Sneak Peek: CQ 74:2 | Racial Justice

The summer issue of the Covenant Quarterly is published! The issue focuses on aspects of racial justice and injustice and features articles by Bo H. Lim, on biblical and contemporary exile and migration, and Ramelia Williams, on the Covenant Church’s pursuit of racial justice in the 1960s. These articles are paired with two sermons: one by Catherine Gilliard following the killing of Michael Brown and a second preached in 1963 by Covenant pastor Douglas Cedarleaf (1914-2000), in print for the first time with introduction and annotations. The issue concludes with the “North Park Seminary Faculty Statement on Race and the Justice System.” View and download full issue and individual articles at covquarterly.com. Here’s a sneak peek.


Bo H. Lim

Bo H. Lim

Bo H. Lim, university chaplain and associate professor of Old Testament at Seattle Pacific University, offers fresh readings of Israel’s exile that in turn resource contemporary ministry to immigrant communities.

“Engaging the topic of immigration through the lens of exilic biblical texts provides an opportunity for Christians who are deeply committed to the Scriptures to engage of most pressing issues of our day. For a denomination that self-identifies as an immigrant, Scriptural, and missional people, an understanding of the biblical exile is fundamental to living into its mission… Given that as of 2015, 244 million international migrants live abroad and these numbers continue to climb, the church must develop resources to minister to these populations.”

from “Exile and Migration: Toward a Biblical Theology of Immigration and Displacement”

 

Ramelia Williams

Ramelia Williams

Recent NPTS graduate Ramelia Williams surveys the Covenant Church’s involvement in the civil rights movement at the denominational and congregational levels.

“Initially discouraged by the minimal involvement among Covenant congregations, the more I researched the more I appreciated the remarkable courage required to fight prejudice in a racially hostile society. My research bears witness to the leadership of the Holy Spirit in the church and denominational leaders that defied the status quo and proclaimed through their actions the presence of the kingdom of God on earth.”

from “The Evangelical Covenant Church’s Response to the Civil Rights Movement, 1963–1968”

 

Douglas Cedarleaf, n.d., CAHL 5611

Douglas Cedarleaf, n.d., CAHL 5611

“Thy Kingdom Come, Thy Will Be Done,” a powerful 1963 sermon by Covenant pastor Douglas Cedarleaf (1914-2000), is printed in transcription with a historical introduction.

“I am asking at this moment for you to decide in your own soul whether or not you can mix up God’s will with our keeping a tenth of our population submerged. Do you want to pray with me that God will sharpen the teeth of Bull Connor’s dogs? Do you want to pray with me that more black men will be shot in the back? Do you want to join me in prayer that the fire hoses be made ever greater in their pressure so we can mow down these people and put them back in their place where they belong? Now if you choose this road, you have a right to do this and defy the law of America. You have a right to do this and defy the law of God, if this is your wish. But no one has ever defied the law of God and found peace.”

from “Thy Kingdom Come, Thy Will Be Done”

 

Catherine Gilliard

Catherine Gilliard

Catherine Gilliard is co-pastor of New Life Covenant Church in Atlanta, Georgia. Her sermon “Watching, Not Waiting,” was preached after the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

“Sadly we, the church, have also been far too silent about the tension arising in our nation—and far too silent about the present signs of God’s kingdom breaking through, even as the violence increases. The voices speaking about injustice are rarely people of God who bring the hope of Christ into the dialogue. It’s as if we too truly believe that there is another answer to the sinful activities that sustain injustice other than the power of Christ…. What is the redemptive story we offer local communities in this time when a great healing is needed?”

from “Watching, Not Waiting: A Sermon for the First Sunday of Advent”

 

This issue concludes with a statement by North Park Seminary faculty on race and the justice system.

