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Presbyterian Intercultural Network

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Ideas that Work

Can you imagine how rich our life and worship would be if we all shared things we've tried that have worked really well? Here's a place we can do it!

  • Most Western art has historically portrayed Jesus as a European man, marginalizing his true identity as a brown/olive skinned Palestinian. At Oakhurst Presbyterian Church, the main stained glass window of the sanctuary displayed that same old story of camouflaged racism… until we changed the window’s story by changing the “white Jesus” to a new artistic piece they call “the black Jesus.”  It was our way of proclaiming that, in a deep theological, political, socio-economic sense, there is no doubt: Jesus was black. 

    Similarly, Middle Collegiate Church had its stained glass windows recolored to reflect the diversity of their congregation.

  • (For a very small church) At Pencader Presbyterian Church, we blew up an image of our church, cut it into puzzle pieces, handed out the pieces, one to a person, challenged everyone to put the puzzle together right then and there. Then the congregation was asked what they had learned in the process, especially in comparison to the 1 Corinthians 12:1-27 scripture we had read about the importance of each different part of the Body of Christ. There were so many ideas! And in a way, the sermon itself was an illustration of the parable. It would not have been complete without the thoughtful contributions made by all. It really demonstrated that we are the Body of Christ, meant to be together, to work together, to pray together, to be one Body, needing each other as the eye needs the ear, as the hand needs the foot. Just as a puzzle cannot be completed without the contributions of all the unique, individualized pieces, so the Church can never and will never be whole until all people (all cultures, ethnicities, genders, ages, orientations, and more) are included and no unique individual or group is left out.

  • At a service at Stoney Point's Multicultural Institute, everyone was invited to light a candle, then float it on the baptismal font as a sign and commitment to live out our baptismal covenant with God and one another and our call to witness for justice and peace in the world.

  • Some churches have honored traditions from other cultures, whether or not that culture was represented in the congregation. Think of candles. They have significance for many people. People with a Hindi or Jewish background could appreciate respectful use of their traditions, even if no longer practicing that faith. Candles play a role in Kwanza. Some use them to celebrate the return of light at the winter solstice.
    There are many traditions from all around the world for which we can find echoes in our own faith, and others that can be celebrated without any conflict at all with what we believe. Observing them is not only welcoming to anyone for whom that is their own tradition, it signals openness to and appreciation of people and cultures different from our own.

  • One World Communion Sunday, Rock Presbyterian Church adapted an idea seen at a Multicultural Conference. We put extra tables up front, covered them with bold, colorful, ethnic fabrics; used hymns, songs, and scriptures that spoke of unity, banquets, and God’s abundance; recalled the early church’s way of observing the Lord’s Supper. Just before communion, the tables were set with breads, cheese, grapes, apples, and bowls of goldfish crackers. After prayer and instruction, people came forward, given plates by elders, and invited to help themselves to the food on the table. Later we confessed our failure to remember others who God also invites to the Table. Overall, it was a great celebration, with laughter and smiles, and extra apples tossed to people in the pews – an unforgettable service, very well received and remarkably easy to carry out. The full service can be reviewed here, under the Worship tab.

  • Pencader Presbyterian decided to change the dynamic between them and the church that nested in their building. Instead of being landlord and tenant with a lease, they would share the space as a multi-cultural, multi-denominational community of faith living in covenantal partnership. The covenant included the practical matters normally contained in a lease, but those were placed in a context of joint obligations of courtesy and good communication. And it went beyond, describing ways in which both parties hoped to celebrate their unity in Christ, using language that emphasized language that emphasized love, respect, mutuality and equal responsibility.