pastor's pen | moments from summer camp | from the session | announcements



"As Jesus continued on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at a kiosk for collecting taxes. He said to him, "Follow me," and he got up and followed him."

- Matthew 9:9 (Common English Bible)

These days, there are many ways to 'follow' someone. Of course, you can literally 'follow' a person by physically trailing after them. You can figuratively 'follow' someone's thoughts or ideas by listening to them speak or learning more about them - and let it affect you. You can also 'follow' someone's accomplishments (such as his/her writings, or inventions, or life events) by paying close attention to what is going on with his/her life because it interests you.

With the dawn of social media, however, the word 'follow' has gained yet another connotation. People 'follow' people, groups and organizations on Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter and others - which basically gives you access to the content of someone you 'follow' when they post something (thoughts, updates, pictures, links, etc.) onto their account. When you 'follow' in this way, you can choose to simply browse, or read, or react, or comment, or even ignore the content. It's really up to you what you do with the information.

So, if you go with this kind of definition of 'follow', you can be as active and intentional in your interaction with who you follow - or not. It means that you can 'follow' without putting much energy or thought into it. It doesn't require much commitment to 'follow', if at all.

I'm quite sure that this was not the kind of 'follow' Jesus was talking about when he called Matthew and others to 'follow him' (see above scripture). So, in order for us to not mistake this kind of understanding, CUPC has recently embarked on a message series titled, "Be a Disciple, Not Just a Follower". During the first weeks of the Season of Pentecost, we have been intentionally focusing on what it means to not just follow Jesus (in the social media sense of the word), but to be a disciple.

The word 'disciple' has a much more active connotation than 'follower'. A disciple is committed to learning the skill/art of their teacher. A disciple is also expected to practice and develop this skill/art. A disciple does not passively hear the teachings of their teacher - they are expected to do something with it. There is interaction, discussion, and growth. I believe this is the kind of 'follow' Jesus was referring to.

So yes, we need to 'follow' Jesus - but not JUST follow (as in the social media sense of the word). We need to become and grow as his disciples. We need to intentionally learn the ways of Jesus and commit to actually living it. We can't become disciples by just 'observing' like a spectator - there needs to be intentionality and commitment.

In our post-Christian religious landscape, I think we need to go back to Jesus' original calling to us. We are called to be disciples of Jesus, not just a 'nominal', 'on-the-sideline', 'hands-off' follower. We need to claim and reclaim our identity in Christ, and be intentional and committed to living in his ways. As his disciples, we are then called to go out and bring good news and bring light to the brokenness in our world.

It's not enough to be a JUST a follower of Jesus anymore (not that it ever was). Let us become and grow as his disciples - so that we can be faithful to his true calling to us.

Your fellow disciple in Christ,
Pastor Grace Kaori Suzuki

pastor's pen | moments from summer camp | from the session | announcements



Each Sunday during worship in the summer, leaders from our Summer Camp program share with the congregation what has been going on at camp, along with their reflections. You will see what they shared below:

June 18, 2017 - Nathaniel W.

Good morning friends and family of CUPC, quick overview of the week: On Monday we went to the park and played numerous camp games and sung many songs. On Tuesday we went to Mission High School, where we learned about light and got to see all of their fun interactive exhibits. On Wednesday we made cheesecake ice cream. On Thursday we make Alfredo pasta. On Friday we went to pier 39.

Being new to CUPC summer camp has definitely brought many new challenges into my life. From learning how to plan fun interactive games and songs for the kids to dealing with complaints of, "I'm tired," or, "I'm hungry," from the campers on a daily basis. They have often left me tired and exhausted by the end of the day. Despite all these obstacles, summer camp has taught me some very valuable lessons of patience and responsibility, that are not only helpful during camp but in everyday life as well.

I have learned that patience is probably one of the most important aspects of being a leader. It is not only waiting for others, but also listening and giving others a chance. While making ice cream and cook out, Miya and I would often give the campers the opportunity to help with making the food. They would help us crack eggs for our fried rice, chop sausages for our pasta, and help mix the ice cream. Even though it might have been faster to do everything ourselves, the chance to assist us makes the campers feel more included in the group. Simply practicing patience has allowed me to grow as a leader and a human being.

Responsibility is another valuable characteristic of being a good leader. I have learned that being responsible not only means protecting and caring for the campers but also sacrificing for their enjoyment and happiness by stepping out of my comfort zone and trying new things. B efore coming to summer camp, I would never sing or cook, but I have learned to enjoy these activities along with my campers. Camp has helped me experience new activities I probably would have never tried, and taught me how to be a more responsible person.

