February 16, 2023 | by JB Brayfindley
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
The San Mateo Circuit in the Bay District stretches 20 miles along interstate 280 or Highway 101 from Daly City to San Mateo in an area known as the gateway to the peninsula of San Francisco. “Our circuit is composed of six vibrant and energetic local churches,” states the Circuit Leader Rev. Oliver S. Mangubat, “with a common goal, “ready to serve.”
The circuit meets once a month via zoom. The group starts with prayer followed by a sharing time addressing the questions: “How’s your spirit? ...your assignment? … and your family?” The time concludes with announcements and a closing prayer.
The circuit congregations support programs for the homeless through Deacon Rev. Sina Vuna. Food and grocery distribution through Food Harvest is hosted by Daly City UMC serving 350 families every first and third Saturdays of the month. At Thanksgiving, the circuit churches donate to the Burlingame UMC to support a Thanksgiving food ministry with Primerose. The circuit supports district and conference programs. The churches also have a shared text/email Prayer Chain ministry.
Burlingame UMC led by Rev. Ann Duncan is “being a vibrant presence in the community as a congregation that welcomes many people and groups into our space,” states Mangubat. “and offers opportunities to connect with God, while following faithfully and making disciples of Jesus Christ.” The church has both a contemporary and tradition service each week as well as a FEAST Friday featuring a meal, devotions, and prayer. The church recently restarted a Humanitarian Breakfast on the last Saturday of the month for those in need.
“Hope UMC lets the community know this church is an open, loving and affirming church to everyone regardless of age, race, sex, creed, national origin, or sexual orientation,” adds Mangubat. As pastor of Hope UMC, The Rev. John Current is leading his church community into a posture of “Defending God’s Creation.” In 2020, Hope UMC installed a new solar power system and has maintained an organic garden as a composting and gardening teaching center. After the installation of a battery back-up system, the church is now launching a Resiliency Center that will serve as a refuge and resource for neighbors by providing clean air and clean energy during grid black outs, wild smoke, extreme heat, and other emergencies.
The Rev. Sun Hee Kim serves Hillsdale UMC in San Mateo and notes that their focus is all about service and empowering their young people. “This has been the focus as well as their strength,” states Mangubat. “People really have hearts and passion for these two areas and the programs, planning, and budget is more and more aligned with these two focus areas over the last few years.” The church also offers a Tongan language service as well as two morning worship services.
Serving New Vision UMC in Millbrae are the Rev. John Current and Lay Minister Siona Falevai. “They are now in the process of reviving the church in terms of attendance and realigning some programs to encourage and invite new people of all culture, race, and lifestyle to explore their spirituality, to honor God, self, and neighbor through worship, study, and service,” states Mangubat. “Programs are slowly but surely gaining momentum.”
Rev. Latu Tangulu serves San Bruno Tongan First UMC whose “focus and strength are about being a good steward in terms of giving,” state Mangubat. “At this moment they are renovating their sanctuary that estimated more than a million dollars to finish the project and through their generous pledgers, the building will be done before the end of the year. Their dedication and commitment in all aspects, especially in their annual pledgers, shows why they are growing and achieving their goals.”
Circuit leader, Rev. Oliver S. Mangubat, serves Daly City UMC. The church focus is about strengthening the spiritual growth of every family, giving more attention in discipleship programs and “empowering our young people, because we believe that they are the future leaders of the church,” explains Mangubat. “So, in every committee, we train and let them experience the role of the laity in program planning and implementation.” According to Mangubat, location and demographics are big factors considered in building the discipleship program.