|ABBEY OF IONA|
This little iPhone has now become my constant companion, my significant other. It is with me when I sleep and when I rise. It goes with me when I fly 36,000 feet on the plane; it is with me when I go to the deepest part of the earth, like Death Valley, California; it is with me when I fly to the uttermost part of the sea, which is Sabah, Malaysia.
Registration Opens at 9:30 A.M.
St. James Episcopal Church
Elmhurst, New York 11373
Registration begins at 9:30am or you can register online to reserve your ticket at https://summitonhumantrafficking.eventbrite.com.
Jointly organized by Asiamerica Ministries of the Episcopal Church (TEC) and the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON) and open to the public, this Summit will bring together members of the religious and civic communities to gain awareness, strategize and get involved in the fight against human trafficking.
A part of the conference will highlight the case of the Philippines, being one of the top countries of human trafficking and a speaker from Gabriela Women's Partylist in the Philippines --- who works directly with families and also legislation on anti-trafficking—has been invited.
Remarks from the Episcopal Church Executive Council – Ms. Lelanda Lee
Remarks from the Diocese of Long Island –Rev. Charles Mc Carron
Remarks from the UN Commission on the Status of Women –Lynnaia Main
Remarks from the Philippine Ambassador to the UN – Hon. Lebron Cabactulan
Remarks from New York State Senator Jose Peralta and other Officials
1:30-1:45 P.M. – WORKSHOP ORIENTATION – Zarah Vinola
Ms. Cris Hilo, Assistant Coordinator
Members: Lynnaia Main, Candice Sering, Zarah Vinola, Rev. Noel Bordador, Cristina Hing, Tetchie Mercado, Bob Wong, Elizabeth Mui, Charles Martellaro
TEC Office of Government Relations
TEC Office of Global Relations
Episcopal Migrations Ministry (EMM)
NATIONAL ALLIANCE FOR FILIPINO CONCERNS (NAFCON)
STJAMES EPISCOPAL CHURCH, Elmhurst, New York
Episcopal Asian Commission of Diocese of Long Island
Episcopal Asiamerica Commission of the Diocese of New York
St. Francis of Assisi Migrant (Catholic) Center, New York
GIILEAD SCIENCES, INC.
Elmhurst Neighborhood Block Association (ELMNBA)
Anakbayan, New York
Anakbayan New Jersey
New York Asian WomenCenter
Elmhurst Korean Methodist Church
The following are the opening comments from the Rev. Winfred Vergara, the Episcopal Church’s missioner for Asiamerica Ministries, at the Asia-America Theological Exchange Forum held Feb. 3-6 in the Philippines.
In the 1960s and 1970s, there was a flurry of theological activities in Asia centered on the contextualization of theology. As many Asian countries struggled for nationalism, selfhood and decolonization from Anglo-European influence, Asian theologians were also struggling to deconstruct theology. They reckoned that theology “was made in Germany, corrected in England, corrupted in America” and exported to Asia. Asian theologians struggled to liberate Christian theology from its Teutonic captivity. Sri Lankan theologian, D.T. Niles wrote:
The gospel is like a seed that must be sown. But our temptation is to bring along not only the gospel seed but our own plant of Christianity, flower pot included. The need now is to break this flower pot and let the seed grow as it should be in its own soil.
