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God's gifts of people and culture: A day of celebration

April 29, 2013 12:54 PM

By Lily R. Wu


View photos from the event on our Facebook page.


Handclapping exuberance filled the air on April 20 at St. Paul's International in Floral Park, Queens, as over 80 worshippers gathered from congregations synodwide to celebrate, learn about, and nurture multicultural ministry.


"Seeing Bishop (Robert) Rimbo at worship wearing his robes and mitre was the start of a really festive day," said one participant. Pr. Daniel Peter, pastor at St. Paul's International, served as preacher. The group then heard a presentation by Pastor Gregory Villalon, who came from the ELCA churchwide offices in Chicago for the event. 


"What do we share in common?" Pr. Villalon asked the group to consider. "We have our differences, yes. But we are all created in the image of God! And that makes us people of hope. Not ignoring our differences, let's see that we have more that unites us than we have that separates us." Pr. Villalon shared his memories of growing up in the Bronx and later becoming a pastor of Our Saviour in Jamaica, Queens. (He was also a former bishop of the Caribbean Synod and is now ELCA Director for Missional Leadership.)


The group then divided into three listening posts to hear and share information to help guide multicultural ministry in our synod. Participants shared their views and experiences on what works and what doesn't in youth work, cross-cultural conversation, and how to celebrate diversity.


An ample lunch of Indian food was followed by "Culture through Fashion" – a colorful, fun-filled, multicultural spring fashion show! A total of 22 participants – women, men, youth and children – went onstage for the program.  A look at the line-up is a glimpse of our synod's diversity, as traditional fashions were modeled from (in alphabetical order) Africa, Cambodia (by a model from the Philippines), China, Germany, China-Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Jerusalem, Morocco, Nigeria, Palestine, and Syria.


The event was organized by 11 local pastors and lay leaders. Most are members of ELCA ethnic associations, inspired by a new ELCA initiative for building relationships and support interculturally. "To me it's important that we break out of our 'little boxes' and reach out to one another," said the event convener, Pastor Perucy Butiku, Assistant to the Bishop for Multicultural Mission. "Let us grow beyond those boxes to come and work together in unity!"


Metro New York Synod Multicultural Working Committee

The Rev. Perucy N. Butiku (Convener)

Assistant to the Bishop for Multicultural Mission

Pastor, New Hope, Valley Stream


The Rev. David Anglada (Listening post leader)

Pastor, Epiphany, Hempstead


The Rev. Fabian Arias

Pastor, Sion, Manhattan


The Rev. Linda Bell (Worship service organizer)

Good Shepherd, Roosevelt


The Rev. Paul E. Block (Worship service organizer)

Pastor, Transfiguration, Bronx


Marc Crosswell (Listening post leader)

Prince of Prince, Cambria Heights, Queens


Grace El-Yateem (Listening post leader and fashion show organizer)

Salam Arabic, Bay Ridge, Brooklyn


Nicole Hudson (Listening post leader)

Holy Redeemer East New York, Brooklyn


The Rev. Daniel Peter Penumaka (Host pastor)

Pastor, St. Paul International, Floral Park, Queens


The Rev. Tiina Talvitie

Pastor, New York Finnish Lutheran Congregation, East Coast U.S.


Lily R. Wu (Communications)

Vice President, Association of Asians and Pacific Islanders-ELCA

St. Jacobus, Woodside, Queens




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