May is Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month – a celebration of Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States. The month of May was chosen to commemorate two significant events in history: the immigration of the first Japanese immigrants to the United States on May 7, 1843, and the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869 (Golden Spike Day). The diversity and common experiences of the many ethnic groups are celebrated during Asian Pacific American Heritage Month with numerous community festivals as well as government-sponsored activities. Photo, right, from the Library of Congress: Dressmaking Class at the Manzanar Relocation Center in California
In the United Church of Christ, the Pacific Islander and Asian American Ministries (PAAM) was organized in 1974 in San Francisco. The vision was to unite and move forward at the national, regional and local levels as Pacific Islanders and Asian Americans in the United Church of Christ, sharing each person's unique gifts. PAAM was voted into existence at the 10th General Synod in 1975 as a recognized Special Interest Group within the UCC. PAAM has initiated, sponsored, supported and participated in activities at all levels of the conference, worked for greater PAAM representation on all levels of conference boards, committees and staff. PAAM continues to address institutional racism within the church and society, is concerned with human rights and justice, and helps to support and strengthen clergy and lay leadership at the local level.