“As faculty and staff of North Park Theological Seminary we join our voice to those of our university, denomination, neighborhood, city, and nation and declare unequivocally: Black lives matter. We affirm the dignity of every human being as made in the image of God, created to flourish physically, emotionally, spirituality, socially, culturally, and economically. As one body in Christ, if one part of the body suffers we all suffer; if one part of the body cannot breathe, none of us can breathe.”

from “North Park Theological Seminary Faculty Statement on Race and the Justice System”

 

View and download full issue and individual articles here. We will be hosting discussions on these articles and related topics here at Forum in the coming weeks; be sure to sign up for email updates and join the conversation.

Resources: Congregational Health, Culture & Leadership

Want to read more about adaptive leadership, transforming congregational culture, and other topics discussed in 74:1 Quarterly articles? We asked regional directors of congregational vitality what books & websites have proven valuable in their work. The following lists are gathered from their recommendations. [Editor’s note: additional recommendations, drawn from certificate in congregational vitality bibliographies, added March 31, 2016.]


Recommended websites

Recommended books

[additional resources from congregational vitality certificate bibliography; added March 31, 2016]

What resources have shaped your pastoral leadership? Share these in the comments section.


 

An Interview with John Wenrich

John Wenrich

John Wenrich

John Wenrich serves as the director of Congregational Vitality for the Evangelical Covenant Church and instructor in North Park Theological Seminary‘s certificate in congregational vitality. His article, “The Holy Spirit and Congregational Vitality,” leads our upcoming Quarterly issue. Here John shares his own journey into congregational vitality, how international and seminary teaching have shaped his ministry in North America, and his vision for the Evangelical Covenant Church. (Read the full issue here.)


What led you to the ministry of congregational vitality? What primary factors have contributed to your passion and gifting for guiding congregations toward vitality?

I came into the Covenant as a church planter in 1994. The concepts I learned in church planting prepared me for leading revitalization when I became pastor of First Covenant Church in Portland – a church established in 1887. I experienced firsthand the wind of the Spirit blowing through the valley of dry bones while leading the revitalization of First Covenant. Through the very rewarding experience of pastoring this congregation, God showed me that dying churches can change their trajectory as the Holy Spirit moves and guides. This is why I am passionate about church plants and established churches learning from each other.

As a young boy, I was very close with my grandfather. That significant relationship taught me how to treasure the elderly, listen to their stories and learn from their accumulated wisdom. I remember visiting the oldest living member, Harold Anderson, the very first week “on the job” at First Covenant. I asked him to bless me. I will never forget that experience. Something supernatural happened. God has given me a love for the local church and a passion to see the Gospel burn brightly and warmly in our hearts. I like envisioning, building, and casting a vision of hope.

In your experience, what are the strongest indicators that a congregation should begin the vitality process? Do the indicators look different depending on cultural context or socio-economic circumstances?

There are obvious indicators like flat or declining attendance, decreased giving and a lack of healthy missional leaders. But there are more subtle indicators: apathy, stagnation, a loss of hope, or living in the past. These indicators tend to cross cultures and class.

Yet there is a perception that the pathway is a last resort. Like postponing a doctor’s appointment, some congregations wait until the pain of not changing outweighs the pain of changing. The best time to work on vitality is now. This is true even for healthy missional churches. Our vision is for every church to walk the congregational vitality pathway regardless of their current state of health; we hope vitality becomes the new normal.

Statistics put out by Start and Strengthen Churches suggest that the majority of pastors entering the vitality pathway are white men. How do you interpret this? Is the vitality process culturally-specific? Is there a correlation between white churches and churches in need of vitality? 

It is no secret that the majority of established congregations in the Covenant are white and are led by white male pastors. Statistics refers to this as a distribution sample. This says more about established Covenant churches as a whole than it does about vitality. Most of the multi-ethnic growth in the Covenant is coming through the portal of church planting, not established churches. Continue Reading

1 Question: Gains & Losses on the Vitality Pathway

To generate reflection in anticipation of our upcoming Quarterly issue on congregational vitality, we asked Covenant pastors serving in a variety of congregational contexts, In your experience with the vitality pathway, what were the primary gains for your congregation? The primary losses? We invite you to share your own experience in the comments section.


