Striving to Embrace Our Multi-Ethnic Community

Embracing_CommunityOne morning as I scanned my church email, most of the names and subject lines were familiar. Our guest speaker for the coming Sunday had sent her sermon title. Our music coordinator wanted to discuss the worship flow and congregational singing. Our denominational office had sent the usual weekly email of announcements and prayer requests. But then I saw an email from a name I didn’t recognize, and given the subject line, I just had to open it first: Racism in the Fraser Valley Church?

With a population of over 140,000, the city of Abbotsford where I live is the largest city in the Fraser Valley. The city has over 100 churches, from new church plants and house churches to mega-churches with multiple services and multiple staff. My church is mid-size—at an average worship attendance of 220, we’re small enough and have grown gradually enough that I still know every member by name, but we’re also big enough to get lost in and be fairly anonymous on a Sunday morning if that’s what someone is looking for.

When the church started over 35 years ago, the 40 founding members of primarily Russian-Mennonite background chose Jesus’ words in Matthew 28:19-20 as their key Scripture:

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.

Over the years, those words have proven to be prophetic, as the church now has members from many nations besides Canada, including Korea, Japan, China, Vietnam, Kenya, Iran, and other countries.

When we worked on our church profile a number of years ago, one of our initial drafts described our church as a multi-cultural congregation. “But we’re not there yet,” one of our members pointed out. While we do include other-than-English languages in worship, that tends to be on special occasions like Peace Vespers, Christmas, and Easter, and not as often from Sunday to Sunday. We’re still learning what it means to respect and include different songs, different ways of offering, different ways of relating to one another. And so we say we’re a church striving to embrace our multi-cultural and multi-ethnic community.

Today I’m guest posting at the Mudroom: Making Room in the Mess, so please head over there for more on striving to embrace our multi-ethnic community, racism in the church, and why the case against multi-ethnic churches makes me wince. Continue Reading. . . . 

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