Review of Intercultural Ministry: Hope for a Changing World by Dr. Robert Cornwall

 

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Many thanks to Dr. Robert Cornwall, pastor of Central Woodward Christian Church in Troy, Michigan, for this review of Intercultural Ministry.

Most churches in North America, including my own, are mono-cultural. We are evidence of Martin Luther King’s observation that eleven o’clock on Sunday morning is the most segregated hour of the week. Many of us would like our congregations to be more diverse, but getting there has proven difficult. We seem to like the cultural accouterments of our congregations. We like our music, liturgy, instrumentation just the way they are. To move toward a more inclusive experience of worship, one that reflects the vision of the heavenly court in Revelation will require great sacrifice. While we might want diversity, the cost seems too steep. It would probably be easier to do this if you were starting from scratch, but for existing churches it remains a seemingly impossible dream.

While not widespread, there are congregations out there that are not only racially/ethnically diverse, but intentionally inclusive. Grace Ji-Sun Kim and Jann Aldredge-Clanton, two theologians, one Korean-American and the other Euro-American, have gathered essays written by pioneers in intercultural ministry. In the gathered essays, the writers share their experiences with intercultural ministry and worship, along with words of wisdom and some practical advice regarding something that Dwight Hopkins, in his foreword to the book, suggests “might be the defining theological line of the twenty-first century—how to be curious about, have sympathy for, and develop long term friendships in the mixing of the world’s cultures” (p. vi). We may be witnessing, at this moment, pushback against globalization, but the mixing of cultures isn’t going away. Younger Christians seem more adept at welcoming diversity and inclusion, but we all have a ways to go before we reach the point where intercultural ministry will be the norm not the exception.

 So, what is this intercultural ministry that this book explores? The editors define intercultural in terms of the “interaction of people across races, ethnicities, and nationalities to learn to value and celebrate each group’s traditions” (p. ix). In other words, we’re not just talking about diversity in congregational makeup. We’re also talking about the ways in which we value the various traditions and cultures that make up our communities. What we’re talking about here is not assimilating people into normative Christianity, that is white Euro-American forms of Christian worship, whether traditional or contemporary. These churches are also marked by a commitment to “justice, mutuality, respect, equality, understanding, acceptance, freedom, peacemaking, and celebration” (p. x). Therefore, worship in these communities will be marked by differences of style and leadership will be shared across ethnic, racial, gender, cultural lines.

The editors bring their own experiences to this conversation. Grace Ji-Sun Kim is Korean-born, Canadian-raised, and now she is a citizen of the United States. She is an ordained Presbyterian minister and theology professor. She grew up in Korean churches, but more recently she has sought out more diverse experiences of worship and church life. Therefore, she understands the attraction of both monocultural and intercultural worship experiences and church life. Her co-editor, Jann Aldredge-Clanton, is a white, straight, female, Baptist minister, who has chosen to be involved in inclusive intercultural ministry. Having their own experiences with intercultural ministry, they have invited others who share their vision and concerns to bear witness to the possibilities and challenges of intercultural ministry.

 The book is divided into three sections, each with five chapters. Part 1 is titled “Building Theological Foundations for Intercultural Churches and Ministries.” Each of the authors in this section wrestles with the theological vision necessary to moving toward inclusive intercultural ministry. They remind us that any movement forward will be relational. It will also include disrupting the status quo. They address the felt need for reconciliation, but remind us that too often we don’t have a shared understanding of the past, which makes the path forward difficult. The heart of the problem is that too often the way forward means making whites comfortable at the expense of communities of color. Thus, Brandon Green puts it: “Reconciliation without a clear understanding of the needed reciprocity destines those in the pursuit of reconciliation to do so on preexisting constructs of power, ultimately rendering this endeavor toward reconciliation to be nothing more than a nuanced and complicated captivity for people of color” (p. 17).  Thus, we have diversity without inclusion.

