CUPC NEWSLETTER // February 2017

pastor's pen | from the session | announcement

PASTOR'S PEN/// Pondering February: Black History Month, Day of Remembrance...

"Give justice to the weak and the orphan; maintain the right of the lowly and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked."

- Psalm 82:3-4 (New Revised Standard Version)

When I first began serving as pastor at Christ United Presbyterian Church, I was approached by one of the 'pillars' of our church, who asked me to include the hymn "Lift Every Voice and Sing" during one of the Sundays in February during worship to commemorate Black History Month. For those of you unfamiliar with the hymn, "Lift Every Voice and Sing" is a hymn that is often likened to the 'national anthem' of African Americans in the U.S. I didn't think too much at the time - I was fine with her request, and we've tried to do this every year since.

Now, if you think about it, at least initially, it is somewhat interesting that an elderly Japanese American woman requested to sing this hymn at our predominantly Japanese/Asian American congregation every February (which is observed as Black History Month not only in the United States, but in the United Kingdom and Canada). But if you really think about it, it makes perfect sense. Japanese Americans carry the history of illegal mass-incarceration during World War II as well as the discrimination that preceded and followed it. So, at some level, they share similar experiences with the African Americans, and can speak for the importance of lifting up the history of their people and educating the nation. Japanese Americans (among others) know how our nation continues to struggle with racism and discrimination of the 'other', and if we stop telling our stories and educating people, these issues will not only continue, they can take over. So they stand in solidarity with their African American sisters and brothers, not only celebrating Black History Month, but joining in the continuous work toward equality and justice for everyone.

February also happens to be the month when the Japanese American community holds the Day of Remembrance, to commemorate the signing of Executive Order 9066 on February 19, 1942. This was the Executive Order which led to the mass-incarceration of over 110,000 people of Japanese ancestry into so-called 'internment camps'. No crime, no trial - but solely based on their skin color and ancestry - they were stripped of their homes and communities, and 'rounded up'. At the Day of Remembrance events today, you will not only hear storytelling and teaching regarding what happened, but you will hear the Japanese American community advocating on behalf of those who may find themselves in similar dynamics of discrimination and hate today - like the Japanese Brazilians, or the Muslim community.

I am proud and grateful to see the Japanese American community, and people of faith within the community (like the woman above), who takes the stand for others that may not otherwise be able to, or need allies in, standing up for themselves. As God speaks through the psalm above, it is our calling to make sure that those who are in a position of weakness/need are cared for and their rights stood up for. Given our current political climate, I can't help but think that there is a dire need for all of us to step up, as much as we are capable of, to do just that.

So, what can you and I do today? What can we, as the church community, do? How can we heed God's call to support, provide and advocate for those who are in need, those who are discriminated, those who are seeking justice? This might be a time of stretching, a time for leaving our comfort zones for some of us - but if not now, when?

"God, give us the wisdom to know how we might stand up for and advocate on behalf of your children who are in places of need, discrimination and injustice. Then, give us the courage to go do it. Amen."

Together we serve,
Pastor Grace Kaori Suzuki


pastor's pen | moments from CUPC session | announcement

FROM THE SESSION///

The session, acted on the following items on January 22, 2017:
  1. Approved to put a quarter-page size ad for $80.00 in Nihonmachi Little Friends' "Dowa no Omatsuri" program.
  2. Approved the 2017 budget.
Everyone is invited to attend our regular session meetings. The next regular session meeting is on February 26, 2017. If you are interested in how the session, our governing body at CUPC please come and join us! You are also welcome to read the minutes, which are public documents. The minutes are available in the church office.


pastor's pen | moments from CUPC session | announcement

CUPC

ANNOUNCEMENT//

ANNUAL REPORT PUBLISHED

The 2016 Annual Report Booklets was published for the benefit of members and friends of the church, and used as the basis of reporting at the Annual Congregational Meeting on February 5, 2017.

We want to thank Roger and Marilyn T. and Rose O. for coming out to assemble the reports on January 28. The booklet cover was the creative work of Pastor Grace. We also thank Pastor Hiroko, for translating/typing the English/Japanese reports, plus all those who wrote and submitted reports.

If you didn't receive a copy, be sure to pick one up or call the church office at 415-567-3988.