Cast: A Vision For Episcopal Asiamerica Ministries
By the Rev. Canon Dr. Winfred Vergara
Missioner for Asiamerica Ministries, The Episcopal Church
Before I share my Vision for EAM, I would like to enumerate the seven Critical Asiamerica Ministry Principles that have informed and guided me these almost 17 years as Missioner:
- The Seven Critical Asiamerica Ministry Principles
- Asians compose 2/3rd of the world’s 7.5 billion people. China and India combined already have over 3 billion.
- Asia is characterized by plurality and diversity of races, cultures, languages, ethnic, religious and ideological backgrounds.
- Many countries in Asia were colonized or influenced by Western civilization for better or for worse, for richer or poorer.
- In the United States, there are approximately 18 million Asian Americans or 6% of the U.S. population and are growing fast.
- Asian Americans are still largely treated as either Model Minorities or Forever Foreigners by the American mainstream,
- Episcopal Asiamerican churches have developed as an umbrella of 9 Ethnic Convocations: Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Filipino, South Asian, Southeast Asian, Pacific Islanders and Arab/Middle East— and the Asian American Youth and Young Adults.
- Episcopal Asiamerica Ministries are Pentecost ministry in the Episcopal Church serving Asian immigrants, Asian Americans and as a “bridge building agent” relating with churches and communities across the Asia-Pacific and Asian churches in diaspora.
- CAST: My Vision for Episcopal Asiamerica Ministries
My vision therefore is cast against the background of these seven principles and so I summarize it in the acronym- CAST.
C= is for CONGREGATIONS: We shall plant and grow more congregations. We have around 120 congregations and lately we received 30 Karen congregations. Formerly refugee communities Asia are now coming to the Episcopal Church. The best way to grow is to plant more churches reflecting our cultures and evangelistic styles. On May 13-15, we will have a conference called “Church Planting in Asian Diaspora.” Please put this in your calendar. I dream of 1,000 congregations by 2030
A=is for ADVOCACY: We are the most diverse community and among the fastest-growing population. Globally, Asians compose 2/3rd of the world’s 7.5 billion people. We are on the move socially and economically. And to some people in the U.S. are threatened. We need to be courageous and loving advocates in the ministry of reconciliation. Some diocesan EAMs have become good advocates, e.g. “The Gathering,” “EAST”, EAM LI, EAMCA, etc.
S= is for SERVICES: We have many gifts and they need to be harnessed for all kinds of human and spiritual services. We need Asian entrepreneurs in all kinds of Christian services.
T= is for TRAINING: We have initiated a mentoring program called ANDREWS. This includes: teaching, training, and pilgrimage to Holy Land. In our initial training last 2019, we trained 35 lay leaders and 37 clergy on how to become mentors to others. 89 pilgrims joined us in Holy Land. Some of those trained moved on to develop ministries. Currently, we are training 20 Karen lay leaders to become catechists and deacons to supply leadership to our emerging Karen congregations.
D.Conclusion: My missionary motto in all my life is this: “Where God guides, God provides.” I believe God is guiding us to fulfill this vision.