DIRECTOR’S MESSAGE — January 2020
Celebrating African congregations and New Worshiping Communities and their ministries in the PC(USA).
This month’s edition of the Racial Equity & Women’s Intercultural Ministries focuses on African Intercultural Ministries. Princeton Abaraoha is the field staff person for this ministry in Racial Equity & Women’s Intercultural Ministries. Following are some of his reflections.
By Rhashell Hunter
The African Intercultural Ministries housed in the Office of Racial Equity and Women’s Intercultural Ministries – Presbyterian Mission Agency, connects and equips African immigrant leaders and their congregations within the PCUSA. The African immigrants are the fastest growing groups in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
Most of the African congregations nest mainly with host Presbyterian Churches who have welcomed them with open arms and loving hearts. Very few of the African congregations own their buildings. Access to a place of worship has been one of the greatest challenges faced by the African immigrant groups.
Despite these challenges, over 90 percent of the African congregations are new immigrants and intercultural, led by dynamic men and women both young and not so young. The African Immigrant worshipping communities exemplifies what the future Intercultural of the PCUSA congregations ought to look like.
The African Immigrant worshiping communities are part of the movement to grow new worshiping communities in the PCUSA as it becomes a transformative “church” in an intercultural era.
A typical African congregation is made up of folks from over five to ten countries with several languages spoken. The diversity of cultures and languages in the African worshiping communities help ignite the energy, passion and vitality one experiences in African immigrant community lives and worship services. They intentionally coexist with other cultures while retaining their own cultural identity. This intercultural style of living and worshiping works because each culture draws strength from each other, hence adapting to the changes that occur among them without fear of the other.
El Shaddai Vision Church began in 2015 as a community of refugees that met for bible study and worship at the home of Pastor Prince Mundeke Mushunju with the hope to meet the spiritual needs of the refugees that have converged in the Greensboro NC and neighboring areas. Once a refugee himself, Pastor Prince believes that God called him as a teenager in a refugee camp in Uganda to serve God through other refugees and others who will cross path with him.
Pastor Prince and his community developed a relationship with Faith Presbyterian Church in Greensboro NC where they are currently nesting and the Salem Presbytery as well. They also had a special bond of friendship with the former pastor – Rev. Karen Jackson. The El Shaddai community have grown over the years and currently has about 85 adults and children with a very active Rafiki Youth Ministry.
El Shaddai community have become the focal point for the refugees and immigrants in the Greensboro and surrounding areas. Pastor Prince, his leadership and community have created a safe space for these immigrants and refugees to come and share the gifts they bring with each other. They have made navigating a new culture in a new land a little lighter for these immigrants.
El Shaddai community is made up of individuals from several countries including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, Ghana and United States. El Shaddai community nurtures the faith of those who are already Christians and makes the space for those who are still seeking but finds a home at El Shaddai.
Reinvigorated by their experiences at the African Leaders Pre-Conference at the 2019 Big Tent Conference this past July/August – Sponsored by the office of Racial Equity and Women’s Intercultural Ministries, the African Leaders committed to and established a formal network of individuals known as the African Presbyterian Leaders Alliance (APLA) which is self-forming and akin to a Caucus.
APLA is a network of African Presbyterian Leaders in Diaspora within the United States of America. They are over 64 congregations representing over 25 Presbyteries in the Presbyterian Church U. S. A.
To serve Christ by connecting, equipping, and empowering our constituents/leaders for Christ’s mission within and beyond the bounds of PCUSA.
Over the generation’s past, God continues to do new things in the life of his people. APLA seeks to be that agent of change in God’s hand to bring about the new thing.
We will do this, by serving the African Presbyterian Leaders and Congregations within the bounds of PCUSA through Connection, Fellowship, Training, and Networking.
The APLA’s Founding Advisory Board are made up of Rev. Bobby Musengwa (Tampa Bay Presbytery); Rev. Gad Mpoyo (Greater Atlanta Presbytery); Rev. Tega Oghene Swann (Beaver Butler Presbytery); Ruling Elder Ida Jennifer Sika (National Capital Presbytery); Rev. Dr. Jane Kagia (Greater Atlanta Presbytery); Rev. Dr. Moses Biney (New York Presbytery); Riling Elder Grace Atanga-Fuh (National Capital Presbytery); Rev. Dr. Julius Edah (Grace Presbytery).
Ubuntu is a Swahili phrase common in the Southern African region of the African Continent. It means, “I am because you are” It also means that our humanity is intertwined with other people’s humanity. The book of Acts. Chapter 2 reminds us of this – 44 And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. 45 They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. 46 They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity 47 all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.
Rev. Princeton Abaraoha, Field Staff
African Intercultural Ministries