ABHMS holds second installment of Intercultural Leadership Institute

VALLEY FORGE, PA (ABNS 11/9/20)—American Baptist Home Mission Societies Intercultural Ministries held the second installment of its Intercultural Leadership Institute Saturday via Zoom on the ministrElife social media platform. Presenting on the subject of “The Landless Leader: Leading In-between” was the Rev. Dr. Oscar García-Johnson, academic dean for the Center for the Study of the Hispanic Church and Community and associate professor of Theology and Latino/a Studies at Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, Calif.

“Leadership is not something you simply adopt at 8 a.m. in the morning,” García-Johnson told participants. “Leadership is a shadow of our humanity, and we cannot simply let it go. As long as we have the light of God, that shadow will be with us.”

Stressing that leadership can encompass powerlessness; displacement; otherness; losing preferences and entitlement; and being without title or standing, he used as a guide Luke 10: “Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals…” (NRSV).

García-Johnson prompted participants to answer two questions by choosing from the words “stressed out,” “fearful” or “challenged”: “How do you feel about the idea of leading from a place of no or little power: without a position, financial resources and without followers?” and “How do you feel about the idea of leading from a place of otherness: without the command of language, perceived as a foreigner and at the mercy of others?”

“For the first question, I feel more challenged when it comes to leading without position, resources or followers,” said the Rev. Michael Strickland, First Baptist Church, Atchison, Kan.

As part of a Native American church on an Apache reservation, Monique Prigmore noted that her group was already considered foreign when it began going out to the community to serve food on Fridays.

“It’s a challenge, but it’s more fear because we don’t know if we’re going to be accepted,” she said. “Our cultural nuances are different than the outside community. We haven’t always been well-perceived. We don’t always understand the rules.”

The third installment of the Intercultural Leadership Institute will be held 1-3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 14, with presenter the Rev. LeDayne McLeese Polaski, former executive director of the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America-Bautistas por la Paz. The first was a face-to-face session in 2019 at ABHMS’ Leadership and Mission Building in King of Prussia, Pa.

American Baptist Home Mission Societies partners with American Baptists to promote Christian faith, cultivate Christ-centered leaders and disciples, and bring healing and transformation to communities across the United States and Puerto Rico.

American Baptist Churches USA is one of the most diverse Christian denominations today, with approximately 5,000 congregations comprised of 1.3 million members, across the United States and Puerto Rico, all engaged in God’s mission around the world.