Monday, October 02, 2006

Global scope, homeland churches: PC(USA) faces immigrant issues

Global scope, homeland churches: PC(USA) faces immigrant issues:
(Presbyteran Outlook -- free registration required)
"ATLANTA – What does it mean for an established church, in which tradition is revered, to see the world changing all around it?

What can a mostly-white church do to be truly welcoming to those of other cultures and other colors – to share power and faith with those who speak many languages and have their own ways of doing things?

Those are hard questions for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), a denomination that is more than 92 percent white and has been losing both numbers and influence for a long time. But some Presbyterians are exploring exactly those questions – are excited about what could be and at the same time somewhat apprehensive about the challenges.

“There are all kinds of people from all over the world right here in small-town America, and we don’t know how to deal with that,” said Tracie Mayes Stewart, director of Christian education at First Church in Statesville, N.C.

“We are really trying to figure out how we do this and why we do this. How are we faithful in this new reality?”

And some immigrants are just as excited about the possibilities for evangelism in the United States – knowing, in part, how much they have to offer, and wanting to find a church where they are appreciated for exactly who they are. ..."

Having been a member of several PC(USA) congregations in an equal number of places, I know that change is rarely easy. Worship times, new hymnals, new buildings, new orders of worship are often sources of conflict in congregations. Adding immigration to the mix, and we have changes in culture, but with God's help, we can meet these challenges.

It is a delicious irony that the descendents of Christians first reached by Presbyterian missions, in the last century or even before, are coming to this country with a faith that has not beeen eroded by the pressures developed countries.

The PC(USA) has much it can gain by welcoming fellow Christians from around the world.

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