The Rev. Claudia Genung Yamamoto is a missionary with the General Board of Global Ministries of The United Methodist Church assigned to ministries of church development and community outreach in Kobe, Japan. She assumed these responsibilities in late 2011 after serving for two decades as a missionary with the National Christian Council in Tokyo.
Claudia is an outreach missionary working specifically with the Jesus Band Church and its community ministry through Kagawa Memorial Hall. Toyohiko Kagawa, an eminent Japanese Christian leader, founded the church in 1909. The Memorial Hall, opened recently, ministers to the spiritual and physical needs of the people of Kobe, which is an international port. Claudia assists with the Tengokuya (Heaven’s Café) ministry to the community, which provides low-cost lunches and helps to meet the needs of the surrounding community. Residents are foreign migrant workers; people who are disabled; the elderly; single mothers; and the indigenous Buraku people, who are often shunned in Japan. A part of Claudia’s outreach includes relief work for Tohoku, affected by the earthquake and tsunami of March 2011. She helps by networking with ecumenical groups and sending updated information on Tohoku to churches and organizations, as well as frequent visits to Tohoku. She continues her ties with the National Christian Council in Japan by editing the newsletter, Japan Christian Activity News.
The Jesus Band Church is part of the United Church of Christ in Japan, an ecumenical denomination that continues the work of Methodism in the country and with which Global Ministries has strong ties. One goal of Rev. Genung’s ministry is to eventually start a new congregation among foreign migrant workers and minister to them through the Tengokuya.
A native of Redwood City, California, Claudia was an associate minister at Kailua United Methodist Church in Hawaii from 1988–1992. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Relations from the University of the Pacific and a Master of Divinity degree from the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, California. While in seminary, Claudia worked at the Pacific Asian Center for Theology and Strategies, and as a youth director at Wesley United Methodist Church in San Jose, California.
Since arriving in Japan, Claudia has been extremely active in mission and ecumenical affairs. She networks with the local and wider ecumenical community. Claudia was president of the Tokyo Ecumenical and Interfaith Council and now has formed the Kobe Ecumenical Council. She is a board member of Second Harvest Japan and helps coordinate a ministry with the homeless in Kobe. She is on the council for the Wesley Foundation in Tokyo, a center built by United Methodist Women in the United States to serve religious and humanitarian purposes.
Claudia and her husband Rev. Toshi, Yamamoto, a VIM (Volunteer In Mission) and former Global Ministries missionary working as a chaplain at Kwansei Gakuin, are the parents of two sons: Kai and Koh.
: California/Pacific Annual Conference
, California-Nevada Annual Conference
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