Rev. Eiko Hosaka first came to Canada from Japan 31 years ago.
She studied at Emmanuel College at the University of Toronto, graduating in 1997, and was ordained the following year.
Her first ministry was in the Ukrainian farming communities of Smoky Lake and Villna, northeast of Edmonton, Alberta, where she was parish minister for three years. She then returned to Ontario where she served as minister at Hamilton Japanese United Church for eight years, until 2009.
“For the last 10 years, I had various ministries – small and large congregations,” said Rev. Eiko. That experience included Emmanuel United Church and the Malvern Community Outreach Ministry in the Scarborough community of Malvern.
There, she had an opportunity to work on community partnerships to address the needs of her congregation.
“I was a facilitator,” she said, especially focussing on health needs. With a large percentage of Malvern’s population of Southeast Asian or Jamaican heritage, diabetes was a key health issue.
Rev. Eiko worked with local health partners to provide information on “healthy living,” and set up exercise classes and cooking classes – helping young working families, strapped for time, learn how to make “cheap and healthy snacks” for their kids.
Since then, she has served as Pastoral Care Minister and Youth Minister at Thornhill United Church, and more recently, the United churches in Sandford and Zephyr, near Uxbridge.
“Then I came here,” Rev. Eiko said. She has been minister at Bradford United since July 1, taking over from Rev. Jim Keenan, whose planned retirement was moved forward by health issues.
Rev. Eiko first visited Bradford about 10 years ago, when she preached at Bradford United for two Sundays. Both the community and the church have changed since then.
Not only has the community grown, it has become more multicultural, she said. “10 years ago the church was totally different… I’m very proud of this church. It became an affirming church.”
She is hoping to reach out to various cultural groups, to children and youth, to Seniors, and to the 2SLGBTQ+ community, and would like to introduce more international, interfaith programs and events.
“I’m very interested in helping this church become an inter-cultural congregation,” Rev. Eiko said. “I’d like to know how to reach out to the different cultural organizations.”
Rev. Eiko is also hoping to invite youth groups to use the church facilities, including meeting rooms and the Bradford Arts Centre, for music or drama – encouraging youth to share their music and artistry at regular church services, and not just special events.
Church council meetings resume in September when Rev. Eiko is hoping to introduce her ideas for outreach, partnership and multicultural collaboration.