KJohnston“Wakefield is a predominantly white church in rural northeast Nebraska, averaging about ninety in Sunday attendance. The vitality pathway has given us tools for conversation about our life and health and an awareness that we are not alone in our journey. The biggest challenge has been taking conversations to the next level to discern when and how to bring about real change, while also being realistic about the pace of such change. Our congregation has gained a healthier and happier pastor because of resources and connections the pathway provides. In particular, our involvement in Navigate put me in relationship with a handful of other pastors in similar settings, with a similar passion. After three and a half years, we still gather regularly to encourage and support one another in our ongoing efforts to lead vital churches. As a young pastor, this collegial support has been priceless for me, and I think, by extension, has benefited our church as a whole.” Kelly Johnston, pastor, Wakefield Evangelical Covenant Church, Wakefield, Nebraska


tvs at ipeap - Copy (002)“Iglesia del Pacto Evangélico de Albany Park has an average Sunday attendance of seventy, representing ten different Latino nationalities. Sixteen months in the vitality process have taught our current leadership new concepts and shown them new faces of authority from the denomination interested in the healthiness of our church. As pastor of a once-divided church, I have been revitalized through personal relationships with vitality staff and fellow-pastors on the Navitage. This has enabled me to continue leading church leadership through a major reorganization, focused on the realization of our vision and mission. Developing a behavioral covenant has helped participants understand the danger of conversations that inhibit growth as well as what we need to do to cultivate a healthier climate. The journey has not resulted in any losses in our first-generation, Spanish-speaking congregation. However as we forge along, it is evident that congregational follow-up and subsequent progress depend on the proactiveness and the vitality of a pastor who is both bi-lingual and bi-cultural.” Tomás Sanabria, pastor, Iglesia del Pacto Evangélico de Albany Park, Chicago, Illinois


Chapman“Countryside Covenant Church is a 73 member, 115 year old monoethnic church located on a county highway in rural LaBolt, South Dakota. The vitality pathway has given us language and constructs to understand what type of church we are and what is happening around us. We were able to hold the course of the changes the Holy Spirit led us to when the effects of those changes created tensions within the church. Through the behavioral covenant we gained the ability to speak the truth in love and to recognize that disagreement and conflict are normal and natural. We gained forward thinking, visionary and creative people being drawn to our church. Our greatest loss was people who left the church before they were able to understand or accept why and how their church was changing. Through the Holy Spirit, the vitality pathway has brought this rural congregation a hope and a future.” Mark Chapman, pastor, Countryside Covenant Church, LaBolt, South Dakota


Bea Radakovich (002)“I served as solo pastor for Buffalo Covenant Church, a small (<100), inner-city, multicultural congregation from 2009 to 2012. Chief among the significant gains BCC experienced was the ability to acknowledge our current situation and trajectory as an at-risk congregation. Our work developing and implementing a behavioral covenant was transformative in how we related to one another. Finally, the pathway helped us cast a growing vision for mission to a very needy community. I would mention one significant one: we entered the pathway too late. After a thirty-year decline, the congregation simply did not have the people power, financial muscle, or time to sustain a complete turn-around. It was heartbreaking to see such growth in health and mission and yet to still have to lead the congregation through the process of closing its doors and becoming a Living Legacy congregation. Don’t wait until it’s too late! The earlier a culture of vitality is embraced, the better.” Bea Radakovich, administrative coordinator for Start and Strengthen Churches, Evangelical Covenant Church


s200_hans-erik.nelson“Foothill Covenant Church is a semi-suburban congregation in the heart of Silicon Valley. The vitality pathway has helped us name where we are and where we need to go. It has encouraged us to create a new, healthier ‘normal’ for our interactions with each other. Our renewed health fills us with energy and optimism that God’s Spirit will guide us into the future to become a missional church that embodies the life of Christ and his priorities. We have lost un-health, and some unhealthy elements in our body.” Hans-Erik Nelson, senior pastor, Foothill Covenant Church


