Intercultural Ministry: Hope for a Changing World


Almost two years ago Grace Ji-Sun Kim and I began talking about collaborating on a book project. At this time the Black Lives Matter movement was growing in power and influence. Churches were becoming involved in the movement, but few were coming together in conversation with others of diverse races. Black churches were talking about racial profiling and racial inequality, and many progressive white churches were talking about these same issues. But they were not talking with one another. They were having these discussions mainly in their racially segregated churches.

Martin Luther King Jr. often repeated this indictment in his preaching and teaching: “Sunday at 11:00 a.m. is the most segregated hour in America.” More than fifty years later, Sunday morning continues to be one of the most segregated times.

Grace and I reflected on what might happen if churches were no longer segregated by race. We knew that many church growth experts say that it’s impossible and even undesirable to desegregate churches because people naturally group with others of their own race. But we wondered what might happen if churches brought people together across races and cultures to engage in learning from one another, giving equal value and power to each one, preserving cultural differences, and celebrating the variety of cultural traditions. Would these intercultural churches advance racial equality and justice?

Believing in the possibilities, we invited people engaged in intercultural ministry to write about their experiences. Intercultural Ministry: Hope for a Changing World includes chapters by a racially and denominationally diverse group of pastors, theologians, and teachers who reflect on their experiences and experiments in intercultural ministry. These are some of the questions they explore: 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?

When we began to dialogue about this book project, Grace and I felt a great need for churches to contribute to healing racial divisions and advancing racial justice. Now after the 2016 election, we feel an even more urgent need for churches to claim our prophetic calling to make the gospel vision of radically inclusive love and justice a reality. Our country and our world need intercultural churches and ministries which contribute to understanding, justice, peacemaking, equality, mutuality, freedom, and respect.

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 am 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 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 will be available March 31, 2017. It’s now available for pre-order on Amazon and Judson Press.

Many thanks also to these endorsers:

“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 the 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, MDiv.

“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 interculturality. 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

“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

“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: Grace Ji-Sun Kim & Jann Aldredge-Clanton

Foreword: Dwight N. Hopkins

Part 1: Building Theological Foundations for Intercultural Churches

Chapter 1: Becoming the Beloved Community, by Amy Butler

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

Chapter 3: Disrupting Babylon, by Emily McGinley

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

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

Part 2: Strategies for Building Intercultural Churches and Ministries

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

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

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

Chapter 9: Just Power: 10 Principles for Building Intercultural Leadership Teams, by 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 Karen Oliveto

Chapter 12: New Wineskins, by Peter Ahn

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

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

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

Conclusion: Jann Aldredge-Clanton & Grace Ji-Sun Kim


2 thoughts on “Intercultural Ministry: Hope for a Changing World

  1. What an interesting topic! Why ARE we so segregated on Sundays? But as you & I saw firsthand, ALL ethnicities were very welcoming to us. Can’t wait to read!!!

  2. The contributors to the book try to answer that question of why we are so segregated on Sundays, and they share their stories of how they’ve tried to change this.

    Thank you for all the ways you supported this project, especially collaborating on the adventure of visiting churches in the Dallas area.

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