Asian American Baptists engage government officials

WASHINGTON D.C. – A Southern Baptist pastor participated earlier this summer in what some have called the first-ever meeting of Asian American pastors at the White House.

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It came during the same week Paul Kim, the Asian American relations consultant to the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee, attended the installation ceremony of the new U.S. Secretary of Defense, Mark Esper.

Pastor Chien Thang Uc, who serves as the pastor of international ministry at First Baptist Church of Pensacola, Fla., joined the Asian Pacific American Pastors as they met with representatives from multiple federal government departments at the White House. It is believed, Uc noted, to be the first time an organized group of Asian American pastors had official meetings at the White House together.

Education, immigration and religious freedom, among other topics were discussed with departmental representatives during the meeting, Uc said. The representatives shared with the participating pastors what they had been working on related to the subjects and got feedback from the pastors on what they should do going forward.

“They were very open to talk about what they were doing and what they need to do,” Uc said. “They asked our opinions. They wanted us to know they were listening to our group of Asian Pacific American pastors. They were willing to listen and let our opinions impact their policy.”

Uc also serves as the president of the Vietnamese Baptist Union of North America.

The group of pastors visiting the White House, Uc noted, had expected to meet President Donald Trump during their June 24 meeting, but he wasn’t able to attend because of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s congressional testimony that day.

In other news, Air Force Deputy Chief of Chaplains Ronald M. Harvell, a Southern Baptist, invited Kim to the installation ceremony and parade for the incoming defense secretary. Harvell led the invocation during the ceremony.

Kim serves as the national assistant chaplain of the Korean War Veterans Association and was in Washington, D.C., from July 24 to 28 for the group’s annual membership meeting. He had met Harvell at the 2019 SBC annual meeting in Birmingham, Ala., and Harvell had invited him to visit the Pentagon when he was in the area.

Before the installation ceremony and parade, Harvell gave him a tour of the Pentagon.

“The Pentagon was very impressive,” Kim said. “About 26,000 military and civilian personnel work there. It’s a very interesting place. It’s like a village as you walk around it. It’s an awesome building.”

The visit to the Pentagon was particularly moving for Kim, who is a U.S. Army veteran and a former chaplain in the U.S. Army reserves.

“I love this country. I love the Lord,” Kim said. “I also really enjoy reaching out and ministering to those who served our country in the Korean War through the Korean War Veteran’s Association.”

President Donald Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence both spoke during the installation event.

Written by Baptist Press, the official news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.

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