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ing defi nitions of “multicultural.” For example, ethnic specifi c ministries are oſt en characterized as “multicultural,” King noted, perhaps because they add to the ELCA’s overall diversity. “T e ELCA knows how to plant an

African-American congregation, but what about a multicultural congrega- tion? I don’t even know how to plant a multicultural congregation,” King said. Being truly multicultural opens

people to a deeper understanding of many situations and contexts, said Erlandson of Redeemer. “We’ve had to be welcoming and

accepting and be able to relate to people who come from no church background, are low income, coming out of domestic violence and so on,” he said. T is includes being mindful of how

language can serve to exclude, Ham- ilton said. He has witnessed situations where prospective members with jobs deemed “suitable” were frequently introduced as “an asset to our church.” He believes congregations must con- stantly ask, “How do we reach out to people who are diff erent from us?” T e answer thus far, Erlandson

said, has been social events that reach people who simply won’t

“Talking Together as Christians Cross-culturally: A Field Guide” (revised edition) and “Talking Together as Christians about Tough Social Issues” facilitate cross-cultural conversations in congregations (search for the “Ethnic Specifi c and Multicultural Ministries” page at; call 800-638-3522 for Spanish-language editions).

Available at ●

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“One Body Many Members” (three parts) equips congregations to reach out and fully welcome people whose race, culture and class is different from their own.

“Breaking the Bonds” assists individuals dealing with the negative messages of internalized racial oppression.

“Lazarus at the Gate” is an analysis of the construct that maintains wealth and poverty in America.

“Understanding and Dismantling Racism: The 21st Century Challenge to White America .”

“Even the Stones will Cry Out for Justice,” a congregational resource for reaching out to people of different races, cultures and ethnic backgrounds.

“Troubling the Waters for Healing of the Church” assists members of European descent in understanding the role of white privilege and internalized white superiority.

“Freed in Christ: Race, Ethnicity and Culture,” is an ELCA social statement that offers a theological refl ection on the church’s commitment to undoing racism and moving toward reconciliation, healing and embracing all people.

attend worship services. For Hope, Redeemer and some

others, it was also important to become Reconciling in Christ (RIC) congregations that actively welcome lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender seekers and believers. “RIC designation is a facet of mul- ticulturalism,” King said. “It says we really are embracing diversity as a congregation.”

Marie Failinger (left), Kim Tann and Lisa Erlandson share a laugh during the sharing of the peace at Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in St. Paul.


Being truly multicultural opens people to a

deeper understanding of many situations and contexts.


‘Unintentional apartheid’ In terms of demographics, the Texas- Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod would seem poised for nurturing multicul- tural congregations. Aſt er all, it boasts the diverse cities of New Orleans and Houston. Houston is particularly noteworthy.

According to a Rice University study, the city tops a list of U.S. metropolitan areas with the most equitable distri- bution of America’s four major racial and ethnic groups: whites, Hispanics, African-Americans and Asians. Since the 1960s, Houston’s

population has grown an average of 20 percent per decade. It’s now the nation’s fourth largest city. At 41 percent, Latinos comprise the city’s largest demographic. T e overall white population is 33 percent, down

February 2016 19


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