What D. T. Niles was referring to was that both catholic and reformed theologies that developed in Asia were largely products of Western and European theological thinking that have their own times and their own frameworks. Asia (and for that matter Africa and Latin America) were arenas of Western (Europe, England, the United States) colonialism and missionary expansionism. Many countries in Asia learned about Christ through the Cross and the Sword, reminiscent of the Constantine era when the Holy Roman Empire was at its triumphal stage. When German and English Reformation competed with Roman Catholicism in the 16th century, Asia became also a target for missionary enterprise and a theater for Roman Catholic and Protestant theological debacles. In the competitive atmosphere of colonial and imperialistic church planting, Asians themselves have lost sight that the Christian religion had already reached Asia even before this faith had been embraced in Europe and the Americas. (Read “The Lost History of Christianity”)
Literally tens of thousands of Western missionaries have lived and died in Asia and millions of American dollars were spent for Christian evangelism in Asia but they have not dug and cultivated the soil of early Christianity such as the Nestorian Christians who reached China in the 7th century) or followed the trails of the apostle Thomas who reached India in 33 A.D. and was martyred in Madras. Instead, Christian theology that came to Asia was garbed in the medieval Europe, the English Enlightenment or American evangelicalism. As a result, many Asians rejected the claims of Christ and looked at Christianity as a foreign religion and its missionaries as “foreign devils.” While it is true that catholic Christianity has made headway in the Philippines and East Timor and reformed Christianity in South Korea and Singapore, the vast Asian continent remains largely un-catholicized and un-evangelized. It is a demographic fact that Christianity is still a minority religion in Asia.
The crucial challenge to theology in Asia is to incarnate the full gospel and imprint the marks of Christ in the life and culture of Asia and how theology can become a tool for explicating and sharing the love of God in Christ Jesus.
Broadly defined, “contextualization” simply means to being able to respond meaningfully to the Holy Scriptures within the framework of one’s total context. Theology cannot exist in a vacuum. It comes out from the theologian’s particular historical, cultural, social and religious situation. The late Japanese American theologian, Kosuke Koyama, referred to a theologian’s “particular orbit theology.” The task of Asian Christian theologians is how to present the Gospel in context, taking into account the Asian indigenous culture, art forms and values and press beyond indigenization to include the struggle for total human liberation and development.
I was a graduating seminarian at St. Andrew’s Theological Seminary in the Philippines when the resource called What Asian Christians Are Thinking was first published in 1978. It became my second bible when I was taking my graduate studies at the Southeast Asia Graduate School of Theology at Trinity Theological College, Singapore in the 1980s. Edited by one of our SATS professors, Dr. Douglas J. Elwood, “WACAT” (as we called it,) is an anthology of various and diverse articles written by Asian theologians made possible by the Fund for Theological Education of the World Council of Churches. It seems to me that the late 1970s and the early ‘80s (with such theological greats as M.M. Thomas from India, D. T. Niles from Sri Lanka, Shoki Coe from Taiwan, Kosuke Koyama from Japan, Won Sol Lee from Korea and Emerito Nacpil from the Philippines) were the “golden era” of Asian contextualization. I hope that it will be repeated in our own time.
One of the major contributions of that “golden era” was the description of what is Asia from the perspective of Asians. Won Sol Lee, noted the various “definitions” of Asia, thus:
Asia means different things to different people. For geographers, it is a term delineating the vast land mass stretching from the Middle East to Northeast Russia. For historians, it is the cradle of civilization. For economists, it is an area comprising of many underdeveloped countries. For political scientists, it consists of newly emergent nations struggling to modernize their societies. For most Westerners, Asia means a way of life antithetical to that of the West. (Lee, 1979,9)
The Association of Theological Education in South East Asia (ATESEA) and the South East Asia Graduate School of Theology (SEAGST) formulated in 1972 what they called the “Critical Asian Principle” as their framework in describing Asia. This principle consisted of seven features which were characteristics of Asia during that time. These features included:
- Plurality and diversity of races, people, cultures, social institutions, religions and ideologies are distinctively Asian.
- Most of the countries in Asia have a (Western) colonial experience.
- Most of the countries in Asia are now in the process of nation-building, development and modernization.
- The peoples of Asia want to achieve self-identity and cultural integrity in the context of the modern world.
- Asia is home to the world’s living and renascent religions which have shaped both the cultures and consciousness of the vast majority of Asians.
- Asian peoples are in search of forms of social order beyond the current alternatives.
- The Christian community is a minority in the vast Asian complex.
Doubtless these seven features of the critical Asian principle needs updating in light of the contemporary times when many Asian countries have successfully modernized and are competing with the European and Western world in the realm of global economy and geopolitics. In the theological arena, however, there remains the need for more serious theological reflections and continued wrestling for Asian theological direction. It is my hope that this Asia-America Theological Exchange Forum will help revive the interest for contextualization like its golden years in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, but would press on towards global context.