Pastor Todd with tree“Community Covenant Church, Eagle River, Alaska, is located in a suburb of Anchorage. The twenty-year-old congregation has a Sunday attendance of approximately five hundred. The vitality pathway has empowered our congregation to participate in a shared journey of becoming a healthy missional church. Several persons, having no previous church involvement, moved from being spectators to participants on vitality teams and continue leading church ministries. Our greatest gain has been our experience of vitality as a movement of the Holy Spirit. This is evidenced through the impact of a dynamic prayer renewal that is sweeping through our church. We are seeing Christ’s hope and healing bring wholeness to those whose lives are being transformed through the power of the Holy Spirit! Our greatest challenge has been helping some members understand that congregational vitality is not a program that offers a quick fix but a Spirit-led journey of personal and corporate renewal that awakens vision and new possibilities. Consequently, there have been a few who have left the church because they desired more immediate results.” Todd Michero, senior pastor, Community Covenant Church, Eagle River, Alaska


What has your congregation gained and lost in pursuit of vitality? What can other communities learn from your experience? Let us know in the comments section (link under title above).

Sneak Peek: CQ 74:1 | Congregational Vitality

Our upcoming Covenant Quarterly issue engages the congregational vitality initiative of the Evangelical Covenant Church. In it John Wenrich, director of Congregational Vitality for the ECC, roots vitality efforts in the person and work of the Holy Spirit. Covenant pastors Ryan Eikenbary-Barber and Corey Johnsrud share the results of their respective doctoral research assessing the impact of the vitality pathway as a whole and of the Veritas seminar in particular. Here’s a sneak peek.


John Wenrich

John Wenrich

John Wenrich currently serves as director of congregational vitality for the Evangelical Covenant Church. He has recently been nominated executive minister of Start and Strengthen Churches for the ECC.

“A Chinese proverb says, ‘The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their right name.’ Churches often have an easier time telling the truth about Jesus than they do about themselves. Telling the truth about our current reality and trajectory is no less a work of the Spirit than a powerful miracle, sign, or wonder—a lot less glamorous to be sure, but no less significant. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of power and the Spirit of truth. Power and truth must go hand in hand in congregations as they do in the person of the Holy Spirit. Power without truth is dangerous; truth without power is lifeless. Power without truth is abusive and arrogant; truth without power is dry orthodoxy.”

from “The Holy Spirit and Congregational Vitality

 

Ryan head shot

Ryan Eikenbary-Barber

Ryan Eikenbary-Barber is lead pastor of Bethany Covenant Church in Mount Vernon, Washington. His Doctor of Ministry research at Luther Seminary investigated the impact of the vitality pathway on a single Covenant congregation.

“The vitality pathway helped us navigate our way through new realities. We began to seek the continual conversion that Darrell Guder advocates. Bethlehem employed both servant and transformative leadership styles to help guide the congregation forward. We were inspired by Heifetz’s, Grashow’s, and Linsky’s teachings on adaptive leadership. We sought deep cultural change instead of cosmetic tweaks. We understood congregational change to be a spiritual practice, not just an exercise in human autonomy. Conflict led to change, which ultimately led to growth.”

from “New Life at Bethlehem

 

Corey Johnsrud

Corey Johnsrud

Corey Johnsrud is pastor of adult ministries at Redwood Covenant Church in Santa Rosa, California. He earned his Doctor of Ministry degree from Luther Seminary, researching the efficacy of the ECC’s Veritas seminar.

“There is a strong tendency in the Covenant ethos that values friendship over mission. That is demonstrated especially when there are hard conversations to be had or difficult directional decisions to be made. We generally seek to preserve friendship over mission. If we are truly to live into the missional ecclesiology that I believe is at the core of our DNA as a denomination, we have to recapture the tension between mission and friendship. If we continue to value relationship over mission we will continue to see our established congregations, for whom the Veritas seminar was developed, languish and decline. Alternatively, if we embrace the wind of the Spirit and the gifts given to the church, we may yet see healthy, missional congregations emerge.”

