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CAAC · AACHI · Epic Movement

Asian Exclusion and the Church

Ripples from the 1924 Immigration Act

May 29, 2024 • Hybrid Conference
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About This Conference

Join us on May 29, 2024, at the Democracy Center in the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles for a pivotal conference titled “Asian Exclusion and the Church: Ripples from the 1924 Immigration Act.” This free hybrid event, hosted by the Asian American Christian History Institute, Center for Asian American Christianity, and Epic Movement, will convene a gathering of scholars, pastors, and faith leaders from the Asian American Christian community. Together, we will delve into the profound implications of the Johnson-Reed Act of 1924—a legislation key to understanding the trajectory of Asian American communities and their faith practices in the United States.

The 1924 Immigration Act, instigated by prevailing anti-Asian sentiments, had enduring impacts on various Asian communities, including Japanese, Chinese, Filipino, Korean, and South Indian. It catalyzed significant developments such as the rise of Nisei ministry and the emergence of American-born Chinese church movements. Our conference will feature historically informed ministry leaders who will reflect on the response of Nikkei and Chinese churches to an America that closed its doors to immigrants. This reflection will explore how these communities navigated societal changes post-act and how similar sentiments persist in contemporary times.

This centennial commemoration will not only revisit the historical context and struggles faced by Asian American communities but also foster discussions on their ongoing contributions to the fabric of American society and Christianity. Through presentations, panel discussions, and interactive Q&A sessions, participants will gain new insights into the resilience and evolving identity of Asian American Christians past and present. Do not miss this opportunity to connect, reflect, and learn more about the rich history and dynamic future of Asian American faith communities. Register now to secure your spot.

Speakers

Curator

Emily Anderson

Japanese American National Museum (LA)

Dr. Emily Anderson is a Curator at the Japanese American National Museum (Los Angeles), and is currently developing an exhibit on food in Japanese American culture. Recent exhibits include Don’t Fence Me In: Coming of Age in America’s Concentration Camps (March – Oct 2023). Others include Sutra and Bible: Faith and the Japanese American World War II Incarceration (February 26, 2022 – February 19, 2023) and Cannibals: Myth and Reality (San Diego Museum of Us, March 2016 – ongoing).

She is also a scholar of religion and empire in Japan, and has published on Christianity in Japan, the Japanese empire, and Japanese immigrants before World War II. Her publications include Christianity in Modern Japan: Empire for God (Bloomsbury, 2014) and Belief and Practice in Imperial Japan and Colonial Korea (Palgrave MacMillan, 2017) as well as articles and book chapters on religion and imperialism in Japan and the Pacific. She holds a PhD in modern Japanese history from UCLA (2010).

Professor, Department of Psychology

Alan Oda

Azusa Pacific University

Alan Y. Oda, PhD, is a Southern California native. After working as a lab tech at UCLA’s Neuropsychiatric Institute and as the project assistant for the Western Region Asian American Project, he completed his teaching internship at California State University, Northridge, which started his career in the classroom. Before arriving at APU in 1996, Oda worked at California State University, San Bernardino; University of California, Riverside; University of California, Irvine; and the University of Redlands. He has been on the Faithful Change national research team for the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities. He was co-editor of the section on youth, family, and the aged, and co-author of the section’s anchor essay (with Grace Yoo, PhD, San Francisco State University), for the Encyclopedia of Asian American Issues Today (Greenwood Press, 2010). Oda is helping edit a book on Asian American health, and his current research is studying the response of pastors to the needs of elderly congregants. Oda is on the board of directors and past executive director of the Asian American Christian Counseling Service, and has served for more than two decades as a volunteer campus minister for Asian American Christian Fellowship. He is a lifelong—and therefore very frustrated—fan of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Director, Asian American Christian History Institute

Timothy Tseng

Asian American Center, Fuller Seminary

Rev. Tim Tseng, Ph.D. is a pioneering American religious historian who investigates the histories of Asian American Christianity. He directs the Asian American Christian History Institute, which is housed at Fuller Theological Seminary’s Center for Asian American Theology and Ministry. He is also Research Professor of the History of Christianity and Asian American Studies at Fuller’s School of Mission and Theology. He has served on faculty at the Graduate Theological Union, Colgate-Rochester Divinity School, and Denver Seminary. Tim founded the Institute for the Study of Asian American Christianity (ISAAC). Ordained American Baptist, he has served as Pastor of English Ministries at Canaan Taiwanese Christian Church in San Jose, California and the Pacific Area Director of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship’s Graduate and Faculty Ministries.

