Rev. Melvyn Kawakami has a lifelong personal and professional commitment to ministry. After growing up in a close-knit Japanese community in San Jose, CA, he attended the University of the Pacific for his Bachelor of Arts, then headed east to Harvard Divinity School for his Master of Divinity and Master of Theology degrees, with a focus on pastoral counseling.
While working at Harvard Bureau of Study Counsel, Rev. Kawakami guided students as they navigated the spiritually and psychologically rigorous demands of the University. In the mid-Nineties, he directed the Manchester Pastoral Counseling Center in Manchester, CT, and served Simsbury United Methodist Church (UMC) for almost 20 years in various pastoral roles, including Senior Pastor from 2004-2008. He has also served as Interim Pastor for churches in nearby Avon and Pleasant Valley.
In 2008, with a passion for mission and parish care, Rev. Kawakami arrived at Sandy Hook as Senior Pastor for Newtown UMC. He guided the congregation in the devastating wake of the tragic mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012. He retired in July 2016.
Rev. Kawakami currently fills the role of a loving husband, Uncle Mel to many nieces and nephews, and the attentive custodian of Mimi, a very opinionated West Highland White Terrier.