Discord Fuels Union Church Debate

A Nichigo member speaks at a March 25 meeting at Union Church with representatives from the Advisory Commission of the Presbytery. (MARIO G. REYES/Rafu Shimpo)

By ELLEN ENDO, Rafu Shimpo

Concerns about the future of Little Tokyo’s 100-year-old Union Church have sparked a debate among its parishioners and leadership and begged the question: Is this church for sale?

Union’s predominantly Japan-born and Japanese American members are currently grappling with questions reportedly related to the church’s finances, sustainability, governance, shifting demographics, and transparency, among other issues.

The issues prompted former Union Church Nichigo (Japanese-speaking) Pastor Takashi Izumikawa to write a letter to the editor to The Rafu Shimpo. The letter was printed March 8 in this newspaper’s Japanese language section.

Izumikawa’s published comments drew a response from the Advisory Commission of the Presbytery of the Pacific and led to a meeting between commission representatives and the Nichigo on March 25. About 40 of Union Church’s Nichigo members attended the meeting. Union Church Senior Pastor Tim Yee was not in attendance.