women Asian American Christian ministry leaders
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 – was regional director of multi-ethnic ministries for InterVarsity; 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 – [was] 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?
Debbie Law Schwartz — Co-director of Asian American Ministries; Co-Vice President of the U.S. Navigators; co-leads ethnic ministry division called Spectrum
I would like to add Robyn Afrik Youth/AmeriCorps Program Director @ Good Samaritan Ministries, who will be a speaker @ the multiethnic church conference in San Diego with you, DJ, as well as En Young Kim, the coordinator for Pacific and Asian American Ministries for the Reformed Church in America.
There are many female Asian United Methodist church pastors who would also speak if asked. June Kim also is a General Secretary of UMCOR which is our global mission arm.
Sacramento Japanese United Methodist Church
Very large church with 600 plus members in the south part of California’s capital city.
Is she one of the first Asian American women to lead an Asian American Church?
@Tom, @Drew, @Sung, @dragon: thanks for adding to the list!
DJ – Thanks for highlighting this great group of leaders! I haven’t heard her speak, but I hear good things about Dr. Josephine Kim (http://www.gse.harvard.edu/faculty_research/profiles/profile.shtml?vperson_id=74415 and http://www.msgeneration.com/staff.html).
Thanks for this important post! I look forward to learning more about these significant voices.
Three additional names come to mind. Rev. Carolyn Shimabukuro, head of JEMS Pacific Northwest ministries and veteran staffer of Asian American Christian Fellowship. Junko Cheng, whose ministry of music has reached across all ages, and has also quietly served the Japanese speaking Christian community. Last but not least, Eleanor Huang, one of the founding members and the first Board Chair of the Asian American Christian Counseling Service, a ministry about to celebrate 25 years of service to Southern California and beyond.
Thanks for your list, DJ, as well as those names added by others! I’m thinking about doing a spotlight entry on a different Asian American woman in ministry leadership (perhaps once a month?) on our AAWOL blog, just to make these women more accessible to other Asian American women looking for role models. I can’t tell you how moved and encouraged I am when our fellow brothers in Christ show support for us — thank you from the bottom of my heart! -Joy
Hello Joy, great to hear of the AAWOLsisters.com blog and the new book launch! What a great effort and contribution to the Kingdom – thanks for speaking up and putting it in print!