Statement – Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church Shooting

Dear TAF Family,

Our hearts are heavy as we learn more information about the shooting at the Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church (TPC) that took the life of one and injured five others on Sunday, May 15th, 2022. We offer our deepest sympathies and condolences to the families and loved ones that were harmed in this act of violence. We grieve the loss of Dr. John Cheng, 52, a selfless hero and former TAFer. He was a son, father, and husband. He has a high school graduating son and a daughter still in high school. We hope for the emotional and physical healing for those injured and affected. We find ourselves grappling with the flood of news, analyses, and reactions. We are shaken as a core pillar of the Taiwanese American community has been targeted with the cruelest of intents reminding us to reconcile the ways of TAF’s past, present, and future in this moment.

TAF/TPC History

There is no separating this shooting from the historical context of Taiwanese Americans, and particularly TAF as an organization. Similar to TPCs across America, TAF was founded with the mission of preserving our Taiwanese heritage. Our late founders, Bill and Carol Cho, were members of the Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church. TAF was originally founded as the Midwest Formosan Christian Fellowship (MFCF) in 1966 by Bill Cho and Jim Chen, and historically, TAF focused on bringing families with Christian roots together and building a strong, connected community for first generation Taiwanese Americans and their children.

As the number of Taiwanese Americans began to grow, in 1980, MFCF renamed itself as the Taiwanese American Foundation (TAF) to include all Taiwanese Americans and evolved into the non-religious and apolitical summer conference we know today. TAF’s original purpose of developing servant leaders to grow our Taiwanese American community to benefit society remains even stronger now. The strength of TAF can be traced back to our elders, who we owe much to. This incident occurring at a community celebration makes it all the more heartbreaking as this hits all too close to home.

Safety Remains Top-of-mind

We recognize that this event comes at a time when violence against those of Asian descent continues to be on the rise, while our collective capacity to hold trauma diminishes. We share in the deep grief, fear, anger, and pain many of you are feeling. While the investigation into the shooter’s motives and intentions is ongoing, there are understandable, legitimate fears that the victims were targeted because of their geopolitical and cultural identity. With the summer conference approaching, TAF is working on strengthening our current safety protocols and those of the facilities/grounds that will be in use. The safety of our campers and staff remains of utmost importance to us.

How to Support and How to Cope

We extend our support and sympathy to members of our own community, including many TAF families and alumni directly affected by this terrible event. Additionally, TAF will be donating to the Irvine Taiwanese Presbyteran Church to support the victims and broader community.

Below are some available resources and tools:

Stronger Together 

The importance of our Taiwanese American community cannot be underestimated, and this incident only reinforces our efforts to contribute positively to it at TAF and beyond. As an organization, we strive to provide a safe environment for young Taiwanese Americans to develop a strong sense of identity, compassion, and respect for others in order to impact society in meaningful ways.

As we check up on and reconnect with our loved ones, many of whom were in attendance at the service, we are reminded just how small and tightly-knit our community is – a testament to the connections our elders created and fostered. TAF is our home that they built, and we are inspired by their example to persevere onwards and continue building a strong, resilient, and proud Taiwanese America. Let’s get through this together.

Our TAF President, HoChie Tsai, shares his thoughts, “There is no doubt in my mind, regardless of age, that in this horrific moment, they [this Taiwanese American generation and TAFers] would rise up and fight any threat to their existence — they are stronger than you know.”

Shannon Sung
Executive Director, TAF