By Rev Dr Young Lee Hertig, Symposium Organizer
The third Asian American Equipping Symposium, entitled “Healing of Memories,” took place at Fuller Theological Seminary on March 19-20, 2012. Its objective was to create a space for Asian American male and female leaders to understand the interdependent dimensions of pain within our families and churches — for as one part of the body suffers, the whole body suffers. One of the pains addressed was the exclusion, rejection, hijacking, and dismissal of women within Christian institutions. Hearing the stories made me wonder yet again, Is the Asian American women leaders’ relationship with the church to be a one-sided love? When is the mourning of women within the church to be comforted? How long do we need to mourn before we begin to experience reciprocity and mutuality?
I appreciated the presenters of both genders naming the implications and effects of Confucian hegemony in their families and churches. When there is vulnerability in naming painful stories, there is a vicarious comforting that takes place. Different aspects of the Asian American women presenters struck me in particular, such as when Annie Tsai referenced the research statistics that Asian American Christian women suffer higher rates of depression than their non-Christian counterparts. Jeney Park Hearn’s stories of growing up as a pastor’s kid and being robbed of time with her parents still echoed with pain. Miyoung Yoon Hammer’s severe sense of dislocation rooted in her parents’ physical migration story and the subsequent “psychological homelessness” rang true with many who were present.
At the symposium, we gathered and named our pain together. We resonated and tuned into our collective han (accumulated pain with no relief). There were moments of healing, such as when Andrew Sung Park addressed the pain of women under Confucian kinship. With hope, I now wonder, Can we now imagine working toward the healing of memories by being radically inclusive beyond our talks? It is this hope, found in the renewing power of Christ, that keeps us going despite our pain, and it is our hope that you will join us in this collective journey towards redemption within our identities, culture, and communities as Asian Americans.
Rev. Dr. Young Lee Hertig is executive director and a founding member of ISAAC (Institute for the Study of Asian American Christianity) and AAWOL (Asian American Women On Leadership). She teaches in the Global Studies and Sociology Department at Azusa Pacific University and is an ordained Presbyterian clergy as well as a commissioner of the Presbyterian Church USA to the National Council of Churches Faith and Order.