These past two weeks at summer camp have definitely taught me a lot about myself and how I should interact with other people, especially younger people. I have learned to be more patient by giving my campers a chance to be included in ice cream and cook out, and I have learned to be more responsible by doing what is best for the campers' enjoyment rather than what I am used to doing. CUPC summer camp has helped me grow as a person and a leader.

June 25, 2017 - Emily W. & Miya S.

Emily: Good morning everyone, my name is Emily Wong, I am 15 years old and I will be a junior at George Washington high school this coming fall. I joined CUPC last summer as a leader so this is my second summer at CUPC. This year I'm head leader of 3rd and 4th grade boys and girls.

Miya: My name is Miya Suzuki, I am 16 years old and I'm also going to be a junior at George Washington High School. I have been coming to CUPC summer camp as a camper since the 1st grade and been a leader since the 9th grade. This summer I am the head leader of the oldest girls and boys.

Miya (Monday): We started the week off with a service project at Rosa Parks Elementary School, located in the Western Addition neighborhood. At Rosa Parks, we tended the school's gardens, planted beans and sunflowers, and learned a lot about the various plants within the gardens. Gardening taught the campers as well as the leaders the value of perseverance and hard work. While the weeding and digging was strenuous, we were able to learn many lessons.

Emily (Tuesday): Tuesday was carnival day, and us leaders created booths around the church for the campers to engage with. There was a haunted house, a watermelon eating contest, a bouncy house and much more. I was in charge of Donuts on a String where powdered mini donuts were attached to the monkey bars with a string. The campers had to then eat the mini donuts off the monkey bars without using their hands. I found this very amusing to watch because not all campers were the same height so they each had struggles to get the donuts. Sometimes when they were trying to get the donut in their mouths, the donuts would move around and the powder from the donuts got all over their faces. A struggle I came across was when we had two new campers on that day who did not understand English very well so it was hard to explain to them how to play the game. I ran out of donuts before it was lunch-time so I decided to do another station. When it was lunch-time, we brought the kids to Sacramento Park. And I guess one of the campers had so much fun he threw up at the park, but luckily, he was okay afterwards. We returned to church where the kids continued to play in the bouncy house and the haunted house really scared the campers. In the afternoon, I was in charge of the cotton candy machine. It took me awhile to get the hang of it since it was my first time making cotton candy instead of just eating it, but luckily I had Sarah help me.

Emily (Regular Wednesday): Wednesday, we brought the kids to see a play located at Janet Pomeroy Center. I was nervous when we were being seated since the campers were seated separately from the leaders. I soon understood that our height would prevent the younger kids sitting behind us from seeing the stage. The play was very vivid and enjoyable since the props were well-made and the acting was convincing. After the play, we brought our campers near the lake to eat our lunches. One of our new campers from Tuesday did not understand when we told him to not fool around with litter and since the camper knew Korean better than English, we had Maddie pull up google translate to help us communicate with him. But even then he didn't understand. Instead I tried a new approach by telling him "no" whenever he did something he wasn't supposed to do and I was surprised when he understood and obliged.

Emily (Regular Thursday): Thursday, we did not have Sarah and Ryan this day, but we had Pastor Grace and Pastor Hiroko to supervise. On this day I was even more nervous because it was our first day without our directors. On this day, we went to Marina Greens to go kite-flying, and I was glad the kids had fun because not all the leaders knew how to make kites out of trash bags. I thought it was funny because if you were a tourist or just a person walking down the street, you would be wanting why kids are flying trash bags in the morning. My highlight of Thursday was coming across how many dogs that stopped to greet us. Neighborhood dogs that were being walked noticed how many kids were present and they enjoyed the attention that we gave them.

Emily (Regular Friday): Friday was movie day at church. We watched "Moana" in the morning after devotion. After the movie we waited for the overnight campers to return so we could eat lunch together. After lunch, we watched another movie, "Howl's Moving Castle". Overall it was a relaxed day at church.

Emily: This week gave me a lot of obstacles to overcome such as trying to communicate with campers who didn't have English as their first language to going through a day without the directors. I learned to improvise with what I have and to get to know the campers better so I know how to work with them. I also learned to keep my composure around campers since they reflect how I feel through their observations.

Miya (Overnight Wednesday): Wednesday was the first day of the annual Overnight trip. This year we held Overnight at Camp Butano Creek, a campsite near San Mateo. After a long car ride, we finally arrived at Camp Butano Creek. We were all amazed at how beautiful and peaceful the campsite was, despite the mosquitoes that swarmed us everywhere we went. As soon as we finished unpacking, the campers and the leaders played Butt Charades and the Bag Game. Then we had a delicious dinner of sloppy joes made by our very own Wayne and Greg. After dinner, we ended the day with a night game called Ghost in the Graveyard.

