Go, Sow, Grow: Marin Short Circuit connects to complement

March 02, 2023 | by JB Brayfindley

Go, Sow, Grow: Marin Short Circuit connects to complement

Editor's note: Go, Sow, Grow is a prayer initiative that launched early in 2022 in which local churches were invited to pray for one another in order to align our prayers for God's vision of growth and abundance to manifest among us.  As a companion to that prayer ministry, we will be reaching out to circuits across our 5 districts to develop short profiles on the ministry of our local churches and include links for more information and how to get involved. Together, we are the church. #BeUMC

“We complement each other within the circuit,” states Tevita Koroi, circuit leader for Marin Short Circuit. “…we learn from each other.”

Located in the heart of Marin County, the way to the four churches of the Marin Short Circuit stretches north and south between Mill Valley, through San Rafael to Novato on highway 101 north of San Francisco.

The circuit pastors meet monthly. “We share lunch together and we share with one another what we are doing, the various ministries that are going on,” states Koroi. “It is a time of exchange.”

Over the years, the circuit has sponsored a joint Good Friday service and during COVID held it on Zoom. Last year, the circuit added a new event. It organized an online orientation workshop to “brush up the skills and roles” of committee members and leaders led by Bay District Superintendent Staci Current. “Oh, we ran out of time!” explains Koroi. “We had a lot to discuss. There were lots of questions. There were lots of answers also--which people listened to. We had lots of exchanges… very lively!”

This January, the circuit repeated the event in person led by Rev. Mark Cordes of Aldersgate UMC in San Rafael and extended it to churches beyond the circuit. “There were Fijians who serve in other circuits, taking up roles to sit on committees in their own churches who came to listen,” states Koroi. “We are getting people together not only within our group but also extending to reach out to other communities who share the same need as we have…”

“The churches have been around for decades,” states Koroi. “…originally these churches were mostly congregations which were basically European Americans, English speaking congregations. Over the years, new communities have moved into the area… Novato UMC and San Rafael First have multi-cultural congregations.”

Celebrating 165 years, San Rafael First UMC became the first chartered Fijian church of the CNUMC in 2022 under pastor Tevita Koroi. The church is focusing on growing and developing informed committee members and leaders. “The church sent members to Lay servant Training, one to Certified Lay Speaker and another to a Certified Lay Minister course,” states Koroi noting some are interested in becoming pastors. “Last Sunday we took one of our members to Berkely to get his MDiv,” states Koroi. “…and blessed his room.”

Aldersgate UMC in San Rafael, welcomes Rev. Mark Cordes as their new pastor this year. The church is a reconciling congregation.

Mount Tamalpais UMC (Mt. Tam) in Mill Valley is a reconciling congregation led by Rev. Luke Ham. “This church has always had a strong focus on intergenerational and family ministry…connecting both the younger and more experienced generations using acts of service as a conduit for that,” states Ham. Geographically, the church sits between a middle school and high school as well as a large retirement community. According to Ham, members take the church out of the building to their neighbors, Redwood Retirement Community, regularly providing worship onsite. The church opens its doors after school to students as a safe place to do homework and have a relaxed space each Wednesdays the schools’ early dismissal day. “This is a very outwardly focused church that takes mission and service seriously.” The congregation currently acts as the distribution site for Marin County Food Bank. Recently, the congregation donated a large supply of fire sifting supplies to the conference Disaster Response. Due to the high demand and need for sustainable income, the current ministry focus in on promoting need of caregivers in the community. The church is sponsoring a community educational event on February 26, 2023, to learn more about the struggles caregivers are facing in Marin County and how to advocate for them.

Novato UMC is served by Rev. Elizabeth Cademartori and offers hybrid worship services.

JB Brayfindley is a freelance journalist.