Craig’s Corner 2019 October

The Next 90 Years…

As we approach our 90th anniversary celebration, we will be reflecting on the past and praising God for what God has done through us and in us for those around us.  We will lift up the ministries that have brought us to this day and give thanks for their success and for the people who made it a success.  We want to honor the work of our pastors and our church members who have tirelessly given of themselves to create so many disciples for Jesus Christ right here on this property in the middle of Berkeley, CA.  We will give thanks for the many inspirational leaders who have come out of this church because of our love and dedication; leaders such as Bishop Grant Hagiya, DS Rev. Mark Nakagawa, DS Rev. Derek Nakano, and so many more that honestly I can’t list them all here.  What an amazing honor it has been to be faithful to God’s call for 90 years!

But we also want to look into the future.  We want to plant the seeds for future growth and challenge ourselves to do what needs to be done for God.  Someone once made the comment that it seems I’m more focused on who ISN’T here than who IS here.  That couldn’t be further from the truth.  It is because I do care about our church and our people, the ones who are here right now, that I spend so much time encouraging us to deepen our faith.  We have spent a lot of time working on forming small groups like our new Scripture and A Snack study, launching opportunities for growth in faith like our new Women’s Group, and offering weekly devotions to help us dive deeper into our faith together like on our Facebook page (and by handing out those same devotions in worship).  We have also opened up leadership opportunities through our Leadership Fair while at the same time having training sessions like our Leadership Retreat to help equip us to be better leaders.  We did that in just our first year together!  Deepening our faith and caring for our people is something very meaningful to me.

At the same time, we need to take seriously the challenge Christ presents us when he said to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name ofC the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. (Matthew 28:19-20)” I take those words seriously.  Don’t you?  I have such a passion for church growth because if the people in my life hadn’t reached out to me, I would not have been a Christian let alone a pastor.  God has made such a difference in how I experience life and how I understand love.  I want everyone to feel that same love and life!  I want others to know the joy I know because Christ is a part of it.  I can’t imagine anyone who has had their life touched by God who wouldn’t want that, too.  

I also believe that by focusing on church growth we are not only honoring God and fulfilling our membership vows when we say we will “make disciples for Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world (UMC Book of Discipline),” but we are helping to insure the future of this church and the legacy of what we have accomplished thus far.  To me, one of the best ways we can honor the past is by securing the future. That often takes innovative efforts.  And innovation requires change.  

I honestly feel like God led me here so we can go through this change together.  I bring with me over a dozen years of church experience in trying new things in different settings.  I’ve spent the past 15 years reading, studying, and learning about what works and what doesn’t work for churches of all different sizes and situations.  And you all have a deep and abiding knowledge of our church, our neighborhood, our limitations, our gifts and strengths, and what makes us special. Together, I think we are developing a powerful partnership to reach others for Christ.  I wrote in my first Craig’s Corner that this is a journey we are taking together and that is truer now than ever before.  

I’m excited to be part of our church’s history and future.  I hope you are, too.  We are BMUC!

Peace in Christ,


Caring For Our Kids: Safety First!

Normally, we associate that phrase with something we say TO kids, not ABOUT kids.  But our church is committed to safety FOR our kids from babies to graduates and everyone in-between.  As a parent, there is nothing more important to me than the safety and well-being of my child.  As a pastor, I know from experience I share that in common with almost every parent on the planet no matter where they are from or what life circumstance they are living in.  

“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” – Matthew 19:14

We do not negotiate our children’s safety.  All adults associated with our youth and children’s ministry are now required to take our Safe Sanctuary training through the Safe Gatherings online course.  This will not only insure that our volunteers are trained on how to properly associate with children, but to protect them and the church as well.  Because it’s so important, our Council of Ministries authorized us to offer it free of charge to everyone.  Normally a $40 course, Safe Gatherings not only offers training about child safety and appropriate behavior, but also includes a background check.  Beginning in October, every adult working directly with children must have finished the training.  If you work with our kids and have not taken the course, please follow up with Cheryl Tekawa-Pon to receive registration information.  

If we are to provide a safe space for our kids to grow and learn about Jesus, it must be in an environment they and their parents can trust.  We are working hard to provide that safe space.  We are also working on providing an even more engaging learning experience to help our kids thrive in their faith.  And we hope to keep improving what we do so the next generation of BMUC youth and kids will grow up with the love of Christ embedded in their hearts.  If you would like to be part of this ministry, contact Cheryl and thank you for your continued support.