Category Archives: news

ISAAC’s 5th Symposium


ISAAC’s 5th Symposium revisits the theme of “Healing of Memories.” In addition to psychological wounds, we also address an unspoken voice of the church and seminaries – finances. When we discuss money, heated emotions erupt from wounded memories that block us psychologically and financially. By unmasking them, we can find inner healing by reframing them in the light of God’s abundant love and become better stewards of our body, mind, and finances.

FORMAT: Panel discussions and workshops exploring: 1. The healing of memories and relationships 2. The healing of memories and finances. In addition, we will attend to the creative movement of our bodies, acknowledging the body as a storyteller for unspoken voices.

LEGACY LUNCHEON: We will honor the pioneer Japanese American pastoral theologian, Bishop Roy I. Sano. Bishop Sano has been a bridge between church and academy. His legacy has reached countless Asian American spiritual leaders.

Early Bird Registration is now available. $50 for general admission. $30 for students.


Report on SBL Meeting, 11/21/10, Atlanta, GA

The Society of Biblical Literature holds an annual convention for professors of Bible and graduate students in Scripture.  At the recent meeting in Atlanta, GA (November 20-23) ISAAC scheduled an Additional Meeting to preview SANACS Journal issue #3 and to introduce some of our other publications.  ISAAC was represented by Dr. Andrew Lee, East Region Director, and by Dr. Russell Moy, Board chair.

An abstract from Dr. Uriah Kim’s essay, “Reading David from Asian American Context,” was shared as Dr. Kim was unable to attend SBL this year.  His thesis is that David was able to cross boundaries and forge alliances in part due to his own biracial background.  Kim then offers insights into boundaries and the possibilities of Asian American hybridity.

Dr. Bo Lim, who teaches Old Testament at Seattle Pacific University, introduced his essay on “In Search of a Narrative: The (Post-)Exile for Asian American Biblical Interpretation and Theology.”  He proposed the themes of exile and diaspora to organize an Asian American narrative.  Using an expanded concept of exile, Lim analyzed passages from Isaiah and Ezra-Nehemiah and applied them to the experience of the Korean American church.

Dr. Chloe Sun (Logos Evangelical Seminary) briefly introduced Mirrored Reflections: Reframing Biblical Characters, which she co-edited with Dr. Young Lee Hertig, director of ISAAC Southern CA.  The stories of women in the Bible are intertwined with personal anecdotes from the lives of the Asian American women writers.  Chloe had the opportunity to sign the books that were purchased by the attendees.

New friendships were made through the meeting with guests coming from as far away as Hawaii and as close as Atlanta.  For at least one person, it was his first encounter with Asian American issues in an academic setting and he quickly procured all the items on the book table so that he could continue reading in this field.

– Andrew Lee, reporting

SANACS 2010.1 Journal now available!

SANACS Journal 2010

The Society of Asian North American Christian Studies Journal #2 (a jury reviewed academic journal). This issue contains papers presented at the ISAAC Southern California “Asian American Equipping Symposium” held at Fuller Theological Seminary (Pasadena, CA) Nov. 2-3, 2009.

Non-members may order a hard copy or digital download of the latest SANACS Journal at the ISAAC website Publications link.

Print: $15.00
Download: $10.00

Asian American Sessions at the Society of Christian Ethics Meeting (Jan. 7-10, 2010) from Dr. Grace Kao

Asian American sessions to be held at the Society of Christian Ethics Annual Meeting (Jan. 7-10, 2010) in San Jose, California. Read message from Dr. Grace Kao of Claremont School of Theology.

See entire post at the ISAAC Blog:

Asian American Christianity Reader – now available!!

The Asian American Christianity Reader is now available – follow these links for more information and to purchase on-line:

Reader website:


Opportunity to Support Research at University of Texas, Austin

Dr. Eun-Ok Im is conducting an Internet survey study on the physical activity attitudes among diverse ethnic groups of American middle-aged women (40-60 Y/O).

We are inviting you to help us announce this study.  This is simple, please post the following link ( on your website, announce the study through your newsletter, or forward it to your members. We strongly believe that women in your organization will benefit from participation in our study.  With more participation, we can make our data more complete.  Besides, women’s opinions and experiences are very imperative and cannot be neglected.

Each participant will be rewarded with a $10 gift card for the Internet survey and a $50 gift card for the online forum discussion (6 months).

The survey will begin by asking you a series of eligibility questions. If the study has filled our sampling quota for an individual with your characteristics you will receive a kind message that states so.  Upon completion of the survey, you will be invited to join the optional online forum discussion.  Sorry, but we are unable to translate the survey into any other language except English, hopefully this does not discourage anyone.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about our study. Thank you so much for considering this study. Have a great day!

