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O-so-so, o-so-so, pyong hwa ui imgum,
Uriga hanmom iruge haso-so
Come now, O God of peace, we are your people,
Pour out your Spirit, that we be one body.

(VU34 “O-So-So”
Words: Geonyong Lee. English translation: Marion Pope)


“Are not the sparrows sold for pennies? Yet, not a single sparrow falls to the ground without your Abba God’s knowledge. As for you, every hair on your head has been counted. So don’t be afraid of anything – you are worth more than an entire flock of sparrows.” Matt. 10:29-31

Shining Waters Regional Council was deeply impacted by the recent shooting deaths of six Asian women in Atlanta, Georgia. We condemn racialized misogynistic violence and we pray for the families and the communities of those killed. We also pray for the safety of Asians in North America and globally who have experienced and reported anti-Asian racism, violence, and aggression since the start of the pandemic. We pray for many more who have not reported their experiences of targeted hate incidents and hate crimes.

A hateful cacophony against the imagined enemy, China, has zeroed in on anyone perceived as or looking Asian but especially women, girls, and the elderly.

Asian women and girls are frequently the targets of hyper-sexualization, infantilization, and objectification, and often misperceived as sex workers or nannies. As if women sex workers and domestics are not worthy of compassion or dignity. In contrast, Asian men and boys are frequently de-sexualized, emasculated. They, too, have been verbally and physically assaulted during the pandemic but reports are far fewer. Both binary gendered stereotypes are harmful and dehumanizing. Intersections of anti-Asian racism are felt in bodies, hearts, and spirits.

Before Church Union in 1925 Asian Canadians were already faithful members of The United Church of Canada. Diverse Asian groups that followed have gifted the Church with their 5,000 years of rich and diverse histories, cultures, traditions, and gentle, resilient peoples. Yet, Asian members continue to this day to experience discrimination, marginalization, and vulnerability, as monolithic “newcomers”.

Asian United Church women and men in ministry have long struggled to have their rich gifts for ministry recognized and honoured, and their differently accented English understood and accepted. Some had trouble being ordained and were told that no congregation would call them because of their race. Some were told that no congregation could understand them because of their accent. Some were rejected by couples who wanted a White minister to marry them. Still others experience name calling and threats.

We lament.

We lament the need for Asians to try to assimilate into voiceless invisibility in order to try to fit in with the White dominant Church.

We lament the micro-aggressions, “Where are you from?” and “You don’t look like a Canadian,” inevitably followed by, “Where are you really from?”, eternalizing the persistent belief that Asians in Canada and in the Church are perpetual foreigners, never belonging.

We lament the fallacy of Asians in Canada as an “invasive species” and “yellow peril”, escalating to “Go back where you came from”, when in fact this is Indigenous land on which Europeans are also invasive.

We lament that incidents of violence and aggression towards Asians continue to escalate in correlation to the fabricated blame on Asians for the pandemic.

We resist.

We resist treating Asians in our church as “them” and not “us”.

We resist labeling Asians as the compliant “model minority”, in other words, in closer proximity to the White majority and thus less vulnerable to racism and hate.

We resist pitting one racialized group against another.

We resist the problematic tendency for Church and society to play “oppression Olympics”, a constructed competition that judges one group’s oppression as more important than another’s, thus invalidating Asians and rendering anti-Asian racism invisible, trivial, and insignificant.

We commit.

In response to The United Church of Canada commitment to becoming an anti-racist Church, Shining Waters Regional Council is committed to the long-term, uncomfortable work of anti-racism:

To learn to listen to different accents and voices with respect, patience, and genuine humility.
To learn to employ an anti-racist lens and postcolonial interpretation to how we read scripture and preach the Gospel message.
To work persistently toward making the Church free of racism and dehumanization in word, action, and structure.
And to work toward becoming a Church that is one body of belonging without hierarchy of perceived race in relation to White.

As we engage in the struggle for justice for all peoples,
May the power of the Spirit embolden us
And the reconciliation of Christ inspire us
In the presence of the Holy Mystery who is wholly love.

David Leyton-Brown
President Shining Waters Regional Council
The United Church of Canada
and Asian United Church Women Elders in Ministry and Solidarity

If you have any questions, please contact:
Kim Uyede-Kai
Minister, Communities of Faith Support, Anti-Racism, and Right Relations
Shining Waters Regional Council
The United Church of Canada
Phone: 1-800-268-3781 ext. 6173
Email: kuyedekai@united-church.ca

Educational Resources to Help to Dismantle Anti-Asian Racism and Build Resistance

Where Are You From?

COVID 19 and the Racism Pandemic We Need to Talk About

The Pandemic of Racism. A Centre for Christian Studies Presentation

On Racism and White Allies

A Prayer of Confession for Anti-Asian Racism and Sexism

Addressing Anti-Asian Racism: A Resource for Educators. Toronto District School Board.

The Asian Virus: Anti-Asian Attacks Surge. An NBC News report.

@ccnsj (Chinese Canadian Council for Social Justice)