A large-scale project to investigate the trend of the developing Chinese churches in Bay Area has launched its second phase recently.
"Bay Area Chinese Churches Research Project: Phase II" is sponsored by the Asian American Center (AAC) at American Baptist Seminary of the West (ABSW) as the extension of the first part of the project that was completed in September 1996.
Phase I Project has documented the growth of Chinese Protestant congregations from 1950 to mid-1996 in five Bay Area counties- San Francisco, San Mateo, Contra Costa, Alameda and Santa Clara. The Phase II Project will therefore revisit the churches described in the 1996 report to appraise their present situation, list and describe new congregations that may have started since the 1996 report, and make note of emerging trends and current challenges and opportunities, according to AAC.
ACC wishes to see a final report that goes beyond listings of raw numbers and statistics, aiming to produce a detailed analysis containing information that pastors and church leaders in the Bay Area will find helpful as they carry out their ministry.
Demographic data on the Chinese in the various counties and essays that address specific concerns of Chinese congregations are expected to be included in the final report. Moreover, at the conclusion of the study, a conference will be held for pastors and lay leaders to share the results of the study, to discuss issues that are raised, and to provide a setting for worship, sharing, and fellowship.
Headed by Project Director James Chuck, who is a Professor of Theology and Church Ministries at ABSW, the Phase II Project has already started. It is expected to last till May 2007 when the data are completely compiled and followed by writing up of the report.
In the first two months of 2006, profile surveys are to be distributed and gathered. In March and April, follow-up study of selected congregations will be carried out while profile data are to be analyzed. From September 2005 to May 2007, supplementary essays for the study to be gathered and edited, according to AAC.
The final report will be written in English, with at least, a summary in Chinese. A one-day conference to discuss the findings of the report is set for Oct. 20, 2007 tentatively.
According to the Phase I Project report, the number of Chinese congregations grew from 15 to 158 from 1950 to mid-1996 in five Bay Area counties. Some of the significant factors listed accounting for the growth includes:
- an explosive increase of the Chinese population in the United States with the fact that many Chinese desire to belong to a community of shared cultural values and religious commitment;
- local Chinese churches with a vision to plant daughter churches;
- established denominations such as the Alliance church and the Southern Baptists engaging intentionally to expand work among the Chinese;
- relatively large number of college educated professionals in Chinese congregations provide both leadership and financial resources to support the ministry and outreach of the congregation.
The sponsor of the project- Asian American Center- is a team of educators, pastors, and ministry leaders that are devoted to support Asian Americans in exploring and expressing their God-given cultures and identities in their worship, evangelism, and service, and to nurture them to become future leaders for Kingdom building.