Three streams cross - Disciples History Logo.
Date of establishment: Unknown (Active for years)

The Stone-Campbell Movement held its first national convention in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1849, during the same period that the first Asian people came to the United States. However, the first formal contact between the Movement and Asian Americans was not made until forty-two years later. In 1889 or 1891 (sources differ) the Christian Woman’s Board of Missions (CWBM) opened a mission among the Chinese in Portland, Oregon, and it grew so explosively that a Chinese minister (Jeu Hawk) was called to lead the work in 1892. Inspired by their success in Portland, CWBM started (1907) another Chinese mission (Chinese Christian Institute) in San Francisco. Due to anti-Asian hostility reflected in the Chinese Exclusion Acts, the Chinese missions were forced to close in December 1923. Not until sixty-seven years later (1990) was a Disciples Chinese ministry rekindled by a local congregation, First Christian Church in Alhambra, California. 

In 1901 a small group of Japanese came into contact with the Christian Missionary Society of Southern California. By 1908 a Japanese Christian Church was organized in Los Angeles with Teizo Kawai as pastor. In 1904 Japanese students began to meet in Berkeley, California, later formalizing as Berkeley Japanese Christian Church in 1914. In 1933 a Filipino Christian Church was founded in Los Angeles, led by Rev. Silvestre Morales. By 1942, nine Japanese Christian churches had been established and each grew rapidly, but all were closed with the internment of Japanese Americans. After their detention, former Japanese Christian Church members founded West Adams Christian Church in Los Angeles in 1948 with Kojiro Unoura as minister. For the next three decades, the Disciples’ Asian ministry remained fairly dormant until a great wave of new immigrants from Asia came under the new Immigration Acts of 1965. 

In July 1978, through the efforts of Harold Johnson (b. 1921), Executive for Evangelism of the Disciples Division of Homeland Ministries (DHM), the first consultation on Asian ministries was held in Indianapolis. The purpose was threefold: to affirm the unique identity of Asian American Disciples; to raise the consciousness among Disciples of their presence; and to help Disciples attend to the needs of the growing Asian American population. Out of this consultation the Fellowship of Asian American Disciples (FAAD) was organized. The second consultation was held in April 1979, in which FAAD was renamed the American-Asian Disciples (AAD). It was then decided to publish a newsletter with David Kagiwada (1929-1985) and Janet Casey-Allen as the inaugural editors. At the 1979 General Assembly in St. Louis, AAD was formally acknowledged as a constituency. Official recognition of AAD by the General Board of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) came in 1984. 

The first AAD convocation was held in October 1980 in Indianapolis, with sixteen Asians and three General Office staff participating. David Kagiwada was elected as AAD’s first convener. The group decided to hold biennial convocations on even years, alternating with the General Assembly. The second AAD convocation was held in Berkeley, California, in conjunction with the Pacific and Asian Americans Ecumenical Convocation on July 20 through August 1, 1982. Grace Kim was elected as AAD’s second Convener. The third AAD convocation was held in July 1984 in Indianapolis. Soongook Choi (1933-2002) was elected as AAD’s third convener. Flor and Orlando Marcelino, both Filipino Canadians, designed the AAD logo and banner. On July 10, 1985, David Kagiwada died, and a scholarship fund was established in his memory at the 1985 General Assembly in Des Moines, Iowa, to be awarded to seminarians of Asian descent. Subsequent conveners/moderators were Wallace Kuroiwa, Soongook Choi, Janet Casey-Allen, Manuel Tamayo, Nobuyoshi Kaneko, Jeri Sias, Timothy Lee, and Kim Tran. 

On October 12-14, 1989, DHM called for the third consultation on Asian ministries, which proposed directions for the ministry of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) with American Asians. The consultation called for developing ministerial leadership for AAD, establishing AAD member churches, fostering Asian representation on boards of the church, and posting an Asian staff person within DHM for American Asian ministries. The Koreans were to be the initial target among Asians because of the rapid growth of Korean immigrants and the proliferation of Korean Christian ministry within America as well as in Korea. In 1976, Wilshire Korean Christian Church with its pastor Song Cha Kim became the first Korean Disciples congregation. 

The 1991 General Assembly (Tulsa, Oklahoma) approved the proposal and directed DHM to create a position exclusively focused on American Asian ministries (Business Docket No. 9136). On February 1, 1992, Geunhee Yu (who held a Ph.D. from Vanderbilt Divinity School) was called to develop and grow Asian ministries. Upon his arrival in 1992, there were eight AAD churches. After ten years the number of AAD churches had exploded to over seventy in 2002, consisting primarily of seven different ethnic and linguistic groups: Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, Korean, Vietnamese, Indonesian, and Samoan. 

At the ninth Convocation (Chapman University, 1996), AAD was renamed the North American Pacific/Asian Disciples (NAPAD), to be more inclusive. In 1996, Jaikwan Ahn (b. 1930) was appointed as Director of NAPAD Ministries for the Pacific Southwest region, providing a solid impetus for fast growth within the region. Korean Disciples represent about 75 percent of NAPAD congregations. In January 1995, the Disciples of Christ Korean Ministers Fellowship was organized with Soongook Choi as moderator; it was reorganized as the Korean Disciples Convocation in 2000. Upon Soongook Choi’s retirement in March 1997, the Soongook Choi Scholarship Fund was established in honor of his ministry. 

In March 2000, the NAPAD Visioning Conference was held in Indianapolis, with representatives from NAPAD, General and Regional Ministries, Higher Education, and local churches. A five-point covenant was created as part of a ten-year action plan for NAPAD ministries. A process to restructure NAPAD ministries was created and authorized, and in 2001 the General Board appointed a Task Force for restructuring. As an integral part of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), NAPAD seeks a new identity with self-determination. 

BIBLIOGRAPHY Janet Casey-Allen, “Disciples of Asian Origin Vie for Their Place,” The Disciple 132:5 (May 1994): 8-10 • “History of American Asian Disciples,” AAD 1992 Convocation, Program Book, pp. 15-17 • Geunhee Yu, “A New Vision for the Church,” Vanguard (April-June 1993): 12-13 • “Gifts of Asian Disciples,” Vanguard (July-Sept. 1998): 4 • Timothy Lee, “NAPAD History,” NAPAD Newsletter (Winter 1998-99): 9 • Guin Stemmler, A Mini-History: Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) (1996). 


Foster, Douglas A.. The Encyclopedia of the Stone-Campbell Movement (pp. 205-209). Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.. Kindle Edition. 

This entry, written by Larry Sivis, was originally published in The Encyclopedia of the Stone-Campbell Movement (Edited by Douglas A. Foster, Paul M. Blowers, Anthony L. Dunnavant, and D. Newell Williams; Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2004), pages 40-41. Republished with permission.