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By Ajung Sojwal

Photo by Ted & Dani Percival

I once heard a preacher mention that people tend to be more faithful church-goers when they feel more financially secure. Well, that really threw me for a loop for I thought it would be the other way round. But then, Jesus used a lot of money illustrations with the “faithful.” So, maybe money is a larger factor in my relationship with God than I am willing to admit.

In a conversation with someone who never goes to church but calls herself a Christian, she said, “I don’t go to church because I just don’t have the right clothes nor the money to spare for offering.” As one who is in charge of running a church, I am often overwhelmed by the constant need for money to keep the lights on, so to say. I am definitely grateful for those who come to church and can contribute financially. However, like the woman from her ramshackle hut, I too echo a similar lament, “We don’t go out into the world because we don’t have the right trappings nor the money to spare for ministry outside the church.”

When did God’s call upon my life become so tethered with capital campaigns and salaries for church staff? The pandemic has churned up many questions about my relationship with God, with money, and my very sense of call into ministry that I feel the need to overhaul all of the above and more. I had zero thoughts about money being such a big part of “ministry” when I entered into discernment for the priesthood. Yet, the moment I got ordained and started my ministry in and through the church, most of my time and energy got diverted to the groans of decaying church structures. It is very well to talk about faith and hope, but at the end of the day, when I pick up the phone to yet another call about a busted pipe in the basement, I know it will be money I think of, not God.

I suspect, the moment “church” became synonymous with steeples, stained glass windows, concert-like music and a repository of “worthy” folks from society, it became more about money and less about God. Jesus’ disciple, Peter, saw this truth when he realized his mistake in wanting to commemorate the transformative experience of God and human coming together in brick and mortar structures. Surely, Jesus’ “I am the resurrection and the life” has to do with incarnational living, not livelihood.

These days, I’m asking God more intentionally, where that incarnational living might be manifesting? Where might that space be, where the woman with no church clothes and no money for offering and we (the Church), with imposing religious trappings and no money for ministry can meet God together? With church buildings getting deconsecrated by the dozen every month, I pray for the real Body of Christ to fall in step with me on my road to Emmaus where we can break bread together instead of passing on an offertory plate.

Ajung Sojwal is Rector of St. George’s Episcopal Church in Hempstead, NY.

By Angela Ryo

Photo by Chris Potter

I grew up in a Korean immigrant church where the offering plate was passed around on Sunday mornings, and I’d put money in it (if I had any!) when it came around. As I got older and earned more money, I tried to be more strategic about giving and did my best to tithe every month as much as possible. However, it wasn’t until I started serving in predominantly white mainline congregations that I found out about pledging. I had no idea that people pledged the amount they would give for the entire year! “Of course!” I thought, “That makes so much sense!” As I started to pledge, I was surprised by how pledging raised my level of commitment to the congregation I served.

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By Joy Wong

Photo by Jason Jacobs

In a post this past February, I wrote about the feeling of being lost in my faith journey, having been in evangelical circles my whole life and yet now, trying to navigate and make sense of the state of evangelicalism in light of American politics. Perhaps due to the isolation that comes with sheltering at home from Covid-19 as well as being a stay-at-home mom, the state of my faith felt largely like my own personal experience. While it’s been many years since I took on ministry leadership of any kind and my main ponderings have circled around the questions of locating myself in my faith journey, in the back of my mind I’ve also wondered whether my sense of being lost in that faith journey has disqualified me from being able to confidently lead in ministry in the future.

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By Sarah D. Park

Photo by Rawpixel Ltd

I work for a nonprofit organization called Project Peace East Bay, and we recently shifted to a horizontal organizational structure. Rather than having a staff of divvied up roles answering to one executive director, we got rid of that position entirely and make decisions as a four-person team.

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By Diana Kim

Photo by Terry Alexander

What makes a good leader? It’s not just about knowledge or authority. It is about empathy, being able to walk in and understand the experiences and struggles of others. Given the current state of the world, and all the hate we are witnessing throughout the country, empathy is all the more necessary for spiritual leaders to truly connect with their communities and congregations. 

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By Wendy Choy-Chan

Photo by carulmare

When Jesus called Simon to be his disciple, he told Simon he would be called Peter — Peter the leader of the early church. Jesus did not interview Simon for his IQ, EQ, talents, qualifications, and experiences. Simon did not write a thesis or pass an examining board to get his credentials to become Peter, the leader. If one were to check Simon Peter’s performance along the way, he had failed miserably — right after he aced the question of who Jesus was, he flunked by rebuking Jesus’ mission to the cross; he failed to grasp the meaning behind Jesus washing the disciples’ feet; he used his self-will to defend Jesus with a sword but denied him with his mouth. Despite all these “failures,” Jesus chose Simon and formed him to become Peter.

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By Joy Wong

Photo by GoToVan

This month, our writers were asked to reflect on the relevancy of worship. For the first half of the month, our reflections revolved around the challenges of personal and corporate worship in the midst of the pandemic, with churches shut down and community limited. However, upon the mass shootings on three spas and massage parlors in Atlanta on March 16th that killed eight people, six of whom were Asian women, our reflections took a different turn, in grappling with how to worship amidst the collective trauma of the Asian and Asian American community — and in particular, we as Asian American women.

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By Liz Chang

Photo by Steven Pisano


“It’s more of the same and yet different” were the words that echoed in a text message I received from a friend reaching out to show support and care this past week. More of the same racism, violence, and byproduct of white supremacy. And yet different in the racial identity of those targeted this time. The news was fresh: a white man targeted massage parlors in the Atlanta area and killed eight people, six of which were Asian women. Another shooting, another incidence of violence that reveals the deeply seeded impact and influence of white supremacy as it entrenches the dimensions and intersections of race, occupation, sexuality, religion, gender, age, and socioeconomics in the U.S. 

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By Emi Iwanaga

Photo by Mark Gunn

“Worship is an it-is-well-with-my-soul experience.” -Robert Webber

IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL

Thankful for the sweetness of silence in His presence.

Silence elevates the soul to worship.

Unspeakable adoration, exaltation, magnification overflows

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By Jerrica KF Ching

Photo by home thods

As many of us know, the pandemic has shifted our understanding of what is “normal” and has without a doubt impacted all areas of our life. Last month, many of my Asian American sisters reflected upon what it means to have faith during these times of uncertainty.  Now we shift to what it means to worship.  While I reflect upon this theme of worship relevancy, what stands out to me the most is that while faith is something intangible that we all possess, worship is a verb that indicates action.  Another way I look at it is, How do I take something intangible such as my faith, and put it into action through worshipping God in spirit and truth?

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