On Wednesday, March 29 Path 1 hosted their second Multiethnic Church Ministry event in Oklahoma City, OK. The event was attended by approximately 110 people from every jurisdiction and 27 annual conferences. As we had hoped and prayed for, it was attended by a very ethnically diverse group that represented people from every national plan group recognized by The UMC. These folks would learn, pray, worship, and break bread with each other over the next two days creating a third culture of like-minded people seeking God’s guidance on this vital topic.
The theme this year was “All People Created in God’s Image.” The event opened with the powerful voices of five singers and one key- board player from the Quayle UMC praise band. Their singing set the tone for the event as one that would be full of energy and enjoyment. The Rev. Dr. Elaine Robinson led the opening service and shared the message titled, ‘Whose Image Do You See,’ based on 1 Corinthians 1:10-18. The message created a great sense for unity in mind and thought as people sought to see Christ in everyone’s face.
The featured speaker was Dr. Brian Leader whose presentation dealt with one’s cultural proficiency as it pertains to leading a diverse team. The cost for the event included a self-assessment on cultural intelligence which was expounded on to have participants create a plan for increasing their individual cultural intelligence based on their results.
Our four practitioners; Gloria Winston-Harris, Cleve May, In-Yong Lee, and Rodrigo Cruz spoke emphatically as well as candidly about what it takes to either plant a multiethnic church or to transform an existing church from homogeneity to heterogeneity. They were all clear about the underlying leadership characteristic needed for this ministry, humility. They also shared that working with diverse ethnicities is a great blessing and a wonderful experience; however, it is not easy to do. We must learn new knowledge and skills and unlearn many of the things that prevent us from being one in Christ.
In summary, Cleve May made it clear, that multiethnic church ministry is foremost about discipleship. It is through our relationship with God; our willingness to love the Lord with our heart, soul and mind that one gets the guidance and perseverance from the Holy Spirit to love neighbor as our neighbors want to be loved.