ELCA Members Gather for Multicultural Mission

11/27/1996 12:00:00 AM

     SAN DIEGO (ELCA) --  "We, people of different cultures, make
up the Lutheran church," said Jessica Mushala, Lanham, Md.,
originally from Tanzania.  "Making Christ Known: Good News for
the World" was the theme for the  Evangelical Lutheran Church in
America's eighth annual Multicultural Mission Institute held here
Nov. 15-17.  The institute drew about 300 participants from the
United States and Caribbean for a weekend of Bible study,
worship, workshops and plenary sessions.
     "The purpose of the institute is to provide a forum for
people of color to reflect on the Great Commission -- `to make
disciples of all nations,'" said the Rev. Frederick E.N. Rajan,
executive director of the ELCA's Commission for Multicultural
Ministries.  "We need to develop a common ground to discuss
multicultural mission and ministry together."
     The Rev. Reginald W. Hansome Jr., Our Savior's Lutheran
Church, Milwaukee, led the Bible study.  "God's Spirit often
pushes us out beyond the boundaries of our own `spiritual comfort
zone,'" Hansome said.  "Prayer gives us perspective.  While we
are in prayer, God begins to prepare for us a vision that will
uplift, save and sanctify the world."
     Workshop topics included legislative advocacy and community
organizing, racism, evangelism, immigration, worship and
environmental care.

     "These workshops addressed specific areas that affect our
multicultural communities as a whole," said the Rev. Eric T.
Campbell, ELCA director for African American ministries.  "We, as
people of color, are beginning consciously, collectively and
proactively to consider our future, not only in the Lutheran
church but in the world.  According to the gospel we are one, and
our hope is to recognize that oneness," he said.
     Four ethnic communities -- African American, Native
American/Alaska Native, Hispanic and Asian -- met individually to
discuss the realities of their ministries in the Lutheran church.
     "The great benefit of the institute is for the different
ethnic communities, both together and separately, to gather and
encourage one another in the struggle of claiming our place at
the table," said the Rev. Gordon Straw, ELCA interim director for
Native American ministries.
     "There needs to be a process in which we, as a community,
have more time to plan for the future," said the Rev. Gregory J.
Villalon, ELCA director for Hispanic ministries.
     "Being a multicultural church means involving everyone,
including white people," said Amos Mushala, Lanham, Md.
     "We must affirm the work of all in the church.  If not, some
of the best gifts from the Body of Christ will go undeveloped,"
said plenary speaker Inez Torres Davis, Oak Park, Ill.  "Maybe
God told the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America to have more
multicultural people if you propose to be a church of God," she
said in her address.
     "We need to have a vision for how we will live with one
another," said the Rev. George E. Tinker, Denver.  "Jesus had a
vision, and we have to allow that vision of healing to rise back
into the community of the church."
     "With a sense of outrage," participants in the institute
wrote a letter to protest the "offensive, racist language and
behavior" of Texaco senior managers.  An executive of the oil
company turned over tapes that caught company officials making
racist remarks about African American employees.  The letter to
the president of Texaco stated, "As people of God who believe in
the equality of all people regardless of race, culture, language
or national origin, we demand that you take action to discipline
the persons responsible for preventing your company from being a
place where all people have equal opportunities."
     "We need to rejoice that we are multicultural Christians
from different cultures and communities," said Job Ebenezer, ELCA
director for environmental stewardship and hunger education.
"The time has come to see what cultural groups can contribute to
the Lutheran church," he said.

For information contact:
John Brooks, Director (773) 380-2958 or news@elca.org


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