SCC's Southern Connect - February 2023


Takuma Shinasue Is Ordained




Ordained pastors lay hands on Shinasue during the ordination prayer.
Ordained pastors lay hands on Shinasue during the ordination prayer.

“I’m here because of God, you, and the church,” said Takuma Shinasue. “I stand here as I’ve been honored to be called by God and affirmed as such by you.”

Last fall, Shinasue, who serves as associate pastor of Southern California Conference’s (SCC) three Japanese- American congregations in Pasadena, Gardena, and West Los Angeles, was ordained to the gospel ministry. The ordination service, held at Central Japanese-American Community church, concluded a full day of celebration, with the congregation’s 75th anniversary commemorated earlier that Sabbath.

The service included personal touches from family, friends, and colleagues. Shinasue’s maternal grandfather, who was not present, virtually read the key Scripture declaring God as the Good Shepherd. His childhood
friend Justin Nishino played “More Love to Thee” on the guitar. Church members gave him lei garlands. Vinh Nguyen, SCC Asian-Pacific region director, presented Shinasue with a shepherd’s rod and offered the ordination prayer.

Shinasue translated his own message in both English and Japanese. He thanked his parents, family, friends, SCC officers, and church members for their support. He expressed that this list may be excessive for an ordination response, “but this thanksgiving to the people cannot be severed from my response to the call from God for ordination.”

He described his path to pastoral ministry as a step-by-step journey, “not knowing where I’m being led to, but believing that I’m being led by the One I trust.” He has recognized this as God’s call because the congregation has affirmed it through their faith in God.

“I want to be a seal upon God’s heart,” Shinasue concluded. “I believe that only by God keeping me tied to Him by His love, I may truly be able to be your pastor. I pray that through me being tied to this Good Shepherd, God may, by His grace, make me a good, small shepherd of His for you.”

Marco Topete Joins Pastorate



Marco and his family are introduced to the congregation by West Region Director Greg Hoenes
Marco and his family are introduced to the congregation by West Region Director Greg Hoenes

This January, Marco Topete was installed as the pastor of the Van Nuys church.

“I have always felt that God was calling me to be a pastor ever since I became a Christian in 2012,” Topete shared. A decade later, Topete graduated from Andrews University with a Master’s in Pastoral Ministry.

The morning of Topete’s installation, SCC West Region Director Greg Hoenes preached a message from the book of Esther. “Pastor Marco, who knows that God has brought you to this church for such a time as this,” he shared at the installation.

Topete, too, sees God’s hand of leading Him at just the right time. In fact, when being interviewed in 2017 to join SCC as Literature Ministries Coordinator, he was asked, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” He answered, “Working as a pastor.”

“I feel that God led me eight years in Literature Ministries and that He used these eight years to prepare me to be a better pastor,” Topete reflected.

In Van Nuys, Topete looks forward to making personal connections with people. “The part that most excites me about pastoral ministry is the opportunity to give personal Bible studies to people in the community,” he said. “I feel that will be a major emphasis.“

“One area I really want to plan and focus on is building up a place where kids can come and get to know Jesus,” he added.

Topete will be joined by his wife, Lisa, and his two sons, Abraham and Israel.