Some 80 Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Christians in various sectors gathered at Washington, D.C. for Korean Churches for Community Development (KCCD)’s ninth annual Lighting the Community Summit from June 6 to 8 at the Kellogg Conference Hotel at Gallaudet University.
The LTC Summit gathers members of the Christian AAPI community each year and is a mix of networking, informative sessions, and advocacy. It features workshops on funding opportunities, sessions on particular social issues, and for the past two years, participants also went to the White House for a White House briefing. This year, attendees instead participated in Congressional briefings with Congressmen Ed Royce and Charles Rangel.
“We as AAPI Christian leaders have been active through evangelism, global missions, and direct service. Yet our voice and presence have been missing at the local and national front due to marginalization and our own disengagement,” stated the summit organizers. “As a result, our communities have been underserved and overlooked in services and resources.”
Several issues were discussed during this year’s summit, including navigating religious freedom rights in the midst of the dialogue on sexuality issues, immigration, and mental health, among others. Regarding recent legislations and activism regarding LGBT issues, speakers urged the attendees to take them as new opportunities to show love to LGBT and the greater community.
But the need for activism and civic engagement — to “show up” — was the running theme throughout the conference, particularly as presidential elections are coming up later this year. A panel during the second day especially focused on this issue, with panelists Chris Kang, the national director of The National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA); Mee Moua, the president and executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice; Floyd Mori, the president and CEO of the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies (APAICS); Christine Chen, the founding executive director of APIA Vote; and Richard Lui, journalist and news anchor at MSNBC.
Congressman Charles Rangel also commended the summit attendees on continuing to come to D.C., and reminded them of the importance of continuing their engagement with the community.
“For them to publicly acknowledge that you as the church — you have power, and for them to say that to the Asian faith community, that’s powerful,” said Hyepin Im, the CEO and president of KCCD.
Meanwhile, three college students and four high school students joined the summit as “young ambassadors,” a program which KCCD has offered to allow students to experience civic engagement and to meet mentors in various fields.
“There’s a greater interest in social justice among younger Korean Americans,” Im explained. “If we could invest in this for the next 10 years — it will be a new day. Because we have a lot of interest in the community but we don’t have that platform yet. So I believe that as we continue investing in this, a new day will arrive for our community.”