Thank you for your support to mission work. Let us pause and reflect with gratitude how the lives of hundreds have been lifted and saved by your unselfish giving:
* Your cooking efforts for the San Jose community Winter Faith Collaborative has provided hot lunches and dinners every Wednesday since January 11 for homeless women housed at First Presbyterian Church and Grace Community Church.
* Your generous support of our recent Mardi Gras evening has provided funding for our church’s missions efforts.
* Our Com(e)Passion Ministry established relationships with Hispanic families with low incomes by providing food and shelter at First UMC (Rev. Shinya Goto’s church).
* The Wesley UMC Immigration Task Force has begun investigating how best to proceed in enabling and protecting those from unlawful deportation.
* And lastly, The Annual Bay Area CROP Walk to end world hunger is Sunday, April 23 at 1:00 pm in the Rose Garden are of San Jose. Pledges to walkers will help refugees around the world who daily face atrocities, starvation, and mass murder.
The new musical Doors Open, by Wesley’s own Mark Teagle, played to an audience of nearly 300 people Saturday night, March 11 in the Wesley Sanctuary.
The LGBTQ (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer)-themed play featured a cast of 18 from three different churches along with the tech crew working tirelessly behind the scenes. There was a lot of laughter and also some tears as the audience followed the story of a church wrestling with the issues of LGBTQ people in their midst. “It was wonderful to see such a strong response to this play and its message,” playwright Teagle said. “The cast did an amazing job bringing the story to life.”
People came from all over the Bay Area to see Doors Open, some from as far away as San Francisco and even Santa Rosa. There is interest from several other churches to host performances. A team is meeting to discuss future performances of “Doors Open.
Our first Immigrant forum March 5 was a great hit! Over 75 people joined the forum. Father Jon Pedigo, Rev. Shinya Goto, and Geraldo Vazquez shared about struggles of Latino immigrants and discussed on how Wesley can support undocumented immigrants in this difficult time. It was a great joy to meet some of Latino families from San Jose First UMC.
Mochitsuki celebrates 46 Years! Only 46-years-old at our church here in the U.S. of A., Wesley’s tradition continues with very little changes to the ancient ways which were brought to this country by the Issei (first) generation from Japan, where the rice is steamed, pounded, and shaped into cakes to eat in honor and celebration of the coming New Year. Over these two days we had about 80 high school students, Buddhist church friends, Japantown neighbors, and our Boy and Girl Scouts join us.
This is also a major fundraiser for the church. We cooked 2,300 lbs of rice which yielded about 3,300 lbs of mochi. The komochi and okasane displays grossed over $14,000 with $11,000 going into our church’s General Fund.
Hour of prayer and solidarity with Evergreen Islamic Center - After a four-week Bible study on Christianity and Islam, 30 Wesley members visited the Evergreen Islamic Center on Sunday December 4th. We attended their afternoon prayer time and engaged in an interfaith dialogue with our Muslim brothers and sisters. Alice Hikido, who attended the tour, said, “I learned more things through the discussion, but I was most impressed by the care and openness to us!”
Evergreen will host a prayer gathering Sunday December 11th at 2pm. After receiving a hate letter, which stated, "[President-elect] Donald Trump will do to you Muslims what Hitler did to the Jews,” the Islamic Center also received messages of unconditional love and support from many people and organizations in the community. As a token of gratitude, and in an effort to turn a negative event into a positive experience, Evergreen is calling for a community prayer in solidarity with one another.
If you would like to join in this hour of prayer and solidarity, please come to Evergreen Islamic Center (2486 Ruby Ave. San Jose, CA 95148) at 2pm, December 11. We encourage you to carpool as nearby parking is limited. Please wear your Wesley name tag and safety pin!
We are part of a mission to “STOP HUNGER NOW” worldwide, and on November 5, ninety volunteers from Wesley Church and the Japantown community filled, weighed, sealed, and boxed 10,000 meals of rice, barley, dehydrated vegetables, and vitamins. This shipment was destined for the typhoon-ravaged areas of the Philippines. check for $2,944.00 was presented to Stop Hunger Now program from the Wesley Church Missions fund.
