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First Japanese Woman to be Received into Full Connection in the United Methodist Church.

Naomi P. F. Southard was born October 14, 1951, in San Francisco, California.

“I began my journey toward ordained ministry after beginning an MA degree in biblical studies at the Graduate Theological Union in 1975. After a year or so in that program, I began to explore the path to ordained ministry and, in 1978, switched to an MDiv degree at Harvard Divinity School, which I completed in 1980. ”  In 1982 she was received into full connection in the California-Nevada Annual Conference.

“From 1980 through 1982, I served as pastor of Lake Park United Methodist Church, Oakland, California. Then from 1982 through 1985, I was associate general secretary, General Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns, New York City. In 1985 I was appointed as the executive director, National Federation of Asian American United Methodists in San Francisco, where I served until 1990. From 1991 through 1997 I was (part-time) administrative assistant to the secretary of the Council of Bishops, UMC. In this period, I also began a PhD program at the Graduate Theological Union, which I completed in 2004.

“The journey has been full of God’s surprises. Most of my ministry has been ‘beyond’ the local church. Actually, I think it happened the ‘right way’–this is a good time of life for me to be in pastoral ministry.”