We still remember the extravagant welcome we received when we first visited First Church 15 years ago, and we're thankful for the countless moments of joy, comfort, inspiration and enlightenment the church has given us in the time since.

The three of us have had quite different paths to our current spiritual nexus at First Church. Mary was raised in the Episcopalian tradition, set in the culture and values of the Midwest. Milton had no exposure to organized religion in his childhood, though his upbringing included a heavy dose of Nisei moral guidance. Emma, as the child of Milton and Mary, got “a little bit of each.” We all spent many years prior to First Church in a Japanese-American Christian church, where our lives were enriched in many ways. Eventually, though, we longed for more of a connection with the “outside world” – the global village in which we all live. We found our place in the village at First Church.

Each of us has our special bonds with the church. For Emma, it’s her friendships with the wonderfully-diverse-in-every-way community of young adults that offers love and support without judgement, and her Green Team and Youth Group connections that enable her to spread God’s love throughout the wider community. Like the bumper sticker on her car says, she gets to “Be the Church!” For Mary, it’s working with others inside and outside of the church to make life better for those in need: “I'm glad to be able to live my faith in opportunities to serve through First Church.” For Milton, it’s the feeling of belonging, after a lifetime of feeling like the outsider. “Everybody fits in at First Church because it is a place where people see the beauty of God in everyone."