South-East Asia & Pacific Islands
Christian Reformed Churches in North America
as of December 2018
WHO ARE WE?
SEAPI churches comprise of believers of Jesus Christ and represent a diverse community of people: Cambodian, Chinese, Filipino, Hmong, Indian, Indonesian, Karen, Korean, Laotian, Pakistani, Samoan, Thai, and Vietnamese. They are affiliated with the Christian Reformed Church in North America denomination. Prior to the SEAPI name, the group was called Asian Planning Group and later Asian-American Pastoral Ministry, a peer learning group under the CRC-Sustaining Pastoral Excellence Program: read Banner article here). In June 2007, the growing group of churches adopted the SEAPI name to enfold the many ethnicities among us from the Southeast Asian & Pacific Islands region. Fifty-five pastors, elders, deacons, women, and youth leaders started a visioning process to unify and strengthen this diverse community.
BRIEF HISTORICAL OVERVIEW
1999 to 2003: All Asians Planning Group (APG, initiated by CRC Home Missions)
APG was envisioned to develop effective leadership to the Asian churches within CRCNA so that they may become self-sustaining (financially), self-governing (structurally), self-propagating (growing, discipling, multiplying), and self-expressing ((contextualizing) as Christian Reformed congregations.
Around the middle of 2003, as a result of program changes in the CRC Home Missions, APG members were encouraged to spin off and apply to the then new Sustaining Pastoral Excellence (SPE), a joint program of the CRCNA and the Lilly Endowment.
2004 to 2006: Out of the APG, the Asian-American Pastoral Ministry (AAPM) was born. AAPM was a peer learning group initially composed of 10 (and later grew to 15) South-East Asian church pastors and their spouses. The group applied and was awarded support through the Sustaining Pastoral Excellence (SPE) program. Within a three-year period, AAPM developed into a self-directed collaborative peer learning group and ministry planning group. Rev. Tong K. Park (Home Missions) and Rev. Mike Vander Pol (World Missions) continued as part-time advisors. The SPE grant helped AAPM to grow through face-to-face retreats, fellowship and prayer connectedness in between retreats, book studies, and church visits.
In all, AAPM held five retreats: July 2004 in Aurora, CO; March 2005 in Lake Tahoe, NV; August 2005 in Stony Point, NY; February 2006 in Hayward, CA; and September 2006 in Lake Geneva, WI. After the SPE grant was discontinued, AAPM reorganized and spun off to the larger group aptly called SEAPI.
2007 to 2018/onwards: Having experienced and convinced by the value of growing fellowship, intentional peer learning, mutual encouragement and constructive discussions of ministry challenges, the 15 AAPM pastors with their spouses agreed to invite more South-East Asian CRCs. What was called the first "leadership summit" among 55 pastors, elders, deacons, women and youth leaders, AAPM spun off to be the South-East Asian Pacific Islands (SEAPI) group. Those 55 attendees represented 26 out of 41 CRCs listed as South-East Asian referenced in the 2006 CRCNA Yearbook. The first SEAPI leadership conference held June 5-7, 2007 at the Kuyper College in Grand Rapids, MI coincided with CRCNA's 150th-anniversary celebration.
Since then, SEAPI continued to hold at least one retreat each year: June 2008 in Long Scraggy Ranch, CO; October 2008 in Winfield, IL; June 2009 (info to follow); August 2009 (info to follow); November 2009, all-women conference in Holland, MI; August 2010 in Hiawatha Retreat Center, MI; August 2015 in Indiana; September 2016 in Salt Lake City, UT; August 2017 and August 2018 both at the La Moine Christian Center in Tennessee, IL. The two latter retreats were held alongside the CLAY and SEED annual youth conferences.
SEAPI exists and is called by our Triune God to grow as a community of healthy and thriving congregations, though diverse in our ethnic cultures and traditions but united to uniquely express our faithfulness and obedience to fulfill the Great Commission.
In Matthew 28:18-20. the Lord Jesus said: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
Starting from being monocultural first-generation congregations, we desire to mature as Biblically-grounded multicultural, multigenerational, globally missions-minded congregations across the United States, Canada and on to our homelands. From our refugee/survival-mode beginnings, with the Holy Spirit's empowerment and leading, we will allow our unique ethnic-influenced ministry situations to be used by God to fulfill the Great Commission.
HOW SHALL WE MOVE FORWARD?
Considering demographic and generational changes among our congregations, we will constantly:
review and assess changing needs, opportunities, and potentials across our congregations
appreciate lessons from the past and identify ways of improving our missional efforts
renew and strengthen our SEAPI fellowship to include new and emerging Asian churches
- identify and implement specific ways of training our next generation of leaders
- improve our partnerships with denominational agencies/resources as well as synodical, regional and local church assemblies where SEAPI churches are present
ACTIVITIES & EVENTS IN 2019
August: Annual Retreat (info to follow)
Conference calls and church visits will be announced soon.