From July 14 to 17, Prebyterian Churches USA (PCUSA) will hold its annual “Church Transformation and Multicultural Interaction” conference in Columbia University; this is the sixth annual conference. This year’s theme is from Luke 24:2-5 titled “Witnessing to God’s Radical Love.” Over a thousand Presbyterian leaders from all over United States gathered at the conference.
Elected as the moderator of the board during the 216th PCUSA General Assembly Conference, Rev. Rich Ufford Chase spoke during in the afternoon during the “Presbyterian Multicultural Network” ministry gathering, emphasizing the importance of multicultural ministries.
“Every religion faces the challenges of cross-culture in this new era,” he said, “Under these changes, missions have received a new meaning, and that is to allow everyone to enjoy the same gospel. The same with church; it will become multicultural.”
He also mentioned that PCUSA will develop a “Multicultural Internship Project.” The project will allow seminary students who are interested in multicultural ministry, prepared for the work, (For example, those who were born in a multicultural environment and can speak more than two languages.) and called by God to attend existing intercultural megachurches for internship. Yet within over 11,000 Presbyterian churches, only around 10 churches meet this kind of requirement. Chase said that this plan is only part of the many plans they drafted for the multicultural ministry. During his speech, he called the representatives of different presbyteries to join the “Presbyterian Multicultural Network.” As United States society continues to develop, churches will eventually face the challenge to spread the gospel to different ethnic groups, and to accept believers of different cultures.
“Presbyterian Multicultural Network” moderator Rev. Randy Lee grew up in Los Angeles Chinese Presbyterian Church, in the process of pioneering Chinese ministries, he deeply felt the importance of multicultural interactions and of the church and the new immigrants: “The more both sides can accept one another, exchange resources, the more each side can benefit from one another. For example, churches can introduce religious traditions that will help facilitate new immigrants coming into church through offering assistance to new immigrants. The addition of new immigrants will bring a lively atmosphere in church. Not only that, preaching to a different culture may ignite the fire of evangelism in the believers.
Rev. Lee said that the American society is revealing more and more tendency toward multicultural integration. Also, this is a tendency the churches cannot avoid. First the Bible taught us to preach to the many tribes and people; secondly, “we are living in a multicultural environment.”
Regarding Chinese American ministries, Rev. Lee indicates, “Chinese missions still have very great potential.” As opposed to other ethnicities, Chinese immigrants stands at the most in the immigrated population of America; yet church planting and other aspects of ministries did not receive the same compared developments. United States currently has only 14 Chinese Presbyterian churches and a few fellowships; over half of the congregation is over 70 years of age.
On the topic of Chinese missions development, Rev. Lee said that while building on the current churches, his denomination will look to increase the strength of evangelism, with evangelizing new immigrants as one of the important goals. Also, a research indicates that over 90% of second generation Chinese Americans leaves the church. So they will also put major efforts toward ministering to the second generation.
Many church leaders described this conference as “very powerful” and immediately joined the Presbyterian Multicultural Network. The next annual conference will be held next year at the end of May in Florida.