Following the suspension of the renowned Asian American Center at the American Baptist Seminary of the West (ABSW), a new institute will be formed to reinforce Asian American Christianity in North America.
Led by a team of experienced theological educators, recognized scholars who have pioneered the study of Asian American Christianity, and church leaders with expertise in Asian American ministry settings, the Institute for the Study of Asian American Christianity (ISAAC) will be formed.
ISAAC aims to foster the study of Asian American Christianity in order to strengthen the Christian movement in North America and worldwide, broaden theological and university curricula, and empower Asian American Christian leaders and scholars, as stated in the development proposal published in early April by Rev. Timothy Tseng, founding member of ISAAC and former chairman of Asian American Center.
According to the proposal, there is a great need to establish ISAAC. A significant percentage of the 13 million Asian Americans in the United States identify as Christians. Asian Americans have very diverse and vibrant cultural background and they often act as the bridge for multi-racial conversation. Furthermore, the predominant form of Asian American Protestantism is Evangelicalism but North Americans were not well-informed about this.
Thirdly, there is a knowledge gap about Asian American Christianity in North American institutions of higher education (IHEs). Most Asian and Asian American faculty in theological schools have not been trained in Asian American studies and do not necessarily have the expertise to research or teach about Asian American Christianity. Therefore, it needs to have scholarly reorientation and renewal.
The other challenges are the failure of Asian American church leaders to Asian American culture and history with Christian faith by theological tools as well as the knowledge gap between Asian Christians and Asian American Christians.
Apart from providing education, ISAAC is directing a number of research projects, including Asian American Worship resource book, Bay Area Chinese Congregational Study-Phase II, Documentary History of Asian Protestants in the North American Diaspora, Pulpit and Pew project follow up, Asian American Witness and Works publication and curriculum.
ISAAC would also become a platform for communication among Asian American Christian scholars as well as that between Asian American and North American seminaries.
The development of ISAAC is split into four-year stages. ISAAC wishes that it can foster excellent work and make a strategic contribution to the theological and cultural deepening of the faith in North America and Asia.