First multicultural conference held at Crestmont College

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by George Baker, Major – 

WORSHIP DURING THE Multicultural Institute included traditional dance

Although “Serving the World in Your Own Backyard” was the theme for the West’s First Annual Multicultural Institute, its impact will go far beyond our own “backyard” and reach out to the entire territory.

The institute brought together Salvationists from throughout the Western Territory, as well as other territories, and was a mosaic of the varying cultures that make up our Army. When looking at the delegates, it quickly became evident that we are a culturally diverse movement with a heart for the world—and that world begins in our own backyards.

The seminar sessions challenged the delegates to consider the theme of multicultural ministry through discussions on topics such as finding our identity through our culture, recognizing the differences between western culture and other cultures, and looking at how we interact in a cultural setting other than our own. The sessions were thought provoking and provided the delegates with an in-depth look at the role of cultural diversity in ministry today. Session leaders included Daniel Diakanwa, a Salvationist from the Eastern Territory, Reverend Mark Charles, pastor in a Navajo-led church in Denver, Colorado, Vice-Provost for Cross Cultural Studies Lt. Colonel Alicia Burger, and Major Charles Gillies, evangelism, prayer and spiritual formation secretary.

The plenary sessions gave an opportunity for the delegates to worship together and experience a multicultural service that brought them together in a spirit of unity. The music was inspiring and the praise team itself was a model of the diversity that makes up our territory as Latinos, Caucasians, African-Americans and Asians all shared together in praise and worship to God.

Tuesday night, Program Secretary Lt. Colonel Raymond Moulton challenged the delegates to consider the implications of 11:00 a.m. on Sunday morning being the most segregated hour of the week in America and the challenge that presents to the Army to consider multi-cultural ministries that will bring together peoples of different cultures to worship as one. This thought was repeated on Wednesday night when Reverend John Mendez posed the same challenge from a Latino perspective.

The Institute was well planned, well presented, and was an important first step in addressing the issue of multicultural ministry in the Western Territory. Moulton, Multicultural Ministries Director Claude Nikondeha, and the program department at Territorial Headquarters are to be commended for planning an event to explore this issue and for their vision of an Army where people of all cultures can unite to worship our Heavenly Father.

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