Tag Archives: San Francisco Chinese Mennonite Church

Congregational Profile/教會簡介: San Francisco Chinese Mennonite Church

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by Pastor Joshua So

My wife Anita and I came from Hong Kong; our church speaks Cantonese. Cantonese is one of the dialects in China and the official language in Hong Kong.

In the early 1980s, Pastor Lee Sze Fun traveled from Vancouver, Canada to San Francisco to share with me a vision from the Pacific Southwest Mennonite Conference which was to build a Chinese church in San Francisco area.  After two months of fervent prayers and digging deep into the fundamental faith of the Mennonites, I was happy to accept Pastor Lee’s invitation and started the San Francisco Chinese Mennonite Church at the same location it is now. 

Since then, a lot of preparation work has been carried out, finding a location, printing promotional materials and so on but we saw the hands of God’s through many prayers.  November 8, 1980 was our first Sunday worship service and we worshiped with a thankful heart.  On November 15, 1980, as the Conference planned to come to present our church with a certificate, I got an emergency call from my father in Hong Kong.  It was heartbreaking to hear that my beloved grandma was seriously ill.  My family earnestly urged me to go back.  I felt I should go back but what about the new church?  It was tough!  I called every day to check on grandma’s progress, only to find out that she was not getting better.  I cried out to God in my prayers, and brothers and sisters also walked with me in prayers until one day, I picked up the phone and told my father that I planned to stay because the church needed me.  Then my father responded with relief that grandma’s condition was no longer life-threatening!  Praise the Lord! He let me make the decision and he took care of my worries.

With God’s many blessings, we celebrated our 39th anniversary this November with Pastor Jeff Wright among us and also grateful to be part of the Franconia Mennonite Conference.  Our church has many ongoing programs like Sunday worship with Sunday School & morning prayer meeting, Tuesday bible study, Rejoice Together Fellowship, special outreach events, festival & holiday celebrations, a churchwide retreat, nursing home & hospital ministry and intergenerational church members care ministry to equip and nurture our congregation.  More than a dozen brothers and sisters join hand in hand, to serve the hospital ministry with joy.

Chinese Restaurant Workers Ministry

Lately, our church had a new vision, to be the salt and light for Jesus to a group of Chinese restaurant workers in the San Francisco area.  The Chinese Restaurant Workers Fellowship was born.  This ministry’s first meeting was on December 10 and followed by the Christmas celebration on December 24.   Unfortunately, there is no other church in the San Francisco area also serving this group of workers and that also reflected the significance and importance of this ministry.  Restaurant workers absolutely need the gospel due to their emptiness of mind, working hours and boring, long hours; many of them are addicted to bad habits.  Even though we acknowledge how hard it was to reach out for this group of people, we assured ourselves that their hearts need Jesus the most. 

Nursing Home Visitation

We believe God loves to save their souls and this ministry is in consensus with the vision and mission statement of the Mennonite belief.

Please pray with me for our financial needs and for more willingness of heart to share our vision down the road for this new workers’ ministry.  We appreciate all your support, care and prayers for the future of our church.





在1980 年初,李世勲牧師從加拿大溫哥華來找我,他説太平洋西南門諾議會有異象在三藩市開始一個中國門諾教會。經過大約兩個月的時間禱告及了解門諾會的信仰,我便欣然答應了李世勲牧師。直到現在我們仍然在這堂址敬拜著。

自始便展開了很多籌備的工作,找地方,印製宣傳品,很多祈禱會等等。主的手沒離開過我們。教會終於在1980年11月8 日開始了第一個主日崇拜。區會計劃在11月15 日來给我証書,但就在那一星期,我父親從香港來急電説我至愛的祖母患重病入了醫院。他們都希望我回香港,我那時不知道如何是好,我應該回港,但新開始的教會怎樣?每日打電話回港,每次父親説祖母的病無變化。我不斷禱告,弟兄姊妹也為我禱告。最後,我告父親我決定留在美國,因為教會需要我。就在那時,父親告訴我祖母已經脫離危險時期。主是何等奇妙!主在等待我決定,除去我的憂慮!

在神的恩典裏,我們今年慶祝教會成立39週年,並很高興有議會的Pastor Jeff Wright 積非牧師在我們當中;更為著可以能成為法蘭崗尼亞門諾議會的一份子而非常感恩。現在教會有許多事工,我們有主日崇拜、主日學、查經班、小組團契、祈禱會、專題分享、節日慶祝、退修營、老人院及醫院關懷事工和會友關懷小組事工等等。現在有十多位弟兄姊妹願意參與我們這個醫院關懷團隊。

最近神給了我們教會一個新的異象,就是向餐館裏的工友傳福音,因此我們成立了一個餐館團契。這是一個很不容易的工作,三藩市就只有我們教會向這些餐館人事傳福音,可見這個事工的意義和重要性。餐館人士是多麼需要福音,他們心靈空虚、生活枯燥和長時間的工作, 更染上了不良嗜好。但卻沒有第二個教會有這工作。但是我們雖然知道很難,但是我們真知道他們需要福音,所以我們接受這個挑戰。因為我們相信神!我們也知道這是門諾會的異象和使命。




New Pages in the Old Story

by Steve Kriss, executive minister

In our end is our beginning;
in our time, infinity . . .
unrevealed until its season,
something God alone can see.
—Natalee Sleeth, “In the Bulb There is a Flower”

I like new notebooks and journals.  Fresh, blank pages represent new possibility.  The pages await new thoughts, encounters, and reflections.

