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LCC holds fifth Intercultural Church Workers Conference

August 17, 2016 No Comment
A few of the nearly fifty participants at the conference.

A few of the nearly fifty participants at this year’s conference.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Nearly 50 church workers came together for Lutheran Church–Canada’s fifth Intercultural Church Workers Conference, held at Our Saviour Lutheran Church in Etobicoke. Participants came from all three LCC districts, as well as from the English District of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, under the theme “Opening Our Doors to the World at Our Doorstep.”

One objective of the conference was to begin work on a unified, synod-wide strategy for outreach to the large and increasingly diverse immigrant population in Canada. To that end, three sessions were presented. First, Rev. Esko Murto, visiting professor at Concordia Lutheran Theological Seminary, gave an insightful talk based on Matthew 28:19-20, discussing objectives, methods, and obstacles involved in intercultural outreach. Second, Rev. Roland Syens, assistant pastor at Holy Cross, Kitchener, led a discussion of Revelation 7:9-10, investigating ways to become a church that reflects in this world that “multitude which no one could number” gathered in worship around Christ’s throne in Heaven. Finally, Rev. Dr. Leonardo Neitzel brought these thoughts together as he led the group in a discussion of ten points which could form the outline of LCC’s Intercultural Outreach Strategy:

  1. Study of God’s Word and the Lutheran doctrine (Lutheran Confessions);
  2. Lutheran liturgical life;
  3. Catechesis or Christian education of the children and youth;
  4. Outreach to refugees and immigrants in our area;
  5. Structuring and establishing new congregations in Word and Sacraments;
  6. Formation of congregational local leadership;
  7. Stewardship and support for local mission and LCC’s District missions;
  8. Association/Incorporation with LCC;
  9. Nurture loving, caring peace making congregations;
  10. Nurture fellowship amongst ethnic and Caucasian congregations.

The three LCC District Presidents led Bible studies based on Jesus’ letters to the seven churches of Asia Minor recorded in Revelation 2-3. The discussion centred around the images Jesus uses to describe Himself to each church, what each church was commended for and called to repent of, and what promises were given by Christ to each church. The group was then encouraged to see how these letters convict, comfort, encourage, and empower us today for missional living in our 21st century setting.

A highlight of the conference was worship. At the opening service, Dr. Neitzel delivered a powerful sermon based on Revelation 7:9-10, encouraging Christians to engage in Christ’s mission, drawing people from every nation, tribe, people, and language to the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. While most of the service was in English, some of the lessons were read in Urdu and Punjabi and a choir from Our Saviour, Etobicoke and Christ Our King, Mississauga sang psalms in Urdu.

At the Friday evening celebration of Prayer and Praise, several participants led the group in prayer and in songs in their heart languages. In addition, the group sang many favourite hymns and prayed for personal concerns, individual ministries, and for the church at large. Three times were also set aside for devotions which were led by Pastor DJ Kim (Regina), Pastor Peter Gatluak (Hamilton), and Pastor Wayne Zhang (Richmond/Surrey).

One of the most important outcomes of these intercultural conferences is getting to know one another better. To that end, each participant was encouraged to prepare a presentation about the ministry they are engaged in.

“What a joy it was to hear what our Lord Jesus is doing through and among His people as He opens doors through which His servants can enter into the lives of the people in our communities with His life-giving Word of forgiveness, life, and salvation,” said Rev. Ron Mohr, Mission Encourager for the East District. “What a joy it was to strengthen friendships among our brothers and sisters in Christ. What a joy it was to celebrate the unity of the Spirit and the bond of peace that we have through faith in Christ Jesus. As relationships of trust are established and strengthened through these intercultural conferences we can give thanks to God all the more for one another, our places of service in His kingdom, and our walking together in this body of Christ.”

Conference participants thank the pastors and congregation members of Our Saviour, Etobicoke for their generous hospitality. The conference also give thanks for the generous financial support of LWMLC, Jeffrey Kriwetz (Garfinkle Biderman), Don Kurt (D.A. Kurt Insurance), and Jeff Scott (Nuernberger & Scott Insurance).

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