Thanksgiving Potluck "Share Our Substance" Our Fellowship Hall was filled with almost 200 family members partaking of so many tasty, delectable dishes all made with incredible care and thought. We are thankful to the Missions Committee for all of their work and set-up in making this an enjoyable afternoon. Once sated, we were given a treat by learning about the non-profit Stop Hunger Now (SHN) program whose mission is to end hunger by 2030 by feeding the hungry, children especially, by educating and creating a platform for sustainable living among the most impoverished in the world.
What a sight to see - over 300 dressed-up children and their parents taking a stroll past all of our ministry-decorated car trunks. What a warm and enjoyable treat to hear such laughter from the kids, to see youngsters participating in their first Halloween adventure in a safe and inviting environment, and to see their smiling faces and bright eyes when Rev. Hajime hands them a balloon sword, a balloon pumpkin, or cute balloon puppy. What a great way to open our church to the neighborhood and for them to get to know us and the ministries of our church. What a wonderful time to be an integral part of Halloween in Japantown.
95 campers, 22 of them first-timers, enjoyed wonderful fun, and FELLOWSHIP at the recent 2016 All Church Camp. We got to know each other better at camp, getting to know one another by the lake, on a hike, watching stars, or by the campfire. Highlight of the fishing was a rainbow trout weighing 3.67 lbs! Thank you to Warren & Rosie Shimonishi for over 40 years of organizing the camp! And congratulations to the new leaders, John & Christine Ng who after a year of observing and learning, did a marvelous job taking over the job.
This picture represents just some of the school supplies collected for some of our neighbor schools. Wesley, along with CommUniverCity San Jose, Japantown Lions Foundation, Rotary Club of SJ Silicon Valley, San Jose Buddhist Church and San Jose First UMC, contributed toward this 2016 School Supply Drive. Thank you for your generous donations!
In 2015-2016 over 50 religious organizations organizations in San Jose have collaborated together supporting the homeless. Sixteen faith communities have opened up their church doors as daytime/nighttime shelter or safe car park. In the past three months, WFC served approximately 124,300 meals to our guests. Volunteers shared how it has significantly changed their lives as they encountered the homeless one on one and face to face. For some of them, it was a life-changing experience that they rediscovered Jesus in the eyes of the poor. 47 Wesley members have served their best homemade meals and fellowshipped to the “unhoused” guests at WFC in the past three months!
The Wesley Ukulele Band in 2016 performed at the Alzheimer Activity Center to a crowd of 45 clients and other adults. The audience danced to the selection of Hawaiian music and also enjoyed Hawaiian dancing by three of our ukulele members. Other Wesley groups perform music ministries at various locations in the Santa Clara county area. If you have a talent to share, contact the church!
On February 21, 2016, our 142 Wellness Ministry Walkers celebrated six weeks' worth of walking: over 35 MILLION STEPS, equal to about 17000 miles! This turned out to be a ministry that grew by leaps and bounds with so many marching towards better health. There are a ton of walking stories. And because of the feel-good in this "step ministry," many of the teams have continued to stay together, be active, and aware of their health to become better servants of Christ!
We held our 2nd Reconciling Sunday Anniversary on Sunday, January 30, 2016. Melvin Fujikawa and the 88 Keys Choir performed as did our own Chancel Choir. We heard testimony from three of our LGBTQ congregation members. They spoke about their search for a church; about perseverance over the past 20 years and coming back to our church when our pastors started talking about the LGBTQ issues from the pulpit and we became very intentional about becoming a fully inclusive church; about what it means to be a reconciling congregation and especially how much it meant when Rev. Keith told them that is was “Okay” for them to be married in our church; about what it means to be an ally; about being parents of a gay child. Rev Izzy Alvaran from the Reconciling Ministries Network closed with his story as a gay Methodist Minister, coming out to his bishop, just recently coming out to his own parents, and the importance of Love in our worldwide journey to stop the discrimination against our LGBTQ brothers and sisters.
48 Wesley men had a wonderful time at the presentation center on Jan 30, 2016. We learned about how to build Godly friendship with one another and enjoyed the fellowship throughout the day!
Com(e)Passion team also hosted a holiday meal for after-school program students and their families on December 17, 2015. Erwin Polar, our chef for the meal, and after-school tutors cooked and served Chicken and Beef Fajitas, Beans, Rice, Tortillas, Salad, and desserts. Taqueria La Corona donated beans and rice for the Christmas dinner. We are very grateful for the local businesses supporting our outreach ministry to Grant school and building our community together!
