A Moment for Mission
“Dear friends, let’s love each other, because love is from God, and everyone who loves is born from God and knows God.” — 1 John 4:7, CEB
I came to the United States at age 12—over 40 years ago. As I grew up in New York City in the 1970s, there was always a nagging question: “Where do I fit in as a Korean? Do I belong here?”
Fast-forward 20 years, I was ordained and appointed to serve a Caucasian congregation in rural New Jersey. As soon as I arrived at my new pastorate, a lifelong member of the congregation stopped coming to church. I reached out but received no response.
This is my story, but also a story of many Asian Americans living in the U.S. This question of belonging is not just for the first-generation immigrants but also for those whose roots in the U.S. go back generations.
In American Methodism, the presence and contribution of Asian Americans began as early as 1898. The first Methodist services began in the Philippines when it became an American colony after Spain ceded the Philippines to the United States by signing the Treaty of Paris on Dec. 10, 1898. In 1904, the first Korean Methodist church was established in Hawaii by Korean Methodists who were imported to work in the sugarcane plantations.
Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month affords an opportunity to recognize and celebrate the great contributions made by our Asian and Pacific American sisters and brothers. This is also an occasion for Asian and Pacific Americans to claim their heritage and stand tall, knowing that we belong here.
Loving God, you call us to love all of your children, not just the ones who look, act and talk like we do. Open our hearts, minds and doors to accept others. In your name, we pray. Amen.
From Discipleship Ministries: Fifth Sunday of Easter — God of the far-flung universe and God who is closer than our own heartbeat: we long to dwell in your closeness, abiding in you and you abiding in us. However, the call to abide in other places is strong: to abide in the world of popularity and acceptance or in the world of increasing wealth and power centered around our own wants and desires. As we offer our gifts and ourselves to you, help us turn away from other calls and abide in that place of heart’s deepest desire: in your Son, Jesus, and he in us. In Christ, we pray. Amen. (John 15:1-8)
Each year, United Methodists join others in celebrating Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.
In the United States, the month of May is designated as a special time to recognize and honor the contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the development and progress of the country. It was signed into law in 1992 after receiving unanimous support in Congress. Jeanie Jew, a fourth-generation Chinese American and a former Capitol Hill staffer, was the voice and effort behind making this historic occasion possible.
The month of May was selected to commemorate the arrival of the first-known Japanese immigrant to the U.S. on May 7, 1843, and to honor the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad on May 10, 1869—which as many as 20,000 Chinese workers helped build.
The Book of Discipline, Par. 162, states in part, “We rejoice in the gifts that particular ethnic histories and cultures bring to our total life.”
Adapted from “Celebrating Asian/Pacific American Heritage,” a commentary by the Rev. Grace S. Pak, May 26, 2020, UM News. Used by permission.