Cindy Tsai
Research Assistant
School of Nursing
University of Texas at Austin
1700 Red River
Austin, TX 78701
E-mail Cindy Tsai

Religion and Theology in Asian America: An ISAAC Lecture Series

ISAAC is delighted to announce the inauguration of “Religion and Theology in Asian America” (RTAA) lectureship in 2009. ISAAC, in partnership with colleges, universities and seminaries across North America, will sponsor talks by scholars and practitioners who specialize in Asian American Religion and Theology (with special attention to Christianity). We are in conversation with U.C. Berkeley, University of San Francisco, and Fuller Theological Seminary about hosting at least three lectures in 2009.

The Society of Asian North American Christian Studies (SANACS) steering committee oversees and recruits speakers for the RTAA lectures. The members of the steering committee are:

Dr. Russell Jeung
Associate Professor of Asian American Studies
College of Ethnic Studies
San Francisco State University
San Francisco, California

Dr. Rebecca Y. Kim
Assistant Professor of Sociology
Pepperdine University
Malibu, California

Dr. Jonathan Tan
Assistant Professor of Minorities’ Studies and World Religions
Xavier University
Cincinnati, Ohio

Dr. Timothy Tseng
Executive Director
Institute for the Study of Asian American Christianity
Castro Valley, California

Dr. Russell Yee
Managing Editor
SANACS Journal
Oakland, California

For our “speakers pool,” we are interested in identifying scholars or practitioners who can address a wide range of issues that intersect with the experiences of Asian Christians in North America (e.g, the civic engagement practices of Asian American Catholics, Protestants, and evangelicals; trans-national and diasporic aspects of religion and theology in Asia America; the impact of the North American context on ethnic Asian spirituality and religious practices; reflections on the intersections or disconnections between the study of race, gender, politics, and religion in Asian American studies; etc.).

ISAAC also seeks donors who would like to make these lectures more widely available. We estimate a budget of $5,000 for each lecture. You may direct your gifts to this lecture – go to for more information or to make an on-line gift.

If you represent an educational institution that is interested in hosting a lecture, if you are interested in becoming a member of the “speakers pool,” or if you are interested in contributing to the lectures, please email Tim Tseng for details.

New Report on Religion in America

Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life has just published an important report of their U.S. Religious Landscape Survey. Its findings reveal tremendous religious restlessness among Americans who change religious affiliation frequently. It also demonstrated the growth of an unaffiliated population (atheist, agnostic, secular unaffiliated, and religious unaffiliated), particularly among people under 40 years of age. It also reveals that Protestantism has diminished to 51% of the population share (though evangelicals continue to gain an increasing share of the Protestant population). Catholicism also has not grown, due to the decline of its white population. However, immigration from Mexico, South America, and Asia have drastically reshaped its ethnic composition. Immigration has also impacted evangelicals more than mainline Protestant churches.

What about Asian Americans? The survey confirmed the anecdotal evidence that Asian Americans have a higher affiliation with Christianity than other religions. 45% of the Asians surveyed identified themselves as Christians (17% evangelicals, 17% Catholics, and 9% mainline Protestant). 14% identify as Hindu, 9% Buddhists, 4% Muslim, 3% other world religions or faiths. Among Buddhists, whites out number Asians 53% to 32%. 23% of the Asians surveyed were unaffiliated, the highest percentage of all racial groups.

Among East Asian immigrants, 57% are Christians (27% Catholic, 18% evangelical, 11% mainline Protestant), 14% Buddhist, and 27% unaffiliated. 55% of immigrants from South-Central Asia are Hindu, 16% Christian (9% evangelical, 3% Catholic, 2% mainline Protestant), 12% Muslim, and 11% unaffiliated.

The implications of the survey findings about Asian American religions are clear. Research about Asian American Hindus and Muslims is needed; but so is research in Asian American Christianity.  Tim Tseng

Links to:

“Asian-American History in Trans-national Perspective” special issue of Pacific Historical Review, Vol 76: 4

There is a special issue of the journal Pacific Historical Review called “Asian American History in Transnational Perspective” (Vol 76, Iss 4) that has just been published by University of California Press.

Pacific Historical Review:  Special Issue on Asian American History in Transnational Perspective, Volume 76, Number 4

The award-winning Pacific Historical Review, edited at Portland State University, announces the publication of “Asian American History in Transnational Perspective.”  Transcending national boundaries but noting the importance of the nation state, a variety of voices informs this insightful volume, thoroughly and thoughtfully infusing life into the study of world-wide movements of Asian people.

Eight thought-provoking essays adopt a transnational perspective in exploring issues of race, nationality, gender, and class inherent in the Asian American migrant and immigrant experience, frequently shifting the primary focus from land to water, from “the West” as defined by movement from the east to a region defined by its links across the Pacific.

