(Photo : Christianity Daily)
(From left to right: Ken Kong, Director of Southeast Asian Catalyst; Annika Yeo, the Director of Public Relations of BIC Mission; Reverend Younghee Chung, the senior pastor of Wilshire United Methodist Church; Hyepin Im, the CEO of KCCD; Paul Chang, the Regional Advisor of the White House Initiative on AAPI; Reverend John Jongdai Park, the Chairman of the Board of KCCD; Reverend Timothy Park, the associate pastor of Glory Church of Jesus Christ; and Deborah Kwak, a retired banker and previous attendee of the LTC Summit)

Korean Churches for Community Development (KCCD) will be hosting its 8th annual Lighting the Community (LTC) Summit in Washington, D.C. from May 18 to 20. The summit focuses on providing opportunities for Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Christian leaders to learn how to leverage resources and partner with political and business leaders to better serve the community. Hence, the attendees' backgrounds range from ministerial positions to individuals involved in governmental agencies.

Last year's summit was attended by some 180 AAPI leaders representing 5 million constituents, according to Hyepin Im, the CEO and founder of KCCD.

"We as AAPI Christian leaders have been active through evangelism, global missions, and direct service," Im stated. "Yet our voice and presence have been missing at the local and national front due to marginalization and our own disengagement. As a result, our communities have been undeserved and overlooked in services and resources ... Now is the time to unite our voices, strengthen our influence, and shine our light on America."

This year's summit in particular will be the second time that KCCD and summit attendees will be able to participate in a White House briefing, in which the needs and concerns of the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community will be discussed with White House officials.

"This year, as the second White House briefing, we're expecting see further progress being made for the AAPI community, as the White House is now more aware of our needs, and the organizers are better prepared as well," Im said.

During this year's White House briefing, KCCD hopes to bring up issues such as mental health, small business interests, food service programs, the situation in North Korea, and also advocate for a representative of the White House Office of Public Engagement solely dedicated to the AAPI community, just as there are single representatives for other ethnic communities.

"I enjoy what KCCD does for the community because everything KCCD does is actually what the White House Initiative on AAPI aims to do," said Paul Chang, the Regional Advisor for the White House Initiative on AAPI, "which is allocating government resources to the AAPI community."

"Please bring whatever issues you are facing to us, and we'd love to see how the government can help," Chang added.

Another feature of the summit is the invitation of what KCCD calls 'Young Ambassadors,' students who apply and are selected to join in the summit. This year, for the first time, the Young Ambassadors program is also open to high schoolers. About 15 Young Ambassadors were selected last year.

This year's summit will feature speakers including Melissa Rogers from the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships; Grace Han Wolf, Councilmember of Herndown Town Council in Virginia; and Joshua Dickson from the U.S. Department of Commerce's Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

Others who were featured in past summits and are part of the honorary committee for this year's summit include Mike Honda, a U.S. Congressmember of California representing the 17th District; and Judy Chu, a U.S. Congressmember of California representing the 27th District.

Registration is $225 by the early bird deadline on April 17, and $250 thereafter. On-site registration is $295. For more information, visit www.aapifaithalliance.org.