Stimulating lectures, powerful worship, and opportunities to showcase cultural heritage were just a few of the ways North American Pacific/Asian Disciples (NAPAD) acknowledged their ministry within the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) at the group’s 15th Biennial Convocation.
More than 200 Disciples representing about 14 ethnic groups came together at the Stony Point Conference Center in upstate New York from August 6-9 to explore the Convocation theme, "Bear Fruit." The theme was based on Matthew 7:20: Therefore, by their fruits you will know them.
"Our convocation was wonderful and another successful event," commented Geunhee Yu, executive pastor of NAPAD. "We had lots of new people come to the event and they appreciated how Disciples work together and minister."
In his State of NAPAD address Yu noted that NAPAD has borne fruit by growing to include 100 congregations across the United States and Canada since Asian Ministries started in 1992. NAPAD has opened one new church per month for the past 12 years, Yu said. The ministry now hopes to have 250 healthy NAPAD churches by the year 2020.
"I present this challenge, in the name of Jesus Christ, to each and every NAPAD church to branch out a new church every five years," said Yu.
NAPAD churches are challenged because many of them are small. About 80 percent are housed in non-NAPAD church facilities. This creates challenges for NAPAD churches to grow and establish themselves in ministry, Yu said.
Rita Nakashima Brock, Co-Director of Faith Voices for the Common Good and Visiting Scholar at the Starr King School for the Ministry in Berkeley, Calif., was one of three keynote speakers who addressed the topic of bearing fruit, emphasizing the personal aspect. Brock traced the theology of the early Christians and the implications of their beliefs on our lives today. Brock noted that the early church said there is evil and good in the world and you have to look for the good. The question today, she said, is not; "Are we good enough?" said Brock, but can all Christians work together?"
Chung Hyun Kyung, an associate professor of Ecumenical Theology at Union Theological Seminary in New York, spoke on "Bearing Fruit: Community." Chung examined the theme from a feminist perspective, talking about the role of women in society, specifically the Church. Women have much to offer, she said, including a paradigm shift from a pyramidal model of power in which the strong dominate the weak, to a circular model that is more egalitarian. "The kingdom of God is a feast of equals," she said. "God is love and nothing can separate us from the love of God."
Cassandra Carmichael, eco-justice program director for the National Council of Churches, lectured on "Bear Fruit: Global/Earth" and talked about ways to work toward protecting all of God’s creation. Small steps toward protecting the environment can make a difference, she said.
Convocation attendees also heard a presentation on the work of the Mission Alignment Coordinating Council (MACC), which was presented by General Minister and President Sharon Watkins. Discussion later centered on a proposal from MACC that would move NAPAD out of Disciples Home Missions, to a collaborative relationship with the Central Pastoral Office of Hispanic Ministries and the National Convocation. NAPAD agreed to affirm its Executive Council to create task forces as needed to examine and implement the church-wide mission alignment changes.
The closing evening workshop service included the traditional NAPAD cultural night which showcased the array of talents of the multilingual, multicultural group that gathered for the Convocation. Samoans, Koreans, Japanese, Filipinos, Chinese and others used music, songs, readings, and dance to share aspects of their culture.
"Our future looks brighter today than ever before," concluded Yu. "We praise the Lord that we have many more celebrations than we have concerns."
Written by: Wanda Bryant Wills [email protected]