Officers elected at National Federation of Asian American UMs' General Assembly

December 13, 2007

Members of the National Federation of Asian American United Methodists (NFAAUM) elected officers at the group’s General Assembly in Los Angeles, Nov. 28-29. Donald Hayashi, the director of development and finance for the Wesley Community Center in Dayton, Ohio was named chairperson to succeed the Rev. Mark M. Nakagawa, pastor of Centenary UMC, where the meetings were held.


He will begin serving a four-year term after the 2008 United Methodist General Conference meets in Fort Worth, Texas, April 23-May 2.


Recalling the climate that led to creation of the group more than three decades ago, Bishop Roy I. Sano told the assembly, “The national federation reflected the ethnic struggles that were on the university campuses in the late 1960s. The original drive and vision of the movement expressed the hopes and hurts in our community and The United Methodist Church at home and abroad.”


Today, helping The United Methodist Church better meet the needs of diverse ethnic groups remains one of the federation’s goals.


“The national federation will help our church address the many challenges of growth and opportunity for the 10 ethnic groups that comprise the federation,” Hayashi, shown at left, said.


The 10 groups are Cambodian, Chinese, Filipino, Formosan, Hmong, Japanese, Korean, Lao, South Asian and Vietnamese.


Hayashi said the federation will also “work with the denomination to expand ministries to reach new immigrants and those who are unchurched.”


The federation also advocates for full inclusion of Asian Americans in the leadership, programs and administration of The United Methodist Church. Hayashi, who also serves as a consultant to the Asian American Language Ministry sponsored by the Board of Global Ministries, told the gathering that the number of Asian American delegates to the denomination’s top lawmaking body is down from the 2000 and 2004 General Conferences. That may be the result of fewer U.S. delegates because of membership losses in the United States.


Only 23 Asian Americans were elected delegates to the 2008 General Conference; in 2000 there were 30 delegates, and in 2004 there were 35.


“We will advocate for Asian Americans to be in leadership and influence in our church so that decisions can reflect the aspirations and concerns of our communities,” said Hayashi after the meeting.


“We will work with our congregations to better serve the needs of multiple generations and be relevant to coming generations. We will continue to speak to issues such as immigration and poverty that affect our communities directly, and for full human rights both domestically and worldwide.”


Other officers elected to the federation were the Rev. SungJa Lee Moon, vice chairperson for membership; the Rev. Jacob S. Dharmaraj, vice chairperson for advocacy and program; the Rev. Pong Javier, secretary; and the Rev. Bau Dang, treasurer.


–from a UMNS report by Kathy L. Gilbert