West District Superintendent Mark Nakagawa with Rev. Sunyoung Lee. Nakagawa praised Lee for her technological skills that have enabled the church to seamlessly continue its ministry during the pandemic.

After serving Centenary United Methodist Church in Little Tokyo for 4½ years, the Rev. Sunyoung Lee will conclude her pastorate there on Dec. 31.

Due to serious health issues that have worsened during the past six months (non-COVID-19-related), “Pastor Sunnie,” as she is affectionately known, has decided to take this course of action out of the best interests for her health and for the future of Centenary UMC.

Rev. Sunyoung Lee

According to West District Superintendent Mark M. Nakagawa, Rev. Lee arrived at her decision after consulting both himself and United Methodist Bishop Grant J. Hagiya. “Both the bishop and I feel that Rev. Lee needs to put her personal health first and foremost,” said Nakagawa. He further stated that the UMC personnel policies will enable her take disability leave for six months or longer.

The Centenary congregation was informed of this development during the recent Thanksgiving holiday through a letter written by Rev. Lee and distributed electronically. A church council meeting the following weekend was convened to express its appreciation to her and finalize her plans and the church’s immediate plans going into 2021.

Reflecting on the sudden turn of events and the current pandemic, Nakagawa stated, “Rev. Lee’s ministry at Centenary during these past 4½ years has been very timely. Her technological skills have positioned Centenary to continue its ministry seamlessly and effortlessly at a time when churches depend on technology to stay in touch with their members. In hindsight, it is clear that God brought her to Centenary for such as time as this.”

In the interim six-month period, Rev. Nakagawa will have administrative oversight responsibilities as the district superintendent until a new pastor is appointed in July 2021. He is no stranger to Centenary, having served as senior minister from 2000-2016 prior to his West District appointment.

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