 Part two invites us to explore “Strategies for Building Intercultural Churches and Ministries.” The authors of the chapters in this section offer us some examples of how this has been pursued. One of the most principal issues in this quest for a more diverse and inclusive vision of church is that of power. As Brad Braxton notes, “until issues of power are addressed, congregations interested in intercultural ministry often confuse representation for diversity.” He goes on to say that “diversity genuinely surfaces when minority groups are represented in sufficient numbers to organize and thus challenge and change power structures in a community” (p. 87). Christine Smith notes that getting there requires open and honest conversations, for “even if it is difficult and uncomfortable, it is better to flesh out differences and concerns at the beginning than to wear masks and pretend that all is well when people really want to scream” (p. 108). As we consider this question, we’re reminded that this is not simply a black and white issue. The people at the Table are much more diverse than this, and some, as is true from the experience of Asian Americans is that they are often seen as white and thus not discriminated against. Such is not the truth. What we learn from these expressions is that the path forward is not easy. There are significant challenges, but there are also resources, including biblical resources, to be considered.

 Part 3 invites us to consider “Future Possibilities of Intercultural Churches and Ministries.” The way forward may not be easy, but benefits of taking the risks to get to the other side of the river are promising.  It may involve creating new wineskins. Again, it requires us to address issues of power. As Karen Hernandez-Granzen, a Puerto Rican-born/ New York raised Presbyterian Pastor reminds us: “Over the years we have learned that radical transformation takes kairos (God’s time) and chronos (chronological time), genuine compassion, open and ongoing communication, and mucho patience” (p. 191).

 As the editors remind us: “Founded on the theology of people of all cultures created equally in the divine image (Genesis 1:27), intercultural faith communities give equal value to people of all cultures so that they can share power and empower others.” The essays in this book, which represent diversity in gender, sexual orientation, color, ethnicity, and theology, offer us an opportunity to reflect on the present and the future of the church. There is an honesty present in these essays that open up the conversation, which will be needed in the days to come, because our communities are becoming more diverse. I live in a relatively affluent suburban community. From one vantage point, we don’t look all that different from a typical predominantly white suburb. But if you dig deeper, you discover that Troy is the most ethnically diverse city in Michigan. It also has the highest number of foreign born residents of any city in the state. This may not have translated into city council seats, but if you go to the library or to the schools or the grocery stores you see the diversity that marks our city. But, even though we are diverse, we’re still working on that inclusion issue. Nonetheless, the diversity that marks this city is making itself felt across the country, so how will the church respond?

If the church is to respond to the needs of our communities, it will take more than turning from traditional worship to “contemporary” worship. It will require creativity and openness to God’s Spirit.  Reading these essays will be a good start for those willing and able to consider a new future for the church. After all, as the editors write: “The possibilities for intercultural churches are great because they are God’s ideal as represented in Scripture” (p. 205). If this true, and I think it is, then we must thank the editors for bringing this book together so we might see a path forward.

Robert Cornwall, Intercultural Ministry (Grace Ji-Sun Kim & Jann Aldredge-Clanton) – A Review, originally published in Ponderings on a Faith Journey: The Thoughts and Opinions of a Disciples of Christ pastor and church historian. Reposted with permission.

Rev. Dr. Robert Cornwall

Rev. Dr. Robert Cornwall

Dr. Robert Cornwall is a Disciples of Christ pastor, theologian, community activist, church historian, author, and teacher. He currently serves as Pastor of Central Woodward Christian Church in Troy, Michigan.  Among his many published books are Freedom in Covenant; Marriage in Interesting Times: A Participatory Study Guide; Unfettered Spirit: Spiritual Gifts for a New Great Awakening; Worshiping with Charles Darwin; Ephesians: A Participatory Study Guide; and Faith in the Public Square. He is the current editor of Sharing the Practice (Academy of Parish Clergy) and is editing a new series of books for the Academy of Parish Clergy titled Conversations in Ministry. He has also written for such journals as Church History, Anglican and Episcopal History, Progressive Christian, Christian Century, and Congregations. Dr. Cornwall holds a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Fuller Theological Seminary. His blog and other writings focus on theology, the church, the ecumenical movement, interfaith dialogue, and politics. He has served as Convener of the Troy-area Interfaith Group and President of the Metro Coalition of Congregations, (now Detroit Regional Interfaith Voice for Equity).

 

 

 

 

 

 

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“Transformational Music for All Ages,” workshops at Alliance of Baptists Gathering

Workshop Booklet copy 2Larry,meIt’s been my joy to collaborate for 15 years with composer Larry E. Schultz, Minister of Music at Pullen Memorial Baptist Church in Raleigh, North Carolina, on music that names Deity as female and male and more to support the foundational biblical truth that all people are created equally in the divine image (Genesis 1:27). At the 2017 Alliance of Baptists Gathering held at Pullen, we led workshops titled “Transformational Music for all Ages.”

