Twenty-seven Asian American pastors gathered for a time of sharing and encouragement at what is known as the ‘Synergy Retreat,’ which took place from May 22 to 24 in Oceanside, CA.
The annual retreat was launched in 2007 by Pastor Steve Choi, the lead pastor of Crossway Community Church, and today is organized by a team of pastors from six local churches, including Good News Chapel, Living Hope Community Church, 4 Pointes Church (Atlanta), Jubilee Presbyterian Church, and Redeemer Presbyterian Church (Los Angeles).
“I felt that there was a big need for leadership training for pastors,” said Choi regarding how the idea first came about.
As pastors ministering in the Asian American church have continually been met with the specific challenges presented in that cultural context, Choi and the other church leaders felt the need to provide a space of encouragement and affirmation.
“There were, and still are, many who leave the ministry. We wanted to gather some key leaders and see what God would do,” he said. “I think just getting together in fellowship and mutual learning has been an invaluable time for all who attended a Synergy Retreat.”
The retreats take on a more casual format, focusing mostly on discussion. Pastors share experiences of what has – or has not – worked in their ministries.
This year, two pastors in particular were featured at the retreat: Larry Osborne, former senior pastor of North Coast Church, and Cory Ishida, the senior pastor of Evergreen Baptist Church of San Gabriel Valley. Pastors also had discussions following the book In the Name of Jesus by Henri Nouwen.
Almost 20 churches were represented at the retreat, including the six that organize the event, as well as Community Church at Holliston, South Bay Mission Church, Thanksgiving Church, Rooftop Church, and Chase Oaks Church from Texas, among others.
Many of the pastors are multiple-time returners to the retreat, and Choi explained that the relationships that are formed during the retreat are among the main reasons pastors enjoy the retreat most.
“The men who have been a part of this have become friends, partners, and some have collaborated in ministry and some have even started serving at the same church together,” he said. “The friendship from this gathering has allowed for honest, humble, and caring discussions.”