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Asian and Asian American Realities: Racism, Hate, Resilience, and Solidarity

Asian and Asian American Realities

Image Description: Event Save the Date, blue/grey text on a white background. At the top center is the name of the event:  Asian and  Asian American Realities:Racism, Hate, Resilience, and Solidarity. Beneath that are circular headshots of the featured speakers: Rev. Laura Mariko Cheifetz, Rev. Gail Song Bantum, Dr. Paul C.H. Lim, Rev. Dr. Soong-Chan Rah, Rev. Dr. Emilie M. Townes.

A three-part series exploring the realities of the Asian diaspora in the United States.

All events are free and open to the public, and registration is requested. Registration links for additional parts of the series will be published soon.

April 8, 12PM Central: Panel conversation with the Rev. Laura Mariko Cheifetz, Rev. Gail Song Bantum, Dr. Paul C.H. Lim, Rev. Dr. Soong-Chan Rah, Rev. Dr. Emilie M. Townes. This series is offered as a part of the Relevant Religion Series.

April  15, time TBD: Teach-in

May (date/time TBD): Film screening of Far East Deep South


Register here >>

Thursday Panel conversation partners


Gail Song BantumGail Song Bantum

Pastor Gail is lead pastor at Quest Church in Seattle. She is passionate about calling individuals, groups, and organizations to become all that God says they are through the lens of leadership development and discipleship. As a second-generation, Korean-American, formed in the Korean immigrant and Black Pentecostal traditions, she seeks to faithfully embody advocacy and justice surrounding intersections of race and gender within the life of the church. Having served in pastoral ministry for over 20 years, Pastor Gail is particularly passionate about empowering leaders and has recently launched two mentoring cohorts specifically for WoC leaders and pastors. She also partners with The RISE Together Mentoring Network out of Union Theological Seminary in NYC. Pastor Gail is an ordained minister in the Evangelical Covenant Church and served as the former president of The Covenant Asian Pastors Assoc. (CAPA). She received her M.Div. from Duke Divinity School and her Bachelor of Music degree from The Eastman School of Music. Pastor Gail, her husband Dr. Brian Bantum, and their three sons reside in Seattle.

Laura Mariko CheifetzLaura M. Cheifetz

Laura Mariko Cheifetz began serving as the Assistant Dean of Admissions, Vocation, and Stewardship of Vanderbilt Divinity School in August 2019. She is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), a graduate of North Park University (MBA, ’11), McCormick Theological Seminary (M.Div. ’05), and Western Washington University (BA in Sociology, 2000). 

She is a contributing editor to Inheritance, a magazine amplifying the stories of Asian American and Pacific Islander Christian faith. She is the co-author and editor of "Church on Purpose: Reinventing Discipleship, Community, & Justice" (Judson Press) and contributor to "Race in a Post Obama America: The Church Responds" (Westminster John Knox Press).

Laura is multiracial Asian American of Japanese and white Jewish descent. She was the fourth generation of her family to be born in California, and grew up in eastern Oregon and western Washington. Laura has served on various boards, national and international ecumenical bodies, and has been president of two homeowners associations. She is currently the co-moderator of the Special Committee on Per Capita-Based Funding & National Church Financial Sustainability for the Presbyterian Church (USA). As you might imagine, she is well-versed in people and politics.

Laura and her partner, Jessica Vazquez Torres, the National Program Manager for Crossroads Antiracism Organizing & Training, live in Nashville, Tenn. with two rescued Shih Tzus. They enjoy all their nieces and nephews, and hope to be such fabulous aunties that the kids smuggle good booze to them in their retirement home. In their free time, Jessica bakes and Laura delivers the baked goods to friends and neighbors.

