Home > events > Asian North American Center Summit at Fuller Seminary (Feb. 17, 2007)

Asian North American Center Summit at Fuller Seminary (Feb. 17, 2007)

News Release – February 15, 2007

Crisis in Asian American Church Leadership to be addressed by Seminary Leaders

On Feb. 17th, 2007 a national summit of directors from seminary-based Global and Asian North American Christian centers will be held at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. Participants will address what some have deemed a “leadership crisis” in Asian and Pacific North American (APNA) Christian churches. APNA Christianity has experienced impressive growth over the past forty years – contributing to what sociologist Stephen Warner has called the “de-Europeanization” of North American Christianity. Today there are 2.6 million Roman Catholic APNAs and more than 4,000 Korean and 1,300 Chinese Protestant churches in the United States and Canada. Nevertheless the churches are fighting a losing battle to shape a new generation of pastoral leaders with the ability to work in multi-generational and multi-cultural settings. They also struggle to identify pastors who can help their congregations engage complex civic issues such as racial discrimination and immigration from a faith-based perspective. The results are ominous. An already diverse population, APNA Christianity is becoming increasingly fragmented across the generations and unable to adequately address broader APNA community issues.

Since the early 1970s, numerous APNA centers have been formed at several theological institutions and seminaries in North America. Most of these centers serve Korean or Chinese language constituents, but a few work with broader APNA populations. Dr. Timothy Tseng, the President of the Institute for the Study of Asian American Christianity says that “APNA centers were created to help North American seminaries diversify their theological menu so their students could serve dim sum, kimchee, and sushi as well as meat and potatoes.” The centers have focused on equipping pastoral leaders for APNA churches, but have struggled to develop sustainable curricula and scholarly research. Furthermore, the tendency to indiscriminately merge international and North American Asian issues has often submerged the concerns of the latter. This has resulted in less than satisfactory responses to needs of the rapidly changing APNA churches. Tseng says that serving the complex APNA Christian communities today requires crossing boundaries between East and West, immigrant and native born, and between various ethnic communities. “Like Hiroshima, the fusion jazz band that blends Asian and Western instrumental and musical sensibilities, the formation of the next generation of APNA church leaders requires improvisation and a willingness to redefine what it means to be an Asian Christian in North America and the world.”

The summit will address the APNA Christian leadership crisis by
* enabling directors of APNA centers to become acquainted with each others’ programs,
* developing a strategic plan for common efforts to strengthen theological training and scholarship for APNA church leaders, and
* developing opportunities to bridge Global Christianity programs (with an Asian focus) with Asian North American programs.

The summit is co-sponsored by the Institute for the Study of Asian American Christianity (ISAAC) and the Korea Institute for Advanced Theological Studies (KIATS).

About the Co-Sponsors

The Korea Institute for Advanced Theological Studies (KIATS) was established in 2004 with the purpose of founding the ground for Koreans to be independent and active in their theological studies in the context of global Christianity. We believe that God has called the Korean Church in this generation for the establishment of God’s Kingdom. In order to respond to the call, it is necessary for the Korean Church to pray and be passionate, to know better its inherited Christian tradition and treasure, and to found a healthy and mature theological ground upon which to challenge this generation. The founding of this ground for the Korean Church is the aim of KIATS.

KIATS exists for three major purposes: people, infrastructure, and network. First, we aim to find and nurture people with ability and vision who will pursue the study of Christianity at the global level. Second, we provide appropriate bases and opportunities to Korean theologians so that they may concentrate in their study of the Church and theology as global Christians. Third, we organize networks for building meaningful relationships between theologians and pastors, clergy and laity, from Korea and non-Korea, Asia and the West, and Western and non-Western Christianity, all for their mutual flourishing. Upon these bases, KIATS desires to support and promote Korean Christianity as the center of Asian theologies, and as an axis of global theologies.

Based upon this vision and statement, KIATS Theological Journal was designed to promote creative scholarly work on critical issues in Korean and world Christianity. Many articles in our journal from the inaugural issue have reflected a gradual embodiment of our theological visions. The spring issue of 2006 consists of three sections: the special theme of science and Christianity, KIATS lectures by foreign scholars in Korea, and selected issues in Korean and Asian Christianity.

Dr. Jae Hyun Kim is the Executive Director of KIATS.

* * *
The Institute for the Study of Asian American Christianity (ISAAC) is an educational resource organization that advances Asian American Christian presence and perspectives in order to broaden the multicultural and global commitments of the Church and the Academy.

ISAAC’s core conviction is that Christ-centered faith and calling must be integrated with Asian American cultures and identities. This is a crucial element in the life-long journey of following Jesus towards Christian maturity and wholeness. It is an important way to embody God’s fullness in the world.

ISAAC’s priorities are to:
▪ Equip culturally competent and biblically grounded professional and lay leaders for the Asian American churches and communities.
▪ Educate the seminary, the university, the church, and the public about Asian American Christian history, presence, perspectives, and prospects.
▪ Encourage research that brings breadth and depth to our understanding of Asian American Christianity.

Dr. Timothy Tseng is the President of ISAAC.

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