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Save PANA's Staff and Programs

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Petition will be sent August 8, 2009 (note date change). July 29, 2009 Tat-siong Benny Liew, Ph.D., Executive Director of the PANA Institute Mary Tolbert, Ph.D., Dean of the Pacific School of Religion William McKinney, Ph.D., President of the Pacific School of Religion Rev. Sharon MacArthur, Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Pacific School of Religion 1798 Scenic Avenue Berkeley, CA 94709 Dear Dr. Liew, Dean Tolbert, President McKinney and Rev. MacArthur, We, the undersigned students, teachers, activists, scholars and diverse constituents of the PANA Institute, express distress and profound concern at the imminent and possible termination of current PANA staff members—Rev. Deborah Lee, Mr. Michael James, Ms. Lauren Quock, Ms. Sharon Hwang Colligan, Ms. Sophay Duch Ferreira, Ms. Sina Uipi—and the subsequent dissolution of existing PANA programs. While PANA’s financial health is given as the primary reason for these developments, we also believe that the current crisis reflects the Pacific School of Religion’s weak institutional commitment and support for the work of the PANA Institute. The PANA Institute stands as one of the very, very few theological institutes devoted to the study and nourishment of faith life within Asian/Pacific Island communities in North America. Many of us in the broader A/PI community are concerned that the cessation of current PANA programs could undermine years-long efforts to plant and nurture academic, theological and social action initiatives within A/PI faith communities. For many of us, the work of PANA offers a unique, vibrant and engaged way to bridge theological education with our diverse constituencies. Our work and participation in the Represent-2-Witness Youth Leadership Program (R2W), the Network on Religion and Justice for A/PI LGBTs (NRJ), the Civil Liberty and Faith Project, the pilgrimages to Manzanar and the Delta and the Philippine Human Rights Project witness to the potency of PANA’s voice and leadership among A/PI communities and congregations in the United States. These programs have enriched PSR’s curriculum and commitment to situate questions of faith at the difficult intersections of ethnicity, gender, class and empire. The PANA that we have come to deeply appreciate and support emerged out of relationships forged over a decade of outreach among local and national faith communities. Ending PANA’s current programs and terminating the staff members who have developed these programs without due process devalues the networks and relationships that both PANA and PSR have nurtured with A/PI communities over the years. Doing so seriously damages PSR’s and PANA’s integrity before these constituencies. We are profoundly disappointed at the lack of consultation and due process involved in the proposed cessation of PANA programs and the imminent and possible terminations of current PANA staff members. As constituents, allies, friends and supporters of the PANA Institute, we respectfully demand: 1. Full and accurate disclosure of PANA’s financial health by August 31, 2009; 2. The suspension of planned terminations and other personnel decisions—including the termination of Ms. Sharon Hwang Colligan (effective August 7, 2009)—until a sustainable fiscal plan for PANA’s short-term and long-term future can be developed; 3. An exhaustive exploration of options with the involvement of current PANA staff members to maintain and support PANA programs at optimal level without resorting to current staff terminations. These include, but are not limited to, fund-raising initiatives, shared job reductions, furloughs, etc.; 4. Your participation at a Town Hall meeting with the broader community to answer questions about the situation, listen to PANA constituents, and address larger institutional questions in the first week of the Fall 2009 semester; and 5. PSR’s fulfillment of its 2007 written commitment to match funds received from the Lilly Endowment to fund R2W through 2011. We ask that PSR disclose in writing the steps that it has undertaken since 2007 to match the Lilly funds—including future plans to meet this agreement, if any—by August 31, 2009. These unfortunate developments indicate a failure in institutional oversight and accountability. It exposes, too, a lack of regard for PANA’s work and the specific interests of its A/PI constituencies. Because of these, we are forced to ask: Is PSR’s failure to adequately protect PANA programs, relationships and fiscal solvency reflective of a latent and insidious institutional racism One of the primary reasons students come to PSR is because of PANA and its counterparts—the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion, the Dismantling Racism Committee, and the GTU Black Seminarians—yet these initiatives seem to operate with minimal institutional support, at the margins of PSR’s overall mission. This calls into question PSR’s commitment to “racial, gender, sexual orientation, ecological, and economic justice.” (PSR Direction Statement) In the spirit of advocacy, collegiality, witness and hope—grounded upon a shared commitment to the broader A/PI church communities in North America—we articulate these questions and express our demands as a gesture of support and accountability to the individuals, peoples and communities that have given life to the PANA Institute and the Pacific School of Religion since 2000. Sincerely,


People who care about PANA and have benefited from its 9 years of work: a diverse PANA community that includes students, clergy, young people, teachers, activists, scholars and community people.

Links (Unofficial Friends of PANA page) Also see Deborah Lee's facebook page for updated information. - for information about PANA's R2W youth leadership program currently at risk of being cut
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