DIRECTOR’S MESSAGE — April 2019
“Celebrating Asian women and their ministries in the PC(USA)”
This month’s edition of the Racial Equity & Women’s Intercultural Ministries focuses on the Asian Intercultural Ministries. Mei-Hui Lai is an associate in Racial Equity & Women’s Intercultural Ministries. Following are some of her reflections.
Rhashell D. Hunter
Celebrating Asian women and their ministries in the PC(USA)
By Mei-Hui Lai
Asian women are key members in their churches. They are Martha and Mary. They serve as Sunday school teachers, choir members, food preparers, outreach evangelists, neighborhood helpers and so on. A lot of outstanding servants of the Lord serve in every level of ministry in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
Joan Chen Fong, who died in 2017, served as chair of the National Asian Presbyterian Women, and finance and property chair of the San Francisco Presbytery. She also chaired the loan team of the Mission Development Resources Committee of the PC(USA).
Chi-Yi Chen served on the editing team of the “Glory to God” hymnal, and the Rev. Mienda Uriarte serves as the Asian/Pacific area coordinator of World Mission for the Presbyterian Mission Agency. Others, like the Rev. Wendy Tajima, serve as the San Gabriel presbyter, and elder Ruth Fong served as the moderator of the Synod of the Pacific. The Rev. Takako Terino currently serves as the chaplain for the Menaul School in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Female deacons and elders have served in Asian American congregations for years, but most southeastern Asian American churches still don’t call females as senior pastors. One female breaking the glass ceiling is the Rev. Huong Ngoc Thi Dang. In 2017, Dang was installed as the senior pastor of the largest Vietnamese Presbyterian Church in Garden Grove, California.
Southeastern lay training programs have also worked to ensure that females are included in leadership opportunities. Half of their students are female. As a result of their efforts, elder Jung Tang soon will be ordained as a lay pastor.
While there are not many Taiwanese, Japanese or Chinese female pastors, many Indonesian female pastors serve in Asian congregations.
Pastors who are very active in the National Asian Presbyterian Council (NAPC) include moderator the Rev. Takako Terino; vice moderator Sarang Kang; secretary Kristie Sihombing; and elders Aimee Douangprachanh, Goy Thumasathit and Janice Takeda. Half of the members of the NAPC executive committee are women.
Asian women are also involved in the justice work of the church. The Rev. Jelty Ochotan contacted the Office of the General Assembly, along with mid council and community neighbors, to work together to resolve the crisis of Indonesian members who were being deported in New Hampshire.
In addition to the justice work, Asian women also are making an impact in the church by translating the Advent and Lenten devotionals for Presbyterians Today magazine and serving as members, leaders or translators of volunteer teams, including Tzu Ya Hung and the Revs. Hennie Wattimena, Grace Rohrer and Iokhun Lim.
God grants lots of gifts, such as strength, wisdom, love and faith, to women. We celebrate Asian women who use these gifts and devote themselves in every field of the ministries in the PC(USA).