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We are advancing the scholarly study of Asian American Christianity, developing a forward-looking vision for Asian American theology, and equipping and empowering Asian American Christians for faithful gospel ministry and public witness.

Four Areas of Theological Focus

The publications, resources, and events of the CAAC seek to advance theologically rigorous research as well as contextually relevant ministry tools for Asian American Christians and faith leaders. There are four main areas of focus through which we examine and engage the faith and practice of Asian American Christian communities. These four main focal areas are: race, mental health, discipleship, and leadership. The content of these four focal areas continually press our dialogue with God as Asians and Asian Americans for faithful gospel ministry and public witness.

The programming of the CAAC brings scholars and practitioners who engage explicitly with issues pertaining to race. Since the pandemic, anti-Asian hate has become a social issue of high visibility. This has stimulated public discourse about the place of Asian Americans in the racial body politic. Asian American churches and Christians are not immune to these contemporary issues, and engaging these issues theologically and biblically requires a nuanced grasp of the history, sociology, and politics of Asian American life. The CAAC seeks to advance the conversation about Asian American church life that goes beyond the current racial, political, and theological binaries that are assumed in discourses about Christianity in the US.

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The history of Asian America and its religions and communities of worship cannot be told without understanding the process of racialization. The history of racialization includes the exclusion of Asian migrants in the nineteenth century to the substantial repeal of the exclusion in 1965. While there was a budding Asian American ecclesial presence prior to 1965, Asian American church life grew exponentially after 1965. It is difficult to overestimate the ongoing pressures exerted by racialization on Asian American families, communities, and churches—divorce, domestic violence, mental health issues, vocational decisions (or the lack there of), and perennial conflicts between first generation and second+ generation Asian American ministries indicate the pervasive pressure of racialization.

The first focal area concerning race is incomplete without addressing the inner effects of racialization. The wounds, traumas, and dysfunctions shaped by our social environments have negative effects on our emotional and personal life. This is often manifested in depression, violence, anxiety, low self-esteem, suicidal thoughts, dysfunctional relationships, etc. If healing, wholeness, and spiritual transformation are the aims of Asian American religious ministries, then we need to understand the whole person in their life situation. The CAAC creates programming and resources that address mental health issues among Asian American clergy and lay people that draw on the latest insights from experts and practitioners. CAAC mental health conferences also feature practical workshops that provide research-based practices that faith leaders can implement immediately to support their communities.

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Asian Americans have some of the lowest rates of treatment for mental health issues while also experiencing high rates of mental distress and serious mental illness. In addition to the stigma attached to seeking mental health support within Asian communities, Christian culture can make the situation worse by minimizing the need to seek professional help. Furthermore, the anxiety, social isolation, and internalized racism associated with the COVID pandemic has further intensified the situation. Asian American theology and ministry should address the spiritual formation of the whole person and their healing, and this often includes addressing mental health issues.

Christian discipleship has to do with following the call of God upon our lives. This call of God is our Christian vocation, and this call of God takes on specific form as we obey Christ in our particular stages of life as well as different social circumstances. Given the travails of modern existence, there is an increasing need to turn to traditions of spiritual formation, esp. the contemplative practices of listening deeply to God, in order to attune our whole person to the call of God upon our lives. Christian discipleship—following the way of Jesus—involves practical matters of theological significance. Where do we choose to live? How do we spend our money? How do we parent and educate our children? These mundane decisions are embedded within social, cultural, and political contexts that have theological weight. The CAAC offers theological and biblical resources that equip and enable Asian American Christians to more faithfully witness to the creative, redemptive, and reconciling work of God in Jesus Christ. 

The formation of faithful Christian disciples happens socially in relationship and community. These communities of formation require Christian leaders who are sensitive to the Spirit of Christ moving to heal, transform, and empower our Asian American Christian communities. There is a need for first and second generation ministry leaders to share their stories, experiences, and collective wisdom surrounding difficult and complex matters that plague Asian American churches. How do Asian American faith leaders and pastors handle power and accountability? How do we navigate conflict at home, in our church, and among church staff? Where is the Asian American church heading and how do we train and mentor the next generation of leaders to take us there? The CAAC convenes spaces to address the specific needs of Asian American clergy and their ongoing professional and theological development. The CAAC offers programs and resources to support Asian American ministry leaders in their call to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ as they shepherd their communities.