'A house of prayer for all peoples'
National Multicultural Conference will feature new ministry models
June 24, 2011
Editor’s note: The second gathering of the Big Tent will be in Indianapolis June 30-July 2. Billed as a family reunion, the event will “celebrate the mission and ministry of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).” The Big Tent is comprised of nine conferences, and participants can register for workshops in as many conferences as they choose. Worship, a keynote speaker and an exhibit hall will also be part of the event.
The National Multicultural Conference ― part of the second Big Tent event in Indianapolis ― will focus on how the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A) can grow “deep and wide” by embracing the diversity in the communities where Presbyterians live, according to conference organizers.
Participants will hear from congregational leaders who have helped implement new and effective models for developing multicultural churches, said the Rev. Raafat Girgis, associate for multicultural congregational support for the PC(USA)’s General Assembly Mission Council.
They will discuss how churches are demonstrating diversity in worship, power sharing and leadership, and mission and evangelism, said Girgis. “It’s about reaching out and becoming a ‘house of prayer for all peoples,’” he added, citing a phrase from Isaiah 56:7.
In addition to a panel of practitioners and experts on multicultural ministries, the conference’s plenary speakers include the Rev. Valerie Tutson, a leader of the Northfield Conference, in New Wilmington, Pa., and the Rev. Marcia Mount Shoop, moderator of the Presbyterian Multicultural Network Board and theologian in residence at University Presbyterian Church in Chapel Hill, N.C.
A worship service will be led by a team from Amistad Cristiana of Whitewater Valley Presbytery, followed by a discussion of that experience as well worship in other multicultural contexts.
Elise Witt, a singer and songwriter who performs in a dozen languages, will sing four times during the event. A local multicultural band will also play.
While America is becoming increasingly diverse culturally, the changing demographic picture is not driving the movement toward multicultural ministry, Girgis says. “The demographics provide the opportunity, but we are not doing this because of the demographics, but because this is God’s intention,” Girgis says.
Pat Cole is a communications specialist in the General Assembly Mission Council’s Mission Communications. He will be covering the National Multicultural Conference at Big Tent for Presbyterian News Service.