The global context that we are working on is the term “Asia-America.” We believe that significant theological discourses in the 21st century will happen more and more across the Pacific than across the Atlantic partly because of the significant population in Asia and partly because Asian peoples have been in diaspora all over the world. Asians comprise almost 2/3 of the world’s population and by immigration, overseas work and refugee movement, they have scattered across America, Europe and the Middle East. If we view Christianity in its global dimension and ensure the growth of the Church for the 21st century, we must include serious theological and missionary reflections in Asia-America context. Towards this end, the “Asia-America Theological Exchange Forum” was conceived.
The Rev. Dr. Winfred B. Vergara, Missioner
Asiamerica Ministries, The Episcopal Church
[Episcopal News Service] While imprisoned in four World War II internment camps in four years the Rev. Hiram Hisanori Kano led worship, ministered to and taught those around him, including his jailers, other internees, and German POWs.
The Nebraska priest’s life and ministry are the stuff of legend, so much so that the state legislature adopted a resolution recognizing his contributions and Gov. Dave Heineman has designated July 29 as “Father Hiram Hisanori Kano Day.”
Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori will officiate at a 4 p.m. festival Eucharist in Kano’s honor July 29 at the Church of Our Savior in North Platte, Nebraska.
“Fr. Kano’s life and ministry offer a remarkable witness to the transformative power of loving one’s enemy,” the presiding bishop said.
Recently, the 77th General Convention of the Episcopal Church in Indianapolis approved preliminary steps to include Kano in Holy Women, Holy Men, the church’s calendar of commemorations.
Cyrus Kano, 91, a retired mechanical engineer, said his father turned adversity into fertile mission territory.
“He said, well, God put me here, what does he want me to do?” Kano recalled during a recent telephone interview from his home in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. “He saw in one of the camps that his fellow prisoners were many of the leaders of the Japanese community — many professors, doctors, lawyers, dentists and other professional people — and he organized a camp college and he invited all the people in the camp, including the guards, to attend these classes as they saw fit,” Kano said.
“My father also did nature studies and took groups of people out into the swamp in Louisiana and explained about the leaves on the cypress trees and the animals — the water moccasins, the alligators,” he added.
Adeline Kano, 84, agreed, adding that although their father “was interned, he was still a very busy man, trying to continue to do his work as a priest, as a human being, trying to help other people.
“These were all men incarcerated and it was difficult, you know, for them to keep focused on staying calm and cool and positive. So some of the things my father did while he was in these camps was … to teach the prisoners about nature. It could help keep their minds off the fact that they were incarcerated and away from their families.”
Kano also conducted worship services while incarcerated. “Even the Air Force, the prisoners would talk to him. There were some German prisoners there. He always tried to give everybody hope because that’s what our belief is in.”
Kano emigrated to the United States after a youthful encounter with William Jennings Bryan in his native Japan stirred his sense of adventure, according to his daughter, Adeline Kano.
“My grandfather was the governor of the prefecture of Kagoshina,” explained Kano, 84, during a recent telephone interview from her Fort Collins, Colorado home.
“When Papa came to the United States in 1916 he went to Bryan’s home,” she said.
Initially, Kano earned a master’s degree in agricultural economics at the University of Nebraska, and just as quickly became an activist and leader among the Japanese “Issei” or the first-generation community, many of whom had come to farm or to work on the railroads.
The Rt. Rev. George Allen Beecher, then bishop of the missionary Diocese of Western Nebraska, heard about Kano’s activism in 1921, when state lawmakers were considering legislation that would preclude Japanese immigrants from owning or inheriting land, or even leasing it for more than two years. Nor would they be allowed to own shares of stock in companies they had formed.
Kano and Beecher met and traveled together to the state capitol to address lawmakers, who eventually passed a less restrictive measure, according to Kano’s memoir, “Nikkei Farmer on the Nebraska Plains.”