We brought Christmas in the park! In 2015 more than twenty Wesley members brought warm clothes, emergency blankets, and socks to our homeless friends at St. James Park. And of course! We sang Christmas carols together and shared hot soup with them in order to celebrate the birth of Christ.
2015 A Volunteers in Missions (VIM) project was a 10-day journey at two locations in Mexico: Principe de Paz Church in Actipan de Morales, where we removed grass and dirt to prepare the ground for concrete; Templo Sinai Church in Puebla, where we wire-brushed dirt from two rooftops and applied sealant and paint The work was physically challenging, but very gratifying when we saw what we had accomplished. “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). I got up each day, body sore, but with a desire and eagerness to continue our work. But it wasn’t all about the labor. It was about the bond we had developed with each other, a bonding of different cultures, a bonding of Christian fellowship.
“What’s up Doc?” Carrots! It was a Bugs Bunny kind of day when twelve hearty souls from Wesley went on mission to Second Harvest Food Bank, 2015. They packed 12,500 pounds of carrots in just two hours. Wow! That's 1040 lbs/person! Here are: Mary Horio, Roy Takeuchi, Steve Tabuchi, Ernie Murata, Diana Okusako, Doris Tabuchi, and Judy Yasutake. Not shown, but working hard were Wayne Kuwada, Marilyn Murata, Leighton Horio, Joe Yasutake, Ed Gibo.
Nichigobu held a summer retreat at Willow Glen UMC on Aug. 1, 2015. Rev. Mikio Robert Fukada talked about the life of Rev. Toyohiko Kagawa. We learned that those who met with Kagawa had their lives and minds changed and were able to change their society. A group of young women played tone chimes. We really enjoy our Nichigo Fellowship. 68 people (42 from Wesley) gathered this year.
Youth Ministry: MYF Justice Program “Standing Upon Barbed Wire” 2015 Thirteen youth joined the MYF Justice Trip without knowing much about the details of where we would be going, what the plans were, and what type of service work we would engage in. Unbeknownst to them, the MYF advisors with the parents' knowledge, planned a journey and experience that would hopefully emotionally connect them to a deeper, personal, and reflective understanding of the Japanese-American internment experience.
Thirteen youth joined the MYF Justice Trip without knowing much about the details of where we would be going, what the plans were, and what type of service work we would engage in. Unbeknownst to them, the MYF advisors with the parents' knowledge, planned a journey and experience that would hopefully emotionally connect them to a deeper, personal, and reflective understanding of the Japanese-American internment experience.
The first clue of the adventure would be the actual radio announcement of the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the placement of Executive Order 9066 upon the wall. Youth were given a tag with a new name and ID and asked to transfer “only what you can carry” from their packed luggage into a smaller bag. A dramatic vignette of an Issei mom and Nisei son’s conversation would express their struggle of identity (played by Rev. Hajime and Tomoe) answering loyalty Questions 27 and 28, and taping a 2x4 ft rectangle upon the floor to lie in, would be experiences to push the youth to wear shoes of empathy.
This trip was in partnership with youth at Faith UMC in Torrance and our MYFers flew to LA. Activities, journaling, videos, and discussion would all play a role in broadening their understanding, but the most important piece was to follow a personal story through the opening of 12 envelopes during our four-day journey. Each envelope would follow a story, remembrances, and reflections of an individual, beginning with evacuation through the assembly center, journey to and time in camp.
We would spend two days at Manzanar National Historic Site. The first day was to walk the grounds, eat in the mess hall, walk through a barrack, and visit the museum. The second day we would do a work project by helping weed two large areas on the grounds. This was more than an act of service but also one of appreciation to help preserve the site. Since the youth worked hard and finished both projects in record time we got to play a game of baseball on the same field where internees played over 70 years ago! The closure of the program would be where the youth would open up their last envelope revealing the actual name of whose story they had been following. This person would be from our congregation whom they would meet face to face, share dinners together, and have wonderful conversations. The connection was finally made … The youth understand the struggle, sacrifice and perseverance of those interned and the respect they earned following incarceration, has helped them to live in a time that receives them into society with acceptance and privilege…
The larger framework for this trip was identifying injustice and how our faith calls us to take a stand, be the voice or create action when wrong is done or when people are treated unfairly. Our love for God is always linked with love of our neighbor, a passion for justice and renewal of life in the world.