Workshops Reflect Denominational Diversity
Jonathan James Photography
This summer, as hundreds of people from Christian Reformed and Reformed Church in America congregations gather in Windsor, Ont., for a time of connection, discovery, worship, and renewal, one area of emphasis will be on multiethnic and multilingual congregations.
The planners of Inspire 2019, which runs Aug. 1-3 in Windsor, Ont., have been intentional about creating a workshop track titled “One Church, Many Ethnicities.”
While attendees can pick and choose sessions in multiple tracks, the workshops in this particular area will focus on the needs of the growing number of CRCNA and RCA congregations who reflect a range of ethnicities.
“We are excited to be offering workshops that will connect to the variety of cultures and ethnicities increasingly represented in our church,” said Steven Timmermans, executive director of the CRCNA.
Timmermans will join Korean pastor and ethnic ministry leader Charles Kim in facilitating two workshops that will be offered simultaneously in English and Korean.
“It’s important to note that brothers and sisters from a variety of ethnic backgrounds, including those for whom English is not their primary language, are becoming an increasingly large and significant part of the body of the CRCNA,” Timmermans said.
Jung Un Park, a pastor at All Nations Community CRC in Toledo, Ohio, who is part of the Inspire 2019 planning team, said that he hopes the workshops can help “Korean-American churches and church members see and experience the dynamics of worship, theological health, hope for God's kingdom, and beautiful fellowship in our denomination.”
“Through Inspire 2019, we hope that the Korean church and lay leaders will understand and feel closer to the denomination and join more closely with the ministry of the church,” he added.
Other ethnic groups will also be represented at Inspire 2019. Jose Rayas, a pastor and church planter in Socorro, Tex., for example, will lead a workshop on Hispanic ministry in the CRC.
Rayas came to the CRC in 2002 when Sunshine Community Church in El Paso, Tex., called him to be an evangelist. He spent time getting to know that community, and he worked bivocationally at Texas A&M University in adult education.
“Through working with people at the university, I slowly and intentionally built relationships,” he said. “Those who I worked with wanted to have fellowship, and we grew from there.”
As a result, he helped to start Valley Ridge Community Church in 2006 in Socorro, Tex., and in his workshop at Inspire 2019 he will share some of the lessons he has learned.
Sophat Duch, a pastor at Cambodian Fellowship CRC in Holland, Mich., will also be offering a workshop at Inspire 2019, and he will be speaking about building unity among people of different cultural and ethnic backgrounds.
He will tell parts of of his story, sharing how he came to the U.S. as a refugee from Thailand, became a Christian, went to Bible school, and was called to be a pastor at the church in which he grew up.
He also will talk about the importance of creating unity between first- and second-generation immigrants as part of ministry in immigrant churches.
Altogether there are 10 workshops in Inspire 2019’s “One Church, Many Ethnicities” stream, some of which will be offered with Korean and Spanish translation. Additionally, all plenary sessions will have simultaneous translation available in Korean and Spanish. To learn more, visit crcna.org/Inspire.