ST. LOUIS (BP) — Representatives from eight Asian nationalities have formed a national fellowship to expand their involvement in the Southern Baptist Convention.
The fellowship — to be known as A2CP2 for Asian-American Church Planting/Cooperative Program — met June 12 meeting in conjunction with the SBC’s annual meeting in St. Louis.
Leaders from Korean, Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Laotian, Cambodian, Vietnamese and Hmong churches formed the fellowship to draw on and reinforce each other’s strengths, Paul Kim, the organization’s founder, said.
Kim, Asian-American relations consultant with the SBC Executive Committee, was part of an Asian-American advisory group that met for three years to formulate ideas to better address the needs and concerns of Asian-Americans. As the task force completed its work, a permanent Asian-American Advisory Council was formed, Kim said.
“I think all the Asian-Americans are getting together for the next generation,” Kim told the 40 or more in attendance at the meeting, which was preceded by a dinner hosted by LifeWay Global, a division of LifeWay Christian Resources.
“This fellowship will help communicate the mission of the Cooperative Program and church planting,” Kim said, so that Asian-Americans can better understand who Southern Baptists are toward becoming more involved with God’s work through the SBC.
“We have 1,800 Asian churches in the Southern Baptist Convention,” Kim said. “They are proud to be Southern Baptist but they only know bits and pieces.”
To aid in understanding, the meeting included 15-minute presentations by Gihwang Shin with the International Mission Board, Jeremy Sin of the North American Mission Board, Hoon Im of GuideStone Financial Resources and Daniel Im of LifeWay.
Executive Committee President Frank S. Page and SBC President Ronnie Floyd welcomed the fellowship’s beginnings.
“It is an honor to be with you today,” Page said. “God is blessing our Asian churches. We thank God for you and what you bring to our convention…. We recognize there is much to be done. If we are going to reach Asians for Christ, we need to reach out to the immigrants among us.”
Page commended the Asian leaders for reaching beyond their ethnic groups as they start churches and for their example of fervent prayer.
“I affirm your work and your increasing commitment to missions through the Cooperative Program,” Page added. “When we join together we can reach the entire world for Christ.”
Floyd spoke of the intellectual strength and economic power of Asian-Americans, who are the fastest-growing immigrant population in the nation.
“God has placed you where you are to make a difference for Jesus Christ,” Floyd said. “Now is the time for our Asian churches to rise up intentionally to make disciples. Always He will be with you when you go and make disciples.”
Ted Lam of Oklahoma was elected president of the new A2CP2 fellowship, with Pao Ly of Morganton, N.C., elected as vice president and Felix Sermon, general secretary of National Asian-American Fellowship, as chaplain.
“We have to go back to our state conventions and associations and work with them,” Lam said.
Providing insight into an immigrant mindset, Lam described the desire for visits “home” as lasting 20 to 25 years before an adult immigrant changes to thinking of America as “home.” For those who come to America as children, the change spans perhaps eight to 10 years.
Joon Choi, a second-generation church planter from San Francisco, said he attended the A2CP2 gathering because he was interested in being part of a nationwide network and in the fellowship to be found in it.
“This is cutting edge,” Choi said.
Gideon Lee, a bivocational college pastor at a Chinese church in Cambridge, Mass., said he didn’t identify with his ethnicity as much as with his employment as an MIT-educated engineer.
“I came to this country at 8,” Lee said. “It took five to 10 years to become American in my thinking.
“Now for 10 years I’ve been helping plant churches intentionally beyond Chinese,” Lee said. “We feel God is touching our heart to reach out to others. The future of the church in America is reaching out beyond our own ethnicity.”
The next A2CP2 meeting will be in June 2017 in conjunction with the SBC annual meeting in Phoenix.