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A Faith Of Our Own

A Faith Of Our Own: Second-Generation Spirituality in Korean American Churches

Sharon Kim
Copyright Date: 2010
Published by: Rutgers University Press
Pages: 214
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  • Book Info
    A Faith Of Our Own
    Book Description:

    Second-generation Korean Americans, demonstrating an unparalleled entrepreneurial fervor, are establishing new churches with a goal of shaping the future of American Christianity.A Faith of Our Owninvestigates the development and growth of these houses of worship, a recent and rapidly increasing phenomenon in major cities throughout the United States.Immigration historians have depicted the second-generation as a transitional generation--on the steady march toward the inevitable decline of ethnic identity and allegiance. Sharon Kim suggests an alternative path. By harnessing religion and innovatively creating hybrid religious institutions, second-generation Korean Americans are assertively defining and shaping their own ethnic and religious futures. Rather than assimilating into mainstream American evangelical churches or inheriting the churches of their immigrant parents, second-generation pastors are creating their own hybrid third space--new autonomous churches that are shaped by multiple frames of reference.Including data gathered over ten years at twenty-two churches,A Faith of Our Ownis the most comprehensive study of this topic that addresses generational, identity, political, racial, and empowerment issues.

    eISBN: 978-0-8135-4947-7
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xi)
  4. Chapter 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-20)

    Samuel Hurh immigrated to the United States in 1973 at the age of six. His family settled in a quiet southern Californian suburb, where he rarely saw other Koreans aside from those he met every Sunday at the nearby Korean immigrant church where he and his family worshiped. At the church, Samuel was exposed weekly to his Korean culture; it was where he regularly heard the Korean language, enjoyed home-cooked Korean food, and adhered to numerous cultural norms such as deferentially bowing and showing respect to his elders. In his teenage years, however, the church became an increasingly uncomfortable and...

  5. Chapter 2 Generational Tension within Korean Immigrant Churches
    (pp. 21-49)

    Korean immigrant churches have experienced more than their share of internal conflicts and tensions. Sadly, numerous reports are heard of bitter church splits within Korean congregations where long-simmering tensions boiled over into shoving matches and fist fights that brought in the police. In fact, several scholars have argued that the large number of Korean churches in this country has been due, in significant part, to the high rates of internal strife that have led to church splits (Shin and Park 1988). Dissatisfied with the heated political struggles within immigrant churches along with a host of other generational tensions, second-generation ministers...

  6. Chapter 3 The Quest for a Community of Comfort
    (pp. 50-82)

    According to the 2000 U.S. census, there are nearly 1.1 million Koreans residing in the United States (E.-Y. Yu 2001). As the numbers of American-born Korean Americans entering early adulthood increases, second-generation churches have been multiplying rapidly. The majority of the fifty-six independent second-generation churches in the Los Angeles area were established in the past ten years. In this chapter, I argue that second-generation Korean Americans, despite their high level of acculturation and socioeconomic mobility, are congregating at these newly developed churches because at them their longing for fellowship and spiritual enrichment is being met in an environment in which...

  7. Chapter 4 Spiritual Laboratories
    (pp. 83-109)

    Second-generation churches, as they emerge within congregational spaces, draw from a variety of cultural and spiritual resources. In their quest to invent an independent second-generation spirituality, the leaders of these new churches aim to adopt what they perceive to be essential beliefs, symbols, and practices from Korean Protestantism and various expressions of American evangelicalism, and to anchor them in their newly formed organizations.

    The dominance of a Western, Euro-American Protestantism in the United States has meant that racial minorities and their religious institutions have had to operate from the borders. However, in the minds of second-generation pastors, existing on the...

  8. Chapter 5 Reaching Out
    (pp. 110-132)

    Fruitful Church sponsors an annual Christmas party at Township Gardens, one of the largest and reportedly most dangerous public housing projects in south Los Angeles. On an unusually warm December day, heading toward the main quad of Township Gardens, I noticed the numerous murals painted on the exterior gymnasium walls—the face of Martin Luther King Jr., five black fists, and large bold text that read, “Nobody can stop this war except us.” Around the corner, on an adjacent wall, I saw another mural—a memorial to all the residents of Township Gardens who were killed as a result of...

  9. Chapter 6 Shifting Ethnic Boundaries
    (pp. 133-158)

    An internal tension exists in and among the different churches where the second-generation Korean American Protestants in this study make their home. This internal tension in their hybrid third space revolves around the reality that at the current stage of development, second-generation churches are confronted with dilemmas over the cultural substance within the boundaries of the church. None of the second-generation pastors want their churches to be exact replicas of mainstream evangelical churches. Rather, they hope to fashion and practice Christianity that is shaped by multiple frames of reference, including their ethnic culture. But although all of the churches are...

  10. Chapter 7 Conclusion
    (pp. 159-168)

    The ethnic church has been, from the first wave of Korean immigration to the United States, the central institution in the Korean American community. Today, there are more than 3,000 Korean American Protestant churches nationwide, and nearly 80 percent of Korean Americans are affiliated with them (Lien and Carnes 2004; Yoo and Chung 2008). Korean Americans—past and present—have been deeply influenced by the dominance of the Protestant church within their ethnic communities. However, today, as the children of post-1965 immigrants come of age, they are exerting new pressures and challenges to the existing immigrant religious organizations. No longer...

  11. Appendix A. Description of Churches
    (pp. 169-170)
  12. Appendix B. Congregational Survey
    (pp. 171-176)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 177-194)
  14. Index
    (pp. 195-200)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 201-201)