Eugene Cho

race. racism. racialization.

well, it was a very interesting sunday.  very exhausting.  obviously, the content of the sermon (issues of faith and racism) contributed to the exhaustion.  i also made the mistake of checking email on sunday between services (which i should not do); just the number of hits and comments on this blog in the past 24 hours, emails, and comments after the sermon is verification enough that the church (including quest) doesn’t speak enough about ‘faith and race.’  as i shared yesterday during the sermon yesterday, our faith cannot be contained for a sunday or a 90 minute service.  if faith in jesus is real, it must engage every aspect of our lives.  ultimately, it invades, affects, redeems, and transforms our worldview.

so, some of the interest comments from yesterday:

“are you saying that white folks are racist?” my short answer: of course not.  i’m not saying that YOU are a racist, i’m merely speaking about ‘systemic’ or ‘institutional’ racism.  and yes, i again want to affirm that the core of the issue is human sin and depravity.

“are you saying that all churches should be multicultural?”  my short answer:  they already are.  are you asking should they be multiethnic?  for the majority, yes.  i’m a big supporter of the ethnic church but believe that predominantly anglo churches need to be stretched and english speaking ethnic churches need to be stretched.  you can wrestle with the definition of ‘stretched.’

“will you talk about faith and gender inequality?”  my short answer:  yes.  when?  not sure yet.

“who made that video?”  the video, entitled, ‘silent racism’  was done by five folks who attended the 2006 faith and race class this past summer as a homework assignment.  if you missed it or want to see it again, you can see it on youtube here.

“you said you support affirmative action.  why is that fair?”  my short answer:  yes, i support affirmative action.  is it fair? you’re asking the wrong question. 

“so, do you dislike white people?”  my answer:  (laughing) of course not; i pastor quest church and i’m called to love and serve all at quest and beyond. 

my favorite question (i think asked jokingly): “are you racist?” my answer: no, i’m not racist.  like many others, if not all, i struggle with the subtleties of my prejudice.  although not a racist, i now understand the realities of what it means to be ‘racialized.’  perhaps cornel west (professor of religion at princeton) says it best: “It is impossible to be an American and not racialize how your feel.”

this past sunday was also more interesting with a) a professor from dallas theological seminary visiting.  he teaches issues dealing with culturally diverse congregations (i think) and  b) a nobel peace prize nominee and others visiting from burma  who intimately know oppression, racism, suffering,  and genocide because it is happening NOW.  a question that emerged from the group, “what do you say to those who are oppressed?” 

finally, a powerful image for me yesterday was looking across the beautiful congregation at quest where i feel so privileged to serve and lead.  i appreciate so much the attentiveness of each person as we engaged a difficult conversation and even more humbled, that many different people (across different ethnicities, stories, and age) have chosen to disceringly sumbit themselves to my leadership and teaching.  yesterday, i was taken back to see numerous asian and african-american questers in tears or near tears. 

looking forward to this upcoming sunday.  although several have expressed disappointment about quest in regards to our ‘superficial approach’ to multiculturalism, my goal has always been to gather people so that TOGETHER we can grow in Jesus, and through LIFE and COMMUNITY TOGETHER, we’ll have the opportunity to share our stories together – in hopes of learning, teaching, modeling, embodying, deepening, caring, loving, and ultimately, experiencing a new kind of worldview or life which i believe jesus referred to as ‘abundant life’ in the gospel of john.

Filed under: asian-american, culture, emerging church, quest church

7 Responses

  1. elderj says:

    interesting post…i wish i could have heard the sermon. I don’t know what to say

  2. eugenecho says:

    joshua, thanks for the post. it wasn’t that great of a sermon imo but you can listen to it at: http://seattlequest.org/sermons/2006.10.22.m3u

    blessings to you.

  3. Nancy says:

    Hi,
    I was one of those priviledged to participate in this summer’s series on Faith and Race – and it changed my life. I struggle with the definition of what it means to be a racist as I am gradually expanding the definition to include me, since as a white woman I have participated in and benefited from a racist system. That awareness now demands response.

    I moved about an hour north of Quest as the series was ending and have sought out a church closer to home. I’ve been attending a growing church in Kirkland the past month and can say that for the first time in my life I am in an all white group and feel uncomfortable (thank you Quest). The discomfort comes both from missing my brothers and sisters of color and from having an awareness not shared by others. So maybe, Eugene, you have unintentionally launched a Quest missionary into the suburbs to start more difficult conversations about race there. As I said, the awareness now demands a response.

    A big part of the conversation about race and our history of racialization involves moving through various stages of denial, anger and disillusionment with what you’ve been taught and who you are. That doesn’t happen in a Sunday, doesn’t happen in a month, may take years. The important thing is to keep having the conversation.

    My time at Quest was bracketed by the Faith and Race series – I came with the first, and ended with this last one and is a beautiful picture of the gift I continue to receive from you.

    Keep having the conversation!
    Blessings,
    Nancy

  4. eugenecho says:

    nancy,

    it is so good to hear from you. thanks so much for your post and your encouraging words.

    we miss having you here but rejoice in knowing that you continually seek to honor jesus through your life and responses.

    e

  5. Timothy Arthur O'Brien says:

    Hello,

    I want to pass along some advice I’ve gotten over the years. In the post, you are quoted as saying “that is the wrong question” to a hypothetical person who asks whether affirmative action is fair. I think that as a pastor you should know that there are no wrong questions. We try to speak of questions being valid or invalid in the context of constructive discussion, but to call a question wrong is to disdain the person who asked it. I think that most people agree that asking whether affirmative action is fair is a valid question.