From “Healthy Missional Churches: An Exploration of the Impact of the Veritas Seminar on Congregations


 

Resources: Chaplaincy & Mental Health

Our authors have recommended the following books and websites on chaplaincy ministry, the church & mental illness, and specific topics raised within Quarterly articles and Forum posts. What other resources would you suggest to those considering, or currently serving in, chaplaincy or mental health ministries?


Chaplaincy | Books & Websites

Mental Health | Books & Websites

 

Select the “comments” link under post title above to add your reviews and recommendations.


 

An Interview with Chaplain Jeff Saville

Saville2

Jeff Saville

Jeff Saville has served as a Navy chaplain for twenty-three years around the globe. As chairperson of the Covenant Chaplains Association, Jeff’s leadership has been seminal to our upcoming Quarterly issue. He shares with us here some of the challenges, rewards, and lessons of chaplaincy ministry.


What do you find most challenging and most rewarding about chaplaincy ministry?

A chaplain works with people of every faith and none. When I was with the national parks ministry, I spent time with students and school administrators from over forty Christian denominations. To be effective, I had to learn to understand mindsets that were very different from my own evangelical background. Over time I learned not to judge but to appreciate and learn from the variety of Christian expression in the United States – from the Assemblies of God to the United Church of Christ, from Roman Catholics to Quakers. As a Navy chaplain, I learned to minister to people of every confession.

How do chaplains contribute to the larger church?

The chaplain belongs to two entities simultaneously—the church that endorsed them, and the secular institution that hired them. Chaplains serve institutions, many of which are secular (hospitals, military, correctional institutions, corporate workplaces, campuses, retirement communities, and more). Chaplains extend the mission and ministry of Jesus Christ into places of deep need for spiritual insight, care, and compassion. Continue Reading

Sneak Peek: CQ 73:3-4 | Chaplaincy & Mental Health

Chaplains comprise approximately 10% of the Covenant Ministerium, serving in diverse institutional contexts from hospitals to corporate offices. In the upcoming issue of the Covenant Quarterly, due for publication November 30, 2015, four Covenant chaplains offer theological reflection on their ministry, with relevance for all pastoral caregivers. The issue features articles from Robert L. Hubbard, Tim Fretheim, Joel Jueckstock, and Kyle Vlach. An additional piece from author & editor Amy Simpson considers the church’s role in caring for families suffering from mental illness. Here’s a sneak peek.


Hubbard

Robert Hubbard, Jr.

Robert L. Hubbard, Jr. (PhD, Clarmont Graduate School) is emeritus professor of biblical literature at North Park Theological Seminary. Ordained by the Evangelical Free Church of America, Hubbard served four years active duty as a U.S. Navy chaplain, including a tour in Vietnam, followed by twenty-six years in the Naval Reserve. He and his wife Pam live in Denver, Colorado, are the parents of two grown sons, and have one grandson.

“Further, the incarnation reminds us that we must be people living in genuine communion with God. To represent God to humans (and humans to God, too) we must intimately know God. Through that relationship, cultivated by worship, Scripture, and prayer, our understanding of who God is grows. It’s the only way that we, like angels and prophets, can be on intimate terms with God….A chaplain’s representing the living God effectively – demonstrating God’s love and mercy, or speaking or acting on God’s behalf – requires an ongoing relationship with our Lord that profoundly shapes our outlook, our attitudes, and our very personhood.”

From “Chaplaincy: Incarnation in Action

Fretheim2

Tim Fretheim

Tim Fretheim has served for twenty-three years as chaplain at the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital of Vancouver, British Columbia. Prior to chaplaincy ministry, he served for fifteen years as a Covenant minister in various capacities, including parish minister, church planter (whose plant only grew two feet tall), and Teamster (in good standing!). He and his wife Marcia, a spiritual director, live in Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, and have three adult children.

“The challenge for chaplains is to learn how to reach out to people that have delusions with religious content, both in the hospital and in the community. These persons can be behaviorally difficult and disruptive. They may require a great deal of time from the pastor. A congregation might be apprehensive and fearful about such a person. Thoughtful preparation will need to be given to ministering to a person with these needs. But the studies mentioned above indicate that positive spiritual coping benefited these people, allowing them to live a richer life.”

