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[January 2021] Pastoral Message

Dear Centenary Members and Friends:

The new year means new beginnings, and never has this been more needed than the transition

from 2020 to 2021. For Centenary, the next six months will be a transitional time that prepares you for a new day in which you are becoming a new church.

We send our heartfelt gratitude and prayers with Rev. Sunyoung Lee as she concluded her ministry with you last month and prepares to undergo medical treatments (not related to the COVID-19) that will restore her to pristine health. If there is one thing the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us, it is that our physical and spiritual health is the most important thing we have; more than material wealth, social status, or any other marker by which we use to evaluate our lives. We pray God’s healing prayers for Rev. Sunyoung and her family during this particular time in their lives.

During the coming months I will work with the staff and church leaders to maintain your current operations in the context of a remote workplace setting. I will also work with your Staff-Parish Relations Committee in identifying the gifts and graces that will be needed in the next pastor who the bishop and cabinet will appoint in July.

Most importantly, this is an opportunity for us to work together in creating a new church with a vision for ministry that speaks to a world that is much different than it was in March 2020 and will continue to bring new circumstances and opportunities for ministry in the name and spirit of Jesus Christ.

Throughout the COVID-19 context we have endured this past year, I keep coming back to the Asian understanding of the word “danger” expressed as ‘crisis’ and ‘opportunity.’ The pandemic has certainly been a crisis that has exposed flaws in our public health system, inequities in economic classes, and the deadly realities of racial prejudice.

At the same time, these crises also present new opportunities to be God’s people and extend ministries of compassion, justice, mercy and love to those around us and who will come to us once our sanctuary doors re-open. To this end, I invite you to share any ideas you might have that will move Centenary into the coming new times that God is calling us to be as God’s great church!

I am excited about the many possibilities for ministry that God is opening up to us in these times of ‘crisis’ and ‘opportunity,’ and look forward to being in ministry with Centenary once again during these exciting times!

Grace and Peace,

Rev. Mark M. Nakagawa

West District Superintendent

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