Paul C.H. LimPaul C.H. Lim

Professor Paul C.H. Lim is

Associate Professor of the History of Christianity at Vanderbilt Divinity School, and Associate Professor of History, College of Arts & Science Associate Faculty of Religious Studies, College of Arts & Science. He is an award-winning historian of Reformation- and post-Reformation Europe. His latest book, Mystery Unveiled: The Crisis of the Trinity in Early Modern England (Oxford, 2012), won the 2013 Roland H. Bainton Prize as the best book in history/theology by the Sixteenth Century Society and Conference.  He has published two other books in that area: The Cambridge Companion to Puritanism (Cambridge, 2008); and In Pursuit of Purity, Unity, and Liberty: Richard Baxter’s Puritan Ecclesiology in Context (Brill, 2004).

In addition, history of evangelicalism and global Christianities are his other foci of research.  Currently, he is writing a book on the transformation of global evangelical attitudes toward and endeavors on eradication of human trafficking and structural poverty. 

Soong-Chan RahSoong-Chan Rah

Dr. Soong-Chan Rah is Professor of Church Growth and Evangelism at North Park University. He enjoys helping students find answers to difficult questions. “Working in ministry, you start to ask good questions that you don’t have easy answers to. The questions you’re asking are deep, important questions. At North Park, you’ll examine real-life scenarios that people encounter, allowing for theological engagement of practical ministry,” says Dr. Rah.

For Dr. Rah, engaging in urban ministry is a passion. “The urban environment is complex, constantly changing, and always challenging.” His classes enable students to identify the skills necessary for practicing sociology-cultural analysis, expanding their understanding of the relationship between the church and the urban setting. “Anytime we can deepen the theology, it’s a good thing. Also important are spiritual formation and discipleship. All of these serve to strengthen our work,” says Dr. Rah.

Dr. Rah sees North Park’s location as an important piece of what the Seminary provides. “Chicago is part of the classroom we’re offering. Being based in Chicago is a tremendous advantage. It is a center for community development, community organizing, and ethnic diversity, with multicultural neighborhoods,” remarks Dr. Rah.

As an ordained minister in the Evangelical Covenant Church, Dr. Rah has seen firsthand the denomination’s significant growth in urban areas, and an increasing need for intercultural ministry. He was founding senior pastor of Cambridge Community Fellowship Church, Cambridge, Mass., a multi-ethnic, urban ministry-focused church committed to living out the values of racial reconciliation and social justice in the urban context.

Emilie M TownesEmilie M. Townes

The Rev. Dr. Emilie M. Townes, a distinguished scholar and leader in theological education, is dean of Vanderbilt Divinity School. She is also Distinguished Professor of Womanist Ethics and Society.

Townes' broad areas of expertise include Christian ethics, cultural theory and studies, postmodernism and social postmodernism. She has been a pioneering scholar in womanist theology, a field of studies in which the historic and current insights of African American women are brought into critical engagement with the traditions of Christian theology. Townes has a strong interest in thinking critically about womanist perspectives on issues such as health care, economic justice, poetry and literary theory.

She is the author of the groundbreaking book Womanist Ethics and the Cultural Production of Evil  (Palgrave Macmillan Press, 2006). Other books include Breaking the Fine Rain of Death: African American Health Care and A Womanist Ethic of Care (Continuum, 1998), In a Blaze of Glory: Womanist Spirituality as Social Witness (Abingdon Press, 1995) and Womanist Justice, Womanist Hope (Scholars Press, 1993). She co-edited Womanist Theological Ethics: A Reader (Westminster John Knox Press, 2011) with Katie Geneva Cannon and Angela D. Simms. In addition, Religion, Health, and Healing in African American Life (Praeger, 2008) was co-edited by Townes with Stephanie Y. Mitchem.



Sponsored by the co-curricular programs of Vanderbilt Divinity School

The Cal Turner Program in Moral Leadership; the Carpenter Program in Religion, Gender, and Sexuality; the Kelly Miller Smith Institute on Black Church Studies; the Public Theology and Racial Justice Collaborative; the Religion in the Arts and Contemporary Culture Program; and the Wendland-Cook Program in Religion and Justice.