From integration to Cross-Cultural
By Sterling Morse, Coordinator, Cross Cultural Ministries and Congregational Support
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is wonderfully diverse. People from all over the globe, representing many racial groups and cultures, have been drawn to American shores to become active co-participants in the PC(USA)’s missional, pastoral and prophetic witness. Such diversity provides our denomination and particular congregations with grand opportunities for fellowship and mutual service. History informs us that true integration doesn’t happen overnight. Despite the integration of public institutions such as schools and workplaces, our churches’ Sunday worship hour remains the most segregated hour of the week.
From November 2–4, 2011, I took part in a consultation involving refugees, congregations active in refugee resettlement and GAMC/OGA staff. Participating were people from Africa, the Middle East and Asia, as well as African and European Americans. We all expressed concern for the refugees – about the psycho-social issues caused by separation from their homelands and the challenge of finding a place in a new world, and about difficulties with language and immigration. Whether host church representative or representative from the refugee community, each gave thanks for the other. Yet during intense discussion the “we” often gave way to “them” and “us.”
This happens in blended communities where people merely coexist. Blending without intentionally working at developing intimacy leaves us at “them” and “us.” Intimacy names that emotional and spiritual connection that makes diverse partners one.
The mission of the Cross Cultural Ministries Office is to promote greater diversity, primarily in predominantly European American congregations, to strategize, inspire, and equip these congregations to take that diversity to a deeper level. The mark of a cross cultural church is communication. The aim is to create a sanctuary where citizens of every stripe can feel safe and worthy of sharing their own thoughts and feelings and listening to the thoughts and feelings of others; sacred space where people can disagree, without passing judgment or placing blame.
Come, let us partner together in exploring this new frontier in ministry. Let the declaration of the Apostle Paul ring true in our resolve to be faithful and courageous. Let them provide the cadence driving our march toward the Beloved Community: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you all are one in Christ Jesus.” - Galatians 3:28