Thirty years ago the Alliance of Baptists began as a prophetic voice for changing church and society. Now more than ever, our world needs the Alliance’s prophetic message of love, peace, social justice, freedom, inclusiveness, and equality. Music has power to embed this message in our hearts in order to shape our actions. Music has great power to transform our world.

For many years the Alliance of Baptists has encouraged and supported Larry and me in our hymn writing, singing our hymns in annual Gatherings and local churches. At an Alliance Gathering in Washington, DC, we presented a workshop titled “Inclusive Song! Let Your Worship Catch Up with Your Theology.” Many times church music lags behind the progressive, inclusive theology of churches, and many times it’s hard to find inclusive music. So our mission is to create music with inclusive, justice and peacemaking lyrics. Our hope is that our music inspires transformation through an expansive theology and an ethic of equality and justice.

Larry, workshopIn the 2017 Alliance workshops we presented inclusive music that can be used in various settings and for all age groups. We included music appropriate for interfaith and multigenerational settings. We sang songs that name the Divine as female and male and more, providing a foundation for all people from the youngest to the oldest to know we are all created equally in the divine image.

workshopMembers of the Pullen Chancel Choir joined with other workshop participants to make the singing glorious! Talented life-long church musician Cindy Schultz added her beautiful piano accompaniment. Choir member Bo Reece accompanied on flute and xylophone and also contributed his talent to make the workshops flow smoothly.

Jann Workshop

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We began with singing short songs from our latest collection Earth Transformed with Music! Here are the lyrics and music to one of these songs, “Come, Sophia Wisdom, Come.”

 

Come, Sophia Wisdom, come, live in our hearts;

come, Sophia Wisdom, come, peace to impart.

Heal us, bless us, stir us, and free us.

Come, Sophia Wisdom, come, live in our hearts.

 

Come, Sophia Wisdom, come live throughout earth;

come, Sophia Wisdom, come, bringing new birth.

Heal all, bless all, stir all, and free all.

Come, Sophia Wisdom, come, live throughout earth.

Words © 2014 Jann Aldredge-Clanton; Music © 2015 Larry E. Schultz

Included among the children’s songs we presented was “Our God Is a Mother and a Father,” from Imagine God! A Children’s Musical Exploring and Expressing Images of God.

 

In the workshop we sang one of our first collaborations, “Sister-Spirit, Brother Spirit,” published at the beginning of Inclusive Hymns for Liberating Christians. Sister-Brother Spirit has been the divine image that Larry and I have seen as important in our creative collaboration. Here is a video with this hymn:

From our latest collection, Earth Transformed with Music! Inclusive Songs for Worship, we sang “Follow Her Peaceful Ways.” Larry created a beautiful, vibrant musical composition for this song. The refrain and third stanza of this song were also included in the Sunday morning worship service of the Alliance Gathering.  I made this video on my iPhone from the back of the large sanctuary, so the quality could be better! But I hope you will get the wonderful tune in your mind as you read the stanzas and the refrain below the video.

Follow Her Peaceful Ways   (Proverbs 3:13-18; 1:20-23)

Follow Her peaceful ways; join Holy Wisdom,

changing the world with Her kindness and grace,

blessing all cultures, all genders and races,

welcoming all in Her loving embrace.

 

All through the world many suffer from violence,

hunger, oppression, and plundering of earth.

Wisdom cries out with a voice full of longing,

“Join me in labor to bring peace to birth.”

 

Rise up to answer the calling of Wisdom,

working together for peaceful reforms.

Come to the Tree of Life blooming forever,

filling the world with Her love that transforms.

Refrain:

Follow Her peaceful ways! Follow Her peaceful ways!

Join Holy Wisdom to end all the strife.

She gives us power to meet every challenge;

follow Her peaceful ways, bringing new life.

Words © 2014 Jann Aldredge-Clanton: Music © 2015 Larry E. Schultz

We pray for people in our country and around the world to follow Her peaceful ways.

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Easter Gift: Video, “Rise Up, O People, Proclaim Christ-Sophia Has Risen”

Christ-SophiaThis video comes as a gift for your Easter celebrations. In the midst of deep suffering around the world, this video invites hope of healing, resurrection, and new life.

