North American Asian Ministry
The Joint Mission Council is assisting in various Asian outreach opportunities in North America to Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese people-groups. In June 2020, Rev. Neil Birkholz accepted a call to serve as North American Asian outreach consultant for WELS Joint Missions, after serving in East Asia for six years. In this newly created position, Birkholz will be promoting, training, guiding and advocating for outreach among Asian people groups throughout North America. He will be working with individuals to improve their personal Asian intercultural witnessing skills, and he will be working with congregations to design and implement outreach programs to reach their Asian community members. His new role is based out of Reformation Lutheran Church in San Diego, Calif.
There are currently six congregations located in Chicago, Ill., Coquitlam, B.C., Saint Paul, Minn., Santa Clara, Calif., San Jose, Calif., and Wauwatosa, Wis., that are actively reaching out to Chinese people in their community. Three of these ministries are served full-time by a Chinese national pastor. An additional three congregations located in Des Moines, Iowa, San Diego, Calif., and Toronto, Ont., are exploring potential Chinese outreach. Two Chinese men in Des Moines and Toronto are currently studying with the Pastoral Studies Institute (PSI) to become pastors.
There are currently two self-supporting Korean congregation in Las Vegas, Nev., and Des Moines, Wash., and a Korean after-school academy run by two Korean WELS teachers in Morton Grove, Ill. WELS also partners with our sister synod in South Korea to place Korean international students in WELS schools throughout the country.
Members from Messiah in Nampa, Idaho, and Cross of Christ in Boise, Idaho, began reaching out to Vietnamese immigrants in their community in 1992. Today, Peace in Jesus Vietnamese Lutheran Church has their own facility and continues to reach out through Bible information classes and worship services in Vietnamese and English. Two Vietnamese leaders of the congregation are taking classes through the Pastoral Studies Institute (PSI) to become pastors. WELS members in Garden Grove, Calif., are also exploring potential Vietnamese outreach in their community.