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Asian American Pacific Islander Faith Leaders Convene and Connect for Greater Community Engagement and Service

Asian American Pacific Islander Faith Leaders Convene and Connect for Greater Community Engagement and Service

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Korean Churches for Community Development (KCCD) kicked off its 8th annual Lighting the Community Summit on Monday. The Lighting the Community (LTC) Summit is a conference in which the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) faith community members as well as members from the government and business spheres are able to convene and network for greater service to the community. Over 100 diverse leaders gathered for this year's summit, including leaders from Korean immigrant churches, and non-Asian community and government leaders.

The summit focuses on highlighting the issues that affect the AAPI faith community, and the strengths of the AAPI churches, and building partnerships among leaders to work together for greater service to the community.

Indeed, the running theme that stayed as the undercurrent throughout the first day of the summit were those very two aspects: the need for the greater community to engage with the needs of the AAPI community; and the need for the AAPI faith community to engage with the issues that are occurring in the greater community at large.

"We need your voice in these policy issues," said Mark Keam, a delegate for the 35th District Virginia House of Delegates, who shared a few remarks before the panel. "And I encourage you to build a network with one another throughout the next three days, to build a stronger community of faith."

The first night of summit included a panel with Mitchell Hescox, Jim Wallis, Abraham Hernandez, David Beckmann, Carroll Baltimore, and Katleen Davis-Siudut; a presentation by Sam George, the executive director of Parivar International, regarding the current conditions and status of the AAPI community in the U.S.; and a time to network in small groups.

The panel, most of whom were non-Asian and come from various different community backgrounds and expertise, shared the aspects that each of their ministries focus on, and the importance of the church, and the AAPI faith community in particular, to stay informed about the issues that affect the world today.

"Stay engaged and informed," Mitchell Hescox, the president and CEO of the Evangelical Environmental Network, said during the panel session regarding the power of church and society. "While we are all God's children, you must bring your voice as who you are, because you have something valuable to bring to the table."

"No significant change has happened in history without the church spearheading the effort," said Abraham Hernandez, the vice president of the Northeast U.S. region of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference.

"As Asian Americans, we have unique gifts and talents to offer, to the greater community, for the next generation, and for the kingdom of God," Sam George said.

The summit, which takes place at Washington, D.C. each year, will feature a National Asian American Pacific Islander Prayer Breakfast; workshops on leveraging resources in the government, corporate, and media; Congressional visits; and a White House briefing on AAPI needs and interests, among various activities over the next two days.