The BVUMC church school uses curriculum from the ecumenical resource, Seasons of the Spirit. Classes are currently organized for the following grade groups: Pre-K-1st grade, grades 2-5 , middle school, and high school. Each week, the curriculum follows the highlighted scripture text from the lectionary using age appropriate activities tailored for multiple learning styles. The highlighted text is also the focus for the morning worship and sermon. Church school classes are taught by a team of volunteers who are parents, educators, and members of the church who love working with children.
Church & Society
The United Methodist Church embraces the Wesleyan notion of “social holiness” where faith is engaged in understanding the critical social issues of the day. The BVUMC Church & Society Committee discusses and prioritizes social issues for the attention of the congregation. The Church & Society Committee receives resources from the UMC Board of Church and Society which is headquartered in Washington D.C. For more information, visit umcjustice.org.
“In the past several years the Church and Society prioritized Immigration Ministry for Buena Vista and we entered into a partnership with the Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity (IM4HI). Prior to that C & S prioritized ministry with Palestinians which resulted in the establishment of the Friends of Wadi Foquin. (See the Community Partnerships section of this web site for more information on these ministries).
Through our Membership Committee, small groups provide opportunities for spiritual growth and fellowship. Among the current groups meeting are: Adult Bible Study (Tuesday afternoons at 1:30 p.m.), Family Bible Study (2nd Saturday of the month), Fellowship & Bible Study (Monday evenings), Spanish Bible Study (Thursday evenings at 6:30 p.m.), Nichigo (Japanese language) and Fellowship (meets once a month). Multiethnic Sacred Stories: 2nd Sundays, 11:30 a.m. (in April 2020, Multiethnic Sacred Storires will be on the 3rd Sunday after worship in the Social Hall). Body & Soul Fellowship + Spirituality: 3rd Sundays, 11:45 a.m. (in April 2020, Body & Soul will happen on the 4th Sunday after worship in the Social Hall). Grief and Loss Check-in: 4th Sundaall ys, 9:00 a.m. Caregiver Support & Prayer: 4th Sundays, 11:30 a.m. and 4th Tuesdays, 11:00 a.m. Palestine Circle, 1st Sundays after Hospitality Lunch. For more information on these groups, please call the church office at (510) 522-2688.
Healing & Wholeness
One section of the BVUMC mission statement reads, “God’s hope, love, justice and healing are embodied in the life of Jesus.” Physical healing was one of the gifts that Jesus brought to the world. Reiki is a healing system with roots in Japan. BVUMC member Judy Furuichi, along with the Reiki team, are Reiki practitioners who provide this healing practice to members in need. They also conduct training sessions for those who are interested in learning the art of Reiki.
The BVUMC Membership Committee is responsible for developing programs to engage current members in the active life of the church, as well as to encourage new members to join the church.
The Membership Committee organizes hospitality lunches on the first Sunday of every month after worship service. These lunches are an opportunity for fellowship and social engagement between longtime members and newcomers.
The Committee organizes a Care Team to provide support for those in special situations–new parents, those who are ill, individuals recovering from hospitalization, and others.
The Membership Committee also provides information to newcomers about baptism and membership through individual conversations and organized Hospitality Hours.
BVUMC embraces multiple styles of music in its worship including traditional United Methodist hymns to jazz renditions and contemporary songs of faith. Our instrumentation includes an electric guitar, saxophone, drums, and electronic keyboard. Our Music Director Ben Luis is an accomplished and well-known jazz bass player. For more about Ben Luis and to sample his music, visit www.cdbaby.com/benluis
Nichigo is the Japanese language fellowship group at BVUMC. With the church’s rich Japanese American history, Nichigo is a valuable opportunity for fellowship and cultural nurturing of our members from Japan and for those who speak the Japanese language. Through Nichigo, BVUMC currently participates in a monthly joint Bible Study with the Lake Park United Methodist Church and Pine United Methodist Church.
“Reconciling” is the unique language of the United Methodist Church for the movement to fully include LGBTQ persons into the life of the United Methodist Church. BVUMC became a Reconciling Congregation in 2006 to acknowledge the history of exclusion of LGBTQ persons by the Christian faith. The BVUMC Reconciling Committee meets monthly to plan and organize educational programs and advocacy activities to help make our church a truly welcoming and open congregation. Please visit our Reconciling tumblr page for more information and photos: bvumcreconciling.tumblr.com/
This video was put together by members of the Reconciling Committee at Buena Vista United Methodist Church. The video documents the history of the Reconciling Ministry at Buena Vista, including the educational series and discernment process of the congregation. Interviews were conducted for 3 months prior to the showing at Buena Vista’s Annual “Coming Out Sunday” Worship in 2014. Interviewees include: Pastor Michael Yoshii, Jill Shiraki, Lynda Fong, Sally McIntyre, Lois Mark, Lauren Quock, Kira Salde-Azzam, and Nikki Salde-Azzam.
Buena Vista UMC member Kira Salde-Azzam gave the message at Sunday service on “Coming Out Sunday” on October 19, 2014 that addressed the connections and intersections of three different ministries that BVUMC has been a part of, including work in the Philippines, Palestine, and Reconciling ministries. Her reflection gave insight into her own participation in each of these ministries and the role in which our faith community plays. Her message is available to read as a PDF.
Network on Religion and Justice (NRJ) Coordinator Lauren Quock preached at BVUMC on “Coming Out Sunday” on October 20, 2013. In a question and answer session following the service, the congregation had the opportunity to ask questions about API LGBTQ people of faith. Questions and answers were published in a monthly column in the BVUMC Newsletter, The Buena Vista Bulletin, from November 2013-June 2014. To access these past monthly columns, visit the NRJ
In February 2019, a Special Session of the global UMC General Conference gathered to vote on LGBTQ inclusion (ordination, marriages), following the work and recommendations of the specially appointed “Commission on the Way Forward.” While the Commission recommended a “One Church Plan,” allowing for different points of view in the interest of unity, the vote resulted in further punitive consequences for the ordination and marriage of LGBTQ persons in the UMC.
Following this decision, there have been strong and varied responses from various regional UMC bodies. At BVUMC, Pastor Michael Yoshii invited members of our Reconciling Committee (which includes LGBTQ persons) to share a message on the last Sunday of each month from March-August 2019.
Here is the transcript from Coke Tani’s message, delivered on June 23, 2019. Coke is a seminarian-in-residence at BVUMC, who is a queer (LGBTQ) woman, and was in the process of commissioning toward ordination in the UMC when the vote occurred.
United Methodist Women
The United Methodist Women (UMW) is a national organization with local chapters in each congregation. The Buena Vista UMW organizes activities and programs for our congregation and also participates in larger activities of the district and conference. The conference UMW sponsors mission education events annually where key issues are highlighted.
BVUMC has an active youth program for junior and senior high school students, with activities organized and led by a youth leadership team.
BVUMC youth also participate in summer youth overnight camps sponsored by the Japanese American Caucus of the United Methodist Church. Senior High students can attend Asian Camp, and Junior High students can attend Junior High Camp. These camps are opportunities for youth to explore their faith with their peers in a fun setting.
Junior High Youth Group meets at least once a month for a fellowship Sunday that includes lunch and activities filled with fun, fellowship, service and learning.