Beecher persuaded Kano several years later to become a missionary to the Japanese community, estimated at about 600. In 1925, Kano complied and the family moved to North Platte. He was ordained a deacon three years later and served two mission congregations, St. Mary’s Church in Mitchell and St. George’s Church in North Platte. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1936.
Rose Yamamoto, who translated Kano’s memoir from Japanese into English, said, “If Fr. Kano hadn’t been with us we wouldn’t be Episcopalians now. He led the Christian community in Mitchell and North Platte.”
Roy S. Yanagida was just a boy but he remembers Kano as “being very instrumental in providing leadership, especially education. He provided the leadership for my parents, along with a lot of others to receive citizenship to the United States.”
Like a lot of other immigrants, his father Toshiro Yanagida arrived in North Platte to work on the railroad, and later became a sharecropper. “North Platte was quite the city for Japanese immigrants,” he recalled.
The churches Kano pastored were “a gathering point for many of us,” Yanagida recalled. “We also had a Japanese school at the church where we studied the Japanese language.”
He also remembers the shock and sorrow that flooded the community after the Dec. 7 attack on Pearl Harbor. FBI agents arrested Fr. Kano later that day; he spent the next four years in various concentration camps.
“They took him immediately because he was the leader of the group,” Yanagida recalled. “The rest of us didn’t have to go to an interment camp because they told us we were inland enough — that if we had been on the west coast we would have had to go.”
Busy is the way Adeline Kano remembers her father. That he was always working, whether caring for others, or studying, or preparing sermons.
Even so, she didn’t realize the tremendous impact of his ministry upon the community, she said. “I just knew that he was busy, and that the went back and forth, wherever we lived, whether in the panhandle of Nebraska or in North Platte.”
Often, it was a team ministry, she added. “At that time we didn’t have babysitters,” she recalled. “We would all go to visit the families. We’d get in the car and go.”
A lot of it was accomplished with the support and assistance of her mother, Aiko Ivy Kano, she added.
She feels humbled about the upcoming celebration, which both she and her brother plan to attend.
“I knew he did a lot, but I just didn’t realize the magnitude of it,” she said. About the possibility of her father being added to the church calendar, she said: “It’s awesome. It is a humbling experience.”
The Rev. Winfred Vergara, Asiamerica missioner for the Episcopal Church, agreed. “Giving this honor would vindicate Fr. Kano and the thousands of Japanese Americans who were wrongfully herded and placed in the internment camps during World War II.
“Kano’s pastoral ministry among his fellow Japanese internees and pastoral care extended to Caucasian soldiers who were imprisoned for being AWOL and deserters, and earned him the sobriquet as ‘saint of Nebraska’ and a credible agent of the ministry of reconciliation,” said Vergara.
There will also be a celebration of the two mission congregations Kano led, St. Mary’s in Mitchell and St. George’s in North Platte. Eventually the two were folded into other congregations, like Church of Our Savior, said Steve Kay, a parishioner who organized the celebrations.
“He was an amazing man,” Kay said of Kano during a recent telephone interview.” He devoted his life to helping immigrants, he taught them. He was an agricultural advisor.
After he retired, Hiram and Aiko Kano moved to Fort Collins, Colorado, where Adeline Kano lives. He died in 1988, just shy of his 100th birthday; she passed away in 1997, two months before her 100th birthday.
— The Rev. Pat McCaughan is a correspondent for the Episcopal News Service.
Missioner for Asiamerica Ministries in the Episcopal Church based in New York City.
Married to former Angela Vinluan, former school teacher. Born in Philippines, served as priest in the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (1978-1980); as missionary in the Anglican Church of Singapore (1980-1986); as Canon Asian Missioner in the Episcopal Diocese of El Camino Real and founder of Holy Child Episcopal Church in San Jose, California (1988-2004). As church wide missioner of The Episcopal Church since 2004, I also served as Priest-in-Charge of St. Michael & All Angels in Seaford Long Island, NY (2009-2013) and currently at St. James's church in Elmhurst, Queens, NY.
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