Church planting among Asian groups, international missions to Asian peoples, and increased Asian cooperation with the larger Southern Baptist family are among the prominent themes in the Asian American Advisory Council report presented to Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee President and CEO Frank S. Page June 15 in Columbus, Ohio.
In conjunction with receiving the report, Page named Asian American Advisory Council chairman Paul Kim as the first-ever Asian American adviser to the EC.
“Most people do not know Asian American churches at all,” said Kim, pastor emeritus of Antioch Baptist Church in Cambridge, Massachusetts. “Southern Baptist Asian churches have always existed, but we have not had a [thoroughgoing] understanding” of how to partner with fellow Southern Baptists in missions and ministries. “We want to work together with the Executive Committee, Southern Baptist entities, seminaries, [and] the Convention. We want to help Southern Baptists be stronger.”
Formed in 2013 to help Page and other SBC leaders understand the unique perspectives that Asian churches and church leaders bring to the Convention, the Asian American Advisory Council consists of twenty-seven members representing eight ethnic fellowships. The council’s report provides information about each fellowship and makes recommendations regarding reaching and mobilizing each nationality represented.
The council is composed of Cambodian, Chinese, Filipino, Hmong, Japanese, Korean, Laotian, and Vietnamese Baptist leaders.
“Asian Americans,” Page said, “have been a part of our Convention for many decades. . . . It is my hope that Asian Americans will now be at every level of SBC life and will become even more involved. They have been always a part, but I want them to be in the mainstream of SBC life.”
According to an executive summary of the Asian American Advisory Council report provided to Baptist Press, there are 1,787 Asian congregations in the SBC, up 54.3 percent since 1998. Asian congregations baptize an average of 4.01 people per one hundred church members—nearly double the SBC average of 2.69 baptisms per one hundred church members.
The executive summary calls for increased church planting among Asian groups. Other recurring recommendations include sending Asian American Baptists as missionaries to their homelands with the International Mission Board and developing younger Asian American leaders.
Page will process the report in the coming weeks toward implementing its recommendations.
Ken Weathersby, EC vice president for Convention advancement, expressed gratitude for the council’s report.
Kim and other council members have “done an excellent job in sharing the opportunities and needs of Asian American churches in North America,” Weathersby said. “They are on board with working cooperatively as Southern Baptists.”
David Roach is chief national correspondent for Baptist Press and is a member of First Baptist Church in Hendersonville, Tennessee. This article first appeared in Baptist Press.