Rev. Larry E. Schultz conducts the Chancel Choir of Pullen Memorial Baptist Church, Raleigh, North Carolina, in singing “Rise Up, O People, Proclaim Christ-Sophia Has Risen” to a familiar hymn tune, with pictures from various artists.

“Christ-Sophia” is the central divine symbol in this song. This new symbol holds power for inspiring social justice through shared power and fulfilling the biblical promise of new creation.  “Christ-Sophia” resurrects a lost biblical symbol and offers new possibilities for wholeness by making equal connections between genders, races, and religious traditions, thus providing a foundation for communities based on partnership instead of domination. Sophia, the Greek word for Wisdom, is a resurrected biblical female divine image that opens new possibilities for justice, liberation, and new life.

New Testament writers link Christ to Wisdom, a female symbol of Deity in the Hebrew Scriptures. Wisdom (Hokmah in Hebrew) symbolizes creative, redemptive, and healing power. In their efforts to describe this same power in Christ, the apostle Paul and other New Testament writers draw from the picture of Wisdom. The apostle Paul refers to Christ as the “power of God and the Wisdom (Sophia in Greek language of New Testament) of God” (1 Corinthians 1:24), and states that Christ “became for us Wisdom (Sophia) from God” (1 Corinthians 1:30). The book of Proverbs describes Wisdom as the “way,” the “life,” and the “path” (4:11,22,26).  The Gospel of John refers to Christ as “the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). There are many more biblical connections between Christ and Sophia. Origin, one of the earliest Christian writers, declared Sophia to be the most ancient and appropriate title for Jesus. Bringing this biblical connection of Sophia and Christ to our worship can inspire powerful partnerships that contribute to peace and justice in our world.

The new linguistic symbol of “Christ-Sophia” awakens the imagination to the continual birthing that takes place through creation and resurrection. “Christ-Sophia” inspires hope that biblical female names for the Divine, killed by patriarchy, can rise again to join with other biblical divine names to bring new power and wisdom. “Christ-Sophia” gives rise to a living faith. “Christ-Sophia” frees us from narrow ways of thinking and challenges us to new ideas and new ways of being. “Christ-Sophia” empowers us to make the vision of the new creation a reality.

Hymn Lyrics:

Rise up, O people, proclaim Christ-Sophia has risen,
raising the buried and opening the doors to all prisons.
Rise up and shine! Lighting the pathway divine,
as we declare this true vision.
 
Take heart, O daughters, behold, Christ-Sophia brings healing;
sons, lift your eyes and find health in this sacred revealing.
Claim life anew! Earth’s richest beauty renew,
showing a way so appealing.
 
Come now, O sisters, and join Christ-Sophia in daring.
Brothers, join in and lay down heavy burdens you’re bearing.
Come, one and all!  Follow the life-giving call,
changing the world through deep caring.
 
Sing a new song and rejoice, Christ-Sophia adoring,
glory and freedom within and around us restoring.
Sing, for the Light comes to revive truth and right;
now radiant spirits are soaring.
 

Words  © Jann Aldredge-Clanton, from Inclusive Hymns for Liberating Christians (Eakin Press, 2006). For permissions, contact Jann Aldredge-Clanton. See additional inclusive music for all ages.

Performed by: Chancel Choir of Pullen Memorial Baptist Church, Raleigh, North Carolina. Conductor: Rev. Larry E. Schultz

Visual Artists:

Alice Heimsoth: two photos inside Ebenezer/herchurch Lutheran, San Francisco, and two photos from “Sisters Stepp’in Pride” events. © Alice Heimsoth. Used with permission.

Pam Allen: “Mary Magdalene and Butterflies” © Pam Allen. Used with permission.

Mirta Toledo: “Sophia” © 2003 Mirta Toledo. Used with permission.

Bridget Mary’s Blog: two photos from Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests.

Mary Plaster: “Sophia, Divine Wisdom” © 2003 Mary Plaster. Used with permission.

David Clanton: photo of Pullen Memorial Baptist Church Chancel Choir, Orchestra, & Congregation © David M. Clanton. Used with permission.