    To call the question “wrong” is kind of like a shorthand for you to access a certain emotional response, like a father might get from a son. Like saying, “that’s the wrong wrench, you need the 5/16.” The response hoped for is, “thanks dad.” Fortunately or unfortunately the conversation about racism and affirmative action is not as simple as picking the right tool or the right measurement.

    I can imagine an invalid question being something like, “don’t you think he’s an idiot for believing in affirmative action?” Asking whether or not it’s fair definitely isn’t a wrong thing to do, and it isn’t a wrong choice among a list of possible questions either. A satisfyingly varied group of questions are asked in a complete discussion, and none of them are wrong.

    Best Regards,

    Timothy Arthur O’Brien

  6. […] is important because the church’s viability is at stake.  There’s also the issue that ‘Race Matters.’  Huh?  Just check out the whole painful fiasco with what is referred to as Jena 6.  Society is […]

  7. […] which was next door. Pastor Eugene Cho raises important questions on his blog about everything from race and racialization to the recent crisis in Burma. Eugene will be speaking at our conference next […]

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One Day’s Wages

My Instagram

Father, please bless and protect these Iraqi and Syrian "refugee" children that have already endured so much. Protect their hearts and mind from unfathomable trauma. Plant seeds of hope and vision in their lives. And as we pray for them, teach us how to advocate for them. Amen. "We don't call them refugees. We call them relatives. We don't call them camps but centers. Dignity is so important." -  local Iraqi priest whose church has welcomed many "relatives" to their church's property

It's always a privilege to be invited into peoples' home for tea - even if it's a temporary tent. This is an extended Yezidi family that fled the Mosul, Iraq area because of ISIS. It's indeed true that Christians were targeted by ISIS and thatbstory muat be shared but other minority groups like the Yezidis were also targeted. Some of their heartbreaking stories included the kidnapping of their sister. They shared that their father passed away shortly of a "broken heart." The conversation was emotional but afterwards, we asked each other for permission to take photos. Once the selfies came out, the real smiles came out.

So friends: Pray for Iraq. Pray for the persecuted Church. Pray for Christians, minority groups like the Yezidis who fear they will e completely wiped out in the Middle East,, and Muslims alike who are all suffering under ISIS. Friends: I'm traveling in the Middle East this week - Iraq, Lebanon, and Jordan. (Make sure you follow my pics/stories on IG stories). Specifically, I'm here representing @onedayswages to meet, learn, and listen to pastors, local leaders, NGOs, and of course directly from refugees from within these countries - including many from Syria.

For security purposes, I haven't been able to share at all but I'm now able to start sharing some photos and stories. For now, I'll be sharing numerous photos through my IG stories and will be sharing some longer written pieces in couple months when ODW launches another wave of partnerships to come alongside refugees in these areas. Four of us are traveling together also for the purpose of creating a short documentary that we hope to release early next year.

While I'm on my church sabbatical, it's truly a privilege to be able to come to these countries and to meet local pastors and indigenous leaders that tirelessly pursue peace and justice, and to hear directly from refugees. I've read so many various articles and pieces over the years and I thought I was prepared but it has been jarring, heartbreaking,  and gut wrenching. In the midst of such chaos, there's hope but there's also a lot of questions, too.

I hope you follow along as I share photos, stories, and help release this mini-documentary. Please tag friends that might be interested.

Please pray for safety, for empathy, for humility and integrity, for divine meetings. Pray that we listen well; To be present and not just be a consumer of these vulnerable stories. That's my biggest prayer.

Special thanks to @worldvisionusa and @worldrelief for hosting us on this journey. 9/11
Never forget.
And never stop working for peace.

Today, I had some gut wrenching and heart breaking conversations about war, violence, and peacemaking. Mostly, I listened. Never in my wildest imagination did I envision having these conversations on 9/11 of all days. I wish I could share more now but I hope to later after I process them for a few days.

But indeed: Never forget.
And never stop working for peace.
May it be so. Amen. Mount Rainier is simply epic. There's nothing like flying in and out of Seattle.

#mountrainier
#seattle
#northwestisbest Took a train to Busan. Did not encounter any zombies but I was ready just in case.

Busan. First visit to this city (couple weeks ago) and was blown away by its beauty. Also, shocked that it has become the fifth largest containment port city in the world. That's a lot of import and export.

#MyAttemptToBeTheBestSmartphonePhotographer 
#Pusan #SouthKorea

my tweets

  • Every convo with Iraqi/Syrian refugees included: 1 Have tea with us 2 We want peace 3 We hate ISIS 4 We want to go home 5 Don't forget us || 6 hours ago
  • Back safely from Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan to assess @OneDaysWages' partnerships & to film mini-documentary on refugee crisis. So many emotions. || 6 hours ago
  • Pray for Mexico. For those mourning loved ones. For those fighting for life - even under rubbles. For rescue workers. Lord, in your mercy. || 6 hours ago
  • Don't underestimate what God can do through you. God has a very long history of using foolish and broken people for His purposes and glory. || 2 days ago
  • Father, bless these Iraqi and Syrian refugee children that have already endured so much. As we pray, teach us how t… twitter.com/i/web/status/9… || 4 days ago
  • Pray for Iraq. Pray for persecuted Church, minority groups (Yezidis) and Muslims alike who are suffering under ISIS: instagram.com/p/BZF2j6Ngrna/ || 4 days ago