Dozens Attend ABHMS Intercultural Ministries Forum
VALLEY FORGE, PA (5/12/23)—As part of its crucial mission to strengthen American Baptist Home Mission Societies’ (ABHMS) connection with Baptist ministries across cultures, the organization’s Intercultural Ministries group hosted The Forum: An ABHMS Intercultural and Ethnic Ministries Exchange April 28-30 in King of Prussia, Pa. More than 50 representatives of different Latino, Asian, Native American and Haitian ministries, as well as those living out their faith in various multicultural settings, attended the event.
The Forum began with an informal evening reception at a local hotel, which gave attendees an opportunity to casually network before convening the next day in ABHMS’ Leadership and Mission Building for plenary sessions and group breakout discussions about faith formation and the effectiveness of ministry programs.
The featured speaker was the Mr. Ross Hamilton, an award-winning educator and advisor on matters of diversity, equity and climate with the Upper Merion Area School District in King of Prussia. In a presentation that focused on the educational needs of, and barriers encountered by, students of color and resident non-citizens within the United States public school system, he stressed that the faith community has a role to play in addressing the difficulties these populations are encountering.
“It is important to find ways for the faith community to engage with the school systems, to build partnerships with the school community,” said Hamilton. “We have a need to develop culturally relevant pedagogy, and within our ministries we have educators. So, it’s important for us as a faith community to better prepare them to go into our schools.”
Lively community discussions and workshops followed the keynote, with attendees showing particular interest in the subject of faith formation, as evidenced by their reaction to the discussion of a prospective ABHMS project about the formation and intergenerational transference of faith called the Heirloom Initiative.
“I’m very excited about the focus on generations: young adults, parents raising children and young adults to live lives of faithfulness,” said the Rev. Katharine Hsiao, coordinator of the Alliance of Asian American Baptist Churches Caucus. “For Asian Americans, taking care of our children and raising them in the faith is extremely important.”
The Forum concluded with Sunday fellowship and worship at the Upper Merion Baptist Church in King of Prussia. Guest preacher was the Rev. Veronique Lapaix, senior pastor of Eglise Baptiste Ebenezer in Winchester, Mass., the Haitian liaison for the American Baptist Churches of Massachusetts, and member of the board of directors of the Massachusetts Baptist Multicultural Ministries.
Reflecting on select goals of The Forum, the Rev. Dr. Marie Onwubuariri, director of Intercultural Ministries, said, “We wanted to cultivate relationships, assess the effectiveness of programs we have undertaken with our ministry partners … , and generally help them feel more connected to ABHMS and understand that they’re part of a bigger network,” said Onwubuariri. “I felt we hit the mark.”
Onwubuariri went on to say that the outcomes of the Forum will facilitate Intercultural Ministries’ ongoing work to shape more effective programs for ministry partners and to grow the network of partners who wish to use them.
To learn more about Intercultural Ministries, visit abhms.org.
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.