December 19, 2013
Church leaders often ask me about Asian American Christian history resources. There is a growing recognition that a multi-ethnic future in North America and the North American Church cannot be shaped by our contemporary experience of race and ethnicity alone. Indeed, if Asian American Christians are to contribute substantially to Church and society, historical reference points and narratives are needed. Unfortunately, historical resources are difficult to find and narratives have yet to be developed more fully by historians of Christianity. Hopefully the day will come when professional historians can be employed to develop this work. In the meantime, I’ll keep on trying to make resources available and create forums for discussion Asian American Christian narratives.
One helpful resource is a collection of essays about Asian Americans in the United Methodist Church. Churches Aflame, published in 1991, is now out of print. The essays offer insight into the efforts of Asian American United Methodists to gain greater visibility within the denomination. Like most Protestant denominations, the United Methodists were ill-equipped to adjust to the large influx of Asian immigrants since the late 1960s, despite their prophetic voices for civil rights and the elimination of anti-Asian immigration laws. Many of the immigrants were also unprepared to face the institutional inertia when their cries for representation and culturally relevant resources went unheard. The stories of how Asian American United Methodists attempted to bridge generational, cultural, racial, and gender divides offer good lessons for the next generation of Asian American Christians. I’ve posted the official book description and table of contents below.
BACK COVER DESCRIPTION
This detailed volume of Asian American history is a colorful testimony from each writer who writes from the vantage point as an active participant in the life of the church, an observer-eyewitness, or investigative journalist. The authors depict the rise of the Asian churches and their struggles against all odds to forge a new church in the new world. This struggle often took place in a hostile environment within the United States. It was not so much a struggle against physical forces that could be vanquished, but against the subtle and malignant forces of racism, discrimination, and bigotry.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Preface, page 7 (Roy I. Sano)
Acknowledgement, page 9 (Charles Yrignoyen, Jr.)
Overview, page 11 (Artermio R. Guillermo)
Contributors, page 15
1. Sojourners in the Land of the Free: History of Southern Asian United Methodist Churches, page 19 (Man Singh Das)
2. Birthing of a Church: History of Formosan United Methodist Churches, page 35 (Helen Kuang Chang)
3. Trials and Triumphs: History of Korean United Methodist Churches, page 46 (Key Ray Chong and Myoung Gul Son)
4. Strangers Called to Mission: History of Chinese American United Methodist Churches, page 68 (Wilbur W.Y. Choy)
5. Gathering of the Scattered: History of Filipino American United Methodist Churches, page 91 (Artermio R. Guillermo)
6. Persecution, Alienation, and Resurrection: History of Japanese Methodist Churches, page 113 (Lester E. Suzuki)
7. Movement of Self-Empowerment: History of the National Federation of Asian American United Methodists, page 135 (Jonah Chang)
Artemio R. Guillermo, General Editor. Churches Aflame: Asian Americans and United Methodism. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1991. ISBN 0-687-08383-4