Vicar, St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church
Dean, Waiolaihui’ia School for Formation
I am honored and truly humbled to be amongst those you are considering to be your next Bishop of the Diocese of Oregon. Throughout my discernment for the vocation of Bishop of Oregon, I have become increasingly energized and drawn to the innovative ministries currently underway in the Diocese. I believe this growing connection is rooted in my diverse experiences as a priest, and in my longstanding belief that the Church is being called to respond to a changing world.
My roots in Oregon are deep. I was born in Wheeler, Oregon and grew up in the Japanese-American community in Hood River. My mother was drawn to the Episcopal Church through her experience at Good Samaritan Hospital’s Nursing School. My father was baptized in the Methodist Church in response to the internment of Japanese Americans. I was baptized and grew up at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Hood River.
I was ordained to the priesthood by The Rt. Rev. Rustin Kimsey in 1989 and since that time I have continually been inspired and nurtured by the ways my ministry has evolved and deepened. The call to serve as dean of religious life in two different higher education settings allowed me to combine my love of learning with my curiosity about those who do not identify with a religious tradition. The spirit of Christ always came alive when I was able to voice or demonstrate radical love and inclusion in spaces where great suspicion about Christians was the norm.
Here is my dream, were I to become your next bishop: to walk alongside the faithful and diverse people of the Diocese of Oregon with joy and hope as we explore how God is moving in our neighborhoods, and to embrace the unique qualities of Oregonians in creative and innovative ministries.
Why do you feel called to be Bishop of Oregon at this time?
Respondents to a diocese-wide survey identified Spiritual Leadership as one of the most important characteristics of our next bishop. What are the hallmarks of spiritual leadership and how do you embody them in your life and ministry?
My passion for living into the charisms of preaching, teaching, and the sacerdotal work of the priesthood continues to form me as a spiritual leader. Speaking the truth in love expressed through authenticity, trustworthiness, compassion and clarity of vision are the hallmarks of my spiritual leadership.
I am energized when my leadership helps communities to shift assumptions, restore expectations, and imagine a new way forward. Listening with empathy, courage and openness allows me to walk with individuals and communities to connect their deepest yearnings with God’s call.
My experiences as dean of a diocesan formation school, dean of religious life, associate priest of a corporate-sized parish and vicar have developed my strength in being a non-anxious presence as I walked with folks discerning God’s call. Throughout my priestly vocation I have supported clergy through spiritual direction, informal confidential conversation, and gently speaking the truth in love. Last year our bishop asked me to preach at the diaconate ordinations and I was gratified by responses to the spiritual leadership I exercised from the pulpit.
Recently, our bishop asked me to chair the diocesan Task Force on Reconciliation, and to participate on a panel of the same theme with Presiding Bishop Curry. I believe reconciliation is a spiritual practice and I seek to embody vulnerability, compassion and forgiveness as hallmarks of spiritual leadership in this work. My gifts as a spiritual leader find their fullest expression in work centered on discerning how God is calling each of us to participate in the Beloved Community. I am continually awed by the Holy Spirit’s activity in and through each of us, and the opportunity to walk with the people of the Diocese of Oregon would be a joy.
Our Diocesan Profile outlines some of the opportunities for growth we face in the Diocese of Oregon. How would you exercise episcopal leadership in addressing one or more of these opportunities?
As a native Oregonian, I identify with the desire for independence; as an Episcopalian, I identify with the desire for cohesion and unity as the Beloved Community. Independence and interdependence are vital aspects of the Diocese of Oregon story. My leadership style emphasizes relational authority rather than positional authority; making personal connections (“eye-balling one another” as my mother used to say) is at the heart of effective leadership. Relationships that embody care, agape love, and compassion are the foundation of a resilient and enduring faith community.
I prefer to lead from a narrative of abundance rather than of scarcity. I have served in ministry settings that were wealthy, and settings where basic expenditures required careful planning. In all settings, resources did not determine our sense of abundance or joy because we grounded our relationships in a narrative of generative love. Lifting up the strengths of our connectedness releases creativity. Our ability to solve challenges flows from the unique gifts of each person. We respond to God’s call in local contexts through our gifts offered in community.
Our church has the capacity to grow in two important ways: in depth and in breadth. Our journey into Christ is at the heart of our Christian formation. Our capacity to be formed is strengthened by sharing our faith stories as part of God’s call to discipleship. Thus formed, we become people of faith eager to lean into restoration and transformation. And we are able to explore how the church can broaden its ministry while maintaining our identity. Being formed in the Way of Love deepens our hopefulness that, in the midst of change, we can adapt as we continue to reflect the unique stories and gifts of each faith community.
Describe a time when you had a cross-cultural experience. Please share with us how you responded to it, what you found challenging, and what you learned from it?
I grew up in the Japanese-American community in Hood River, Oregon and was shaped by the history of anti-Japanese sentiment in that area. In addition, being the daughter of an interracial couple has given me an embodied understanding of the term “cross-cultural.” To the Japanese community, I was not fully one of them. To the caucasian community, I was not fully one of them. As a result, I nurtured a spiritual center from which to engage the assumptions, tensions and unease of others. I learned very early how to connect with people across differences by demonstrating the content of my character and respecting theirs. When I married my husband, an African-American, my Japanese grandmother lamented, “I really like Diana’s husband but it’s too bad he’s black.” Her comment reminded me that experiences of racism do not automatically form us to engage across cultures.
When I began serving as Vicar on the island of Hawai’i, I was welcomed warmly because folks assumed I was “local.” But my speech and mannerisms revealed that I was not from Hawai’i. Even more, I did not understand Hawaiian words, names and the history associated with them. So, I seek out those who can teach me about the language and history of the area. I continue to welcome and engage in conversations with folks to hear their stories and to understand what inspires them. Learning across cultural differences is always a life-long process. This experience is teaching me the importance of listening with my heart, asking authentic questions and walking alongside folks in order to cultivate connections that are meaningful because they are grounded in the Way of Love.