Jan. 4, 2005
By United Methodist News Service
deaths of two political pioneers--Shirley Chisholm and Robert T.
Matsui—are bringing outpourings of praise for their faith and service to
their country and to the United Methodist Church.
the first black woman elected to Congress and one of the first women to
vie for presidency, was also a devoted United Methodist who "cared
deeply for children." She died Jan. 1 at a nursing home near her home in
Ormond Beach, Fla. She was 80.
Representative Robert T. Matsui (D) California, a former
Japanese-American prisoner during World War II, died suddenly Jan. 2
following a rare blood disorder. Matsui was baptized in 1980 at
Sacramento (Calif.) Japanese United Methodist Church. Though he lived on
the east coast, Matsui and his family considered the Sacramento church
their home church.
had been a member of Janes United Methodist Church, Brooklyn, New York,
since 1962. Longtime friend and fellow church member Chiquita Smith
remembers her as "the best fund raiser we ever had, especially when the
cause was for children."
Smith said Chisholm was always smiling and "welcoming people when she came into the church."
would have children from everywhere participating in events in the
church," Smith said. "She was well liked by the United Methodist Women
and was active where ever she could be active." Anytime she presented a
bill in Congress, she always made sure someone from her church was
there, Smith said.
her career, Chisholm fought on behalf of women and blacks. She also
fought for the working poor, Haitian refugees, Native American land
rights and poor mothers. She once said one of her greatest achievements
was the inclusion of domestic workers under the minimum wage law.
Rev. Robert O. Simpson, pastor of Janes United Methodist Church, said
plans are incomplete for a memorial service for Chisholm. Though he did
not know her he said, "many people in the church have fond memories of
death was announced Sunday morning at Sacramento Japanese United
Methodist Church, where the Rev. Gary Grundman has pastored for the past
six months. "We had not known of the congressman's illness. Once we
confirmed he had passed, we announced it to our congregation, offering
prayers for he and his family."
Rev. Mark Nakagawa who co-pastored Sacramento Japanese UMC from
1985-94, remembered the congressman as a man of justice and compassion.
Nakagawa says he saw that most vividly during the creation of the civil
liberties act of 1988 which Matsui authored. The Civil Liberties act,
signed by President George Bush authorized federal redress and
reparations to Japanese Americans who were interred during World War II.
though he was deeply scarred by the internment's impact on his family,
Bob didn't allow those feelings to drive him. There's no doubt in my
mind that his understanding on issues of justice and compassion, his
theology, did that."
was just three months old when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and he
and his parents were shipped to the Tule Lake internment camp. Nakagawa
recalled the importance Matsui, and other Japanese-American Congressmen
placed on Japanese American church during that time.
Congressman Robert Matsui is survived by his wife, son and one grandchild.
body of the congressman will lie in state beginning at 3 p.m. Thursday,
Jan. 6 in the State Capitol rotunda in Sacramento. There will be a
public memorial service Jan. 8, at 10:00 a.m. at the Sacramento Memorial
Auditorium, 1515 J Street, Sacramento. The event is open to the public,
subject to limited seating. An interfaith funeral service will be held
Saturday at 12:00 noon at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 1300 N
Street, Sacramento. A private burial will follow the services.
*Jeneane Jones, conference communicator for the California-Nevada Conference, contributed to this report.
News media contact: Kathy L. Gilbert, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or email@example.com.