Community Outreach Ministries

Buena Vista UMC is involved in a number of community outreach ministries fulfilling part of our mission statement: "to live out our Christian faith to our local and global communities through prayer, service, and social justice."  In our mission statement we acknowledge the richness of our historical rootedness in the Japanese American community and affirm the unique way God works through our community of faith:  "God works in human history and in the unique experiences of oppressed communities. God continues to call forth new roles for the ministry of Buena Vista UMC as we encounter new realities and reflect upon our legacies."


Helping Hands East Bay

Buena Vista UMC partners with the Helping Hands East Bay to host a program for adults with disabilities from Cantonese and Vietnamese speaking families. The program meets daily from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. with community based activities and socialization. 

A message from Austin Tam: 
On Sunday, September 28, 2014, I was humbled by the invitation by Rev Roger Morimoto,
of Aldersgate UMC in Palo Alto, to speak about disabilities and my faith journey, and where I introduced our Asian Pacific Islander Disability Awareness Project, and how I am hopeful that it is only the beginning. If you would like to read the excerpt of my speech, please click here.
In doing community outreach, Austin was invited by KPFA Radio to be a special guest on one of their programs on January 5, 2018.  Click here to listen to the interview.

Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity (IM4HI) 

Buena Vista has been in partnership with the IM4HI since 2015 providing accompaniment with a family from Guatemala for their pathway in immigration status. The partnership also includes participation in legislative advocacy with the larger IM4HI network and public witness to give voice to immigrant rights.


Friends of Wadi Foquin

BVUMC’s partnership with the Palestinian village of Wadi Foquin began in August 2009. Village members struggle to survive on a daily basis, living under the ongoing Israeli military occupation. They are surrounded by the illegal settlement of Betar Illit on the East side of the village and the expansion of the town of Tsur Hadassa expanding into village land on the West side of the village.

The partnership began with economic support for community development projects in the village. These included a bee hive project for honey cultivation, women's basket weaving, youth development, and the creation of a community center. In 2014, funds were raised to help support the construction of a soccer field for the children of the village.

Unfortunately, life under military occupation is unpredictable and oppressive. Land confiscation orders were received by Wadi Foquin and neighboring villages in August 2014 claiming 1000 acres to be "state land".  About 1300 fruit trees were demolished in June 2015 by bulldozers accompanied by Israeli soldiers. The Israeli civil authority also issued orders to stop construction of the soccer field in July 2015. An appeal has been filed in Israeli court.

The partnership has evolved into a group called, "Friends of Wadi Foquin."  FWF has organized congressional briefings on Wadi Foquin in 2013 and 2014 to raise public awareness about the human rights violations taking place in the village. Annual trips are also organized as a Holy Land/Palestine Pilgrimage to provide people with an opportunity to encounter the living spirit of Christ in the historical biblical lands as they intersect with the contemporary justice issues of the Palestinian people and friends in Wadi Foquin.

For more information on the partnership and how you can participate, please visit our website at


Housing Advocacy

Buena Vista UMC gave birth to Renewed HOPE Housing Advocates in the late 90's during a critical time addressing the housing crisis in the city of Alameda. In 2000, Renewed HOPE worked with others to obtain an agreement from the city of Alameda to provide 25% affordability on all new housing developments on the former Alameda Naval Base. The first housing development for the naval base was approved in 2016 and will include 200 affordable homes in the 800 unit development. Renewed HOPE is hosted at Buena Vista UMC and continues to advocate for housing needs in the community. For more information contact Lynette Lee at


Basketball Program

(see Basketball page)


Extending Connections

Extending Connections is a program for seniors. The group gathers on the second and fourth Wednesday of each month. Extending Connections provides a regular opportunity for seniors to come together, exercise, learn about each other and the world around us, as well as provide mutual support and encouragement to each other as we grow older!

EC was founded in 1990 by lay member Jo Takata, who continues to facilitate this program with the support of a team of hard-working volunteers. The program embraces inter-faith participation from the Alameda Buddhist Temple as well as community members. While the primary participation is from Japanese American senior citizens, the program is open and welcome to all! The program also provides an opportunity for non-seniors to work with seniors and learn about aging issues.

A delicious lunch is served at each gathering for a suggested donation of $2.00. Birthdays are celebrated on the second Wednesday of each month.

Buena Vista Community Institute (BVCI)

Buena Vista Community Institute (BVCI) supports the church's community organizing and community development ministries through fund development and fundraising efforts. BVCI is part of a national network of the Community Developer Program (CDP) within the United Methodist Church. The CDP supports congregation-based community organizing efforts through training, technical assistance & funding support. Human Relations Day offering taken annually in the United Methodist Church on the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. supports the National CDP which in turn, provides seed grants for new local church organizing efforts.


The BVCI Fund was established to provide long-term financial support for BVCI programs & staff. While we currently operate through the support of outside grants, the BVCI Fund is building long-term community support through donors like you who believe in the work we are doing.

BVCI Committee

Chair: Lynette Lee
Treasurer: Lucas Dang
Pastor & Staff Supervisor: Michael Yoshii
Staff: Austin Tam, Community Outreach Coordinator
Coke Tani, Spiritual Nurture Coordinator
Junell Ancheta
Jill Shiraki
Gala King
Jean Fong
Judy Tam



Janet Lahr Lewis, Methodist Liaison in Israel & Occupied Palestinian Territories 

BVUMC's partnership with the Palestinian village of Wadi Foquin began in August 2009. BVCI has organized annual educational trips to Palestine since the Spring of 2010.

The Bee Hive Project has successfully provided alternative means of economic survival for Wadi Foquin.

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