Cross-Cultural, Urban, Reformed, Ecumenical

McCormick to host APARRI conference on religious identity and generational change

07-14-2010 by

Geoff Ashmun

For the next two years, McCormick Theological Seminary and its Center for Asian American Ministry will serve as home base and host for the annual conference of the Asian Pacific American Religious Research Initiative (APARRI), the country’s largest single gathering of Asian American religious scholars and practitioners. Scheduled this year for August 5-7 at the seminary’s campus in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago, the conference is entitled, Bridging Yesterday and Tomorrow: Memory and Generational Change in Religious and Pacific and Asian North America.

The conference is taking a substantive look at how religion informs Asian Pacific American life and identity formation not only across generational differences but also through the lenses of non-traditional fields of study. There will be two plenary addresses, “Past Passed? Experiences and Thoughts on Transmitting Religious and Cultural Heritage” and “Faith Matters: Religious Practitioners and/in Asian American Studies: A Roundtable,” featuring discussions on memory and the role of personal faith in academia, respectively. In addition, structured mentoring opportunities for junior scholars and faith community leaders will be available as an addendum to the conference on Friday, August 8.

Distinguished speakers include Anju Bhargava (Member of President Obama’s Council on Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships), Bandana Purkayastha (Associate Professor of Sociology, University of Connecticut), Peter Cha (Associate Professor of Pastoral Theology, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School), Soong-Chan Rah (Milton B. Engebretson Associate Professor of Church Growth and Evangelism, North Park Theological Seminary), Roy Sano (Bishop, United Methodist Church), and Mai-Anh Tran (Assistant Professor of Christian Education, Eden Theological Seminary). Concurrent sessions will showcase research-in-progress, and structured mentoring sessions will be available for students and junior faculty members.

This year’s event is made possible by support from Lilly Endowment Inc. and McCormick’s Center for Asian American Ministry (CAAM), which is directed by the Reverend Dr. Frank Yamada, Associate Professor of Hebrew Bible at McCormick and co-chair of APARRI’s managing board. According to Yamada, one of the most unique aspects of the conference is a kind of integrated discussion of race and religion in what are very often separate conversations. In addition, he said, this is not a conference dominated by Muslims, Christians and Jews.

“It explodes the centrality of the Abrahamic faiths. We’re talking about the scholarship and religious experience of Buddhists and Sikhs alongside that of Muslims and Christians. So we have a different set of conversation partners because of the nature of Asian American religious communities in the United States.”

Visit APARRI's conference website more information including instructions on registration and a detailed conference schedule.