Miya (Overnight Thursday): The next day, Thursday, was started with a tasty breakfast of eggs, sausages, and fruit. After breakfast, we made a music video to the song "Despacito" by Luis Fonsi featuring Justin Bieber. Normally, the music videos have simple dance moves, but the campers wanted to make the dance very intricate and complex. Fortunately, it turned out to be very fun for the campers and leaders. After we made the music video, we made scented candles and lanyards. Teaching the kids how to make lanyards required a lot of patience for me and the campers, but despite that, they were rewarded with some cool-looking lanyards. Right after dinner and making all the crafts, we had a campfire with s'mores. But then Colin, the other leader that came on the overnight trip, and I realized that we forgot one of the most essential parts of a s'more: the chocolate. Even though the campers as well as the leaders were sad that there was no chocolate, we were all grateful that we didn't forget the marshmallows.

Miya (Overnight Friday): On Friday, we concluded with breakfast and returned to church to have lunch as a whole camp. In addition, we also watched the second movie, "Howl's Moving Castle", with the whole camp.

Miya: This week I was able to learn how to be more patient. I was able to grow as a person and better understand how to work with kids.

Thank you very much!

July 2, 2017 - Colin E.

Good morning CUPC family and friends. My name is Colin and I am going into college this year. I joined CUPC 4 years ago having ABC for the first three and now being head leader of 8th graders.

Starting off with Monday, we went to Golden Gate Park for a service project. We helped pull weeds off of awns and moved fallen branches from a garden area. After working hard for about an hour we had lunch, and played at the nearby playground. After an hour or so we went back to help again with moving unwanted sticks and pine cones from a public area that people tend to walk their dogs. We saw many dogs being walked as we were working and the kids were very happy when the dogs came up to be petted. We then went back to the park, played for a little while and headed back to camp.

On Tuesday, we went to the National Japanese American Historical Society. We learned about the hardships the American Japanese people that lived here had to go through during World War 2. As the curator started talking about the difficulties and hardships the Japanese American people had to go through, I could see in the kids faces that they appreciated what they had and who was still with them. After seeing pictures and relics of life at the internment camps, we split up into our groups of Alpha and Omega. Omega made origami box out of old post cards and Alpha made flowers out of tissue paper and piper cleaners.

On Wednesday Omega had a service project at KOKORO retirement home across the street. When we got there the campers were paired with seniors for an arts and craft project. We made a butterfly with lanyards coming down at the bottom. Afterwards we got to get to know them better and form great relations. At the table I was at, one of the seniors, Tomoko, asked us how old we were. When we told her, she was shocked, she thought that we were all so much younger. She also told us what it was like in the war and how she wished she had studied more, than she told us to study hard and get into good colleges. On our way out, one of the seniors stopped us, thanked us and gave the campers that she was paired with, Eva and Aerin, oranges and that the next time she sees them she would give them more. Once we were done, we headed back to church to have lunch, then made preparations to head to the Academy of Sciences. Unfortunately, I had to leave right after lunch because of an appointment I had, but I did hear that the kids enjoyed looking at the animals and the exhibits there, especially the rainforest dome because of all the butterflies.

On Thursday we went to Baker Beach and stayed there most of the day. We made sand castles and dug holes along the shore, a couple of kids put their feet in the water, but being as it was very cold that day, the water was just as cold.

On Friday Omega had another service project at KOKORO but, this time we played Bingo. As we were finishing up one of the helpers at the retirement home said that everything went so fast because the kids were helping. The same senior that Eva and Aerin had Wednesday was there as well and gave them both more oranges for their lunch. After saying our goodbyes, we met up with the campers that stayed at church and headed to Chinatown. When we got there myself, my co leader Anna, and the 8th graders split off from the group. Since the boy scouts had a camping trip, most of my campers weren't there. But because of that, I got to know a lot more about my two campers that I did before. After a lot of walking, window shopping and eating dim sum, we met up with the rest of the camp and headed back to church. Friday was also the same night as the Family Picnic. Nathan and I were in charge of making the burgers and hotdogs. We had a few incidents such as not getting the coals hot enough and dropping a couple of hot dogs, but in the end everything went smoothly. After dinner, we played camp games for the remainder of the evening.

This week I learned that being patient with campers is essential, that raising my voice won't always get them to listen but, just talking to them calmly and collectively, I can get my point across easier.

Thank you.

July 9, 2017 - Anna H.

Good morning, my name is Anna H. I am 17 years old and will be a senior at Lowell High School this coming fall. This is my third year at CUPC and this summer I am a leader of 8th grade.

On Monday, we went to the park and played games and sang songs. At the beginning of the summer park days were very difficult for me. I struggled to lead games and songs but as the summer progressed with the help of my fellow leaders it became easier. The campers were also very cooperative and I'm very thankful for that. They didn't complain about the games we were playing and helped out other groups. I think the 8th graders will become great leaders next year.

