I grew up in a megachurch in a very diverse area of Southern California. It wasn’t until I was in 6th grade that I saw a church leader who looked like me, an Asian American. I had gone to this church my whole life, but hadn’t experienced seeing a leader who looked like I did teach the Bible and play guitar; it was powerful. Although I had always known I was welcome in my church, this was the first time I thought maybe I could be a pastor someday.
The Next Generation Leadership Initiative of the ACNA (NGLI), in partnership with the Anglican Multi-Ethnic Network, has launched the Antioch Leadership Network, intended to increase our leadership from ethnic-minorities.
The Antioch Leadership Network (ALN) matters because the gospel of Jesus Christ is a message of salvation and hope for all peoples and nations, even the ones who look differently than we do.
The mission of the Anglican Church in North America is “to reach North America with the transforming love of Jesus Christ.” The United States is not a homogenous place. According to the Brookings Institute, in the past decade of 2010-2020, the Latino/Hispanic population has grown 23%, the Asian American population by 32%, the Black population by 10%, and the biracial/multiracial population by 36%. In contrast, the white population has only increased by 0.6% in that same time period. Projections showed that these minority ethnic groups would comprise about 40% of the total US population by 2020.
At the same time, if you were to walk into your average ACNA parish, you would not see a congregation that reflects our country’s ethnic diversity. There are some notable exceptions, thanks be to God, but our congregations and leadership are largely white. This tells me that we can do more to raise up leaders from this underrepresented segment of our population. I suspect there are many young men and women like me who need to see that Christ’s Church is for all people.
The ALN is one way of helping better equip the ACNA for mission in our own back yard. When commenting on the faith of a centurion soldier, Jesus remarked “I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham and Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 8:11). We should desire to see all people in our community know the love and grace of God, not just those who look like us.
Let me be clear, I don’t bring up these numbers as a quota to be reached for political correctness. These numbers matter because they represent people groups created in the image of God that have giftings of the Holy Spirit to contribute to the building up of Christ’s body on earth. I believe the Lord has brought the nations of the world to our doorstep and that there are future lay leaders, vestry members, deacons, priests, and even bishops who are not part of the dominant ethnic culture in America sitting in our pews and the wider community.
To reach different racial demographics and to raise up more leaders of color in our churches, to minister to those in our own current communities, will require an intentional effort and process, thus the creation of the ALN. ALN will work to develop leaders to better reach our whole communities. I am thrilled to represent NGLI while working with our 7 partner dioceses and numerous churches to create systems that might identify and equip new, and diverse, leaders for our growing mission field that are faithful to the Anglican way of following Jesus. It is my hope that in the future of the ACNA there are more stories like mine because of the Antioch Initiative as we strive to reach all of North America.
To join the province in mission and movement alongside the next generation of Anglicans, consider making a financial gift to this effort.
To learn more about Antioch Clergy Initiative (ACI), contact Fr. Taylor Ishii.
Director of Antioch Leadership Network
Taylor is passionate about equipping the next generation of ethnically diverse leaders for the Anglican Church and coming alongside dioceses and congregations who want to reach all nations and people groups in their community with the gospel. Taylor is a leader in the Anglican Multiethnic Network (AMEN) and a leader in a local group of churches working towards Christ-centered racial reconciliation through the church in South Alabama.