The API (Asian/Pacific Islander) Caucus at Union Theological Seminary in the city of New York has a ritual during important events to recite their group’s genealogy, an adaptation of the Matthean genealogy. It honors the activists, spiritual leaders, and alumni who shaped them, and includes API students who have walked the halls of Union into their ancestors’ legacy.
At first, hearing all the names and their relations can be a bit jarring — historically, Grace Lee Boggs didn’t give birth to Kosuke Koyama, and Lydia Liliʻuokalani wasn’t the sister of Merle Woo. But as the speaker presses on, you let go of temporal/historical accuracy and just let the names wash over you, immersing yourself in the living memories of ancestral wisdom.
I imagine, like Matthew’s account of Jesus’ genealogy, that each time you hear it, a different name stands out, a different story is remembered. Hidden or overlooked figures become more prominent, absent voices are glaringly apparent and mourned.
As we reflect on our 10th year of publication, we remember the scholars, academics, pastors, and elders who formed us and shaped our work. Their research, reflections, pains, and hopes were what articulated the field of Asian American Theology and continue to remind us that by embracing ourselves, we encounter God. We recognize that it is not by individual effort, but from an unending reservoir of experiences, legacies, dialogues, and transmissions, that we co-create an ever-expanding well of theological conversation that impacts our communities and congregations.
I should also note that there are countless others who we were not able to feature here, for a variety of reasons. Their absence from this issue does not reflect their lack of importance to us.
Buy their books, study their work, read some of their pieces in this issue, and know that you, too, have inherited their contributions.