ISAAC Feb 2015 Newsletter
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ISAAC Newsletter: February 2015

“Don’t ask what the world needs.  Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it.
Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” 
- Howard Thurman
FOB TV Series Fever
The term "Bamboo Ceiling" coined by Jane Hyun, describes the virtual absence of Asian Americans in top corporate CEO positions, despite significant number of Asian American students at Harvard (18 percent) and Stanford (24 percent). According to The Atlantic article, “Cracking the Bamboo Ceiling” (Oct 14, 2014), "Asian Americans account for just 1.4 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs and 1.9 percent of corporate officers overall. 63 percent of Asian men feel stalled in their careers, a higher rate than any other groups reported. The bamboo ceiling can describe Asian Americans in mainstream culture and media as well. Against this bamboo ceiling, Asian Americans recently filled viewing parties for the new ABC series, Fresh Off the Boat. Finally, Asian Americans can see our particular stories as told by Asian American actors and actresses. Hopefully, the series tracks attention to engage even more particular stories, as they are American stories. One caveat: in cracking the bamboo ceiling, however, one has to be ready to be ostracized by both one's own ethnic group and the mainstream. For this reason, the comic and satirical approach of FOB is indeed refreshingly engaging.
Rev Young Lee Hertig, PhD
Executive Director of ISAAC

Recap of “Together We Can Breathe”

ISAAC’s 2015 began in lively fashion at Christ Our Redeemer AME Church on Saturday, January 31, with Pastor Mark Whitlock’s gracious partnership and the church’s awesome hospitality. As the first follow-up event to last November’s bilateral symposium with keynote speaker Rev Dr. Willie James Jennings, we framed the follow up events as the “Together Series”: 1) “Together We Can Breathe: Racial Solidarity”; “Together We Can Revive: Retelling the Azusa Street Revival and Little Tokyo” (March 28, 2015). Not only did we experience God’s Ruach as we gathered across racial boundaries, but we also saw a multilateral team emerging for a great Year of the Sheep here at ISAAC.
Dr. Kay Higuera Smith, presented a biblical perspective on race with a question, “How do we engage with the cultural and social Others?” Smith covered two conflicting voices in the Bible: 1) The voices of estrangement; 2) the voices of engagement. Smith stressed the importance of privileging the voice of engagement over the voice of estrangement.
Rev. Dr. Cecil “Chip” Murray inspired us with the Ruach of God, who breathes God’s Spirit into all God’s people. People of God, a work in process, presents both blessings and challenges. Murray listed two main challenges to the people of God as a family: 1) “To find a way to make a way is a challenge of family:” 2) “We blind ourselves to ourselves. Despite it all, process is a progress,” according to Murray.
Tommy Dyo shared stories from Japanese internment camps and the heroic 442nd infantry regimental combat team (activated on February 1, 1943).Dyo whet all of our appetites, and we are looking forward to touring Little Tokyo to see the historic memorabilia on March 28th for “Together We Can Revive: Retelling the Azusa Street Revival and Little Tokyo.”
Hyepin Im illustrated the main theme, “the voices of estrangement and the voice of engagement” through the story of the Syrophoenician woman, who was referred to by Jesus as a dog, but persistently advocated for her daughter’s healing.

James Yu connected the main theme with the need for faith communities to engage with surrounding communities.

Once again, Jacqulyn Whang’s spoken word pieces were moving, and we want to create more venues to disseminate Whang’s artistry.
For more detailed coverage, thanks to reporter Rachael Lee, we direct you to Christianity Daily.

Attendees also had the opportunity to discuss more personal stories and perspectives with one another in focus groups over lunch prepared by COR AME Church.
Feedback from the attendees included, “Great experience this day—Need these spaces and places to get dialogue with one another of various ethnicities.” “Continue on an ‘engagement’ trajectory with organizations.” “We need to recognize the ways that we have internalized power assumptions that are anti-Christ. Diagnose the assumptions that cause us to ignore and be blind to others based on race, culture, gender, ability, and ethnicity.“

ISAAC’S 6th Symposium Keynote Speaker Earns Award

Willie James Jennings, the keynote speaker at ISAAC’s 6th Symposium, was recently awarded the Louisville Grawemeyer Award, which honors “highly significant contributions to religious and spiritual understandings” and aims to “inspire or empower human beings to attain wholeness, integrity or meaning, either individually or in community.”  Jennings, an associate professor of theology and black church studies at Duke Divinity, earned the Grawemeyer Award in Religion for his work on Christianity’s complicity in segregation and racism in America, and the role Christianity must play in rectifying unjust relations between religious and racial groups.
Upcoming Programs
  • “Together We Revive: Retelling the Azusa Street Revival and Little Tokyo” on Saturday, March 28th. Speakers and historical tour leaders include Bill Watanabe and Tommy Dyo for Little Tokyo, and Oscar Owens for the Bonnie Brae House. Registration will be up soon.
  • “Together We Cook & View”: Fresh Off the Boat (FOB Fever): TBA
  • “Togethering Stewardship for Ministry”: Speakers and Dates TBA
  • “Together We Thrive: Commonality in Diversity,” ISAAC’s 7th Symposium on November 6-7, 2015.


As part of ISAAC's ongoing efforts to transcribe, translate, and transmit stories of Asian American Christianity, the Northern California Theological Book Group met to discuss chapters from a book manuscript by Dr. Russell Jeung (Professor of Asian American Studies, SF State University). Part memoir and part theological exploration, Jeung explores his own Hakka ancestry as a "pilgrim people," drawing out insights for Christian identity and calling. ISAAC Northern California is also working on plans to again offer its series on Asian American Christianity as part of the Perspectives on the World Christian Movement educational series. For more information, contact Dr. Russell Yee,

ISAAC East Coast

ISAAC East will be spending more time in 2015 on research and writing. Milton will write a review of Amos Yong's new book The Future of Evangelical Theology for our SANACS journal and begin work on developing an Asian American Discipleship curriculum. Plans are in the works to partner with and promote a new Asian American church-planting venture called Disciples NYC, scheduled to launch worship services in the fall. We will continue to partner with the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit to sponsor AA leaders to attend on August 6-7th. Milton will continue fundraising, networking, and hosting other events throughout the year.
New Additions: 
Advisory Council Members: We appreciate Bill Watanabe who served on the ISAAC board for five years, and who last year became an Advisory Council Member. Our recent additions to the Advisory Council include:
  • Andrew B. Lee: A founding member of the firm, Lee, Hong, Degerman, Kang & Waimey, a professional corporation that advises international business enterprises in corporate and financial transactions, mergers, and acquisitions.
  • Mark Whitlock: The pastor of Christ Our Redeemer, AME Church (45 Tesla, Irvine, CA) and is the Executive Director of the USC Cecil Murray Center for Community Engagement. He also served as the founder and executive director of FAME Renaissance, the economic development arm of First AME Church.
  • Joe Small: A Church Relations Liaison at the Presbyterian Foundation. He served as director of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Office of Theology and Worship from 1989-2011.
  • Joe B. Webb: Consultant in spiritual direction, coaching, organizational consulting. 

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We appreciate your participation in ISAAC’s mission through sharing your resources and talents.

Dedicated to Engaging the Voice of the Estranged,
Rev Young Lee Hertig, PhD
Executive Director of ISAAC
826 Orange Grove Place
South Pasadena, CA 91030
Copyright © 2015 ISAAC: Innovative Space for Asian American Christianity, All rights reserved.

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