The PAAC Fellowship has been an absolutely transformative experience for me. I joined the Progressive Asian American Christian community because of the seemingly disparate parts of my identity that may seem irreconcilable and that can make a person lonely. And I joined the Fellowship because I was hungry to learn the breadth and depth of our legacy – our progressive Asian American Christian legacy – and how we fit into the future.
The fellowship has armed me with connection to our collective ancestry and with solidarity across a nation and myriad identities. Most of all, the fellowship and the friendships formed through it have expanded my view of the mystery of God and a deeper plumbline into God’s heart for justice.
Probably my whole life, I was this weird Christian that didn’t fit in with the other Christians. Then when Donald Trump happened upon us all, I really couldn’t unsee that Evangelicalism, Republicanism, Authoritarianism, and White Nationalism were just different names for the same thing. Not only did I want nothing to do with it, I wanted to actively resist it. At the time, I was already unchurched for a few years, inevitably isolated from those that I had previously been in fellowship with, and about as passive about my faith as I’d ever been in my life.
The PAAC Fellowship has been a fulfilling experience that has provided a new foundation for my still reconstructing beliefs. For the past few years, I had been on a self-guided meandering journey of deconstructing my old beliefs, but detoxifying is only the beginning of a process of becoming healthy. Layer by layer, through seminars, readings, and challenging discussions with other fellows, I’ve welcomed a different understanding of God — a God that is with us in the interstices, not above us. A God that loves everyone and wants us to love too. A God that is reflected in all people. In an unexpected way, multiplying the ways to see God and my Christian beliefs has actually simplified those beliefs. The pieces fit together better. There’s more integration and congruency between what I believe and how I want to live my life. By putting my faith in this complex God, I have found a faith that for the first time in my life has made me feel like a whole integrated person, where all my identities — as Christian, Asian American, and Progressive, are still differentiated but interconnected and complementary.
When I first heard about the PAAC Fellowship, I was intrigued but hesitant. I was a brand new mom about to transition back into full time work from parental leave. Would I be able to do the readings? Would I be able to make all the webinar sessions and small group meetings? Would I even be able to stay awake?! With the full support of my wife, I joined the PAAC Fellowship. The readings and speakers have insightful and eye opening. But what has impacted me the most is my small group. The PAAC Fellowship provided just that for me: fellowship. My small group has become like family to me (and not just because 5 out of 6 of us are queer). Even if we didn’t do all the readings (yes, that happens), we are still able to discuss the topics or just share about each others’ weeks and support one another. The PAAC Fellowship has helped given me something that I didn’t even realize I had been missing: community.