From “Many Will Come in My Name: Spiritual Care for Persons with a Delusion of Grandiosity with Religious Content

Simpson

Amy Simpson

Amy Simpson is the award-winning author of Anxious: Choosing Faith in a World of Worry and Troubled Minds: Mental Illness and the Church’s Mission (both InterVarsity Press). She’s also a personal and professional coach, senior editor of Leadership Journal, and a frequent speaker. You can find her at AmySimpsonOnline.com and on Twitter @aresimpson.

“Individuals and families affected by mental illness need help and support. They routinely find themselves on their own in the dark, unsure of how to get the help they need. Many often find themselves in crisis, and when they do reach out for help, they run into stigma and fear that alienate others from getting involved. Many people believe there is nothing churches can do to help. They are wrong.”

From “Supporting Families Living with Mental Illness

Jueckstock

Joel Jueckstock

Joel Jueckstock (MDiv, Bethel Seminary) is a Covenant pastor serving as supervisor of Spiritual Care Maple Grove Hospital and adjunct professor at Bethel Seminary while in the final stages of doctoral work at Luther Seminary. Joel and his family live in St. Paul, Minnesota, and worship at Salem Covenant Church.

Vlach

Kyle Vlach

Kyle Vlach (MDiv, Bethel Seminary) is a Covenant pastor, licensed marriage and family therapist, chaplain, and Clinical Pastoral Education supervisor at United Hospital in St. Paul, Minnesota. He lives in St. Paul with his wife and daughter and is a member of First Covenant Church.

“Effective pastoral care requires that the caregiver recognize not only the priority of divine agency but also one’s own agency, seeking to align oneself with God’s work. The task of reimagining a ministry of active presence is not necessarily concerned with the ‘what’ of incarnational ministry but with the ‘how,’ specifically the ways in which the pastor’s agency can be best aligned with God….If the pastor is without a sense of agency, self-awareness, and capacities for ministry, her potential will not be fully actualized. Pastors may better partner with the ministry of the Triune God through increased awareness of the self in ministry.”

From “Claiming a Substantive View of Presence: The Significance of the Pastor’s Self


Essential Reading: Intercultural Biblical Interpretation

Want to read more on intercultural biblical interpretation? Get started with these resources – and let us know what we’ve missed.


  • Allen Dwight Callahan, The Talking Book: African Americans and the Bible (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006).
  • Brian K. Blount, Cain Hope Felder, Clarice J. Martin, and Emerson B. Powery, eds., True to our Native Land: An African American New Testament Commentary (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2007).
  • Cain Hope Felder, ed., Stony the Road We Trod: African American Biblical Interpretation (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1991).
  • Charles Crosgrove, Herold Weiss, and K.K. Yeo, eds. The Cross-Cultural Paul: Journey to Others, Journey to Ourselves (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2005). An experimental volume of essays in which authors of different ethnicities interpret Scripture from their own cultural location and those of others.
  • Eunjoo Mary Kim, Preaching the Presence of God: A Homiletic from an Asian American Perspective (Valley Forge, PA: Judson Press, 1999).
  • Francisco Lozada, Jr., and Fernando Segovia, eds., Latino/a Biblical Hermeneutics: Problematics, Objectives, Strategies (SBL Semeia Studies 68; Atlanta: SBL Press, 2014).
  • Mary F. Foskett and Jeffrey Kah-Jin Kuan, eds., Ways of Being, Ways of Reading: Asian American Biblical Interpretation (St. Louis: Chalice Press, 2006).
  • Randall Bailey, et al., eds., They Were All Together in One Place? Toward Minority Biblical Criticism (SBL Semeia Studies 57; Atlanta: SBL Press, 2009).
  • Tat-Siong Benny Liew, What Is Asian American Biblical Hermeneutics?: Reading the New Testament (Intersections: Asian and Pacific American Transcultural Studies; Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2008).