The beginning of a year is like that too. New goals, resolutions, and opportunities.  Sometimes, though, we are so busy with the new pages that we don’t reflect on where we have been.

This year’s “Year in Review” offers a good glimpse of where we were together as a community in 2018.  Upon reflection, it tells the highlights and the transitions.  The things that worked and came to fruition.

But missing, sometimes, is the struggle and the not yet.  The places where things were difficult and hard.  The conversations yet unresolved.  Those, too, are part of our story and part of our ongoing work.

I don’t want to take for granted that just because we’ve been around so long, we’ll always have new years and new pages ahead.  All around us religious institutions, some with histories that are long and deep, continue to wrap up their legacies.  Franconia Conference is also challenged by the cultural changes around us.  Our future cannot be taken for granted. 

Steve Kriss (right) visits with Isai Sanchez, Diana Salinas, and Gama Sanchez along with board members Angela Moyer and Gwen Groff, on a visit to CIEAMM in Oaxaca in 2018.”

Our legacy must not only be stewarded, but also enlivened.  Some things will come to an end and some things will emerge—or even be reborn.  We’ve seen an end of a historic congregation at Rockhill and a re-emergent partnership with CIEAMM.  We’ve come to embrace something we never imagined now with 10% of Conference congregations on the West Coast.  We’re calling leaders, both young and mature, to credentialed leadership.  And we’re being challenged to refine our credentialing processes so that more people who are called by our churches can navigate the process with grace and integrity.

When I look at our future, I know that there are things only known to God.  I know that in our human responses along the way, we have both the possibility of filling the pages of a new year beautifully or with scratch marks and smudges. Sometimes we’ll need practice runs.  We’ll have first drafts that will need improved, articles and ideas that will need translated.

Entering a new year means offering appreciation for what has gone before, all the accumulation upon which we stand and move.  It also means being open to the possibility, the plans yet unfolding, and the unknown events that might yet emerge.  And it means trusting that God—in our ends, in our beginnings, in all of time—sees and is with us through it all: alongside, inspiring, inviting, revealing further glimpses of the dream rooted in the faith, hope, and love that last forever.

With gratitude, we begin to write the pages of a new year as the old, old story unfolds within and around us anew.

Encouragement in the Bay

by Jerrell Williams, Associate for Leadership Cultivation

Joshua So, pastor of San Francisco Chinese Mennonite Church, second from left, along with his wife, Anita So, with Steve Kriss, Leadership Minister Jeff Wright, and Jerrell Williams. 

(Reprinted with permission from The Mennonite)

This past week I got the chance to accompany Steve Kriss, Franconia Mennonite Conference executive minister, and Jeff Wright, Franconia Conference Leadership minister, on a trip to San Francisco to visit San Francisco Chinese Mennonite Church (SFCMC). This is a Cantonese-speaking congregation of around 35 members that is considering joining Franconia Mennonite Conference.

After worship, we talked with Pastor Joshua about his expectations of Franconia Conference and how he envisioned the relationship. The theme of encouragement came up repeatedly. Pastor Joshua wanted encouragement and support from Franconia Conference. He wanted to know if Franconia Conference would be in relationship with his church and continue to encourage the members, even though they are far away. If it joins Franconia Conference, SFCMC would be the only Cantonese-speaking congregation in the conference. We attended worship with the congregation and spent a day with Pastor Joshua and Anita, his wife, in the Bay area. The congregation was lively and hospitable; everyone greeted us when we came. We met several members of the congregation during lunch and heard their stories and experiences in the United States.

This experience showed me the importance of encouragement for churches. SFCMC has felt alone for a long time. Its biggest request from us on this trip was that we check in with them and encourage them. Whether we’re there physically or we send them a text on a Sunday morning, they want to know we are praying for them and thinking of them.

Worship at San Francisco Chinese Mennonite Church.


Hearing of the needs of this congregation made me think of Paul and how he wrote letters to different churches. These letters sometimes were ones of correction for when the church lost its way, but many of them included words of encouragement to congregations. Paul saw it as important to send encouragement to the church whenever he got the chance.

All churches at times need support and encouragement from other churches. Franconia Conference can play a huge role in encouraging and connecting its congregations. Being a conference isn’t only about keeping churches in order or in line. Most of the work is being willing to be present with them. Churches need to know they are being prayed for, thought of and loved. Sometimes a reminder is all we need.