Across The Region & In My Heart
Rev. Allen V. Harris
Regional Pastor & President
May was Asian American Pacific Islander Month. The month of May has been designated as a month to lift up and celebrate the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities and to highlight significant achievements by persons with such identity and heritage. Of course, we celebrate and support Asian Americans and Pacific Island people year round, so this is just a chance to focus our appreciation and educational efforts.
Throughout the month the Christian Church in Ohio highlighted on our social media platforms some of the church leaders from around Ohio who identify as Asian American or Pacific Islander. We also want to encourage persons to learn about the North American Pacific/Asian Disciples of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada. Led by their Executive Pastor, Rev. Chung Seong Kim (pictured left,) this General ministry helps local congregations and individual church leaders affirm the cultures and heritages of Pacific/Asian peoples within the historic and living Christian faith. Find out more about NAPAD here: http://www.napad.net.
To learn about how this month's designation came about you can watch this YouTube video: https://youtu.be/bt8c7OSUQaw (Note: the video moves fast so if you want to stop and read each section, just tap the video to pause it.). To learn about specific Asian American and Pacific Islander in the United States who were influential or famous, please follow this link: https://www.zinnedproject.org/materials/asian-americans-and-moments-in-peoples-history/?fbclid=IwAR1GAkESDedy2ER7b7HDDwoldDb17YueV2PDNNbm_7Q9Kai29_jOllHoHmU.
Here are some clergy and lay leaders across the Regional Church who celebration Asian American and Pacific Islander Month!
I’m Brenda Sing-Ota. I am a third-generation Chinese American. This means my great grandfather immigrated from Taishan village, which is near Guangdong, China to the United States. He was part of the many who built the Transcontinental railroad at the turn of the century. After the railroad was complete, he worked for a Chinese family-owned laundry service in Phoenix, Arizona, and later opened his own laundry business. Sometime later the family bought property and opened a neighborhood grocery store. Due to my family member's hard work and determination, I was able to pursue becoming a licensed counselor in Ohio and Disciples of Christ ordained minister. I’m indebted to each generation’s hardship, challenges, and sacrifice for an opportunity for a better future for myself and my children.
Currently, I am co-facilitating an online monthly Clergy support group for the Ohio Region, and leading an online multi-generational culturally diverse discipleship group. I’m serving on the Vision Committee, Regional Assembly Planning Committee, and the Pro Reconciliation Anti-Racism Commission. In addition, I have an online counseling practice.
It was just shorty after WW2. I was born and raised in Tokyo, Japan, on May 17, 1948. Both my parents were Christians and went to a Bible college to become ministers before the War. Needless to say, they went through political persecution during the war simply because they were Christians. But they kept on their ministry at a small church in Tokyo. Their firm faith in Christ inspired me to follow their footsteps in my later years. Shortly after I graduated from a college in Tokyo, I decided to face additional challenge of education in the U.S. , enrolling Pasadena college in LA, then, Lexington Theological Seminary. I earned the degree of Doctor of Ministry from LTS in 1976, and began my ministry as an associate minister at the Central Christian Church in Kettering, OH. I moved on to the First Christian Church of Sylvania after 4 years in Kettering and served this church for 35 years until my retirement in 2014.
My first biggest challenge in ministry was to overcome other people’s hatred against Japanese, but I learned how it could be overcome as I pressed on the unity in Jesus Christ. Anyone who hated Japanese people in general began to build a bridge of communication and love, once we focused on the same Lord. This conviction became the base of my ministry that knowing a person through the eye of Christian faith overcomes differences, hurt and even anger toward others.
Nearly 40 years of ministry prepared me to be a Regional Elder in my district. It has been very rewarding experience, being a part of their ministry. I may be older now physically, but the Lord has not finished with me yet. I continue to serve Him and fellow ministers.
Christine "Christy" Johnson
Happy Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month! Having an African-American father and a Japanese mother, I was born in Okinawa and raised in Hawaii for most of my childhood. Though I have lived in Tokyo, Okinawa and Virginia, I really call Hawaii my hometown. While in Hawaii, I took hula lessons all the time I was there. I can now still use what I learn in the form of praise hula – hula dancing for the Lord! I love being able to share my cultures with everyone. I also do Ikebana – Japanese Flower arranging. I love being able to celebrate the month of May just to share the cultures that I can relate to.
I worked for State Farm Insurance for 22 years both as a secretary and a claims adjustor and I have been a substitute teacher for my school district for 12 years. I have a BA in Business Administration with a concentration in Personnel. I am a member of Kemper Road Christian Church (KRCC) were I have been the past moderator and vice moderator. I am on the KRCC Anti-Racism Team, the regional Anti-Racism Committee and in the KRCC choir. I am currently the Administrative Assistant for KRCC. I’ve been married to Doug for 33 years in June. We have one son, Grant, age 20. Aloha!
As I reflect on May being Asian American Pacific Islander month, my memories take me back to Heart Mountain, Wyoming where my family was interned during WWII. All Japanese, regardless of citizenship, living on the west coast were moved to one of 10 concentration camps. Each camp had barbed wire fencing and guard towers guarding the barracks 24 hours a day. We were family #27634. I remember my parents always saying “gaman”, meaning endure.
My brother, Jim, was the first to leave the camp because he had a sponsor and a place to live in Coumbus, Ohio. His sponsors introduced him to Reverend Dr. Floyd Faust, minister at Broad Street Christian Church, and Jim later became a DOC minister. On the invitation of the Gibsons and with Jim living in Columbus, we moved to Columbus. All we had were the clothes on our backs and what we could carry as was the case when we were moved from Sacramento, California to Heart Mountain. So, Columbus became our home. I have always identified myself as Japanese American. The values of respect, cooperation and making the best of a situation led me to be a social worker in which I practiced direct services for over 20 years. In my later years I worked in system and program development and health care finances, and most rewarding was assisting individuals and families without health insurance and helping them to obtain health care services. We are presently members of First Community Church in Columbus, Ohio. We were drawn to First Community because of its openness, opportunities for spiritual growth and its outreach program which includes refugees.
May 18, 2022