Since early this year I have been on a committee planning a conference to be held Oct. 12 and 13, prior to the election in November.

The committee, originally called Christian Social Issues (CSI), had been meeting for a few years at the Little Tokyo Service Center office on Sunday afternoons. It was headed by Bill Watanabe.

I was drawn to the committee because it discussed social issues that called for Christian involvement. Many years ago, Bill and I attended Holiness Church in the San Fernando Valley. He has since become a member of the Evergreen Baptist Church of San Gabriel, and I a member of Chatsworth West United Methodist Church.

With the critical election approaching in November, we talked about how the Christian community might come to grips with some of the issues in the election.

One matter we did not discuss is the difference between Christian churches within our community. The Holiness Church, which Bill and I were part of many years ago, as well as the Baptist Church that Bill now attends, is conservative. I, being a United Methodist, have a more liberal view. The term, more recently, is progressive.

In simple terms, this means Bill’s church generally takes much of the Bible literally, while my church generally accepts a broader interpretation of the Scriptures.

In planning for the convention, though, there were common areas of interest and concern to bring the two perspectives together. The convention could provide an opportunity to interface with other churches, as well as bring together Asian communities.

The conference will be held Friday evening, Oct. 12, and Saturday, Oct. 13, at the historic Union Church on Third and San Pedro. Our keynote speaker Friday evening will be Rev. Jim Wallis.

Rev. Wallis is a Methodist pastor and editor of Sojourner’s Magazine. He has been a social justice worker for over 35 years. A response panel will consist of Rev. Ken Fong, senior pastor of Evergreen Baptist Church of L.A.; community activist Diane Ujiiye; James Kang, editor of Subtle Magazine; and Vaka Faletau, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander leader and community activist.

Saturday’s workshop topics will include “National Healthcare Reform: A Christian Perspective,” “Walk Through the 2012 Ballot,” “The Churches’ Response to Poverty, Homelessness and Unemployment,” “Asian and Pacific Islander Ethnic Identity, Church and Society,” and “The AAPI Church and Gay and Lesbian Issues.”

Workshop leaders will include Christian activists, ministers and professionals, including Stewart Kwoh, executive director of the Asian Pacific American Legal Center, and Joel Roberts, CEO of PATH Partners, an organization serving the homeless.

When it came time to volunteer to help, I said I would help to publicize, but had to admit my ignorance of Twitter, blogs and other Web matters.

So this column is my contribution to the cause of getting you to this exciting and ground-breaking event.  It is open to everyone.

Friday’s program will start at 7 p.m. Saturday’s workshops will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. On-site registration is $50. Early registration is $30 prior to Sept. 28, and $40 prior to Oct. 5. Registration fee includes refreshments Friday and breakfast, lunch and snacks Saturday.

For application and more information:


Phil Shigekuni writes from San Fernando Valley and can be contacted at The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.

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