Rev. Ajung Sojwal is a PastoraLab Online Cohort member. She is the rector of St. George’s Episcopal Church, Hempstead, NY., in the Diocese of Long Island. She comes from Nagaland, India, and immigrated to the USA in 1994 with her husband and their first child. Ajung has served as priest-in-charge and interim rector at several churches in New York and Connecticut before being called to her current church. She blogs regularly for AAWOL.
“I realized just how starved of companionship I was with Asian American women leaders as I participated in the monthly online PastoraLab meetings. Engagement in the Episcopal Church as an Asian American woman pastor has often been a lonely journey. The better known stories of women in Christian leadership seemed to have a dearth of Asian women. So, when I saw the faces of these Asian women leaders on my computer screen and heard the incredible stories of their stubborn faithfulness to God’s call on their lives in environments less than welcoming of their gifts, I felt an immense sense of validation in my own role of leadership.
The in-person retreat in Los Angeles, CA., with the women from all the PastoraLab cohorts further fed my yearning for companionship with women of similar cultural/community ethos. The conversations at our online meetings continue to serve as an affirmation of my belief that the coming age of church growth will be defined by collaborative leadership that’s more reflective of community oriented cultures like the ones, we, in the PastoraLab program come from.
It often feels like I am swimming upstream to shed the dictates of a deeply hierarchical institution that we call the Church. Yet, in conversations like the ones we have at the PastoraLab, I find hope that Paul’s profound imagination of the church as The Body of Christ can come true someday with the insistence of our engagement in that vision.”