ECC Shows Strong Presence at Asian American Leadership Conference

Post a Comment » Written on April 1st, 2008     
Filed under: News
FULLERTON, CA (April 1, 2008) – Five Covenant ministers and administrators led workshops in the recent Asian American Leadership Conference, which drew 350 participants from around the country.

David Gibbons, pastor of New Song Church in Irvine, California, was a plenary speaker at the event. Other Covenanters led workshops: ordination candidate Nancy Sugikawa facilitated “Overcoming Small Group Challenges in Asian American Culture.” Soong-Chan Rah, associate professor of church growth and evangelism at North Park Theological Seminary, spoke on “Biblical Justice in the Asian American Christian Context.”

The strong presence of the Evangelical Covenant Church (ECC) at the event is due in large part to the denomination’s commitment to diversity and church planting, says Gideon Tsang, pastor of Vox Veniae, an Austin, Texas, congregation being adopted into the ECC. Tsang co-led a workshop on “Emerging into Mission: The Substance and Over Hype of the Emerging Church” with Eugene Cho, pastor of Quest Covenant Church in Seattle, Washington.

Tsang says the Covenant is developing a good reputation among the Asian American community, as evidenced by the number of times that people suggested Vox Veniae join the denomination. “Several friends told me I should check it out,” he recalls. “Being a non-denominational type community, we weren’t interested. By the third referral, which was unrelated to the first two, I decided to make a phone call.”

After meeting with Garth Bolinder, superintendent of the Midsouth Conference, he began to think more seriously about joining. He then discussed the denomination with Jeff Black, pastor of St. Barnabas Covenant Church, another church in the Austin area that had joined the ECC in recent years. Tsang says, “It further affirmed my suspicion that it truly is a denomination filled with great friends.”

Tsang’s story is increasingly common says Greg Yee, associate superintendent of the Pacific Southwest Conference, who led the workshop “Asian Americans and Multiethnic Ministries: More Than Right Theology or Good Intentions.” The denomination is attracting Asian Americans as it builds on its own past to reach out to others.

“I think it has to do with our Pietistic roots given to deep devotion and fervor,” Yee says. “It’s also about the Covenant’s immigrant theology and how that plays into the Asian American story.”

He adds, “It’s because of our commitment to a high theology of community and being connectional. It’s because we genuinely struggle with the call of the whole gospel, especially as it relates to social justice.”

Others are seeing that the Covenant is raising up Asian American leaders within the denomination who are speaking prophetically, says Yee.

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