St James has a New Rector! An Announcement from Our Senior Warden

  • Posted on
  • February 4, 2024

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Dear Fellow Parishioners of St. James:

The Vestry is extremely happy to announce that we have completed the long search and hiring process and voted unanimously to call the Reverend Dr. Gregory Kimura (55) to be the next rector of St. James. He will officially start at St. James on March 23 and lead our celebrations for Holy Week and Easter. Before then, Greg and his wife, Joy, will come to South Pasadena for our parish meeting next Sunday, February 11, to start to meet us all.

Greg Kimura, a Yonsei (fourth-generation) Japanese American and Alaskan, is currently the canon vice-dean at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, overseeing clergy, music, finance, and business operations of the Cathedral and Community Preschool.  He brings a variety of gifts and experiences to us and is looking forward to returning to a more pastoral role at St. James.

Greg’s grandparents became Episcopalians after the WWII incarceration and they served in various elected and volunteer roles at All Saints’ in downtown Anchorage, where his grandfather William designed the stained glass windows.

He holds an MDiv from Harvard University and a PhD in philosophy of religion from Cambridge University. Ordained to the priesthood at 25 by Bishop Steven Charleston, he led the last church in the Episcopal Diocese of Alaska to move from mission status to full parish. Over his years in Alaska, he served as a parish priest, interfaith chaplain, professor and department chair (Alaska Pacific University), and president/CEO of Alaska’s state humanities council (part of the National Endowment for the Humanities), where he oversaw the cultural and humanities grant programs for the 50th anniversary of statehood in 2009.

Greg moved to Southern California in 2011 to become the president/CEO of the Japanese American National Museum, the institution of cultural record for the community, located in Little Tokyo, DTLA. After five years at JANM, Greg returned to the church and served as adjunct clergy at St. Cross Episcopal Church in Hermosa Beach and rector of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Ojai. Greg was on the board of the local homeless shelter and social service agency and volunteered as a chaplain for the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department. He was also a member of the Upper Ojai Search and Rescue Team, where he was certified in first aid, swiftwater rescue, and backcountry and mountain rescue. At St. Andrew’s he started Laundry Love Ojai, which received the 2019 community award from the Ojai Rotary. He also started the church’s first Spanish language service, which grew to become the largest Sunday service.

Greg has served the larger church community, as a trustee of Bloy House, chairing the Jubilee Consortium, co-chairing the Diocesan Sanctuary Task Force, and serving on the Commission on Ministry in LA and Alaska. He has also served as a member the Alumni Advisory Board of Harvard Divinity School, the University of Alaska Anchorage College of Arts and Sciences Board, UAA’s Honors College Board, and the Smithsonian Institution Affiliates. He has published both academic work and fiction in the UK and the US.

Greg has been married to Joy Atrops-Kimura for 32 years. Originally from Pasadena, Joy is a graduate of the University of Victoria (Canada) and has worked as a development director at the Anchorage Concert Association, the Almeida Theatre (London), and the Anchorage Museum, where she led the $120m capital campaign for a new building and Arctic Studies Center. Since moving back to California, Joy has worked at the Peninsula Education Foundation and the Ojai Music Festival. She is certified as a spiritual director through Stillpoint in LA and is currently taking classes in creative writing at the University of California, Berkeley, Extension.

Joy and Greg have two children, Julian William (21) and Lily Noelle (15). They enjoy hiking and climbing, and have a rescue dog, Daisy.

Please come to the parish meeting next week and meet our new rector. We will get to hear his first sermon at St. James and he will get to see the status and business of our church.

Thank you all for your patience as we have gone through this transition. I truly believe that God has been with us in this process and that Rev. Kimura will lead St. James into a hopeful, Spirit-filled future.

Lucy Jones, Senior Warden

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