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KA:LL Community secures funding to feed souls, sense of belonging

Home Missioner Jonah Ballesteros, Rev. Maggie Proshek, Rev. Katie Newsome and Rev. Danielle Buwon Kim will hold their first gathering 7 p.m. Feb. 1 at Union Coffee. Photo courtesy of the North Texas Annual Conference.
Home Missioner Jonah Ballesteros, Rev. Maggie Proshek, Rev. Katie Newsome and Rev. Danielle Buwon Kim will hold their first gathering 7 p.m. Feb. 1 at Union Coffee. Photo courtesy of the North Texas Annual Conference.

New space will allow Asian American/Pacific Islanders an opportunity to have church around the table, like their parents.

Who wouldn’t love having good Asian food and doing church over the table? As a child of an immigrant family, I grew up with a church that was centered around the table. It was a safe place for Korean immigrants to come together and be grounded in our identity. It was a sanctuary for Korean foreign exchange students to nurse their homesickness. It was a space for immigrants to gain new strength to weather the harsh challenges of language barriers and long working hours. I grew up seeing my elders laughing and crying around this table, and they have raised us with such pride and resilience through this table.

However, as a “1.5 generation” immigrant Korean American – someone who arrived in the United States as a child or adolescent – I find that my immigrant experiences are quite different from my parents’. With my Korean heritage and American identity, I live in an interesting world of both and neither. I speak both languages fairly fluently, but it seems I know neither of them perfectly. I do grasp both spaces, yet many times I feel as if I am an outsider to both. My parents and I experience racism and microaggressions, but in different ways because we relate to American culture differently.

Indeed, many immigrant families are dealing with the intergenerational trauma of immigration, while their children struggle to adjust to different cultural values and norms of the societies where they find themselves. The constant pressure of code-switching is real and heavy. Many of my fellow Asian American/Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) who were either born in this country or were adopted are facing the challenge of being seen as “perpetual foreigners,” where their American identity is denied and their heritage is unseen.

AAPI invisibility is a painful reality that many of us face day-to-day. Our history and contributions to this country are rarely celebrated. We are alarmingly underrepresented in politics, in sports and media, in management roles for business and education, and in the church expressions. With these unique challenges, our AAPI siblings are in desperate need of a faith space where their lived experiences can be affirmed and validated in their discipleship journeys.

This is why Rev. Maggie Proshek, Jonah Ballesteros – consecrated Home Missioner – and I, along with allies like Rev. Katie Newsome, started to brainstorm  a faith space where we once again can gather around the table. We envision this table to be offered to our fellow AAPIs and friends in solidarity to enjoy Asian food together, expose and heal AAPI invisibility created by the model minority myth and reclaim our Christian faith to liberate and re-create a world that looks more like the kin-dom of God.

The ministry is called “KA:LL Community” (pronounced “call”), drawing from the Filipino heritage of “ka.” Ballesteros, who is a Filipino American, shared that the concept of “ka” comes from the Talgalog word “kapwa,” meaning “to share space in union with all.”

At Clergy Retreat 2022, we received $5,000 of seed money through the NTC Center for Church Development's Spark Tank program. Spark Tank not only provides financial support as we make this space available for AAPIs in the community, but also started supportive relationships with the “sharks” that we look forward to continuing. The financial resources we received will go towards making this space known among the AAPI communities in the DFW area and nurturing relationships with them by defraying some of the costs of hosting the meals.

We boldly trust in Christ’s presence around this table, to be nurtured into a courageous community for revolutionary restoration in the DFW area. Just as our parents’ generation did, we will uphold this table of Christ that will heal us and strengthen us to be part of God’s grace that liberates and re-creates this world! 

Are you an AAPI or a friend in solidarity? Our soft launch will celebrate the Lunar New Year on Feb. 1 at 7 p.m. at Union Coffee. Please don’t hesitate to contact us at [email protected] for more information. We look forward to seeing you at the Table!

Editor’s Note: In addition to $5,000 of Spark Tank funding, the General Commission on Religion and Race announced on Jan. 4, 2023, that it is awarding KA:LL Community a $10,000 Action Fund grant.

The Rev. Danielle Buwon Kim is an associate pastor at Custer Road UMC. Originally published by the North Texas Annual Conference January 9, 2023. Republished with permission by ResourceUMC January 13, 2023.