More than 150 leaders gathered from across the country to join a day thinking about Intercultural Church at Gateway Church in Leeds on Saturday 20 January. There was genuine energy and passion in the room as we embarked on thought-provoking discussions about what an intercultural mission and church could look like in our cities and the impact we could make together.
It was genuinely moving to see such an array of people from different ethnicities, nationalities, ages, church denominations and socio-economic backgrounds come together to worship, listen to excellent teaching, attend workshops and eat together.
The event was organised by the Bible Society and Gather Movement with support from the One People Commission, Intercultural Churches UK and Churches Together in England (CTE). Our General Secretary, Bishop Mike Royal, was one of the keynote speakers.
We were led in worship by Resonance with a selection of songs from Africa and Asia and fed well with fantastic Iranian food from the refugee and asylum seekers charity the Real Hope Cafe.
We heard the power of true intercultural competency where cultural diversity is prioritised, where people are valued for the gifts, they are and bring.
We heard about the rapid growth of Cantonese-speaking Hong Kong migrants into the UK over the last three years and the continued expansion of the Romanian Orthodox community. These are two of England’s quickest-growing church communities. We explored the idea of being communities that don’t simply tolerate new members from other parts of the world but intentionally welcome, include and celebrate them. We explored the transformative potential of fostering intercultural harmony, embracing our differences, and building strong, meaningful relationships across cultures.
CTE is planning to develop a strand of work around intercultural churches. We will host a gathering later in 2024 about the use of church buildings by diaspora and intercultural churches and historic churches. Please contact me, Rev Dr Ben Aldous, if you have stories to share on this topic or would like to be notified about this event.
Photo credit: © Gather Movement