It was Independence Day on Tuesday so we did not have camp but I hope everyone had a great Fourth of July with family and friends.

We had cookout and ice cream on Wednesday and Thursday at Lindley Meadows in Golden Gate Park. My group made ice cream on the first day. We were going to make lychee ice cream but my fellow leader Colin accidentally mixed the vanilla extract with mint extract so it tasted very similar to toothpaste. Luckily the campers still enjoyed it. We also went on a relaxing nature walk around the lake and skipped rocks. We made pesto pasta on Thursday for cookout. Although we didn't win the best cookout I thought that the pasta was delicious and the two pounds of pasta we made was completely gone. Colin was successful in making a fire with one match so he redeemed himself after the ice cream incident. We also played camp-wide games like Romeo and Juliet, where campers and leaders would partner up and make funny poses when a particular command was called. At the end of the day we had council ring and sang songs as a whole camp.

On Friday, we went to Great America. We were pleasantly surprised with a charter bus waiting to take us to the amusement park. Although the ride was long it was definitely worth it. Both the campers and leaders had fun on the roller coasters and other attractions. The water rides were especially refreshing in the 90-degree weather. Unfortunately, some campers were not on their best behavior throughout the week so I had to sit with them as a punishment. I felt bad for them but hopefully they have reflected upon their behavior at camp and enjoy the rest of the summer. After a long day under the hot sun, returning to the air conditioned charter bus was blissful and many of the campers and leaders fell asleep on the bus, myself included, and we were back at camp before we knew it.

Five weeks have passed in a flash and I've learned a lot this summer. Working at CUPC has tremendously improved my leadership skills. I've learned to be more flexible and adjust to quick-paced environments as well as unexpected situations. The skills I've obtained and polished at CUPC will help me grow as a person and I hope to continue to improve myself.

Since this my last week as a leader I wanted to thank everyone at CUPC and those who supported CUPC for another memorable summer. I hope CUPC has a successful parents' night and thank you very much for listening.

pastor's pen | moments from summer camp | from the session | announcements



veryone is invited to attend our regular session meetings. The next regular session meeting is on July 23, 2017 at 12:00pm. If you are interested in how the session, our governing body, discusses ministry 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 summer camp | from the session | announcements




The work on the exterior of our church has been completed! The Main Team is very pleased with the quality of the workmanship... and it came in under our projected budget.

As for our kitchen and bathrooms, the first contractor bids came in at unreasonably high estimates. Working with our architects, we met with and are contracting NCR Construction, Inc., a company with a proven record of working with non-profit organizations. Work began on July 10th and will take approximately 8 - 10 weeks.

Thank you to all who helped to clear the kitchen! The kitchen and bathroom demolition has been completed and the plumbing and electrical work is set to begin. The cabinetmaker is meeting with our contractor and the order for cabinets and vents will go in this week as well.

It will be an inconvenience during the renovation period, but well worth the wait. Thank you for your cooperation!

Chris H., Team Leader
Property Maintenance


We still don't have our new parking gate lock and keys! There has been a delay in scheduling the locksmith to do the work. Announcements will be made when we finally get a date set. So sorry if this is causing any inconvenience.

This should have minimal impact on our congregants, as the gate is open on Sunday mornings for worship. It should also be noted that ALL parking slots are rented and, with the renovation there is little room for other cars during the week.

Thank you for your understanding and cooperation. If you have any questions, they may be directed to Pastor Grace or Chris H., Chair of Property Maintenance.


Hope all is well with each and every one of you. Here is an update on how we are doing with the Raffle Fundraiser. We got off to a wonderful start with Troop 12 taking 2,000 tickets to sell. Worshippers have been taking responsibility for selling tickets; some have purchased the tickets and we are grateful to all for supporting the church in raising funds to help replace the social hall floor.

I would like to thank and acknowledge the following individuals who contributed specifically to the cash prize, which ultimately increases the amount of money raised through this fundraiser: Dr. Himeo T. , Arisa T, Roger and Marilyn T., Elizabeth H. and Toshiye H.

If anyone is interested in this option, please send a check made payable to CUPC, note on ticket "For Raffle Prizes". On the envelope, please put "ATTN: Wayne Hiroshima".

We (Jan D., Lorrie L. and I) will continue to distribute tickets on Sundays during coffee fellowship, in addition to collecting ticket stubs and money. In mid-July, we will send tickets to those who receive the Visiting Pastor asking to help with the sales of tickets. If you have picked up tickets, you will not receive anything in the mail.

If you have any questions or would like to help with the raffle, please email me at

Wayne H., Finance Team Leader