continue to grow our focus on and listening to God’s call on our lives.  What might we do differently to avoid the distractions that keep us from heeding God’s call?  It connects us to Jesus’ own 40-day journey in the wilderness where he encountered evil’s use of human desires and needs to distract Jesus from God’s call on his life. Our Ash Wednesday service will be in person and online beginning at 7 pm.  We will share in the imposition of ashes as well as the anointing of oil – physical reminders of our own mortality and preparedness for its end, as well as the … [Read more...]

Pastor’s Letter 2023 January

Happy New Year Siblings in Christ, I pray that your Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were spirit-filled and helped to draw you closer to the in-breaking of God in Jesus of Nazareth. It was deeply moving to worship on Christmas Eve with you both in person and online. We truly do experience wondrous things when we open ourselves to God’s vision and works. I am deeply touched by your Christmas giving; your well-wishes for me, and for my daughters as well. Thank you. You all have filled me with joy by your welcoming and helping me navigate BMUC’s history, culture, worship, and missional work. I am excited to continue to learn more from you and work with you to continue doing the work God has set before BMUC. Without sounding too gushy, my cup overflows. I pray that your New Year’s … [Read more...]

Pastor’s Letter 2022 December

Dear Siblings in Christ, This month I wanted to share this writing with Greg Suzuki following our experience as first-timers of the Covenant House Sleep Out fundraiser.  Taking place over one night in both Northern and Southern California, it is one of the biggest fundraisers for Covenant House (CH) which supports young adults, mostly aged 18-24, assisting them in moving off the streets into safe housing and providing all-around supportive services. We went to Levi Stadium in Santa Clara and gathered with over 120 other fundraisers.  Three CH alumni shared their stories, and we heard from many of the leaders of the organization.  We learned that they are not only building new locations, but adding affordable/transitional housing as well for the young adults who … [Read more...]

Pastor’s Letter 2022 November

Dear Siblings in Christ,In mid-October I joined other clergy of JAUMCs in visiting the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles.  We went to see the special exhibit Sutra and Bible, showcasing altars, statues, prayer books, and - accidentally found stones with Lotus Sutra inscriptions and handwritten annotated bi-lingual Japanese and English Bibles, called the Kitaji Bibles.  We were blessed to be led through the exhibit by one of the curators, Emily Anderson.  The exhibit displayed the power that religion both Buddhism and Christianity, faith, ritual, and community carry in all circumstances, but especially in the most heartbreaking of times.It was my first visit to the JANM, so I was not only viewing the special exhibit, I was also … [Read more...]

Pastor’s Letter 2022 August

Dear Siblings in Christ, I recently went to the movie theaters.  Angled two rows behind me were two people chatting during the trailers for upcoming movies.  I looked back to see who was talking; not annoyed at that moment, just curious and hoping (the wishful kind of hoping, not the faith kind of hoping) that they would stop chatting when the movie began.  I like chatting to be kept to a whisper, if at all, so as not to distract from the movie experience, as it is a public space and not my living room.  I also own that I am not very good at tuning out extraneous noise when I am trying to focus on something.  I also noticed that the two folx appeared older than me. I gave a lot of grace - maybe hearing issues for at least one of them; this was their occasional … [Read more...]

Pastor’s Letter 2022 July

Hello My Siblings of Berkeley Methodist United, I am humbled and pleased to begin my pastoral ministry with you in July.  I look forward to worshiping God in Christ with you; hearing your stories, the history of BMUC and what you are hearing from God about BMUC’s future ministry in Berkeley and in the world. I love all types of music and music styles and am pleased that BMUC is quite diverse in its music and music video styles for worship. I want to share a bit about myself so that you might have some context about who I am today and how I listen for God’s call on my life and my ministry as pastor. I have been a Christian for almost/most of my life, having been raised as a Catholic.  I left organized religion for a few years in my latter university years.  As I … [Read more...]