National church conference focuses on ethnic, economic diversity

Christian
leaders and more than 1,000 attendees from all over the country gathered Nov. 5
and 6 in Long Beach for Mosaix Global Network’s second conference on strengthening multiethnic churches for the
sake of the gospel.

The conference, which was live streamed to 10 countries outside the U.S., included speakers who are APU alumni or are strongly involved with ministry at Azusa Pacific, including alumna Brittany Barron and a previous chapel speaker, Albert Tate.

Church leaders at Mosaix decided to create the conference after online forum discussions in 2009 on the divisions in churches based on ethnic and economic differences. The first conference was hosted in San Diego in Nov. 2010.

“Jesus taught us to pray, ‘Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.’ If the kingdom of heaven is not segregated along ethnic and economic lines, then it is long past time for Christ-followers everywhere to address the question, ‘Why on earth is the church [segregated]?’” said Mark DeYmaz in the 2010 Mosaix Conference magazine. DeYmaz is the directional leader of Mosaic Church and executive director of Mosaix Global Network.

Conference organizers presented 18 workshops this year, many of which addressed issues like multiethnic relationships, politics, immigration, homosexuality and racial reconciliation. Attendees ranged from theology professors to the average churchgoer searching for a better way to live out the gospel and honor diversity.

One particular workshop focused on strengthening churches to minister to multiethnic couples. This workshop, facilitated by Robyn Afrik, motivational speaker of Afrik Advantage, which helps to address issues such as multi-cultural adoption and reconciliation and diversity, was created to address everyone’s role in the church to support these pairs.

As an adopted Korean with a West African husband, Afrik felt early on in her marriage that she and her husband were not being ministered to correctly, which had an effect on their relationship and church ministry.

“We were put into a ministry and our leaders weren’t aware of our intercultural relationship,” Afrik said. “When we follow a homogenic model of church, our witness is compromised.”

In Afrik’s workshop, she challenged attendees to actively participate in creating an environment welcoming to these couples in a lecture titled, “Are you doing your P.A.R.T.?” She used this acronym to explain that one’s position in church, pastor or student minister, influences their perceptions which determine the approach and assumptions they take with intercultural relationships, and ultimately builds or destroys trust between these couples and their church leaders.

On the last day of the conference, president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources addressed the over 1,000 multiethnic church leaders and apologized for publishing an Asian-American stereotype in a LifeWay Vacation Bible School curriculum 10 years ago called “Far Out Rickshaw Rally-Racing Towards the Sun.”

“I am sincerely sorry stereotypes were used in our materials, and I apologize for the pain they caused,” said the Rev. Thom S. Rainer, who was not at LifeWay during the time of this offense but who recently learned that the offense still affects others today.

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