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CRC Asian Pastors Seek Connections

June 25, 2008

One of the biggest challenges facing many Southeast Asian congregations in the Christian Reformed Church in North America is finding a way to maintain traditional values while making the transition from a first-generation church into one is relevant for youth.

That was one of conclusions that a group of 14 Asian CRC pastors and others reached earlier this month at a conference held at Long Scraggy Ranch in Buffalo Creek outside of Denver, Colo.

The conference participants are members of the SEAPI (South East Asian and Pacific Island) and included Filipinos, Vietnamese, Cambodians, Laotians, Hmong, and Chinese. The CRC's Korean churches are not part of this group since they already have their own structures.

SEAPI was formed in 2007 to aid Asian church leaders to develop a sustaining network of support for its pastors, sharing of best ministry practices, and to build better relationships with the CRC agencies and programs.  Within the CRC there are 45 SEAPI congregations with 30 churches actively involved in SEAPI.

"They are predominantly first-generation immigrant congregations which serve their ethnic group and are scattered all across North America," says a news release from Christian Reformed World Missions.

"Consequently, they are somewhat isolated geographically from other Asian groups and isolated culturally from the main CRC churches. Their pastors feel a sense of isolation and need a sustaining peer group to mentor, encourage, and council them in pastoral and church issues.  They are deeply dedicated to their churches, the gospel, and the CRC." 

The group met for three days to discuss common personal and ministry concerns and prepare a short list of core needs and issues along with possible solutions. These included:

  • The major concern identified in their discussions was transitioning from a first generation immigrant church that still speaks the native language and lives by the cultural values of their homeland to an Asian-American church of their children that speaks English and has taken on some of the values of their adopted homeland. 
  • Working together and with the CRC agencies, they want to grow their congregations, numerically, spiritually, and ethnically. They have begun to prepare for the future by identifying youth leaders to train as youth pastors who have been invited to the SEAPI meetings. Each church has been asked to identify a possible candidate for this role and is committed to bridging the gap between the generations.
  • Another matter is their desire to connect with the mainstream of CRC life. They need the support and partnership of the denomination to move forward in partnering with denominational and classical issues.

"The SEAPI pastors are committed to their purpose and have the potential to develop ethnically diverse congregations and contribute strongly to the CRC family of churches," says the news release.

"EAPI is still an interim and unofficial entity within the CRC attempting to have a unified voice for culturally relevant and well-planned ministry support and partnerships."

The leadership team of Socheth Na, Kou Vang, Nam Kieu, Fatu Auan, and Fernando Rosario (interim coordinator) has shown a strong commitment to the task and willingness to learn and grow in their new roles within the denomination. 

For more information, visit the SEAPI website at www.asiancrc.org 

- Steve Proctor, Christian Reformed World Missions