Mae Ngai introduces the four main articles on the Asian American experience in transnational perspective

Erika Lee discusses the movement and settlement of Chinese, Japanese, and South Asian immigrants throughout the Western Hemisphere and exclusionist movements that evolved in response.

Dorothy Fujita-Rony considers the Pacific Ocean as significant historical space in Asian American communities.

Judy Tzu-Chun Wu examines the “Radical Orientalism” that developed through transnational ties between American and Asian activists during the Vietnam War.

Paul Spickard questions how what we think we know about Asian America would change if we widened the lens on how we define the Asian American coalition.

Thomas Bender and David Igler offer commentary on the four essays and consider new directions in this exciting and rapidly developing field.

Krystyn Moon examines the careers of three Asian American performers in her review essay on new trends in Asian American biography.

Published by the University of California Press, this special issue follows in Pacific Historical Review’s over 75-year tradition of analyzing historical events with a uniquely “Pacific” perspective. Full of rich, useful information, this issue of the PHR will be of great value to teachers and scholars of Asian America, immigration history, American, Western, and Pacific Rim history, and ethnicity, nationality, and civil rights in a global context.

For further information link to the URL:

Nick Lindsay
University of California Press

SF Chronicle: Evangelicals Build Flock on UC Berkeley Campus

Monday, May 21, 2007

This article appeared on page B – 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle

Evangelicals build flock on campus
At Cal, Christian groups find eager adherents among Asian American students
Vanessa Hua, Chronicle Staff Writer

The end-of-the-year mood in a classroom at UC Berkeley’s Warren Hall was giddy as a crowd of mostly Asian American students watched a slide show of good times and candid shots and shared stories of intense pressure from their parents.

They weren’t celebrating their culture, though. They were celebrating Christ.

“So here I am, all of me,” the students sang. “Finally, everything. Wholly, wholly, wholly, I am wholly, wholly, wholly yours.”

For three hours, they shared impassioned testimonies of faith and prayed for one another, laying hands in turn on each person receiving support. The graduating seniors passed down a 6-foot wooden cross for next year’s senior leaders to keep in their apartment.

Asian Americans dominate evangelical Christian groups at UC Berkeley, far outstripping their share of enrollment, even as the number of Asian Americans on campus has grown markedly. The trend is visible to varying degrees at several of the nation’s elite universities.

With this shift has come the realization by college ministries that faith is not always colorblind — no matter the Christian ideal — and that they should tailor their outreach to different communities instead of a one-size-fits-all approach.

“Our mission is to reach the whole campus, but you can’t reach the whole campus in one particular way,” said Paul Tokunaga, the national Asian American ministries coordinator for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, which has been a leader in ethnic outreach. Founded in 1941, InterVarsity serves more than 35,000 students and faculty nationwide.

At Cal — which now has among the highest Asian American attendance in the nation at 43 percent of undergraduates — InterVarsity was predominantly white until the late 1980s. Within a couple of years, it became predominantly Asian American and now offers separate fellowships for Filipino, black and Latino members. The “multiethnic” fellowship is the largest, but its roughly 200 members are mostly East Asian, with a handful of white students and members of other races.

Many students attend Christians fellowships affiliated with their local churches instead of joining campus ministries, so it is hard to gauge the overall proportion of evangelical students attending UC Berkeley.

Attendance at weekly fellowships offered by InterVarsity and Campus Crusade for Christ — large group sessions with singing and speakers and small groups for intimate Bible discussions — isn’t meant to replace going to church. But it enables worship during the week and offers a social network, which is important at large schools, where students seek subgroups to avoid feeling lost.

One night this spring, roughly 20 students in InterVarsity’s new Ethnic Identity small group delved into Bible passages about Queen Esther, a Jew under Persian rule who must decide whether to speak for her people, who are facing genocide. One discussion led by senior Jon Akutagawa grew lively as the students started to relate to Esther’s experience.

“Esther never revealed her ethnic identity,” said Akutagawa, 21, a Japanese American with black-framed glasses and a modern take on Abe Lincoln’s beard.

“Is it OK not to be fully open to whom we are to get ahead? Look at politics or economic power,” he said. “Is it OK for us to choose to make more money?”

Joyce Lin, 21, said people sometimes tell her that she’s their only Asian friend. The daughter of immigrants, she grew up in San Bruno and attended a Chinese Christian church. Most of her friends are Asian American. This year, when she began working as a physical trainer with the football team, which is mainly African American and white, she began hearing “that I’m actually really cool.”

“I go out of my way to prove stereotypes are not how I act usually,” Lin said.

Hatty Lee, 20, had a different take.

“Why should I have to feel what I do represents my race?” asked Lee, who grew up in Los Angeles. “I am who God made me to be.