Recorded by: Ward Productions, Pinehurst, North Carolina

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Just Published: Intercultural Ministry: Hope for a Changing World

intercultural-ministry-cover

Dr. Grace Ji-Sun Kim, Ann Smith, and Rev. Victoria Sirota, priest at Cathedral of St. John the Divine, and I

pictured with Grace Ji-Sun Kim, Ann Smith, and Victoria Sirota, priest at The Cathedral of St. John the Divine

Two years ago in connection with the UN Commission on the Status of Women in New York City, Ann Smith, Grace Ji-Sun Kim, and I gave a presentation at The Cathedral of St. John the Divine on She Lives! Sophia Wisdom Works in the World, my book in which they are featured. After our presentation Grace and I began talking about collaborating on Intercultural Ministry. It’s exciting now to have the published book!

Many thanks to Grace Ji-Sun Kim, my co-editor, to Dwight N. Hopkins, who wrote the Foreword, and to all the contributors for their collaboration. It has been rewarding to work with these visionary people. I’m also indeed grateful to Colette Casburn Numajiri, one of the ministers in New Wineskins Feminist Ritual Community, for her encouragement and contributions to this project. Colette went with me on the adventure of visiting numerous churches in the Dallas area, trying to find intercultural congregations. Thanks also to Equity for Women in the Church, especially my co-chair Sheila Sholes-Ross, for living the vision of intercultural ministry, for enthusiastic support of this project, and for contributing to the book.

Intercultural Ministry: Hope for a Changing World  is now available through Judson Press and through Amazon, where it’s been #1 New Release in Christian Leadership.

Book Description

Why are most churches still segregated by race and culture? Is it possible to build intercultural ministries today? What are the challenges of creating and maintaining these ministries? How do intercultural churches give equal power and privilege to each culture? How do they avoid assimilating minority cultures into dominant cultures? Intercultural Ministry explores these questions and more with chapters from a racially and denominationally diverse group of pastors, theologians, and teachers who reflect on their experiences and experiments in intercultural ministry. Contributors are Sheila Sholes-Ross, Christine Smith, Amy Butler, Karen Oliveto, Curtiss Paul DeYoung, Brad Braxton, Brandon Green, Daniel Hill, Angie Hong, Karen Hernandez-Granzen, Carlos Ruiz, Emily McGinley, Peter Ahn, Katie Mulligan, and David Hershey!

Editorial Reviews

“Replete with stories of struggle and testimonies of faith, this collection can instruct and inspire believers who seek more excellent ways for all peoples. In its purview the book embraces diverse cultures and individuals to offer grace, challenge, and healing.”—Phyllis Trible, Baldwin Professor Emerita of Sacred Literature, Union Theological Seminary

“The ministers who wrote these chapters are intent on building intercultural communities that embody new forms of church and society. Sharing a common faith does not guarantee anything about common life, common worship, or common action. But with the creative, concerted, compassionate efforts reported here, we discover new ways to advance that work. This is a compelling resource for forward-looking congregations and students of ministry.” —Mary E. Hunt, Co-director, Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics, and Ritual (WATER)

“Buried deep in the subterranean recesses of this thoughtful, provoking, timely collection of essays representing the breadth of world Christianity is the fundamental, and ultimately transformative, not to mention far-reaching insight, that diversity, multiculturalism, inclusion, in and for theological education and ministry, are not enough. Their futures, and indeed the future of our planet, depend on the creation and nurture of intercultural competencies that are not only practical, but learned; critical but also hopeful; uncompromising, while being gracious; strategic, and at the same time tactical. This is a volume that will not only disturb but also comfort, disrupt as well as protect, both the faithful and the cynical, providing readers with ‘solid’ resources and ‘liquid’ perspectives for ministry and the living out of their lives—especially in these deeply troubled and troubling times. Intercultural Ministry is a must-read for all peoples of goodwill who desire the ‘creation of the fundamentally new that is also fundamentally better’ as they aspire to repair our broken world.” —Lester Edwin J. Ruiz, MDiv, PhD, Senior Director, Accreditation and Institutional Evaluation, The Association of Theological Schools, The Commission on Accrediting

“This impressive collection of essays gathers years of wisdom from seasoned pastoral leaders. By combining personal narrative, theological reflection on current events, and practical suggestions for the church, the authors offer abundant resources for pastors, scholars, and students engaged in the work of intercultural ministry. They do not sugarcoat the many challenges of this work in our time, but they do offer the outlines of hope for a more intercultural future.”—David H. Jensen, Academic Dean and Professor in the Clarence N. and Betty B. Freierson Distinguished Chair of Reformed Theology, Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary

