The Rev. Dr. James Chuck dies; was pastor emeritus of First Chinese Baptist Church

VALLEY FORGE, PA (ABNS 8/3/17)—The Rev. Dr. James Chuck, 87, a pastor and educator, died on July 20 surrounded by his children. He was the husband of the late Marie (Jing) Chuck. They were married for 62 years.

Chuck was pastor emeritus of First Chinese Baptist Church (FCBC), San Francisco. He first came to the church in 1934 as a nursery school student and was baptized in 1944. While a student at American Baptist Seminary of the West (ABSW), Berkeley, Calif., Chuck became FCBC’s youth director. Upon graduation from seminary, he was named the church’s English-speaking pastor and, later, senior pastor for the entire congregation.

After completing service as senior pastor at FCBC in 1991, he joined the faculty at ABSW, where he served until 2007. He was a professor of Theology and Church Ministry, director of Supervised Ministry and director of Continuing Education. He is best known for teaching the core required course of Constructive Theology and advising numerous students with ordination papers. The school named him a professor emeritus.

Chuck was an adjunct faculty member at the Pacific School of Religion, Berkeley, and San Francisco Theological Seminary. He had also served as president of the Pacific and Asian American Center for Theology and Strategies at the Graduate Theological Union, a consortium of nine theological schools in Berkeley. A visiting professor at Hong Kong Baptist Seminary and the Divinity School of Chung Chi College at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, he spent three sabbaticals teaching in Hong Kong. In addition, he had been a research fellow at the Institute for the Study of Asian American Christianity.

He was a founding member of the Asian American Baptist Caucus, now known as the Alliance of Asian American Baptist Churches.

“Dr. Chuck made immeasurable contributions to the American Baptist family, particularly the Asian-American communities within and beyond the Bay Area,” says the Rev. Florence Li, American Baptist Home Mission Societies (ABHMS) national coordinator of Asian Ministries. “ABHMS’ Asian Ministries would not have existed if not for the effort of the Asian American Baptist Caucus in the 1970s. Dr. Chuck was one of the founders to advocate for an Asian desk to serve Asian immigrants.

“While pastoring First Chinese Baptist Church,” Li continues, “Dr. Chuck opened the door for me to be a ‘minister-in-training’ during my senior year at ABSW and, from thereon, he took on a student every year. He also provided many consultations on pastoral ministry and theological stands on Christianity and Christian growth.”

In the 1970s, Chuck served on the boards of American Baptist Churches USA and ABHMS, when it was known as National Ministries. In addition, he was on the board of the Pacific Coast Baptist Association. His other involvements included the Chinatown Anti-poverty Program and the National Conference of Chinese Churches.

He was principle author of the 2008 Bay Area Chinese Church research report and published three volumes of “Chinatown Stories of Life and Faith.”

He was a recipient of ABHMS’ Edward H. Rhoades Urban Ministry Award for exceptional effectiveness in urban ministry.

Chuck earned a doctorate in Theology from the Pacific School of Religion, Berkeley, Calif.; a Master of Divinity from ABSW; and a bachelor’s degree at the University of California, Berkeley. He also attended Andover Newton Theological School, Newton Centre, Mass.

Born in Oakland, Calif., he grew up in San Francisco’s Chinatown.

He is survived by sons, Paul, husband of Liane Wong, and John, husband of Lesli; daughters, Rebecca, wife of Steve Lessler, and Carol, wife of Chris Jensen; and grandchildren, Kyle, Evan, Rio, Colby, Rachel, Luke, Tyler and Kelly.

A memorial celebration will be held at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 5, at Oakland Burmese Mission Baptist Church (First Baptist Church of Oakland), 534 22nd Street, Oakland, CA 94612. It is requested that guests avoid wearing all black. A meal will follow at 4 p.m. at Moonstar Restaurant, 383 Gellert Boulevard, Daly City, CA 94015.

Memorial contributions may be sent to either American Baptist Seminary of the West, Scholarship Fund, 2606 Dwight Way, Berkeley, CA 94704, or First Chinese Baptist Church, Publication Ministries, 1 Waverly Place, San Francisco, CA 94108.

American Baptist Home Mission Societies partners with American Baptists to promote Christian faith, cultivate Christ-centered leaders and disciples, and bring healing and transformation to communities across the United States and Puerto Rico.

 American Baptist Churches is one of the most diverse Christian denominations today, with over 5,200 local congregations comprised of 1.3 million members, across the United States and Puerto Rico, all engaged in God’s mission around the world.