“I don’t represent Korean Americans, I represent God,” said the slender South Korea native, who plans to major in music and psychology.

The magazine Christianity Today dubbed the trend “the tiger in the academy,” saying “Asian students are more likely to show Christian commitment” than other ethnic groups, including white students.

It is hard to back up such a generalization because very small proportions of students on any given campus join student fellowships. But Collin Tomikawa, an InterVarsity official for the East Bay, said evangelical groups could attract many more Asian Americans.

“We’re only touching the tip of the Asians,” he said.

Tomikawa said the group has tried to diversify its staff, hoping to make prospective members from all ethnic backgrounds feel welcome. But as students recruit their friends to join, many evangelical groups have found they are continuing to attract a disproportionately Asian American membership, he and others said. And some members of other ethnicities and races have responded by seeking fellowship elsewhere.

But senior Heather Brent, one of a scattering of white students at the year-end celebration at Warren Hall this month, said she learned about herself by joining the multiethnic fellowship.

“It took a long time for me, learning what it means to be white and about white privilege. I grew up thinking you should be colorblind,” Brent said. “Now, I think, ‘Be educated on who you are.’ “

Evangelical groups have consistently appealed to Asian Americans because Asians often share common values, despite coming from different ethnicities, said Russell Jeung, an assistant professor of Asian American Studies at San Francisco State University.

“Because Asians have a hard work ethic, they need to work to experience grace,” he said. “They try to earn God’s favor, just like they earn a parent’s approval.”

Asian Americans may also be drawn to evangelical groups because they are more accustomed than other students to identifying with a group rather than seeing themselves foremost as individuals, said Tommy Dyo, former leader of the Asian American Christian Fellowship, a national evangelical organization. He now heads the Asian American ministry for Campus Crusade for Christ.

“A lot of what we are taught in general society is that it’s very individual, that it’s all you,” Dyo said. “But Asian Americans are attached to the greater whole.”

That collective sense often stems from Asian Americans’ relationship with their parents, leaders said. Christie Heller De Leon explained the pressure of parental expectations in a speech at InterVarsity’s most recent Asian American conference, held the same weekend as ethnic-specific get-togethers for black, Latino, multiracial and white students in Northern California.

“Our parents have been dreaming about us since we were in the womb,” said De Leon, a Filipina and a staff leader at UC Davis. “Dreams full of blessings and happiness. Yet sometimes the dream is so specific it feels like a script, handed down, ready for us, already written and ready for us to step into the role.”

God’s love is different, they say.

“You receive the blessing before you’ve done anything good,” De Leon said. “Despite anything bad that you have done.”

Through Cal’s InterVarsity, 20-year-old Jianni Xin said she has explored her ethnic identity as an Asian American Christian. Though many in the fellowship were raised in Christian families, Xin and others contend with parents who do not understand their faith.

Her mother, a Chinese immigrant, thinks Xin should seek blessings from her grandmother and believes Christianity is taking Xin from her family.

“She’s a really traditional woman. In China, she didn’t know of any Christians there. I guess she wants me to focus on my studies,” said Xin, 20, a sophomore from San Francisco. “She thinks I’m dating God.”

Reflecting on the year, InterVarsity leader Akutagawa said the ethnic identity group struggled with understanding what “gifts or heritage” that Asian Americans offer, compared with white and black churches.

“We tried to understand how we as Asian Americans contribute to the spiritual backdrop of America,” said Akutagawa, a bioengineering major who grew up in Southern California. “There’s still not a definite answer. We’re trying to figure out who we are in America, how we fit in, and what things we can bring to the culture here.”

Campus fellowships

It is difficult to compare the membership in evangelical Christian fellowships at different schools because they are not organized in the same manner. But InterVarsity fellowships at private elite schools and large state schools across the country began to experience “Asianization” in the early 1990s, said Collin Tomikawa, an InterVarsity area director for the East Bay.

By 2006, InterVarsity’s 205-member multiethnic fellowship at UC Berkeley was 80 percent Asian American (while the campus was 43 percent Asian American). And the Campus Crusade for Christ chapter’s 125-member multiethnic ministry was more than 60 percent Asian American, and its Korean ministry had 75 members.

At Stanford in 2006, Asian Americans accounted for roughly 40 percent of InterVarsity members but only 25 percent of undergrads. At UC Davis, Asian Americans are about 40 percent of the fellowship and of enrollment. At UC Santa Cruz, they account for one-third of InterVarsity and about 20 percent of students overall. MIT’s and Harvard’s InterVarsity fellowships each have significant Asian American memberships, too.

In contrast, at San Francisco State University, the 75-member InterVarsity chapter had nine Asian American members in 2006, even though Asian Americans account for one-third of the campus’s undergrads.

— Vanessa Hua

© 2007 Hearst Communications Inc