The Art of Embrace
Chris Pullenayegem, who works in New Ministry Development with The United Church of Canada, shares these stories of intercultural ministry: Embracing others can be challenging—extending your arms, inviting others into your personal space, risking vulnerability. Knox United Church in Winnipeg rose to that challenge when it opened its arms to Nepalese-speaking Bhutanese refugees, initially unsure of how their journey together would go. Three years and many miles later, Bhutanese, Anglo, Filipino, African, and a potpourri of other communities have learned the art of warm embrace. Knox United Church has become a place where Damber, a young Bhutanese leader, says “everyone’s cultural traditions are celebrated.”
“Becoming intercultural challenges not simply our assumptions but also our identity,” the Rev. Bill Millar says. “Yet, if we resolutely and tenderly engage this process, wonders occur and hearts can dance.”
Twenty-first-century technology is helping to engage this process and spread other forms of embrace. Brazilian Pastor Ricardo Silva, soon to be based in Toronto, is working through Facebook to connect Portuguese-speaking communities across the Greater Toronto Area. This includes people from Portugal, Brazil, Angola, and Mozambique. With the help of Mission and Service, Ricardo dreams of creating a multicultural Portuguese-speaking congregation, and he has been thrilled with the response thus far. Funding new ministry initiatives like these is exciting and rewarding because, by opening our hearts and arms, we too learn the art of embrace. Our gifts for Mission and Service make these cultural embraces possible. Please continue to welcome one another and give generously.
Mighty and tender God, through our gifts for Mission and Service
we respond to your call to mend the world.