image of Yoshihara family

Yoshihara Family

Things to Know About Craig – A Short Autobiography

Craig was born in Los Angeles, CA where he grew up and lived for most of his life. He attended UCLA as an undergrad getting a double major in psychology and political science. He went on to get a Master’s degree from Long Beach State also in political science with the intention of being a campaign manager for a good-hearted, honest politician he believed in. Through a series of quirks in life (and isn’t that how it usually is?) he ended up working in the marketing field for about 10 years in various financial institutions. In 2000, he ended up leaving sunny SoCal for the green trees of Atlanta, GA where he continued his marketing work. It was there he met his wife, Cassie and in 2002 they were married. They have two daughters – Emma who was born to the couple in 2004, and Eve, Cassie’s daughter from a previous marriage.

Craig ended up leaving the marketing field and felt God’s call on his life to enter the ministry. He decided to seek full ordination as an elder in the United Methodist Church and attended seminary at Candler School of Theology on the Emory University campus in 2005. While in school, he began serving in his first appointment. The Little River Charge in Washington, GA was a collection of three lovely rural churches with a rich history where he presided as pastor. He graduated with his second Master’s degree, this time in the Divinity field from Emory, in 2008. He served his second appointment as a minister at Roswell UMC in Roswell, GA. Very different from his first assignment, Roswell was a congregation of nearly 7,000 with regular worship attendance of over 1,500 every Sunday. He was one of five ministers on staff with the responsibilities to oversee the INVITE ministry – evangelism, new membership, and outreach.

In 2009, Craig was called by Bishop Warner Brown in California to come and serve at the United Japanese Christian Church in Clovis, CA. A bi-denominational church with historic roots in the Japanese community, Craig was able to effectively grow the congregation and increase vitality in worship and discipleship. Under his leadership, UJCC was among the top 20 churches in increased worship attendance, professions of faith, youth in confirmation class, and increase in membership. Today, Craig is happy to be assigned to serve in Dinuba, CA where he is hopeful that together with the wonderful people of the church, they will be able to be strong, effective servants for Christ.

Craig has a deep love for God and for sharing the Word. But he also has great interests in Disney, Star Wars, Star Trek, LEGOs, and writing! On family vacations he can often be found at Disneyland, doing some pin trading, but generally just enjoying the moment. Having worked in the Magic Kingdom for nearly 7 years, he often peppers his sermons with anecdotes of those early days. He often writes guest blogs for the Disney Dads website as well as maintains two blogs of his own – Disney Nerds  and Craig’s Life, the latter is where he posts transcripts of his most recent sermons. If you ever have questions of faith, Disney, or anything in-between, feel free to email him at craig@palmumc.org or come by worship one Sunday. We would love to have you!