Together, we rise through faith
By Rev. Karen Yokota Love
It’s summertime. The weather is changing. It’s so much lighter, so much later – what a joy! I gazed outside a few evenings ago, assuming that at such a late hour the sun had retired for the day. To my surprise, the sun was shining with no sign of a sunset. I thought, “no matter how I think this should go, the sun will not set until it’s ready.” Imagine if we were such pillars of light that we allowed nothing to get in the way of our shining. When the sun rises, nothing can stop it, it is so high that nothing can get in its way.
This year, all our pillars of light are once again, rising! Nothing seems to get in the way of shining for the people at Blaine.
Blaine Memorial UMC members showed up at Lakeview Cemetery for the 78th Annual Nisei Veterans Committee Memorial Day Service. Together we honored relatives, friends, and remembered those who fought in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, served in the Military Intelligence Service and remembered all the Japanese American soldiers who fought and died in wars thereafter.
White House Deputy Assistant to President Biden and Asian American and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Senior Liaison Erika L. Moritsugu was this year’s keynote speaker. Church Member, Dale Watanabe, provided this year’s Christian-based message and tied in the history of his father and relatives who served in World War II. He also talked about the names that are listed on the Honor Roll Wall at the Minidoka National Historical Site in Hunt, Idaho. Minidoka had the highest percentage of incarcerees from the 10 incarceration camps to serve in the military. Dale tied this link to the Nisei War Memorial at Lakeview Cemetery which honors the 56 American soldiers of Japanese origin.
At this year’s PNW Annual Conference, Bishop Cedrick D. Bridgeforth announced both Rev. Mia and my appointments to continue to serve as your pastors for the July 2023-June 2024 appointment year. Rev. Jeney and Rev. Mark are also appointed in secondary appointments serving at Blaine. I look forward to what this new year will bring for us and the sparks of light that will be ignited through our ministry together!
I also want to take the time to congratulate Rev. Mia MiKyung Park on her ordination as a Full Elder in the Oregon-Idaho Conference. This is a huge accomplishment and milestone in her life! Ron Nobuyama, Lawrence Paltep, and I flew to Meridian, Idaho, to witness Rev. Mia’s ordination on June 11. What an exciting moment to witness!
Jr. High Camp, VBS and Asian Camp are standing pillars of light and reminders that we are in the thick of summer. It’s wonderful to see our Church School kids, youth and young adults meeting new friends, reconnecting with old friends while finding new ways to connect with God. This year’s VBS theme is Food Truck Party: On a Roll with God, and we are praying that everyone who joins this party will know and experience God’s love, presence, and faithfulness.
Our Reconciling Ministries Team continues to shine a light on an intentional discernment process to explore the outreach, affirmation, and intersectional ministry with and for LGBTQIA+ people at Blaine Memorial UMC. We will continue to engage in deep conversations over the summer by discussing what it means to celebrate God’s gift of diversity and value the wholeness made possible in community equally shared and shepherded by all. In our conversations, we continue to discuss what it means and looks like to welcome and affirm people of every gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation, who are also of every age, race, ethnicity, physical and mental ability, level of education, and family structure, and of every economic, immigration, marital, and social status, and so much more.
At the end of July, I’ll be facilitating a retreat sponsored by the National Japanese American United Methodist Caucus at Lake Tahoe’s Zephyr Point. There will be 100 attendees and a few from Blaine Memorial are attending. Other attendees are coming from our sister Japanese American churches including Wesley UMC, Sacramento Japanese UMC, and members from other historical Japanese American churches of different denominations.
As we celebrated Independence Day, I continued noticing that the chains of slavery are just as present as they have ever been – whether it be the inequity that persists in the world, or something as mundane as our slavery to our work or our own busyness. I would like our community to channel the prophet inside of us. I’d like us to slow down and to take this freedom and privilege that we embody to the world and to every interaction we have with every person we meet.
With so much going on in the world, we, who are brave, must continue to be intentional about spreading God’s love. We must continue to rise and shine. Let’s look even deeper, get even more uncomfortable, and let our little lights come together to create a sun that doesn’t go down because someone thinks it should, but a sun that shines, no matter what time of day it is. It’s great to be in community with you and to do ministry with you. Be well and stay healthy. You are loved and a child of God. Be the hope and continue to help your neighbor! Rise up and shine your light of faith!
The Rev. Karen Yokota Love serves as Senior Pastor of Blaine Memorial UMC.
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The July edition of the Beacon features stories from our church in celebration of Summer! Download the PDF!