Craig’s Corner 2020 June

When are we coming back to worship? People are starting to wonder about when we will open the doors to the church building and welcome people in person once again.  The short answer is…probably not for a long time.   We all WANT to come and worship live and in person.  We want to hug and shake hands with friends and family.  We want to welcome new people into our church family.  But sometimes our needs outweigh our wants.  In this case, the need to love our neighbor by NOT meeting in person, the need to love our church family by NOT gathering together, the need to NOT be a viral hotspot outweighs our wants.  By a lot. I know we will come back to worship live and in person one day.   But it won’t be soon.  When we do, there will be … [Read more...]

Craig’s Corner – May 2020

We can get through this together. It’s been a tough six weeks since we were asked to “shelter in place.” Thousands have died.  Families are grieving.  To make matters worse, we can’t even congregate to share our grief.  The economy is in free fall. Millions of people have lost their jobs or been furloughed.  Some who have kept their jobs were asked to take a pay cut.  And for the rest of us lucky enough not to be in those categories have been worn down by the anxiety, stress, and adjustments to a new way of life. But we are fortunate in so many ways.   It’s just not easy to see when you’re in the midst of it all.  But most of us are healthy.  We have enough food.  Either someone is helping to take care of our needs or we are able to go out and get essentials … [Read more...]

Craig’s Corner 2020 April

What is Easter without an Easter Egg Hunt? Still the most significant day in the Christian calendar.   As I write this, we are in the midst of the coronavirus crisis and “sheltering in place” for the time being.  While I am confident we will emerge from this time in greater need of God than ever before and stronger as a church community for having endured this, it still leaves us for the time being feeling helpless, anxiety-filled, and uncertain.   Already, our church council voted to cancel the Bazaar and the Fall Church Retreat.  With so much time, effort, and planning that needs to go into both of those events, it just didn’t seem possible to do either of those justice or to have people commit to the event with so much going on in their own lives.  We … [Read more...]

Craig’s Corner 2020 March

Parents – this Craig’s Corner is not for you! Please pass this to your child as you read this.  Don’t read past this line.  This message is for your kids, your grandkids, your nieces and your nephews.   Okay, now that I’ve got you alone, hello!  If we haven’t talked in person, I’m the pastor of your church, Rev. Craig and I want you to know that YOU are important.  Yes, you.  The person reading this article.  It is my hope and dream to make Berkeley Methodist United Church into YOUR church.  Not your parent’s church.  Not your grandparent’s church.  But YOUR church.  I want it to be a place you will have fond memories of far into your adult years.  I hope one day as you reflect on your faith, you’ll look back and say, “I’m … [Read more...]

Craig’s Corner 2020 February

Why the history of our church is so important… Even though today our church serves people of all ethnicities, we definitely have our origins in the Japanese-American community.  Formed during a time of prejudice and hatred toward “the other” there were many laws out there designed specifically with Asian immigrants in mind.  The California Alien Land Laws of 1913 and 1920 were written to discourage immigrants from Asia and primarily Japan while simultaneously making life purposefully more difficult for those already living here.  It was even upheld by the Supreme Court and wasn’t invalidated until 1952 in the case of Sei Fujii v. California.  The environment for people of Japanese descent was hostile to say the least.   When the United Methodist Church (then … [Read more...]

Craig’s Corner 2020 January

My hopes and dreams for 2020… This is the month of new beginnings!  It is also the month which we celebrate that lauded humanitarian, visionary, and civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  So in that spirit, I wanted to share with you my hopes and dreams for our church in the year 2020.   Increase in outreach – The mission of every church is to make disciples for Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.  And our church vision which we crafted together of “Transforming Lives Through Christ’s Love” is part of that mission.  To do that, we need to reach out into the community more often and in new and different ways.  It will mean embracing our community and its people with love and kindness, celebrating their differences and realizing … [Read more...]

Craig’s Corner 2019 December

It’s the MOST wonderful time of the year! I can’t argue with that sentiment.  I LOVE Christmas.  When I was little, I loved it because of the anticipation of Santa, the annual Mattel Electronics game or die-cast metal Japanese toy my parents would give to me, and my early morning experiments at cooking breakfast for me and my sister Karen.  What an eclectic menu!  Beef and potato burritos, bologna and blue cheese on toast, and peanut butter and butter on toast were among my specialties.  Now, I look forward to the season maybe even more than just the specific day.  I love the cool winter weather (when we lived in Georgia, we might actually see snow!), decorating the house with family, excursions to see Santa, driving through the neighborhood and seeing … [Read more...]

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 … [Read more...]

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 … [Read more...]

Craig’s Corner 2019 September

ChangesA little over a year has gone by and it has been a whirlwind of change.Under normal circumstances, change is difficult.  And these have not been normal circumstances.  As you can imagine, after having the same pastor for 20+ years, having a new one assigned to your church can be quite a culture shift. Some of our members have never known another pastor!  So regardless of who came in, it was going to be a challenge for everyone.  There are people who have embraced the change and some who have had a tough time with it, but no matter how we faced it, change was here.  And it seemed to keep coming.Any time there is a shift in church leadership, things get re-examined as fresh eyes look at familiar situations.  Maybe something we’ve grown used to is seen in … [Read more...]