Finding voices and faces that can better connect and/or represent both genders in actual diversity of the Christian church can seem elusive, especially in a financially-driven world.
One of the currently under-represented grouping is Asian American women who are Christian ministry leaders, be it church or parachurch. Kathy Khang has started a great list of Christian Asian American female leaders. Here’s a copy of that list with a snapshot of what they’ve done and/or how they’re notable [in no particular order]:
- Jeanette Yep – Pastor of Global and Regional Outreach at Grace Chapel; has contributed significantly to Intervarsity’s multi-ethnicity as staff-worker; co-author of Following Jesus Without Dishonoring Your Parents and editor of More Than Serving Tea: Asian American Women on Expectations, Relationships, Leadership and Faith
- Donna Dong – National Director for Multiethnic/Multicultural Ministry for Inter-Varsity Canada; has served over 30 years with Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship in Canada and the U.S.A.
- Young Lee Hertig – teaches in the Global Studies and Sociology Department at Azusa Pacific University; Southern California Regional Director of the Institute for the Study of Asian American Christianity; on coordination team for Asian American Women on Leadership (AAWOL)
- Melanie Mar Chow – Specialized Campus Minister of Asian American Christian Fellowship
- Nancy Sugikawa – Associate Pastor of Serving Ministries at Lighthouse Christian Church; contributor to Growing Healthy Asian American Churches; board member of Catalyst Leadership Center
- Nikki Toyama-Szeto – Senior Director of Bible Justice Integration and Mobilization at International Justice Mission; was Program Director of Urbana 2009 conference; speaker for 2010 Lausanne events; co-author of More Than Serving Tea: Asian American Women on Expectations, Relationships, Leadership and Faith [preview via Google Books]
- Kathy Khang – regional director of multi-ethnic ministries for InterVarsity; active blogger at morethanservingtea.wordpress.com; co-author of More Than Serving Tea: Asian American Women on Expectations, Relationships, Leadership and Faith
- Margaret Yu – national director of leadership development, Epic Movement (Campus Crusade for Christ’s Asian American Ministries); cf. video interview about How to develop Asian American women leaders
- Sandy Moy Liu – Youth and Children’s Ministry at Chinese Bible Church of Greater Boston
- Grace May – Pastor of English Ministry at Oversea Chinese Mission (New York City)
- Sharon Koh – Associate Pastor at Evergreen Baptist Church of Los Angeles
- Hyepin Im – Founder and President of Korean Churches for Community Development [bio]
- Laura Mariko Cheifetz – Director of Leading Generations Initiative at The Fund for Theological Education; past Director of the AADVENT Project at McCormick Theological Seminary
- Helen Lee – author of The Missional Mom for Moody; co-editor of Growing Healthy Asian American Churches; co-founder of the Best Christian Workplaces Institute
- Sharon Kim – Assistant Professor of Sociology at Cal State Fullerton, author of “A Faith of Our Own: Second Generation Spirituality in Korean American Churches” (Rutgers University Press)
- Asifa Dean, Christie Heller De Leon, Tracey Gee — co-authors of More Than Serving Tea: Asian American Women on Expectations, Relationships, Leadership and Faith
- Susan Cho Van Riesen – co-author of Following Jesus Without Dishonoring Your Parents
- Sandy Schaupp – staff development specialist with InterVarsity in the greater Los Angeles Division
- Kathy Tuan-MacLean – Area Director, Boston Graduate/Faculty Ministries of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship; blogs at PlumbingDemons.blogspot.com
- And there are many more women leaders beyond the context of a local church or parachurch ministry, including: Jane Hyun (author of Breaking the Bamboo Ceiling: Career Strategies for Asians) and Larissa Lam (singer, songwriter, TV host), Ella DeCastro Baron (author of Itchy Brown Girl Seeks Employment), to name a few.
- Vivian Mabuni – Pacific Southwest EPIC Director for CRU (formerly Campus Crusade), cancer survivor, author of Warrior in Pink: A Story of Cancer, Community, and the God Who Comforts (April 2014); website + blog at vivianmabuni.com
- [added 12/9/13, ht: Rachel Held Evans' list - 101 Christian Women Speakers] * Robyn Afrik – Founder and President of Afrik Advantage LLC, Consultant on issues surrounding reconciliation/diversity, international adoption, multi-culturalism * Gail Song Bantum – Pastor at Quest Church, Seattle WA; leads identity formation retreats and music/arts team workshops
This is an incomplete list, for starters — please add a comment with other women leaders who should be listed. While typing out the title for this blog post, I fumbled around with the word order, i.e. “women Asian American church leaders,” “Christian Asian American women leaders,” “Asian American women ministry leaders,” or “Asian American women church leaders” … I wanted to name this grouping of women leaders who were involved in vocational Christian ministry related to an Asian American context.
How can we better address the current situation of the American church leadership tier being disproportionately represented by one demographic, when the actual demographic make-up of church attendance (or locality) is far more diverse — ethnically, gender, socio-economic, etc ? How much of the Lausanne Global Conversation will percolate and change the American church?
Yes, it’s all quite complicated, with dynamics involving organizational viability, market forces & economics, regional and local distinctives, racialized history, philosophy of ministry, church growth theories, theological convictions, denominational heritage. To sweep it under the rug of the spiritual being transcendent and the inequalities of our social reality being insignificant seems quite a gnostic notion.
To remain silent about this in the public arena of the blogosphere doesn’t seem to help anything. This may well be one of those things where annual reports of measurable results may be a bit short-sighted for much-needed longer-term endeavors. The issue is not going away. When will the church engage?