APA Faith Matters is a periodic interview of Asian Pacific American (APA) leaders in various religious contexts. It highlights those leaders who are passionate about social justice issues that matter to APA communities and work from within their religious contexts
Rev. Bruce Reyes-Chow is a native Northern Californian and third generation Chinese/Filipino who from 2000-2011 was the founding pastor of Mission Bay Community Church, a church of 20/30-somethings in San Francisco and from 2008-2010 was Moderator of the 218th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA). He is currently working as a consultant – writing, speaking, and teaching. Bruce also serves on the Boards of The Public Religion Research Institute and CA Faith for Equality.
What is your religious background?
I am Presbyterian which is one of many Christian denominations in the United States.
How are you involved in your particular religion (job, volunteer, etc.)?
I am an ordained “Teaching Elder” in the Presbyterian Church (USA) which means that I can be hired by a Presbyterian Church to be the pastor and hold the roles of doing things like performing marriages, serving communion and baptizing people. I was ordained in 1995 and after serving two churches have also held roles in the larger church, most recently the office of Moderator, the highest elected office in our church
Is being Asian American a part of or impact your religious perspective/experience, if so, how?
My home church, Trinity Presbyterian Church in Stockton, CA was formed during farmworker strikes in the central valley of CA. The Presbyterian Church cared for the Filipino workers of the day and helped to birth the church. This commitment to the community and a posture of liberation has greatly influenced my faith. The Filipino-ness that was brought into the church in terms of a broad sense of family, understanding generational roles and the nuances of communication were formative to my faith. I would also say the understanding of race and how we carry that gift into the world was deeply rooted in our religious experience. We were taught to be proud Filipinos, but also wise about a world that did not always embrace the diversity that we might bring to society, church included.
What social/political issues are you passionate about the most?
Where to begin? Depending on the day and what’s going on in the world, I may feel called to speak and/or blog about pretty much everything. Woven into many of posts and conversations are issues of race, homosexuality, parenting and civil political discourse.
How does your religion impact or shape your view on those issues?
I hope that might faith has shaped and formed all of my values. The dance between culture and faith is one that I am eagerly embrace, but my faith is what compels me to speak out on behalf of those who are oppressed in any way but to do so with graciousness and care. For instance, I can challenge the church to welcome LGBT folks into all aspects of the church without engaging in tactics that use fear and demonizing as motivators. My faith commands that of me.
His blog can be found at Patheos.