PSR Alumnus’ Church Sends Cranes to Newtown, Connecticut

February 22, 2013

Reverends Kathryn Schreiber (MDiv 1997) and Akiko Miyake-Stoner (MDiv 2010) of United Japanese Christian Church of Clovis, CA worked with their congregation to fold and bless over 2000 paper cranes to send to churches in Newtown.

Rev. Schreiber stated “last Sunday our federated church blessed 2,002 cranes (1,001 each) to send to our sister UCC and UMC churches in Newtown, CT.  We're still folding cranes... we aren't sure where they will go -- but know we have more compassion and a desire to help create less violence -- so we fold.”

For IMMEDIATE USE – 2-21-2013

“Cranes of Compassion for Connecticut”

When the members of United Japanese Christian Church of Clovis, California heard about the Sandy Hill shootings a wave of concern and compassion moved through the congregation.  Nisei members (second-generation Japanese-Americans) approached the church’s pastors asking, “What if UJCC folded origami cranes and sent them to our sister churches in Newtown, CT?”  The United Japanese Christian Church was established in 1990 when two historical Japanese American Christian churches of Fresno merged together to form one united church congregation. These two churches were the former Japanese Congregational church (founded in 1908) and the Christ United Methodist Church (founded in 1893).

Days later, on Sunday December 23rd during morning announcements, the congregation was asked to fold 2,002 origami paper cranes to be “sent in loving memory and everlasting support to the Newtown, Connecticut Congregational Church (United Church of Christ) and the Newtown United Methodist Church following this community's recent tragedy.”  The Japanese practice of folding 1,001 cranes is an act of blessing to ensure longevity and vitality of life for recipients.

Hours before Christmas Eve the folding began.  Many church members donated origami paper.  Other folders opted to use all sorts of available paper  – including spent pages from 2012 calendars.  As family members visited for the holidays, they were invited to fold a crane for the folks in Newtown.  People who were ill and unable to come to church folded cranes.  Members of the church taught others how to fold, including older members who’d never learned how to make the origami cranes.  By late January over 3,000 cranes had been folded… and folks were still folding!

The original 2,002 cranes for Newtown, 1,001 for each of the church’s sister congregations, was artfully strung and blessed by the UJCC children and youth on the First Sunday of Lent, February 17th the church’s annual “Day of Remembrance” observation.  The Day of Remembrance, February 19th, commemorates the signing of Executive Order 9066, which led to the forced incarceration of 120,000 people of Japanese descent, two-thirds of whom were American citizens, as well as the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 which offered redress of past mistreatment of citizens and permanent residents of Japanese ancestry World War II.

This week the blessed cranes will fly across the country to Newtown.
And the folding continues!  “We fold because we all have children – and we want a safer world for them.”  “We fold the cranes because it allows us to do something – to physically express our compassion.”
“Folding these cranes helps us pray for peace in a violent world.”
With each fold the members of the church embody the passion and compassion of Jesus Christ.

Plans for what will happen to the new sets of cranes will emerge.  The church knows this on-going project is coordinated by the Holy Spirit and so grateful to Jo Katayama, Midori Tani, Day Kusakai, Carol Visitacion and Frances Kurisu who keep the church folding cranes and blessing others.

Blessing upon the Cranes 2/17/2013:
Sweet Holy Spirit, You moved through us filling our hearts with concern and care for the people of Newtown, Connecticut.  You were the force that moved through us with each Crane we folded – releasing sacred care and support.

Prince of Peace, Holy Christ, it has been Your Love in us which has become Your Love in these Cranes.  We bless these Cranes!  May they fly to our Brothers and Sisters in Christ in the Newtown Congregational Church, UCC – and their pastors Rev Matthew and Rev. Janice; and in the Newtown United Methodist Church and their pastors:
Rev Mel, Rev. Dick and Rev. Sue. May these Cranes of Peace and Compassion deliver to this community touched by violence whatever it is You need them to have.

Fill all of us with a new Hope and a new Commitment to live together more peacefully, creating communities of gentle safety for all our children.  AMEN!

The United Japanese Christian Church in Clovis, California is served by Interim Senior Minister Rev. Kathryn Schreiber, Associate Minister Rev. Akiko Miyake-Stoner and Rev. Mas Kawashima, Japanese-Language Minister.  (Revs Schreiber and Miyake-Stoner are both graduates of the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, California.)

United Japanese Christian Church
136 N Villa Avenue, Clovis, CA 93612
Church: 559-322-0701
Rev Akiko:
Rev Kathryn:
Photos available on our Facebook account: United Japanese Christian Church