“In pulling together the fifteen essays that make up Intercultural Ministry: Hope for a Changing World, editors Grace Ji‐Sun Kim and Jann Aldredge‐Clanton have done a great service to congregational leaders seeking a faithful way forward in the midst of one of the defining challenges of our time—the fact that in a world of ever‐increasing mixing of races, ethnicities, and nationalities, the vast majority of churches remain stubbornly segregated. Acknowledging that creating intercultural communities is often a ‘disorienting, shocking, and at times, traumatic’ process that never occurs without conflict and never comes to completion, the authors clear away naiveté and dismiss simplistic answers, offering instead a vision that is honest, complex and nuanced enough to actually be helpful. Even while addressing the difficulties, the authors offer testimony to the transformative power of such communities along with a stirring reminder that these churches continue a story that began with Christianity’s first congregations, the power necessary to create them being inherent in our faith itself and the Spirit that gave it birth.” — Rev. LeDayne McLeese Polaski, Executive Director/Directora Ejecutiva BPFNA ~ Bautistas por la Paz

“Grace Ji‐Sun Kim and Jann Aldredge‐Clanton have done a phenomenal work as they gathered essays from a diverse group of religious leaders to discuss the creation and implementation of intercultural ministry in their communities. A copy of this masterpiece should be in every theologian’s library as a reference book which gives understanding to the importance of the creation of intercultural ministries as we attempt to live in our diverse communities which are constantly changing.” —Rev. Leslie Robin Harrison, Itinerant Elder of the African Methodist Episcopal Church

For those committed to reflect God’s diverse future today, Intercultural Ministry is an invaluable tool. What passes for multicultural church today is often a surface mix of people of different races and ethnicities, but they essentially share the same culture. This book challenges us to go deeper—too deep perhaps for some!—as it provides the theological and practical resources to move the church toward genuine interculturalism. It calls for openness on our part to the Spirit’s work to change the heart and soul of the church, and not just its face. —Al Tizon, Executive Minister of Serve Globally, Evangelical Covenant Church

“Creating and sustaining a ministry that embraces diversity within the leadership and the membership has been the great challenge of the church from its inception. This book is a much needed guideline on how to overcome those barriers.” —Marvin A. McMickle, PhD, President and Professor of Church Leadership, Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School

Table of Contents:

Introduction: Rev. Dr. Grace Ji-Sun Kim & Rev. Dr. Jann Aldredge-Clanton

Foreword: Rev. Dr. Dwight Hopkins

Part 1: Building Theological Foundations for Intercultural Churches

Chapter 1: Becoming the Beloved Community, by Rev. Dr. Amy Butler

Chapter 2: A Collective Amnesia: The Church and its Prophetic Call to Steward our Collective Memory, by Rev. Brandon Green

Chapter 3: Disrupting Babylon, by Rev. Emily McGinley

Chapter 4: Every Nation, Tribe, People, and Language: Building Intercultural Churches with the End in Sight, by Rev. Dr. Curtiss Paul DeYoung

Chapter 5: Embodying a Disruptive Journey: Pursuing Reconciliation in the Context of Intergenerational Trauma in the Body of Christ, by Rev. Carlos Ruiz

Part 2: Strategies for Building Intercultural Churches and Ministries

Chapter 6: Beyond Resurrection Sunday, by Rev. Sheila Sholes-Ross

Chapter 7: Pushing Boundaries in Baltimore: An Experiment in Radical Religious Openness, by Rev. Dr. Brad R. Braxton

Chapter 8: Laying a Foundation for a True and Viable Intercultural Church, by Rev. Christine A. Smith

Chapter 9: Just Power: 10 Principles for Building Intercultural Leadership Teams, by Rev. Dr. Daniel Hill

Chapter 10: Equals at the Table: Strengthening Our Identities to Engage with Others, by Angie Hong  

Part 3: Future Possibilities of Intercultural Churches and Ministries

Chapter 11: Ministry at the Margins, by Rev. Dr. Karen Oliveto

Chapter 12: New Wineskins, by Rev. Peter Ahn

Chapter 13: Long Thread, Lazy Girl, by Rev. Katie Mulligan

Chapter 14: Ministry on a University Campus: Intercultural Successes, Failures, and Hope for the Future, by Rev. David Hershey

Chapter 15: The Kin-dom Coming in the Joyful Worship of the God of All People, by Rev. Karen Hernandez-Granzen