Tim has been married to Betty Shek Tseng since 1985. They have two adult sons, Nathaniel and Benjamin. Tim and Betty reside in Castro Valley, California.

Tim was born in Taiwan and migrated to the U.S. at the age of 2 with his parents. His father, the late Paul F.P. Tseng, was a church planter who started three Chinese congregations in the New York Metropolitan Area. Tim grew up in a Chinese Church in Brooklyn, New York and received a call to ministry at Urbana 1981 while serving as the chapter president of New York University’s Chinese Christian Fellowship. Initially hoping to follow in his father’s footsteps into ministry into the Chinese American church, he was called to the study of the history of Christianity after discovering the absence of Asians and Asian Americans in the standard narratives of church history. He completed his M.Div. (1987) and Ph.D. in the history of Christianity (1994) at Union Theological Seminary (New York) under the tutelage of his advisor, the late James Melvin Washington.

Panelists

Senior Software Engineer

Kenji Heigel

Kenji is multicultural in ethnicity, but often leans towards his identity as a Thai American. His dad is half white & half Japanese, while his mom is Chinese (Teochew) but born and raised in Thailand. Kenji is fluent in Thai, often visits his family in Thailand, and grew up going to a Thai church in Bellflower.

Kenji and his wife Julia currently attend Gateway Friends Church in Diamond Bar since getting married last June. Prior to that, Kenji was a part of Sila Church (the aforementioned Thai church) for 20 years. He began attending Sila Church in middle school and served in various roles throughout his time there as a deacon, English ministry leader, and a youth pastor. He’s been part of many short term mission trips to Thailand and has led a few short term trips there as well.

Kenji graduated from UCLA (B.S. Mechanical Engineering) and also has an M.A. in Christian Ministry and Leadership (Pastoral Care and Counseling concentration) from Talbot School of Theology at Biola University. He currently works as a software engineer at a local software company.

Associate Pastor

Nate San

New Life Christian Alliance Church

Nate serves as the Associate Pastor at New Life Christian Alliance Church in Whittier, CA, where he works with college students. He has experience planting a Pan-Asian church and was involved in mentoring Southeast Asian leaders for over two decades. He has a passion for discipleship and for spiritual formation of all people toward Christlikeness. He holds a Master’s of Divinity from Tozer Seminary, a Bachelors in Communication from Cal Poly Pomona and is currently working toward his Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy. He loves spending time with his wife of 13 years, son of 3 years, and 6 month old Labrador hiking and jogging.

Executive Presbyter

Wendy Tajima

Presbytery of San Gabriel

Hosts

Director

Dr. David C. Chao

Center for Asian American Christianity

Dr. David C. Chao is director of the Center for Asian American Christianity at Princeton Theological Seminary. He teaches courses on Asian American theology, organizes academic programs in Asian American theology and ministry, and mentors Asian and Asian American students. His research and writing focus on Asian American theology, the uses of Christian doctrine for liberation, the convergence and divergence of Protestant and Catholic dogmatics, and the theology of Karl Barth. His first book, titled Concursus and Concept Use in Karl Barth’s Doctrine of Providence, is under contract with Routledge. He is grant co-author and project editor for the $300,000 translation grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities to the Karl Barth Translator’s Seminar. He is also developing a multi-volume project on Asian American theology. Chao is a graduate of Yale University (BA), Regent College (MDiv), and Princeton Theological Seminary (ThM, PhD). He is a member of the American Academy of Religion and the Association for Asian American Studies. Chao has a wide range of pastoral experience with Chinese American, Korean American, and Pan-Asian churches and ministries and is an active member of the Presbyterian Church (USA).

Director, Asian American Christian History Institute

Timothy Tseng

Asian American Center, Fuller Seminary

Rev. Tim Tseng, Ph.D. is a pioneering American religious historian who investigates the histories of Asian American Christianity. He directs the Asian American Christian History Institute, which is housed at Fuller Theological Seminary’s Center for Asian American Theology and Ministry. He is also Research Professor of the History of Christianity and Asian American Studies at Fuller’s School of Mission and Theology. He has served on faculty at the Graduate Theological Union, Colgate-Rochester Divinity School, and Denver Seminary. Tim founded the Institute for the Study of Asian American Christianity (ISAAC). Ordained American Baptist, he has served as Pastor of English Ministries at Canaan Taiwanese Christian Church in San Jose, California and the Pacific Area Director of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship’s Graduate and Faculty Ministries.

