A range of groups in the United Methodist Church have a heritage of breaking barriers and fostering intercultural cooperation, among them Justice for Our Neighbors, United Methodist Women and Young People’s Ministry. These groups are engaged in intentional study and mission partnerships with people of diverse cultures and the call to unify the Body of Christ. Members of your congregation may already be involved in these groups, so connect with them to learn what is already being done on cross-cultural ministry and community building.
Get permission to attend district- or conference-level events sponsored by these groups. Listen for what they are doing, with whom they are partnering and what resources they are studying. Invite leaders from these groups to meet with your Sunday school class, leadership team or other group in your parish. Discover ways that you can join and support work already being done. Then get involved.
A gentle reminder: Providing hospitality to people who are homeless, feeding hungry children and operating a clothing ministry are all important and vital missions, and more churches should become involved; however, do not let that be your only experience with people of other cultures, races, ethnicities, and languages. When one group is in the more powerful position of “giver,” it is more difficult for those on the receiving end to talk openly about racial discrimination and ethnic biases that they may have experienced. So balance “mission to” and “conversations with” people from diverse cultural backgrounds. Find opportunities to be in relationship with people of other ethnicities in other settings besides charity-based ones. Or cooperate with a United Methodist parish of another racial/ethnic group in doing mission work, and build a relationship together.