By Carolyn Tokunaga
A joyous crowd gathered on October 15 for the luncheon at the Anaheim Majestic Garden Hotel to celebrate Centenary United Methodist Church’s 125 years of ministry. This was the culmination of a year of activities that reached out to the community through school supplies for Kid City college students, Souper Bowl Sunday to support food ministries, the Claremont School of Theology Restoration Project, Day of Remembrance programming, Aiko’s Team for suicide prevention, Christmas caroling, a Girls’ and Boys’ Club and MYF Reunion, a golf tournament, the Arigato Bazaar, and a myriad of other projects that are part of the normal rhythms of Centenary life. Many of these activities were highlighted in a slideshow that showed Centenary’s year.
Chikara Daiko opened the festivities. A humorous skit by Emcees Richard Ferrin, Ted Yamada, and Mark Eades introduced Centenary’s historical timeline from its beginnings in a small cottage on Winston Street to its current home on 3rd and Central. Luncheon Chair Michele Nagata and Nichigo Lay Leader Ron Hasegawa welcomed all to the celebration.
The introductions of the clergy who were in attendance illustrated Centenary’s deep ties to the Japanese American community. Some were past and present ministers of Centenary whose visions and guidance led the church through the recent years. Others were those who as youth or young adults participated in our church ministries, were mentored by its ministers, and found spiritual growth and transformation in the Asian Camp experience.
During the program, reflections were offered by Bishop Roy Sano and Bishop Grant Hagiya as they shared stories and memories of Centenary – a homage to the past but offering also a challenge to the future.
Rev. Ki Tae Choi, Centenary’s current minister, reflected on the Anniversary theme of “Honor the Past – Engage the Present – Impact the Future.” He stressed the need to build relationships, to reach out, to be the church envisioned by Jesus – more than a building but a place of love, care and compassion.
Rev. Mark Nakagawa shared his thoughts as he closed the event with a benediction.
Adding to the festivities were dances by Kotobuki No Kai, additional pieces by Chikara Daiko, and a song lead by Centenary’s Praise Band. With luncheon goers spontaneously holding hands, the song “Go Now in Peace” was an emotional end to a wonderful afternoon.
The October 16 worship service concluded Centenary’s 125th Anniversary celebrations. Joining the usual worshippers were 2 United Methodist Bishops, 2 District Superintendents, and 6 Ordained Clergy who served Centenary during their pastoral journeys. With Bishop Grant Hagiya in the pulpit, Centenary was challenged to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world as we engage the present to impact the future.