Tim has been married to Betty Shek Tseng since 1985. They have two adult sons, Nathaniel and Benjamin. Tim and Betty reside in Castro Valley, California.

Tim was born in Taiwan and migrated to the U.S. at the age of 2 with his parents. His father, the late Paul F.P. Tseng, was a church planter who started three Chinese congregations in the New York Metropolitan Area. Tim grew up in a Chinese Church in Brooklyn, New York and received a call to ministry at Urbana 1981 while serving as the chapter president of New York University’s Chinese Christian Fellowship. Initially hoping to follow in his father’s footsteps into ministry into the Chinese American church, he was called to the study of the history of Christianity after discovering the absence of Asians and Asian Americans in the standard narratives of church history. He completed his M.Div. (1987) and Ph.D. in the history of Christianity (1994) at Union Theological Seminary (New York) under the tutelage of his advisor, the late James Melvin Washington.

National Strategic Partnering and Development

Tommy Dyo

Epic Movement, a Cru Ministry

Tommy’s background ranged from being a Ski Patroller to a business consultant before going into full-time Christian work. In 1988, he started his service with Asian American Christian Fellowship (AACF) and has served as a campus minister at several campuses including Cal Poly Pomona, Cal State Fullerton, Long Beach, and UC Irvine. He was also the director of AACF for nearly ten years. He has served as a consultant with the Asian American Leadership Center where he focused on the Southeast Asian community to mobilize church planters, equip ministries, and network resources.

In 2006, Tommy joined Cru as the National Executive Director of the Epic Movement (Cru’s Asian American ministry). He and his team were tasked with developing a national strategy to reach Asian Americans through the vast network of the organization. In 2010, he was a US delegate and table group leader at the 3rd Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization in Cape Town, South Africa. In 2011, he helped coordinate relief work in the Sendai region of Japan. In July 2015, Tommy stepped down as National Executive Director to focus on developing partnerships and networking for Epic Movement and serves on the design team for Cru’s Senior Leadership Initiative.

Tommy graduated from Cal State L.A. in Communication Studies and has a MA in Intercultural Studies from Fuller Theological Seminary. His wife, Melissa, is a professor at the School of Nursing at California State University: Long Beach. He attends Cerritos Baptist Church with his wife Melissa. They have two adult children: Noah, a nurse specializing in pediatric oncology, and their daughter, Mika, an actor who played the leading role in “No No Girl” (2022).

Tommy loves the outdoors, especially fishing, backpacking, and eating small furry creatures. He loves to eat, play, hang out, and bask in God’s creation.

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Schedule

Time (PT)

Session

Presenter(s)

8:00AM PT

Check-In

9:00AM PT

Welcome and Introduction

Tim Tseng
Tommy Dyo
David Chao

9:15AM PT

Framing the 1924 Johnson Reed Immigration Act

Tim Tseng

9:30AM PT

Case Study of Japanese American Protestantism from 1924 to Today

Emily Anderson

10:00AM PT

Q&A Session with Emily Anderson

10:15AM PT

Break

10:30AM PT

Post-1965 Asian American Communities

Alan Oda

11:00AM PT

Q&A Session with Alan Oda

11:15AM PT

Break

11:30AM PT

Panel Discussion: Implications for Other Diaspora Communities

Moderated by Tommy Dyo and David Chao

12:20PM PT

Closing Remarks

12:30PM PT

Lunch and Post-Conference Networking

1:30PM PT

Tour JANM and Little Tokyo (in-person only)

Center for Asian American Christianity

The newly expanded Center for Asian American Christianity at Princeton Theological Seminary comes at a critical time in the life of Asian America. Asian Americans are the fastest-growing racial-ethnic demographic in the United States. The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the persistence of anti-Asian racism. Moreover, minority and immigrant churches are poised to transform the face of Christianity in the United States in the next few decades. The Center for Asian American Christianity seeks to equip and empower the next generation of Asian American leaders for service in church, society, and academy.

Princeton Theological Seminary has been a leading voice in Asian American theology and ministry through the work of Professor Emeritus Sang Hyun Lee, the Center for Asian American Christianity, and the establishment of the Kyung-Chik Han Chair of Asian American Theology.