‘Called to stretch’
Multicultural conference to focus on leadership, celebration, growth
March 15, 2012
We are called by God to move out of our comfort zones and open ourselves up to the movement of the Spirit, and this year’s National Multicultural Conference wants to help participants do so.
Meeting in Charlotte, N.C., April 26-29, the 13th annual gathering “seeks to explore the many ways we can, individually and collectively, identify and dismantle the barriers to God’s open door, building hope and promise,” according to its registration booklet.
The conference will have a heavy focus on leadership development and is aimed at clergy and laity alike who want to grow the church “deep in faith and wide in culture,” said Raafat Girgis, associate for multicultural congregational support.
“Some people feel stretched. And that’s OK — because we’re called to stretch,” he said.
The conference will feature worship, workshops, speakers and cultural celebrations. Workshops range from “Models of Multicultural Ministries” to “Dynamics of Multicultural Education with Congregations.” And “Multicultural 101” is designed as an entry point for those who are new to multicultural ministry — more than half of each year’s participants fall into this category, Girgis said.
Started in 2000 with 85 participants, the conference hosted 500 participants last year. At least 7,000 leaders have been trained through the conference, Girgis said.
Any church can be a multicultural church, he said. Doing so requires an intentional commitment to recognize, celebrate and incorporate diverse membership through worship, power-sharing, mission and evangelism.
“It’s not about creating a tolerant environment,” he said. “It’s about celebration.”
The conference’s theme this year, based on Acts 10-11, is “God’s Door is Open: Who Are We to Stand in the Way?” We should see changes in our church and cultures not as threats but as blessings, Girgis said.
“With diversity comes innovation and with innovation comes growth,” he said. “It is absolutely our faith that innovation comes when differences exist.”
Online registration for the conference is available here. Pre-conference events, including workshops on anti-racism training, immigration issues and women’s leaderships, run from noon-9 p.m. on April 25.