Do you have feedback on any of these books? Additional resources to share? Let us know in comments (link under title above).

1 Question: (Why) Does the Church Need to Read the Bible Interculturally?

In his interview and article (“Reading the Bible Interculturally: An Invitation to the Evangelical Covenant Church and Evangelical Christianity”), New Testament professor Max Lee advocates the value of intercultural biblical interpretation for the evangelical church. To stimulate consideration of Max’s proposal – and the topic of our upcoming Quarterly issue – we asked Covenant pastors and leaders the following question: (Why) does the church need to read the Bible interculturally?

What do you think? Is an intercultural reading of Scripture desirable? beneficial? possible? How does or might this practice impact your reading, teaching, and preaching of Scripture? Join the conversation below.


Martinez“When the church of Christ reads the Bible interculturally, it acknowledges not only that Scripture was written for all people of the world but also that other cultures read it differently. In our exegetical ambition, we cannot claim a ‘one application fits all’ mentality. God is the creator of all races, ethnicities, and cultures; therefore, we should care about how others receive Scripture.” Danny Martinez, senior pastor of Grace Covenant Church, Spring Valley, California


Bros“Everyone brings presuppositions to their interpretation of the scriptural text. To approach the Bible with an intercultural perspective not only helps us to confront those particular ways of thinking that limit our understanding of Scripture; it can also help open us to knowing the great salvation story of God in new ways through the acknowledgement that we are not independent but interconnected in Christ.” Janice E. Bros, lead pastor, Abbey Way Covenant Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota


d.edwards“We receive everything that we hear or read – even the Bible – through filters. Our filters are formed by our language, gender, culture, station in life, and other factors. In order to understand the Bible better, we need to interpret it within a broad community that encompasses people from a wide range of backgrounds – which is, after all, what the Body of Christ is.” Dennis Edwards, senior pastor, Sanctuary Covenant Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota (blog)


gary-walter2“If disciples make disciples to the ends of the earth, it only makes sense that from the ends of the earth there are reciprocal discipleship lessons. From everywhere to everywhere and from everyone to everyone is the global interchange implicit in the Great Commission.” Gary Walter, president, Evangelical Covenant Church


Yumi“Intercultural reading reveals the multiple layers of the text. In my own experience it has been tremendously beneficial to read the Bible from various cultural/socio-economic standpoints. When I worked among the trafficked children at the brothel town of PoiPet in Cambodia, John 3:16 promised the love of God for the young prostitutes being raped every night. The same passage declared the truth when I was speaking to the friends and families in Japan about God. Intercultural readings also highlight the indisputable universality of our God. Full appreciation for the transcultural nature of Scripture begins with the intercultural readings.” Yumiko Nakagawa, pastor, Highrock Covenant Church of Brookline, Brookline, Massachusetts


J.Rasheed1“When Scripture is read interculturally, the church understands God’s equality, justice, and abundant love for all humankind. We, the church, are empowered to appreciate the uniqueness of each cultural expression and eliminate racism and divisions from within the Body of Christ. God has designed all humanity to worship him, and Scripture manifests the splendor and glory he receives through the magnificence of diversity.

“The familiar parable of the good Samaritan highlights a point underlying this question: ‘How do you read it?‘ (Luke 10:26) Jesus answers the question, ‘Who is my neighbor?’ with the illustration of the needs of a ‘certain man’ (10:29-30). This is all very particular. Jesus’ call to ‘Go and do likewise…’ (Luke 10:37) is a call to not only read the text but to live it. And the church needs to live it.” Josef Rasheed, senior pastor, CrossRoads Covenant Church, DeSoto, Texas


LCarnes“Every person reads the Bible from their cultural perspective. Our churches are becoming increasingly diverse with people moving from one part of the country to another and people moving to America from every part of the world. For this reason we need to consider how other people read and understand the Bible.” Linnea Carnes,  retired, former pastor of Immanuel Covenant Church, Chicago, Illinois


What do you think? Add your response in comments, using the link below the post title.