Asian Episcopalians plan forum on reconciliation
An Asia-America Theological Exchange Forum, the first in the history of the Episcopal Church, is set for October 23-25 at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific (CDSP) in Berkeley, California.
The theme of the forum asks the question “The Church as Agent of Reconciliation?”
The event is co-sponsored by Episcopal Asiamerica Ministries; the Anglican Global Relations’ Partnership in Asia; CDSP’s Center for Anglican Learning and Leadership (CALL); the China Friendship Committee of the Diocese of California; and Province VIII’s Asian Commission.
Among the Asian theologians who will make presentations are: the Rev. Deng FuCun and the Rev. Kan Bao-Ping from China; the Rev. Rhee Min-Soo, the Rev. Ajuko Ueda and the Rev. Shintaro Ichihara from Japan; the Rev. Dr. Guen Seok Yang, the Rev. Yong Sil Choi, the Rev. Dr. KiSeuk Kim from Korea; the Rev. Chun Wai Lam from Hong Kong; and the Rt. Rev. David Lai from Taiwan.
Various theologians from North America were invited to make responses.
The Rev. Dr. Winfred Vergara, missioner for Episcopal Asiamerica Ministry and director of ethnic congregational development of the Episcopal Church Center, said in a news release that the forum is the first part of the series of Asia-America theological exchanges designed to “know what Asian Christians (especially Anglicans and Episcopalians) are thinking and how these thoughts can contribute to the mosaic of our theological experience in North America and the world.”
Last year, a group of bishops and church leaders from the Episcopal Church visited China. This year, theologians from China, Japan and Korea as well as from theologians and ecclesiastical leaders from Hong Kong and Taiwan will come to share in the forum. Next year, theologians from Philippines, India and Southeast Asia will be invited. All theological works will be published in an “Episcopal Asiamerica Theological Journal,” the release said.
Vergara said in the release that despite the “salad bowl” American context, the Episcopal Church has not yet succeeded in “racial ethnic mainstreaming” so that in the current tension affecting the Anglican Communion concerning sexuality, what is perceived is a “conflict between the majority white liberal Episcopalians versus the few white conservative Episcopalians and the role of the African Anglicans, particularly the primate of the Anglican Church of Nigeria, in some form of reverse paternalism.”
“Asian, Hispanic and Native American Episcopalians seem to eavesdrop in the sidelines wondering which side to take, or retreating to some existential questions like ’would I still have a job?’ or ’how will my congregation survive?’ and the like,” Vergara said.
He cited as an example, the recent inclusion of more than six hundred Hmong in the Diocese of Minnesota and wondered what impact the conflict in the Communion and the actions taken by the House of Bishops bear upon them as well as to those immigrant Episcopalians who came as refugees from countries in the aftermath of tribal conflicts, national wars and religious divisions.
“So it would be interesting to know what Asian Christians are thinking about the word ’reconciliation,’ Vergara said. ”Chinese theologians will reflect on how the Church coexisted with a socialist China; Korean theologians on how Christianity thrives in the midst of a divided nation; Japanese theologians will share on how they do ministry in the context of an island-nation where Christians are a tiny minority -- and it would be interesting how we can identify and adapt some principles of reconciliation in our own situation"
The forum will also hold a “Scholars’ Banquet” on the evening of October 24 at Peony Restaurant in Oakland, California. For more information about the event, call Heather Payton at 510-204-0704 or email email@example.com.
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