Conclusion: Rev. Dr. Jann Aldredge-Clanton & Rev. Dr. Grace Ji-Sun Kim

 

 

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Bridging Humanity with Compassion: UN Commission on the Status of Women

Artwork by Jane Evershed, www.janeevershedart.com

Artwork by Jane Evershed, www.janeevershedart.com

Briding Humanity with Compassion final copy 2The most empowering experiences I had at the UN Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW) came in a series of events called “Bridging Humanity with Compassion.” We formed circles to share our stories and our dreams of a transformed world. These circles provided sacred space for every voice to be heard and for making spiritual connections to empower our social activism.

pictured with Ann Smith, holding "Intercultural Ministry: Hope for a Changing World," which I co-edited with Grace Ji-Sun Kim

pictured with Ann Smith, holding “Intercultural Ministry: Hope for a Changing World,” which I co-edited with Grace Ji-Sun Kim

My friend Ann Smith, co-founder and director of Circle Connections and featured in my book She Lives! Sophia Wisdom Works in the World, facilitated one of these events called “Organizing to Keep on Moving Forward.” It was wonderful to connect again with Ann in this circle where we all spoke about matching our passions with actions for the empowerment of women and other marginalized people. We all shared stories of our organizations and talked about ways we can bring our organizations together for increased power to bring change. I represented Equity for Women in the Church and Christian Feminism Today. Other amazing organizations represented were Circle Connections, Earth Child Institute, International Public Policy Institute, United Religions Initiative, and Charter for Compassion International.

Monica Willard

Monica Willard

Sande Hart

Sande Hart

After this event, it was exciting to talk with Monica Willard, United Religions Initiative Representative to the UN, and Sande Hart, Director of Charter for Compassion: Women and Girls, about their work. The United Religions Initiative promotes interfaith cooperation to cultivate peace and justice by bridging religious and cultural differences and working together for the good of the world. I talked with Monica about ways Equity for Women in the Church and Christian Feminism Today share United Religions Initiative’s big vision of “a world at peace, sustained by interconnected communities committed to respect for diversity, nonviolent resolution of conflict, and social, political, economic, and environmental justice.” Charter for Compassion: Women and Girls advocates for gender equality, education for all girls and women, female leadership, and other feminist issues. Sande and I quickly understood that the organizations we represent share the big vision of a world in which girls and women of all races and cultures can become all we’re meant to be.Charter for Compassion

Circle Sat.Another of these empowering events I attended was called “Compassionate Listening—Every Voice Counts,” facilitated by Ann Circle Sat 2Smith, Monica Willard, and Sande Hart. In this sacred circle women and girls from around the world shared our passions, dreams, challenges, and solutions. We celebrated our collective wisdom as everyone in the circle took turns sharing stories and listening with compassion. An awesome thing happened in this circle. In the midst of her story of her work for women and girls in Pakistan, Sabina Rifat sang a freedom song. Across the room Pam Rajput from India joined in singing this song and then Alice Garrick from Pakistan joined the song. Ann Smith later commented, “This spontaneous act of compassion by three women who had been strangers until the singing of this song united us all in a way that surpassed all expectations.” We all stood in the circle and joined our lifted hands, as Sabina, Pam, and Alice sang the freedom song again: “We will win, we will win, if you are with us, if we are together. Even though the life is a new war at each step, we will win.”circle cropped

At the conclusion of each of these circle events, we spoke together the UNCSW Prayer, that Ann Smith wrote in collaboration with Sr. Helena Marie of the Episcopal Church, Eileen King of World Day of Prayer, and Florence Kelley of Baha’i International. They wrote this prayer for the Fourth UN World Conference on Women, held in Beijing in 1995. Ann said she had been delighted when she’d heard Hillary Clinton conclude her famous speech at the Beijing conference with this prayer:

“Let us see one another through eyes enlightened by understanding and compassion. Release us from judgment so we can receive the stories of our sisters and brothers with respect and attention. Open our hearts to the cries of a suffering world and the healing melodies of peace and justice for all creation. Empower us to be instruments of justice and equality everywhere.”

In spite of the proliferation of injustices in our country and around the world, I found renewed hope at the UNCSW as I learned about so many organizations doing powerful work for justice and peace. The inspiring stories I heard increased my belief that by joining together with compassion we can transform our world.

 

 

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