Join CAPA (Covenant Asian Pastors Gathering)

As I write this, a thousand pastors and church leaders are making their way back home from their annual trek and pilgrimage to Chicago for the Evangelical Covenant Church’s Midwinter Conference. I left a day early to attend to responsibilities back home, but was thoroughly re-invigorated from those responsibilities I had in Chicago, from presenting the recommendations of the Ethnic Commission, to working sessions with the Board of Nominations, to serving as Vice Prez to the newly formed CAPA (Covenant Asian Pastors Assoc).

Reporting on the Ethnic Commission
Reporting on the Ethnic Commission
ur very 1st CAPA Gathering (Covenant Asian Pastors Assoc )
Our very 1st CAPA Gathering (Covenant Asian Pastors Assoc ) serving not only Asian pastors, but pastors serving in Asian contexts

If you are reading this it may be a first exposure to the Covenant, or maybe you’ve been hearing increasingly more and more about it. Its dynamism is not in any secret formula, but that God has blessed a growing diverse ministerium with a collegial spirit of unity.

Unity in diversity. Go figure.

But it works.

And instead of fragmenting the denomination more, we are finding that difference brings us closer together around shared values.

I have to pause here and speak to my own Korean background and an observation I made @ Midwinter; it is visually apparent to me that more and more 2nd gen Korean-American pastors are coming to these meetings inquiringly, attempting to find a home for their “EM” congregations (whether independent or otherwise) and are leaving convinced; I have several friends older than myself who have only just recently discovered the Covenant as a great receiving “container” for their EM churches.

Of course, that leads to a LOT of talking shop in the pub after sessions, a lot of Korean (and other Asian ethnicities as well, pardon my exclusivism here) pastors trying to figure out how to navigate various transitions well, all of which challenging to varying degree; some much further ahead, some only beginning now. I am blessed to be somewhere mid-way, and to have been useful and an encouragement to my colleagues only now beginning the journey of envisioning 2nd gen Korean-planted congregations who are attempting to open up and broaden their mission.

There are more and more of us out there.

And there is a blessedness of a sort of farm-system; the big-league guys, the veterans, to those in the game now stepping up to bat, to the up and comers who are the next season’s superstars (forgive the less-than-perfect analogy here) but the point is, we all hang out. I won’t name-drop here, but we were all there together, and it was freaking awesome.

Greg Yee, our "dai lo."
Greg Yee, “dai lo” to many Asian pastors

So consider this an official invitation to check us out. Give me a shout and I’d be glad to talk shop, help orient you to the Cov, serve you, equip you. I will do my best.


A Cord of Three Strands

In just a few days, more than 1,000 Covenant clergy will gather for our Midwinter Conference where we will seek replenishment from God as we worship, learn, laugh, cry, gain vision, and deepen friendships.

One theme I will touch on is the biblical principle of the strength of a cord of three-strands. We will look at those cords through the lens of local church, regional conference, and denomination. As we live committed to one another, seeking the flourishing of all, the mission of God is amplified and Jesus is magnified. Strength is reinforced when strands are intertwined. Of course, intertwining gone wrong is called a knot. It’s important for braiding to be done attentively.

I want to underscore my commitment that the denomination is not a disembodied bureaucracy pejoratively called “Chicago.” Along with your regional conference we seek to serve our churches and unite our churches in service together. All throughout your region, and all over the world, real lives in real places are being touched by the grace and mercy of God. And we know it is happening around the corner from your church as well. And so, for the sake of the world, let’s lace it up, and lace it up well … for the flourishing of all.

Follow ECC president Gary Walter on Twitter @ECCprez

In it together.

On Being Asian: Bellingham’s History of “No Chinese Beyond this Point”

Wow. Angryasianman has just called attention to a part of Bellingham, Washington’s past (and mine own too), which was the Chinese Exclusion Act of the early 1900’s, which systematically expelled, discriminated, and drove out Chinese-Americans up and down the West Coast. As a former resident of the town, I frequently walked past the plaque on Harris Ave. that read:

“Chinese deadline, no Chinese allowed beyond this point, 1878-1903.” (any ‘Hamsters got a pic I can upload and post?)

Well it appears that mayor Dan Pike has issued a public apology on behalf of the city of Bellingham, which has in the past rioted against Hindus, exploited Japanese, and driven out Chinese. I say “good for him.” But he says one thing that irks me:

“A lot of times an apology can go a long way toward helping healing and helping people understand that we do know there were things that were done in the past that were inappropriate… It doesn’t mean that I’m personally guilty… It means that things were done by the government and by the people in this community that were wrong.”

I don’t know why he had to say that; “It doesn’t mean that I’m personally guilty.” Why apologize in the first place if it’s not your fault? I think one of the glaring errors in the whole re-dress movement is that we think we can apologize for things in the past, separate ourselves (historically) from the incident, wipe our hands clean, forget about it, and move on. But the point is not “getting it off your chest” so to speak; but rather engaging in a continuous dialogue about how Chinese-Americans relate to the public sphere today; how the “model minority” is perceived, engaged, ignored, dismissed, contained, empowered or silenced. Here are some thoughts from a past post that convey just what I am talking about:
  1. The “model minority” is a patronizing term. Model in who’s eyes?
  2. The perception of being coy, or demure – this asian fetish thing. Sure our women are beautiful but can we stop objectifying Asian women as commodities?
  3. Be proud of your heritage damnit. It’s a double-sided coin. While we need to get out of the ghettoization of our ethnic communities to see a larger “America”, at the same time we can’t ever forget where we came from. Nor can we ever look down on our ancestors who first immigrated to this great country.
  4. We will work for the man but never be the man. Glass-ceilings are tough things to break through and very subtle, systemic things…
  5. It’s an uphill battle, folks. Asians in society at times feel the need to lose our “asian-ness” in order to make it. It’s almost a reverse “white-fetish” where we hope we won’t get noticed for the fact that we are asian, but we can blend right into white society with perfect intonation, no accent, dressing the right way. This just makes me cry. My black brothers educated me on a term used in black circles: “The Bourgeoisie” – when a person of color completely assimilates into white society and never looks back. It’s a derogatory term for someone who refuses to identify with the color of their skin or their ethnic heritage. The bourgeoisie think they’re better than the rest of us.

I feel sad. Sad that making it in this world so often means losing a bit of myself. Sad that we are playing by another man’s rules that benefits his own. Sad that at the starting gate I am placed a few steps behind. I’m not asking for pity, because I will work my ass off to get to the same place as others. But I just want to tell my story, and that of countless others.