Bishop Alfred Johnson and Jessica Kawamura

My Lunches with Bishop J

When I first moved to New York City, Bishop J used to meet me for lunch at a little Italian restaurant downtown. At the time, I worked in a federal building near City Hall. Bishop J would devotedly visit our church member John Flake at the federal correction center nearby. Every time he was in the neighborhood visiting John, he would stop by to catch up with me.

It was around that time that Bishop J told me he’d met another Japanese-American, and he wanted to put us in touch. Pastor Kaz Takahashi had just started as the pastor of the Japanese American United Church on 24th Street. I met Pastor Kaz at that same little restaurant soon thereafter. This past fall, we organized a joint Advent project to fold a thousand origami cranes. The cross-cultural ministry has been powerful, and I consider Pastor Kaz and Bishop J like family.

As Bishop J prepares to move to a new church in San Francisco’s Fillmore District and I prepare to apply to seminary in the fall, I have no doubt that God brought us together with great purpose. When I was a teenager playing basketball at the community center in Japantown, I remember walking two blocks down to Fillmore Street to get french fries with my teammates. I joke (not so jokingly) that I never read the Bible before Bishop J. And I think Bishop J had never met a Japanese-American like me.

Bishop J has changed my life, and for that, I am grateful. I wish him the best–and have some introductions to make in San Francisco!

Editor’s Note: This is part of a series of stories from parishioners and others about about Bishop Alfred Johnson, or Bishop J as we affectionately call him, and his ministry among us. You are invited to share stories of the first time you met him, or perhaps something that Bishop J did or said that was important, life-changing, or hilarious to you. Whether you express your story in a few sentences, a haiku, or a page, we want to read it! We’ve extended the submission date to Wednesday, June 10. To submit, please send your story to our Bishop J Story Editor, Selby Ewing.