CAC Digest #11: common experiences of Asian Americans

CAC Digest #11 Covers Sept. 4, 1996

Reminder: Beginning Friday, please submit your messages to “cac@bccn.org”.
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are told to have you removed. Thanks! — Tim Tseng

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{1} From Mike Seto, San Mateo, CA

Date: Wed, Sep 4, 1996 1:31* EDT
From: CBC4PMSeto
Subj: CAC reply
To: TSTseng

Tim,
We learned from the Asian American Baptist Ministers and Seminarians
conference that no matter what “Asian” brand we are there are common
experiences that all churches seem to go through as we move through the
generations. We who are Asian American, mainly English speaking, 2nd, 3rd
and 4th and even 5th generation Americans and Canadians is what most of the
“language and cultural” churches will be growing into and we have a history
that these others can look at as either a vision to embrace or even avoid.
We can also help, through our experiences, the transition into and
development of a viable English ministry in whatever language first
generation they may come from. It is true that most of our Japanese and
Chinese churches are into 3rd and 4th generations, we must be reminded and
compelled not to forget where we were and appreciate the immigrant culture
and pray for and support those who are seeking to serve Christ in those
areas.

My varied background in ministry has given me an interesting perspective that
most of my fellow Asian American pastors and ministers do not have. I have
served in multicultural mainline mostly white leadership churches in the
Alliance, Disciples of Christ, North American Baptist and American Baptist.
I have served Japanese with Nichigo ministries, churches moving toward
multicultural churches in United Methodist and American Baptist. I served as
campus minister for AACF at UC Davis for nine years, where most of the
students were ABC and English speaking Chinese American with a mixture of
Japanese, Filipino and Korean. Currently I am pastor of English ministries
in an American Baptist, Chinese church with a Cantonese ministry.

The mainline white church does not understand why we deem it necessary to
gather in our ethnic islands, what they don’t understand is that they too
have their own islands which seem to be gathered by a common
educational/economic background. It seems to me that the newly emerging
Asian American English only ministries are very much the same as many of our
white counterparts, based on the same educational/economic background. How
many blue collar Asian American churches do we have? Most of the Asian
American churches have the best and brightest gathered together, is it truly
Christ that draws them together or is it more their common interests,
possessions, education and economic status? I’m not sure that anyone has yet
explored this questions in any depth. On the other hand, in the Asian
language and ethnically homogeneous church, is it only the language and
cultural issues that draws us together? Should we should be seeking all men
and women to bring them to Christ, not based on our cultural and economic and
education expectations? If we look at the First Century model, there should
be a much broader spectrum within our churches even within our targetted
language and ethnic group or groups.

I think you got a nickel’s worth out of me.
Mike Seto

{2} Reply from Ken Fong, re: Digest #11 above

Ow and wow, Mike. You made my head hurt and my heart beat faster.
Thanks for spelling out some of the deeper, broader issues. Sometimes I
think that, in the name of pursuing all things AA, we deftly disregard
some of the inclusive/exclusive issues that have little to do with
generation or race and much more to do with sinful clumping tendencies.
I’m not sure what the answers might be, but I know that, for the most
part, I need to stay focused on the road directly ahead of my ministry
vehicle. I may definitely benefit from looking to either side or to
appreciate where I’ve come from, but if I am not first and foremost
focusing on what lies in front of me, I’m never going to get where God
wants my ‘vehicle’ to go. Currently, we’re attempting to expand the
‘capacity’ of this vehicle to be more multi-ethnic, more affirming of
biracial people, more empowering of women, more embracing of
down-and-outers.

Love to you and Lucky. Faith, hope and love…Ken Fong

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