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The Strength of Asian North American Congregations

    The church in North America marches toward a new century.  One band of marchers is in the front ranks, with colorful banners unfurled and joyful music sounding forth.  Asian North American congregations proclaim a vital gospel and a growing mission and outreach.  While many churches struggle with decreases in attendance, participation, mission, and giving, Asian North American churches fact the challenges of the need for more space, leadership development, expanded programming, and the desire for new expressions of faith and community.
 
    You can observe spiritual fervor and enthusiasm in many of the newer churches serving immigrant and second-generation Asian North Americans.  Christians from Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Southeast Asia--many of them very recent immigrants to Canada and the United States--manifests a "young faith" that is seen in how they pray, worship, and care for one another and heard in how they sing unto the Lord.  Christians of Japanese and Chinese background--some of them into the fourth and fifth generations in North America--manifest a faith informed by recovery of ethnic and cultural identity, heritage, and values.  They find treasures in their native Asian stories, festivals, family relationships, and world outlooks.  These values enrich their understanding of the Christian faith and bring new life to congregational worship and programs.

    Visit a new Korean or Taiwanese North American congregation.  You will encounter members who take faith seriously and happily at the same time.  Corporate worship is lively with attention paid to the Word read and preached.  Enthusiasm pours out in music and singing.  Sincere, serious prayer is offered expectantly (and at times almost unceasingly!).  Church officers consider their election a calling to high responsibility.  Youth workers understand themselves to be pastors to their young flocks.  Women find various avenues of service in the church (while poised to assume roles of leadership and decision making as opportunities for change arise or are created).  Pastors work overtime; they preach, teach, call on homes, minister i the community, and join in early morning pray meetings.

    Observe any Asian North American congregation and you will sense that being Christian oftentimes changes family relationships.  Old hierarchies and traditional expectations for how children and parents relate to each other are illumined by the example of Christ's self-giving love.  The reasons for and rewards of work in everyday life are transformed and workers find God's presence in the sewing factory, the social service agency, the grocery store, the computer laboratory, and the classroom.  Churches and church members feel called to reach out to those of similar national, ethnic, cultural, and linguistic backgrounds.  The call to mission is responded to through social services, tutoring, and personal support, and outreach; non-Christians see the Christian church as a place of social support and even of advocacy regarding economic, education, political, and health issues.