An Oregonian headline September 16th read: “Oregon’s new Episcopal Bishop follows journey of faith to historic first for church in U.S.
The grandparents of the Rev. Diana Akiyama, and their children, including Akiyama’s father, were shipped from Hood River, “…to a camp in Idaho”, Wrote reporter Tom Hallman, Jr. “Having been raised in Hood River, she was, “…forever aware of the injustices perpetrated against her grandparents during WW II.
Initially her family may have been sent to an, “assembly center” at Puyallup, WA fair grounds, then to Idaho’s camp, Minidoka. A first-hand witness, our friend, Mitzi Asai Loftus, of RVUUF, shared with me that in 1942, as a Hood River elementary student, she & her parents were first sent to, “the horses stalls” at Puyallup (they slept on straw!), then to Tule Lake, Calif., and later to camp at Heart Mountain, WY, all while three brothers wore U.S. uniforms, one in 442nd in Europe; two in the Pacific.
Mitzi first spoke to our UUFKC in Pine Grove 1997. She has spoken twice since that time. At 88 she’s always robustly active. When asked, Mitzi said she doesn’t know Diana Akiyama (61), but remembers well her grandparents & father (all deceased).
Mitzi’s parents and Akiyama’s grandparents owned fruit orchards near Hood River. In the 1940’s their properties were un-seized, but homes were looted, and completely stripped. After their 1945 release from camps, all returned to Hood River to rebuild their lives. A nephew of Mitzi’s still runs the Asai orchard.
Akiyama, “..believes her ancestors would view her election to bishop as a sign people can overcome a bitter past.” Moral courage!!
To clarify, Akiyama’s 2020 election was an on-line convention, first for the church. Her election makes her the first Asian-American woman in the U. S. to be an Episcopal Church bishop. But, what’s another first?!? Previously Akiyama was the first Japanese-American woman ordained to Episcopal Church’s priesthood.
In Hallman’s piece she shared her new role is not considered a promotion in the way the secular world may understand. “I had to have a detachment and an absence of ambition. It could not be about me. I had to trust in the unknown. It’s a reminder we are not in control.” Moral courage!!
As Klamath Falls’ & St. Paul’s own, Dr. Ralph Eccles, recently shared, “We of the eastern / southern diocese have twice the territory, but she has the most under 40 Episcopalians”. East of Cascades it’s, Episcopal Diocese of Eastern Oregon.
Akiyama will be consecrated early next year, then will oversee the Episcopal Diocese of Oregon (W. of Cascades), and its 15,000 congregants.
Just re-read Defying the Nazis—The Sharp’s War“. When FDR signed Executive Order #9066, in February 1942, it empowered the U.S. Army to, “relocate those of ‘foreign enemy ancestry’ to assembly centers, and then to internment camps” Ten camps spanned the U. S., east to Arkansas.
Thousands of Japanese-Americans, 60% of whom were U.S. citizens, as was Mitzi, were sent to camps. Oddly enough, President Roosevelt had TWO object to his signing #9066—“the unlikeliest of allies”: Eleanor Roosevelt and J. Edgar Hoover. (E.R—Moral courage??; J.E.H—???)
I’m not a minister, nor board member (been there, done that!) As Archivist, I believe I have a “ministry” to share and inform; lessons old, new for some. Example: Unitarian Universalism has no bishops or dioceses. “Boston” acts as guide; regional guides include Pacific Western Region (PWR). It covers four time zones, and 822,000 square miles in Alaska, western Idaho, and Oregon. Ministers are NOT sent to us. We, “call” a minister. If a minister accepts, it becomes teamwork, until either party seeks change, or a minister retires.
My thanks to Oregonian writer, Tom Hallman, Jr., for his Akiyama piece. Also, Artemis Joukowsky (Sharps’ grandson), & his Defying the Nazis: The Sharps’ War”. (Beacon Press, Boston, UU publishing house.)
“HI HO” to Dawn Albright. It’s been a while! I looked at my Fred Meyer pharmacy white sack, and saw a smiling Dawn, “keeping the REAL in real estate”. Good wishes!
To All: HAPPY THANKSGIVING STAY WELL!!!