With the changing demographics within the United States and also in The United Methodist Church, cross-racial and cross-cultural (CR/CC) ministry is on the rise. So what is CR/CC ministry? According to the Book of Discipline 2016 para.425.4, “CR/CC appointments are made as a creative response to increasing racial and ethnic diversity in the church and its leadership. CR/CC appointments are appointments of clergypersons to congregations in which the majority of their constituencies are different from the clergyperson’s own racial/ethnic and cultural background.” Cross-racial and cross-cultural ministry is when a clergyperson is appointed across racial/ethnic and cultural lines, and the pastor works together with the faith community to live out the Good News of Jesus Christ in the way they serve and engage in ministry. Thus it is not just the clergy who are engaged in the CR/CC ministry, but the laity also are in CR/CC ministry when they minister together across the racial and cultural boundaries.
Often times, many react to CR/CC ministry as a new twenty-first-century phenomenon in the United States. However, if we examine the scripture closely, we find that CR/CC ministry is nothing new. Actually, it is the mode of operands God has been using throughout to expand our capacity to love God and love others and also to build God’s kingdom in our midst. Abraham, Moses, Ruth, Daniel, Solomon, Esther, Jesus, Peter, Phillip, Paul, Cornelius, Lydia, Silas and many others were called and engaged in CR/CC ministry reaching across the racial and cultural boundaries to share and witness to the living God and ever-expanding God’s kingdom.
Just like anything else, there are joys and challenges experienced with CR/CC ministry. CR/CC pastors and congregations experience joy as their cultural understanding and capacity are expanded through building relationships, sharing stories, and cultures, such as food. Sometimes there are frustrations that come from differences in language and other aspects such as understanding of time and the way to relate to each other. However, the CR/CC ministry presents opportunities that cannot be gained any other way. As the pastor and the congregation enjoy the opportunity to be increased in their intercultural capacity and work together to overcome the challenges, CR/CC ministry opens the door for expanded mission opportunities in the world. What is learned and experienced in the church between the pastor and the congregation in the CR/CC setting can be a tool to reach out to those who are of different race and culture in the community and world. John Wesley proclaimed “The world is our parish”. CR/CC ministry is God’s gift enabling the church to reach out in our world across the racial and cultural differences with the Gospel of Christ.