Who We Are
Founded in 1904 by three Japanese students, we are a Japanese/English bilingual member of the United Church of Christ (UCC). For more information on the history of Japanese American Congregationalists, visit the UCC’s website article Sho-Chiku-Bai.
Sycamore offers a wonderful Japanese language-based Preschool, led by Director Yoshimi Kinoshita. Sycamore’s facilities are used by a number of other organizations, including a group of teachers offering Japanese language throughout the week and on Saturday, abacus classes, piano lessons, and Japanese cultural activities for children during the summer.
While Sycamore is committed to serving the Japanese speaking community and celebrating Japanese culture and traditions, we are blessed with a diverse congregation and welcome all of God’s people, no matter who they are or where they may be on life’s journey. Active in all local and national settings of the UCC, Sycamore is the birthplace of PAAM (Pacific Islander Asian American Ministries). Sycamore weaves together English and Japanese speaking worship congregations, a Christian Preschool in which children learn to speak Japanese and about Japanese culture, Japanese language and abacus classes offered by community teachers, and a number of other activities.
United Church of Christ Mission Statement
Sycamore’s Mission Statement
We are Sycamore United Church of Christ…
Rooted in a legacy of Japanese ministries;
Rejoicing in the gospel and worship;
Reaching out to all people;
Restoring God’s peace in our communities
and the world.
WHAT WE BELIEVE
Sycamore is a member of the United Church of Christ, a welcoming, justice-minded Protestant denomination. We believe that God continues to play an active role in all of Creation and in our lives; that God is Still Speaking. We are a non-creedal church, which means that you do not have to profess a specific set of beliefs in order to worship with us or become a member. We are a Christian church and as such, attempt to pattern our lives after the life and teachings of Jesus.
We are a church that was originally founded by and continues to serve the Japanese immigrant community, as well as persons from many other countries, including the United States. This means that we have a particular focus on welcoming the stranger, hospitality, inclusion, justice and peace. Many of our families are blended, in terms of historical ethnicity and beliefs. Therefore, it is particularly important for us to emphasize that “no matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here, at Sycamore Church”.
Rev. Kevin Omi
Rev. Kevin Omi has served as Senior Pastor of Sycamore Congregational Church UCC since 2012. He graduated from Pacific School of Religion with a Master in Divinity in 2009. You can find recent sermons here.
He loves participating in events that bring together members and friends of Sycamore, current preschool families and graduates and their families; and seeing our children blossom, not only academically, but socially and spiritually. Rev. Omi also serves on the Board of Directors of the United Church of Christ, represents Sycamore as a member church of the Pacific Islander and Asian American Ministries, and has worked on affordable housing issues for the City of Albany. He is a regular participant in gatherings of the East West Program at the Mercy Center, which integrates Zen Buddhist and Christian practices. His hobbies include biking and writing poetry.
Rev. Yasutaka Yoshioka
Nichigo (Japanese Language) Pastor
Yoshioka sensei graduated from the Graduate School of Theology at Doshisha University. He was the associate pastor of Reinanzaka Church in Tokyo, Japan until April 2015. Rev. Yoshioka, his wife, Hitomi san, and three sons, came to Sycamore in May 2015. He plays with the preschool children during the week. He holds Bible study and leads discussions on children’s books for the preschool parents. He also publishes a monthly newsletter, has published a book of sermons, and is active in Japanese Christian ministries throughout the Bay Area.
Sycamore Women’s Fellowship
Sycamore Women’s Fellowship is a group of Sycamore members and friends of the church that meets once or twice a month for a variety of activities, including a beads workshop, to make pressed flower greeting cards, and other craft activities which are both fun and support the church.
A major event is our annual Christmas luncheon, held at a local restaurant and attended by about 60 women. We do a number of other things to enhance the overall church experience at Sycamore, decorating for special events and maintaining a display of photographs of current church activities in Adamson Hall. A twelve-member board meets three times a year over a potluck lunch to plan program and evaluate the effectiveness of our efforts. The Women’s Fellowship Board welcomes ideas and suggestions from the congregation and friends.
Dried flower card making workshop
Dried flowers & other materials for cards
Children of God
Sycamore has a number of youth who attend church, including both our Japanese and English Language services. During our meetings, the youth have a chance to learn about God and how God works in many ways throughout their lives. These meetings also give the youth an opportunity to check in with each other and discuss the highlights of their weeks, whether that may be at school, at home, or anywhere on God’s path.
By Sonny Graves
At Sycamore Congregational Church in El Cerrito (north of Berkeley), history, community, and traditions are key to the vibrant life of the congregation. When you walk into this parish for either of its two services on Sunday, at 9:45 (Japanese Language) or 11:00 AM (English Language), you are greeted with the 100+ year timeline that stretches the length of the parish hall entryway and tells you its story. The community today prides itself on being a place of deep faith, and extravagant welcome to all people. It is a progressive church that draws members from diverse theological backgrounds.
Activities and meetings conducted in Japanese
• Japanese Worship Services/日語部礼拝
• Teatime/聖書研究会( ティータイム )
• Tomodachi Time/友達タイム
• Home Meetings/家庭集会
• Sharing Picture Books/絵本の会
• Hiking Club/お散歩会
• Sycamore FC/Family Soccer Club
• Sycamore Christian Preschool/シカモア幼稚園
Sycamore Related Links
• A-I-U-E-O School/あいうえお教室
• Japanese Language School/シカモア日本語教室
• Abacus Classes/そろばん教室
• United Church of Christ/米国キリスト合同教会
• United Church of Christ in Japan/日本基督教団
• Pacific School of Religion