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Reception and Celebration of San Diego Marshallese Church

by Judith Nouchi, Southern Association Staff Assistant & member of Community Congregational Church, Chula Vista

             With joy and celebration, the San Diego Marshallese Church, United Church of Christ entered into a covenantal relationship with the Southern Association of the Southern California/Nevada Conference of the United Church of Christ (SCNCUCC) on Feb. 13, 2011.  Approximately 90 people, representing 20 churches, joined in worship and song to receive them as they became the first Marshallese congregation to become a member in good standing with a UCC Association and Conference in San Diego County.

            Starting their journey Feb. 13, 2004, with Rev. Riten Menke as their pastor, the congregation has met at Kensington Community Church and Mission Hills UCC and currently meets at the Old Town United Church of Christ.  The sponsoring church is the Congregational Church, La Jolla with Rev. Victoria Freiheit shepherding the Marshallese congregation through the process of establishing that covenantal relationship.

            Enhancing her talk with pictures and maps, Rev. Freiheit gave a moving presentation of the history of the Marshall Islands and their relationship to the United Church of Christ.  There are, she reported, 38 congregations, 97 sub-congregations, 52 pastors and 40,000 members of the United Church of Christ of the Marshall Islands.  Also discussed was the geo-political situation in the Marshall Islands, including the effects of global warming and nuclear testing on the Marshallese people.

            Mr. Randon Jello, Moderator, and Mr. Keboj Lenedrick, Treasurer, announced that, in addition to being received as a member in good standing of the SCNCUCC on the 13th, the church was celebrating the seventh anniversary of their first meeting.  Mr. Jello thanked individual churches and people who have supported them through this process and stated that San Diego Marshallese Church looks forward to a very fruitful relationship with the SCNCUCC.

            This joyful celebration concluded with a song – “We Walk Hand in Hand,” sung to the tune “We Shall Overcome” – presented by the members of the dynamic Marshallese congregation and a reception welcoming them.  The Southern Association looks forward to the active involvement of the San Diego Marshallese Church, United Church of Christ.

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