Craig’s Corner 2019 November

Who Are The People In Our Neighborhood?

Can you imagine a time when you were FORCED to live in a certain area because of your racial identity?  When you didn’t have the freedom to live where you wanted to live?  I know some of you can because you lived it.  Not that long ago, the laws in the Berkeley area segregated Japanese and Japanese-Americans to a specific section of the city.  Good ol’ progressive Berkeley.  This church was within the boundaries where “people like us” were allowed to live. Can you imagine that?  We were graciously allowed to live in this neighborhood away from those who didn’t want us.  But God didn’t let that stop the work for the Kingdom.  Instead, God planted a church right here through the work of our Issei loved ones.  And we flourished!  But as our people moved away from the neighborhood, once the segregationist laws were recognized for what they were, our church clung onto its ethnic heritage and became a safe haven for all of those who needed a place to call “home.”  We stopped being a community church and leaned into our ethnic common bond.  

For decades we have been satisfied by primarily being an historically ethnic church, even as our own children and grandchildren have left.  Even as so many of us have married outside the Japanese-American community and had happa kids of our own (children who are multi-ethnic).  I remember a time when being happa wasn’t the proud and loving idea that it is today.  Today we embrace our kids who have roots in different cultures, but it wasn’t always that way.  We have grown in our love and acceptance of others, just as others have grown in their love and acceptance of us.  

Perhaps it’s time to be a community church once again.  We already have a solid foundation.  Not only do we have children and grandchildren from a diversity of backgrounds, but we live in a neighborhood that reflects a veritable rainbow of colors.  I am uplifted by our multi-ethnic composition.  I love that wec have welcomed people of all different ethnicities and cultures.  I’m glad to be a part of a church willing to embrace others in a way we were not embraced all those years ago when we were caught up in the wave of segregationist attitudes.  Perhaps now, we need to be a neighborhood church once again.  

Our shared experiences, our cultural heritage, can be an asset to those living in our community.  As our society grows divided over issues of race, gender, and sexual orientation, we can empathize in a way most people could not because of our shared history.  We can be a place that supports the needs of our community living right around our church.  We can open our doors once more and say to them, “You are welcome here.”  

Where is God calling us now?

Peace in Christ,


WE ARE ON SOCIAL MEDIA! – If you didn’t already know, BMUC is all over social media.  Please follow us on and Instagram for photos, news, and events.  We also publicize on NextDoor and have our own website (if you didn’t know already).  You can also find our Sunday messages on Rev. Craig’s website at  

Thanksgiving 2019

Thank you, Lord, for the past 90 years…

Why do we give this opportunity to send in an offering every year?  Is it because the church needs your money?  What is this all about?

In our transactional society we often equate giving with getting.  We give so we get.  

But that’s not the way it is in the church.  Anyone who tells you differently doesn’t understand why we give.  We don’t offer this opportunity to give because we need it, but because during this time of thanksgiving we want to offer you the chance to give back to God a little of what God has given to you.  For some of you, this isn’t in the form of money.  Perhaps it’s a donation of some other kind like time, energy, or your gifts and service.  But for those of us fortunate to be blessed with the ability to give financially, this is an opportunity to share some with the Kingdom of God.  

Now, don’t get me wrong.  BMUC does need funding to operate the lights and the heater and pay for staff salaries.  Churches operate similar to other businesses that way.  If we don’t have enough funds, we can’t operate at the same levels.  But if we worry about where the money is coming from, if we have to rely on special offerings, donations, and gifts to the church to operate, then we are living beyond our means and need to seriously reconsider what we are doing.  Serving God is a gift and a privilege and not a money-making venture.  

That’s why I don’t want you to give unless you want to.  As it says in 2 Corinthians 9:7, “God loves a cheerful giver.”  If you do give, it is without expectation.  It is without compensation.  It is without reciprocation.  It is only out of love for God and for what God is doing through the people of BMUC.  

If you’re receiving this letter, it’s because in some way you are a part of our BMUC family, and we want you to know we are thankful for you.  The past 90 years could not have been done without you.  And we are all excited to see where God is leading us for the next 90 years!  

Peace in Christ,


Your Pastor at Berkeley Methodist United Church


Love, generosity, and gratitude carry us into the next 90 years.

During our 90th anniversary weekend, we celebrated the past (Saturday) while looking forward into the future (Sunday).  During Saturday’s special worship with Bishop Hagiya we sang songs that were church favorites, had a prayer in Japanese to honor our Issei pioneers, listened to our choir perform a special selection of songs to reflect our shared heritage, and had a beloved voice from the past come and share God’s message with us.  Our lunch was also a reflection of our historically Japanese-American roots (plus it was just good food).  But on Sunday we took a different path.  Sunday was about our future!  We sang more contemporary songs during our song set, we shared God’s message of hope for our future, and even our potluck lunch was a reflection of who we are today – still some Japanese and Asian influences but with other types of food in the mix, too.  We hope that you will be inspired by our history and our heritage as we move forward.  The roots of the past will strengthen us for the journey ahead.  

Our planning committee hoped to make the celebration as affordable and as enjoyable as possible. We knew our budget would be super tight but we had a little bit of leeway thanks to our Council of Ministries.  What we hadn’t counted on was YOUR generosity.  So many of you gave on top of your regular pledged donations to the church and we are humbled by your thoughtfulness.  And we didn’t even ask. Your donations will make it possible for us to not only cover the cost of the event, but to also go above and beyond that and help fund those projects and ideas we have been talking about to engage our community and improve our outreach.  We anticipate after final expenses have been covered, we will still have over $1,000 to do even more outreach to our neighbors than we have before!  Thank you again for your generosity and kindness.